Steven Universe: Reformed
April 30, 2015 8:11 PM - Season 2, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Garnet, Amethyst, and Steven pursue a corrupted Gem through the Temple. Amethyst tries out a few new looks.
posted by Small Dollar (22 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Crying Breakfast Friends is a really weird concept for a cartoon
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 8:14 PM on April 30, 2015 [9 favorites]

Poor Amethyst. I like her new top, though.

Steven is exactly the kind of person who would love internet quizzes.
posted by emjaybee at 8:51 PM on April 30, 2015

Pearl: "Do you understand that cartoon show?"
Greg: "I don't understand anything anymore."

Ah, ancient gem warrior and middle-aged Earth father can bond together over the common matter of incomprehensible kids TV. Also, it's cool that Pearl helps Greg out with the van sometimes. Sometimes we get the sense that the Gems just sort of tolerate Greg. Of course, it's possible that Pearl just enjoys working with mechanical things.

It was a new storyboard team this time, Raven M. Molisee and Paul Villeco, who both have done work on the comic book before.

This episode gives us some further insight into how gems take their forms, which may turn out to be important later on as we find out more about gem corruptions.*

We also get a possibly recurring monster, The Slinker. And an indication that gems are conscious when they're regenerating. And a heartwarming moment at the end where everyone gets together in a hug. A good episode overall.

* My theory, expressed before (but modified a bit since), is that Gem corruptions are natural somehow, gained chameleon-like from nearby lifeforms. The only reason even space gems have a human form is because they visited Earth before. (Peridot's probably been there before because the Gem stuff there is "hers," as in "Why are you breaking my things?!", and we know Jasper's been there before he fought Rose there before -- this theory could only be right if they haven't regenerated since then, so hey, falsifiability.) The Crystal Gems are humanoid in form because they live near Beach City. Whether that's true or not, this episode suggests that instead of gem corruption causing insanity, maybe their insanity is causing them to regenerate into weird forms? That is, maybe corruption is primarily a psychological disease, not a physical one?
posted by JHarris at 2:28 AM on May 1, 2015

This is the last new episode before a hiatus of unspecified time. Strikes me as odd to end the first season, go a few episodes into the next season, and then arbitrarily stop, but what do I know?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:14 AM on May 1, 2015

Cartoon Network likes to rotate their original series, couple weeks on, couple weeks off. Except for Teen Titans Go!, they air new episodes of that basically every week.
posted by Small Dollar at 8:02 AM on May 1, 2015

I did think the implications about the Gem's physical forms were interesting, since they basically confirmed my theory that a Gem's base form is somewhat innate (when Amethyst tried to stray too far from hers it was "unsustainable") and probably that shapeshifting away from their default forms requires some type of effort to maintain and can't be kept up forever. Which means that the height of a Gem's base form probably can be used as a rough indicator of power level, as I had been assuming (Lapis is the only wrinkle in that theory, but her powers are kind of weird and situational)

On a character level it was nice to get more of Amethyst's relationship with Garnet, which we haven't seen much of. Very big-sister-she's-trying-to-impress, as opposed to the sister-she-argues-with of Pearl (although they seem to get along better or at least snipe at each other less after "On the Run"). I think Rose was the one who was actually good at dealing with Amethyst and her insecurities, and Garnet is too undemonstrative to make good substitute.

@JHarris Eh? Raven Molisee and Paul Villeco are one of the most common storyboarder teams on the show. They tend to do the most exaggerated facial expressions, I kind of think of "An Indirect Kiss" as their signature episode.

Peridot didn't seem to know anything about the Crystal Gems, I got the impression she's fairly young by Gem standards and didn't know anything about Earth other than a somewhat redacted historical note about all Gem life there being wiped out millenia ago. Oh, and Jasper's referred to as female in the show, so presumably has the same technically-sexless but female-presenting nature as the rest of the Gems, and is just really butch.

@Mr.Encyclopedia That's due to the episode reshuffling that was done in order to have the Steven Bomb (the week of 5 new episodes) end the first season. I believe "Open Book", "Say Uncle", "Story for Steven", and "Shirt Club" were the season 1 episodes that were moved to season 2 (which explains the weirdness in some of them, like Garnet still using her old design and Buck Dewey being more dismissive of Steven's emotions than he should have been after "Joy Ride"). Otherwise you're right, "Jailbreak" would presumably have been the last episode before the hiatus.
posted by Wandering Idiot at 9:45 AM on May 1, 2015

JHarris, the idea of the corrupted gems reminds me of Madoka Magica, with its magical girls fighting "witches" that are actually former, corrupted magical girls (with "soul gems" no less).
posted by emjaybee at 10:02 AM on May 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wonder how reforming works for Steven, being a hybrid and all. I'm sure there will eventually be an episode about it.

Would he retreat into his gem, just like the others? Would he need normal human medicine?

Or, darkest possible interpretation and thus unlikely, would his human part die, and his gem simply reform into Rose Quartz?
posted by mrjohnmuller at 10:18 AM on May 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I mean, we know he can shape-shift, and fuse, and heal with spit, so his body is able to do things regular human bodies can't. However it has non-Gem characteristics (not affected by Gem-hurting force fields, at least some of them). But if he took a bullet, for example, would he be able to survive it, or would his human body being destroyed mean he couldn't come back/would retreat to his/his mom's Gem? Pretty dark question for a kid's show, but who knows. We know if Jasper punches him, he gets a black eye/knocked out.
posted by emjaybee at 12:19 PM on May 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I sometimes imagine that as the series finale: a frail old Steven, dying of old age, surrounded by the ageless gems. When his human body finally fails, his gem leaves his belly button, floats up, and regenerates into his Mother. There's gonna be tears, let me tell you.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 12:41 PM on May 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

@JHarris Eh? Raven Molisee and Paul Villeco are one of the most common storyboarder teams on the show. They tend to do the most exaggerated facial expressions, I kind of think of "An Indirect Kiss" as their signature episode.

Huh, you're right! I had a brain skip there. I remembered they did comic stories before they did episodes. This kind of thing is happening more often, sigh.
posted by JHarris at 1:16 PM on May 1, 2015

I sometimes imagine that as the series finale: a frail old Steven, dying of old age, surrounded by the ageless gems. When his human body finally fails, his gem leaves his belly button, floats up, and regenerates into his Mother. There's gonna be tears, let me tell you.

There have been hints that Rose exists as part of Steven's subconscious. Steven seems to have remembered Ruby and Sapphire's existence as the "animal friends" of Garnet's Universe, for instance, and his ability to pick out relevant things to take along to the Lunar Sea Spire seems a little too uncanny to be coincidence. If that is intentional, then in your scenario it's not inconceivable that the situation would be reversed; that then Steven would become part of Rose's subconscious. (Pearl: "Rose, now you're watching Crying Breakfast Friends?!" Rose: "Weeping Eggcup is my favorite, he reminds me of you!")

Rose continues to pose more mysteries. The number of things she kept from the other Crystal Gems is kind of weird, it makes the group pre-Steven seem like less of a family honestly, regardless of how cute the four looked together in Story For Steven. There's her presence on the mural in Serious Steven, the animate moss and brambles, Lion of course. Did she go on missions by herself, like Garnet does?

I'm also starting to wonder a bit about the nature of gem life. We've seen what appear to be earthly creatures that are a bit gem-touched, like the fish around Mask Island, or the crystal shrimp. Are these child creatures of a corrupted gem (like the baby centipeedles to their mother), or mutated organic creatures? If the latter, could this be why the Crystal Gems keep themselves a bit away from human culture?
posted by JHarris at 1:35 PM on May 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Rose continues to pose more mysteries.

I do find Rose maybe the most interesting character on the show, despite only appearing in flashbacks and the like. She has a lot of complex and seemingly somewhat contradictory elements, some of which have only been hinted at (I give even odds on her being the one who set off whatever WMD corrupted/shattered the majority of Gems on the planet and ended the war, for instance). One possible touchstone to her character is that Rebecca Sugar has mentioned taking some inspiration from ancient Babylonian goddesses (to go along with the obvious Hindu mythological influences, presumably), and someone pointed out that Ishtar was the Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, and war, which is the same unusual combination of characteristics as Rose. Ishtar's symbols were a lion and a star.
posted by Wandering Idiot at 6:40 PM on May 1, 2015 [10 favorites]

I see Steven's biology being something like a Gem fusion. Rose's goal was to create a true human/gem hybrid, so she took Greg's DNA and used it to create something human, but different enough that she could fuse with it to produce something truly half human half gem. Like Garnet, Steven is a fusion that's so attuned that it is one voice. Presumably Steven could be split apart into Rose and something like a clone of Greg, but as demonstrated not by any technique currently used by gemkind.

It's also been pointed out that steven's relationship to his gem resembles Lapis when she was plugged into the mirror, but "Human with a gem plugged into him" doesn't seem like the kind of true hybrid that Rose would be willing to sacrifice herself for. In any case, I'm pretty sure if Steven were separated from his gem Rose would be able to reappear and Steven as we know him would cease to exist.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:54 PM on May 1, 2015

I don't think Steven would regenerate as Rose. I see the arguments given the mythology of the gems, but that theory doesn't quite work with the character development the show has done. The gems don't act like Rose is on a vacation to be Steven; they treat him like a separate person, and like Rose is gone for good. Jasper's reaction to Steven (being horrified, calling him Rose) is our best clue, and I think his disgusted reaction to Steven means that Rose really did do something permanent to herself in having Steven.

One thing I love about SU is that it's more interested in its characters than it is in the specific mechanics of its superhero-ish universe. One of the theories I saw on here a lot pre Ruby/Sapphire reveal was that they were damaged, and were only stable as a fusion. That makes a lot of sense given what we've seen about corrupted and damaged gems; it was a good theory. But Garnet is Garnet because Ruby and Sapphire love each other and being Garnet is amazing. (Which sends a great message about how being different isn't about being damaged.) Rose regenerating as Rose is a good theory given the known mechanics of gems, but I doubt the show is going to go that way. It just doesn't seem right to me. If I had to guess, I would say Steven would enter his own gem and have some kind of dream-world mom talk, and whatever remains of Rose inside the gem would sacrifice herself to allow Steven a regeneration. That would be my bet.
posted by Rinku at 12:25 AM on May 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I've never bought the idea that Rose would return if Steven died. The way I see it, Rose gave up her physical form for good, and the Gem is permanently bonded to Steven now. I think if Steven got injured enough, either his body would die and the Gem would just go inert, or he would retreat into the Gem and it would be able to restore his biological body eventually (the latter possibility being implied by how the Gem's magic was able to interact with his body the times he shapeshifted or fused with Connie)

Jasper's reaction to Steven was due to her mistaken belief that he was just Rose doing some standard shapeshifting thing. Gems can't normally reproduce, so the thought that he was Rose's son never would have crossed her mind. Also, Jasper's base form is female like all Gems, is that misapprehension more common than I thought?
posted by Wandering Idiot at 1:24 AM on May 2, 2015

Yes, jasper is a she. I thought she was a guy in her first few scenes and I guess that's still in my brain.
posted by Rinku at 9:41 AM on May 2, 2015

Hey, those of you that watch on Amazon, apparently they will not be able to guarantee Season 3 episodes because Hulu just made an agreement for them with Cartoon Network. Jess Fink posted about this on Twitter, said she contacted Amazon and got a refund for the season. I haven't tried that yet for mine, but man, I hate Hulu :(
posted by emjaybee at 7:04 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yikes, seconded. Amazon and Google Play are great because you get them and not have to maintain a monthly fee to watch once purchased.
posted by JHarris at 10:57 AM on May 7, 2015

I contacted Amazon and they said even if Hulu was airing them, they would still be available on Amazon. However, the whole thing is now on hiatus, apparently, so who knows.
posted by emjaybee at 4:38 PM on May 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Stevenbomb week starts tomorrow!
posted by emjaybee at 7:10 PM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I experienced this episode as in part an SU take on the infamous Romana regeneration sequence from Doctor Who, so that was fun. Amethyst's vocal impression of Pearl was great too, the delivery was just so.
posted by comealongpole at 1:31 PM on August 25, 2016

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