Steven Universe: Mr. Greg
July 19, 2016 6:26 PM - Season 3, Episode 8 - Subscribe

A trip to Empire City inspires Steven, Greg, and Pearl to break into song.
posted by Small Dollar (24 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I would like to thank Sugar and Co. for reaching into my chest and yanking out my feelings. I think.

Seriously, this is the best of all the Pearl songs so far. But as much as I'm glad she's finding closure, someone needs to love/appreciate her stat. She's just so lonely. It is killing me.

Also, good Greg stuff and some dancing happened and Steven is just straight-up manipulating the shit out of people but it's for good so it's ok. I think.

"Don't forget Mom!" Jesus Christ, Steven.
posted by emjaybee at 7:07 PM on July 19, 2016 [13 favorites]

This almost seemed like an instance of Rose straight up speaking through Steven. Did his voice change? Did the screen go pink for a second? I know Greg and Pearl looked hella startled.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 7:36 PM on July 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

goddamn that was bittersweet
posted by Anonymous at 10:29 PM on July 19, 2016

"and let's bring Pearl!"

"And don't forget Mom!" (Weird looks from Greg and Pearl.)

Signs spotted in Empire City:
DOGCOPTER: Turn Off The Bark (prev. seen in Same Old World)
Empire S(avings?) Bank "EB"
GOOD JOB Do It Again - The Musical
news news news news, then below it: "Car." and HIMITSU, evidently a car brand
And there was something on a giant SUMY video screen ("Sumy" has been established as SU's version of Sony in previous cameos.)

Someone on Another Website pointed out the concierge at Le Hotel has the same character design as the waiter at the Crab Shack, from Fusion Cuisine.

"Mr. Greg, Bazzzillionaire"

Pearl carrying in the luggage with little effort. Also, the look on Pearl's face whenever the waitstaff carried her.

After the song, when Pearl is walking through the dark room, on the monitor you can see Steven's golf RPG video game.

Particular words from Pearl's song:
"War and glory, reinvention.
Fusion, freedom, her attention.
Out in daylight, my potential.
Bold, precise, experimental.
Who am I now in this world without her?
Petty and dull with the nerve to doubt her?
What does it matter, it's already done!
Now I've got to be there for her son!"

Pearl: "I shouldn't have come along."
Steven (surprisingly serious): "No. This is exactly why I brought you."

Greg: "Well you know Rose..."
Both: "She always did what she wanted!"
I can't help but think this is important...

"Now leaving Empire State --Now Entering Jersey" (I think they should have had the skies darken at this point, but it would have hurt the mood.)

Some people on that Other Website have expressed concern that Greg spent all the money at the hotel, which would be a terrible cliche, but (minor spoiler) the next episode also mentions his newfound riches, so don't worry on that point.

Finally, so sue me, but Joe Johnston and Jeff Liu's way of drawing Pearl is my favorite. The word is that this is Joe Johnston's last episode as a storyboarder before stepping up to replace the awesome Ian Jones Quartey as animation director. (Quartey, a Venture Bros. alumnus [!], is moving on to work on his wonderful Lakewood Plaza Turbo concept, which is not specifically a cartoon yet but a kind of metaproperty, subject of a short, a game and an animation jam so far.)
posted by JHarris at 10:39 PM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

That was very sweet and one of the better episodes of the show.

But. Broadway musicals always fall into the realm of kitsch for me because they're so unsubtle about characters' motivations and feelings. They're announced in song. This episode really took that to the next level, and that Broadway sensibility always been a part of Pearl's storyline. Episodes like Sworn to the Sword and Rose's Scabbard are tearjerking, but they're so melodramatic and overt that I hold episodes like The Test and We Need to Talk in higher esteem. Those episodes are emotional in virtue of showing, not telling, so they allow for much more interpretation. This episode kinda clamps down on some ways of understanding Rose's relationships. I tended to assume that monogamy wasn't really a concept among the gems: fusion and gender are so progressive and transgressive that I kinda just thought that Rose was poly (if anything) and that Pearl's feelings were more complex and inchoate than just "she chose you." But that's the message of the centerpiece song here, and it's not really rebuked by anyone.

Can't deny that it was really good melodrama though.
posted by painquale at 2:01 AM on July 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Compersion is hard.
posted by divabat at 3:59 AM on July 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

Rose may or may not have been some definition of poly; that doesn't mean Pearl is. I definitely think Rose never loved her the way Pearl loved Rose. It undoubtedly did hurt every time Rose went off with a human. But Pearl could always comfort herself that in a few decades or so, they'd either drift away or die and she'd have Rose to herself. Even though Greg was a more serious threat, that was still true--until Rose died.

The real dark stuff that's not being shown here is when did Pearl (and Amythest and Garnet) know what Rose was planning? Did they know? (Seems like Garnet would have at least). Did they think Rose would have Steven but still be around? Did they try to stop her? Did they completely lose their minds when it happened?

For that matter, did Greg know? He was awfully perky in the video where she was pregnant, which I can't imagine he would be if he knew her clock was ticking.

My personal headcanon is that Garnet knew but Rose made her keep it secret, and that was the start of her becoming the new leader. She was the only (relatively) prepared person when Rose died while the other two were completely shocked and destroyed for a long time.

If someone you loved did that to you, it would be hard to forgive. It would mess you up. And Greg was still around, as a focus for that confusion/anger. And Steven, but you can't hate him (though I imagine it was a while before she could really like him.)

So now here is Pearl figuring out "who she is" without Rose or the memories of Rose as a guidance, without Greg as a focus for her confusion/anger, alone, in a way a Pearl is not supposed to be. They are created to follow and (it seems) semi-worship their owners. Pearl was always different but still had that tendency. Now she has to let that go too, as multiple episodes have made clear.
posted by emjaybee at 6:26 AM on July 20, 2016 [14 favorites]

To clarify: I think Rose loved Pearl romantically. But not to the same extent Pearl loved her. Maybe because she couldn't, or just because the power dynamic was too weird between them. Pearl's love was also wrapped up in worship/subservience, which is not a good basis for relationship. So it was never healthy.

Man, I think about this kid's space-rock cartoon way too much.
posted by emjaybee at 6:44 AM on July 20, 2016 [7 favorites]

JHarris: Yes! I love the way Pearl was drawn here. In the song she had many of the same facial expressions as in her song in "Sworn to the Sword," which was boarded by the same pair (Joe Johnston and Jeff Liu).

Also this episode had almost all of my favorite Pearl things. Dancing, swordfighting, singing, crying, singing while crying... she just needs to build a giant robot to deal with her feelings.
posted by glass origami robot at 8:09 AM on July 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

Pearl looks great in a tux!
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 8:43 AM on July 20, 2016 [7 favorites]

There are still lots of things about Rose we just don't know. She was so dang secretive! Why??

For example, here's something I was speculating about while lying awake in bed. I started wondering about Greg's panicked reaction to Steven in The Return, where he blurts out "I mean, it was thousands of years ago, it's not like I was there...."

That combined with:
  • The odd nonchalance Beach City residents have towards Steven's powers, even when his other weird behaviors make them look funny. Fryman: "Steven... are you in a gang?" But lifting cases probably heavier than he is? That's okay. Note, this is easy to confuse with humanity-in-general's blah reaction to magic strangeness in Steven's world. ("Get out of our sky, ya mooks!")
  • How everyone knows Steven as "Greg's boy." Barb and Vidalia both seemed to know him as such. Greg seems pretty well-integrated into the community, and with everyone knowing he had a kid, it makes sense that his partner was well-known, too, certainly more than the other Gems are.
  • Why was the Laser Light Cannon was in Greg's storage and not in the temple?
  • Garnet telling Steven that he had to be a voice of comfort for the people of Beach City, like his mother was, when they were panicking when the spaceship attacked.
  • How the city mostly just picked itself up and resumed life after the ship was destroyed. Ho-hum, just another day in the monster capital of the east coast.
My guess (it IS a guess!): I think Beach City has suffered a homeworld return before. What is more, other things the Crystal Gems have said imply that, to them, this was homeworld's first return since the war, so maybe Rose organized the repulsion with the help of the townspeople, leaving Pearl and Amethyst out of it? And maybe Garnet too, or maybe she told her, or maybe she found out later. This "return" might have just taken the form of a small expedition of gems, like in the Roving Eye, or another Red Eye, mind you. It's fun for me to speculate about, in any case.
posted by JHarris at 10:26 AM on July 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Y'know, it seems like it'd be hard to get ten million dollars for selling one song to be in a commercial. For all his faults, Marty must be a heck of a negotiator!
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 8:29 PM on July 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think everyone in Beach City sees the superpowered ladies and little boy as just another aspect of Beach City's weirdness.

Pearl's feelings were more complex and inchoate than just "she chose you." But that's the message of the centerpiece song here, and it's not really rebuked by anyone.

Except earlier in the song she talked about Rose having flings with humans, and she was OK because she always came back. But with Greg it wasn't even that she decided to ride off into the sunset and live somewhere away from Pearl--she chose to die in order to have a child with him. The finality implicit in that choice went beyond having a fling. In a way, the "you" in this song isn't Greg. It's Steven. There have been lots of lovers, but only one Steven.

If you want to put it in "poly" terms, you could frame it as Greg supplanting Pearl as Rose's primary, but I am not convinced yet that Rose was as into Pearl as Pearl was into Rose. I am not even sure Rose felt romantic towards Pearl at all. Deep fondness and platonic love, yeah, but romantic? I dunno.
posted by Anonymous at 9:05 PM on July 20, 2016

I have to think that if Rose was that in love with Pearl she wouldn't be doing fusion as party trick for her new bf's homemade rock video.
posted by bleep at 11:38 AM on July 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Rebecca said "I don't know if I would call it unrequited" re: Pearl and Rose, we can pretty safely assume it was romantic, just unbalanced. That's my favorite thing about this show. It's not 'Rose only loved Greg and didn't love Pearl back and now she's sad', it's the messy, nuanced emotions that are hard to clarify even in real life.

I don't think there's any show better at those right now, and at always presenting them through a compassionate lens.

Everything about the song on the balcony was masterful, this ep was so gooooood
posted by ariadne's threadspinner at 1:43 PM on July 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Stable fusions make music together. Ruby and Sapphire have their melody, Steven and Connie were not singing when they fused, but they do appear to have regular "jam sessions." Greg and Rose apparently had a band. Notably, Pearl does not play an instrument in the scene where Rose and Greg perform "What Can I Do For You?".

Dancing is an essential part of fusion even the short-lived or "unstable" fusions like Alexandrite, Opal, Sardonyx, Sugilite, and Malachite do a dance to begin the fusion process. But, none of them make music together before or during their dance.

This song and dance number with Greg and Pearl then is sorta a big deal! Asking a gem to dance with you after you have been singing a song together is really intimate! It seems understandable that Pearl would not be even close to ready to agree to something like that. Also, that line leading up to "just say yes" was a bit of a shocking callback to the same phrase uttered by Jasper before fusing with Lapis? Like, maybe trying to manipulate someone is bad whether you are trying to manipulate their negative emotions (appeals to desire for revenge) or positive emotions (we are having such a good time singing and dancing, just say yes!). What the hell Greg, you can't just sing a song and expect to get past all the baggage you are both carrying over Rose.
posted by rustcrumb at 2:16 PM on July 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Gosh, I loved this episode.

The only thing missing was an overture. I hope somebody on the Internet will fill that gap...
posted by Shmuel510 at 6:41 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Y'know, it seems like it'd be hard to get ten million dollars for selling one song to be in a commercial. For all his faults, Marty must be a heck of a negotiator!

I think it may have been a whole ad campaign. Note that in the commercial Marty still has all his hair, so it must have been a while ago. Although that doesn't explain why Greg and Steven haven't seen the commercial before. Greg seems to be largely apart from television ("a plague to one's mind"), but Steven would probably have seen it, unless Pepe's is one of those regional chains, like White Castle, that doesn't have a presence in Delmarva.
posted by JHarris at 3:03 AM on July 25, 2016

Joe Johnston takes us behind the scenes in "Building a Scene: It’s over isn’t it?"
posted by Shmuel510 at 1:28 PM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

"Mom? Dad? Can I show you something? It'll only take ten minutes."
posted by whuppy at 12:27 PM on July 30, 2016

Oh my god, Julie Andrews in Victor Victoria was the reference for the Pearl song. I LOVE REBECCA SUGAR SO MUCH <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
posted by ourobouros at 8:25 AM on July 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have to think that if Rose was that in love with Pearl she wouldn't be doing fusion as party trick for her new bf's homemade rock video.
posted by bleep

Oh man, this. For every girl who's ever been kissed by her crush because her crush was showing off for her boyfriend. Uuuuuunnnngggghhhhh.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:01 PM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

I promised myself I'd never use The H-word, buuuuuut... it is my own personal headcanon that Pearl kept the top hat. And dances with it when the mood takes her.

Provided she doesn't already own one. After all, she was damn adept with it. You go, Pearl!
posted by comealongpole at 8:03 AM on August 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

> "Y'know, it seems like it'd be hard to get ten million dollars for selling one song to be in a commercial."

Forty million. Marty gets seventy-five percent.
posted by kyrademon at 1:34 PM on July 17, 2018

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