Steven Universe: Buddy's Book
August 18, 2016 5:02 PM - Season 4, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Steven and Connie go to the public library and find a forgotten chronicle!
posted by Small Dollar (34 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
That whole episode was one big tease.
posted by INFJ at 5:20 PM on August 18, 2016

Lions! Plural!
posted by divabat at 5:55 PM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Lions! Plural!

I came here to say literally that exact same thing. (Possibly followed by the noise Amethyst made when Garnet first suggested fusing into Sugilite on the show, waaay back when.)
posted by mordax at 6:32 PM on August 18, 2016

So, I guess thats a big mark against "Lion is Pink Diamond" next to the pile in "Rose is Pink Diamond". If Rose had lions in the Sahara centuries ago, leaving a magical pink one for Steven to find someday isn't so outlandish.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:16 PM on August 18, 2016

I just realized: we now the location of the strawberry battlefield. It's in Britain, and the battle was 5300 years ago.

So as far as anyone living there now knows, that strawberry field's been there forever.
posted by nonasuch at 7:22 PM on August 18, 2016 [17 favorites]

I'm going to have to rewatch, I thought the strawberry battlefield was in Norway?
posted by traveler_ at 8:22 PM on August 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

It was. But that ruins the joke.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:27 PM on August 18, 2016 [8 favorites]

"Rollin through the desert with my lion squad.."
I want to write a Nicki Minaj-esque tribute to Rose but that's as far as I got haha.

I like how Russia has a giant chunk missing - it reminded me of the giant chunk missing out of the Earth in Adventure Time.

Lion could still be Pink Diamond. Maybe Rose just really liked lions and chose that form for whatever mystical creation Lion is. Plus they kind of rhyme (Lion/Diamond...kind of).

I wonder what happened for all 4 of the Gems to be on opposite sides of the globe.

I also wonder why Amethyst had more of the form of a human child when they first met Greg.

Anyway I like Buddy. I identify with him too (in addition to Peridot and Lapis). The way he acts and talks is alot like the way I act and talk. I also really like Rose's look. I want to wear an enormous white gown all the time.
posted by bleep at 9:58 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

That whole episode was one big tease.

Yeah, feels like they knew they were dangling the Mysterious Origin Of Lion just out of reach.

18th c. fashion suits Pearl perfectly though.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 2:41 AM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

I suppose we'll be seeing Blue Diamond's palanquin in an upcoming episode.
posted by FallowKing at 6:10 AM on August 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh, Garnet.

I also wonder why Amethyst had more of the form of a human child when they first met Greg.

Thing is, we don't know what form she (or anybody else, including the lions) actually had in this episode's events; everything in the diary is presented as Steven and Connie imagined it, based on whatever Buddy wrote down.
posted by Shmuel510 at 6:11 AM on August 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

Oh my god. Rose Quartz striding barefoot through the desert in that bridal dress with a pack of lions gave me religious feelings like nobody's business. Like the kind of person Angharad would have been if she hadn't died in MMFR.

Also, Imagined Buddy!!! Is!!! Wearing!!! Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton costume!!! From the beginning of the musical! Little bookbag and pince-nez and everything! That tiny tribute is just the most perfect very very quiet in-universe nod to Connie and Steven being Hamilton trash, which is almost certainly because Jamie is Hamilton trash and exposed them to it, right? Ugh, when they were like, "I like our (young, Latinx, idealistic) version better" looking at the portrait of Buddy in the library all I could think of was those photosets of people going to the National Portrait Gallery and holding up photos of Lin and Daveed etc in front of the Founding Fathers. I'm tearing up, guys.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 10:50 AM on August 19, 2016 [10 favorites]

So I'm hoping we get to see more of Lion in the next few episodes! I got a great kick of Steven "boop boop" to lock Lion, and then Lion gets up and walks off the parking lot!
posted by numaner at 10:54 AM on August 19, 2016 [7 favorites]

They might as well have put a big, blinking "UPCOMING PLOT DEVICE" sign over the drawing of Blue Diamond's palanquin.

Amethyst's outfit seemed more 19th than 18th century. /pedantic

What kind of magic could make a normal lion become a magical, dimensional-hoping, stuff-storing beast? Did it take 7 normal lions to make one pink one?

What did Buddy put in all those other books? Were they all travelogues?
posted by emjaybee at 5:13 PM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think Amethyst's civil war outfit and Pearl's 17th century courtier digs are both things that Steven and Connie are imagining based on the painting (probably Vidalia's) of the Crystal Gems in "old-timey" costumes on a boat, with Garnet at the prow punching a shark. Rose isn't in her explorer gear from that painting because the kids' idea of Rose in her white dress has become immutable.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 8:51 PM on August 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

Second 4th wall breaking moment in two episodes, and both seemed creepy as fuck to me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:18 PM on August 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

Here's the worldbuilding report for this episode....
  • This episode was a tour of gem locations, now actually named as such.
  • It casts some light on why humanity hasn't thoroughly researched, explored and exploited them (the Crystal Gems keep showing up and warning people away).
  • In addition to the obvious questions about Rose and her lions, it raises questions about just how well-known to humanity the Gems are. Buddy isn't weirded out about them at all.
  • How do humans of this Earth see the Crystal Gems? There is a sense that they are more well-known than is obvious, although there's also a lot that humans don't know. There IS a big gemstone on dollar bills in Steven's world. Vidalia views Amethyst as a close friend, Kofi thought they were hooligans and circus clowns (and probably still does to an extent), the Cool Kids are as chill with them as they are with everyone, Ronaldo seems to think they're cool, Sadie and Lars only know them in connection with Steven, Mayor Dewey thinks of them as a source of problems, and the Maheswarans... I don't know, Connie's mother knows enough about gems to be satisfied with "gem experiments" as a description of the monstrosities from Nightmare Hospital.
  • Buddy seems very well-traveled for his time. The fact that he's written all these books, and they're all conveniently here in this library, seems to indicate both that the library will be an important plot development in the future, and also that he may have discovered things, and written them down, in visiting gem locations that the Crystal Gems themselves may not know.
  • How did Buddy get across the water when he visited the Sea Spire? Why wasn't he attacked by the crystal shrimp that Pearl was freaked out about (unless it was just Pearl freaking out), are they uniquely dangerous to gems? Come to think about it, how did he get across the floating rocks to the Sky Spire? The Heaven Beetle's room is largely as it is in the present, although missing its Gameboy, and the picture is cropped so we can't see if it has its tiny Sega Genesis or Gameboy. You can see its backpack marked H.B., though!

posted by JHarris at 6:24 AM on August 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

Buddy gets around.
posted by JHarris at 12:20 AM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

How do humans of this Earth see the Crystal Gems? There is a sense that they are more well-known than is obvious, although there's also a lot that humans don't know.
I keep wondering about this and I think it's one of those things that will never make sense because it can't. Even if the world had forgotten about the Crystal Gems and they were only legends, the internet exists. There would be millions of pilgrims traveling to the temple to look in wonder at the immortal aliens and maybe ask for a blessing, no matter how much the gems tried to keep them away.

In Greg's time they had a pretty modern fence but that would have not stopped people. Or they would be all in the fence yelling to get inside and get a favor from the gems. Beach City would still be a touristic city but because of the gems, not the beach.

Even if the series presents the Crystal gems as magical creatures in a modern world where magic usually means bad stuff happening, people would still be interested in them.

So, I don't know. Maybe the government has laws about bothering the gems? Or maybe people look at the gems like fairies. You try to avoid them because they will screw your life up.
posted by Memo at 10:56 AM on August 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

I keep wondering about this and I think it's one of those things that will never make sense because it can't.

It's a hard point with world building, because all of modern human civilization in the show knows - with certainty - that magic is real. Creatures from other worlds actually exist. The ramifications on religion, philosophy and societal norms are incredibly hard to extrapolate, and it's made harder because we don't know exactly how the Gems engaged with people in earlier times. (Or how their interventions and interactions have changed, outside of the timeframe of the show.)

My feeling is that people definitely want very little to do with Gems though, simply because *most* Gem stuff on Earth is corrupted and incredibly dangerous on its home turf. Like, if the Crystal Gems were the only Gem beings on Earth, I'd expect people to be making pilgrimages to the Temple like it was holy... but most Gems are nigh-invulnerable isolationist monsters, and I bet people look at them that way.

(It's also reasonable to assume that most people don't know too much about them, especially not that the Crystal Gems are the same type of life as corrupted Gems - they might come across as human superheroes instead to the casual observer.)
posted by mordax at 3:22 PM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, the other thing I meant to add:

You try to avoid them because they will screw your life up.

I think that's true, but not just because getting mixed up with them is trouble. I think the social convention is 'avoid them' because it *works*. Corrupted Gems don't seem to wander much - they seem to stick around spots that were important to them in a non-corrupted state, (see Centipeedle's wish). Most of the time, avoiding them is all it takes to stay safe.

Your 'fairies' analogy is probably about right, and how I've been picturing the arrangement.

(I assume there's no connection to earthly governments because Rose wouldn't have wanted it - I see her as wanting to see how humans develop without interference, rather than attempting to fix their problems. Her treatment of baby Sour Cream is probably her view of people generally.)
posted by mordax at 3:33 PM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

There's something else too.

There is one biological creature we know who's spent a lot of time around Rose, and another one we have a reasonably good idea spent a lot of time around her. The first is Greg and the second is Lion. Can you think of anything those two have in common?

The first has a most-of-his-body permanent pink cast to his skin, and the other is completely pink.

I think maybe exposure to radiation from gems, or at least from Rose, may have long-term consequences for biological life. I'm not sure if the gems generally know this, however, or they'd be more concerned about Connie. Rose probably did know, but didn't tell anyone.
posted by JHarris at 4:20 PM on August 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Its an interesting theory, and I'm down with the idea Greg's "sunburn" is significant (It perfectly matches the skin he had exposed during the video from Lion 3). But I think if Gems were by their very nature harmful to humans we would've heard that before. Rose associated with many humans before Greg. I'd say the Gems are reluctant to associate with humanity because we're too short-lived, and humans don't associate with Gems because they're just something that's been around for all of human history. They're old news, and anyone who sniffs around hoping for answers or research info is politely rebuffed. In Douglas Adams' terms they just have a strong Someone Else's Problem field around them.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:19 PM on August 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think maybe exposure to radiation from gems, or at least from Rose, may have long-term consequences for biological life.

Interesting theory. I don't think so, but it's fun to spitball. :)

The counterpoint I'd offer is that life Rose touches tends to be *more* powerful, not less. Greg is the notable exception, but her strawberries were huge and extremely successful, (lasting thousands of years). Lion has powers that the Crystal Gems can't replicate (generating warp corridors). Steven's watermelon people were *immensely* superior to non-sapient watermelons.

Greg's just got a suntan... as far as we know. But he doesn't exhibit any health problems, either.

Personally, I think Rose could tinker with living things as part of her power set, but it was mostly a deliberate act.
posted by mordax at 7:24 PM on August 21, 2016

About whether gem knowledge is well-known:

The temple (and other gem structures) are the closest thing we get to any religion in this universe. We see Steven celebrating New Years, birthdays, and Beach-a-palooza but not Christmas or Halloween. This seems conspicuous, for a cartoon like this one that's all about joy and celebration.

I think that makes this show a really, really interesting piece of science fiction. You have a world where Gods are real, and are well known to be capable of fucking up the planet. The gems care about humans, but their wars have permanently altered both the planet and the course of humanity. I think a lot about this image and the fact that Beach City's unique geography seems to have arisen out of the gems themselves.

So it's interesting, because when the show first starts, you assume that the gems are sort of a secret. Because that's how this trope works--super heroes, secret identities, a human child as a secret superhero alien. But no. Everyone in town knows about him. And then you realize that everyone in the world seems to have some knowledge of the gems. Steven has all of his moms fuse to form a giant monster mom to meet Connie's parents and they seem more horrified by her table manners. Oh, and look at how Connie's mom reacts to the gem mutants in the hospital. I've seen people say these things are unbelievable, but in fact it's totally consistent with the worldbuilding. Just not for what we expect for this kind of trope.

I mean, Ronaldo's conspiracy theories are hardly even conspiracies!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:37 AM on August 22, 2016 [7 favorites]

Ok, i'll bite. what's the image?
posted by eustatic at 7:10 PM on August 23, 2016

A circle of the arm from the temple. I take it to be a sign of age / ruin, but perhaps people think it was harmed as an act of Gem war?
posted by pwnguin at 8:38 PM on August 23, 2016

Oh, and I suppose there's also a question about the origin of light in that background -- the temple itself and the circled hand rock thing casts a shadow right, but the front of the hill is also in shadow, going left. Which implies the lighthouse is the source of light.

Or you know, the background artist was in a hurry.
posted by pwnguin at 8:44 PM on August 23, 2016

I like this image/theory, that Rose's shield could be the reason is why Beach City is shaped the way it is. Maybe that's what the other picture is pointing out?

Looking for that one I found this official looking map which I hadn't seen before.
posted by Memo at 9:44 PM on August 23, 2016

Where's the barn in relation to the town and temple then? I thought it was on the hill above the temple.
posted by tracicle at 12:46 AM on August 24, 2016

I found the original post by Steven Sugar about the map. He mentions that the barn "is in the countryside a few miles inland."
posted by Memo at 7:36 AM on August 24, 2016

The farm is on the far hill on the other side of town.
posted by cuscutis at 1:52 PM on August 24, 2016

The circled hand/rock thing is a sword. I mostly meant the patterns in the ground beneath the surface though and was alluding to the theory that Memo mentioned. Something happened to the area around Beach City, and the Gems were there to stop it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:10 PM on August 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

That portrait of Buddy in the library looked... a bit... like Lars' dad. Just sayin'.
posted by duffell at 4:25 PM on August 4, 2017

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