Steven Universe: Monster Buddies
September 12, 2014 8:00 AM - Season 1, Episode 23 - Subscribe

Steven accidentally releases a centipeetle from its containment bubble and discovers a softer side to the acid-spewing arthropod-shaped thing.
posted by Small Dollar (11 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That was a sweet episode, and it's good to see Steven use his powers again. They're really holding back on him learning to use them.
posted by Peccable at 6:22 PM on September 12, 2014

When the centipeetle's released from the bubble it briefly assumes a glowing humanoid form before turning into the bug. That suggests to me that all the gem monsters are just Crystal Gems that have somehow been "corrupted" or "sickened" and Steven's going to have to heal them through his compassion.

This episode had a real Pokémon-y vibe. The centipeetle's gem looks real close to a Poké Ball, it gets into a "battle" with a gull, Steven and the Gems use its acid attack to clear a way in a cave, etc.
posted by Small Dollar at 11:13 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Even as much as the ending was telegraphed, it still really hit me hard. I've gone back and forth about this show, but Steven is just so likable it's hard to not like the show.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:32 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Steven is such an adorable little boy. I love that they're a boy character who is sweet and sensitive -- and to have those things treated like strengths and not weaknesses. I love Steven. It's wonderful to see him grow and develop at a character. This episode made me cry.

(Knowing what I know of co-storyboarder Lamar Abrams, I would say that all Pokemon references are absolutely intentional.)
posted by darksong at 6:51 PM on September 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

I went to the Steven Universe panel at Wondercon this year, and Rebecca Sugar said that "If you think it might be a reference to an anime, it probably is." So I'm sure the pokemon similarities were intentional.

That theory of all the gem monsters being crystal gems is a crazy one. Crazy because...what if it's right on?
posted by sleeping bear at 11:41 PM on September 21, 2014




sorry i'm just very excited
posted by Sokka shot first at 6:45 PM on September 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah! That's great, I forgot about the brief humanoid form.

In the "Rose's Room" episode, the mini-golf video game is almost exactly like the Pokemon video game, so you can bet there are some Pokemon fans working on this show. I also thought that video game was hilarious.

This show has been great. I wanted to like Adventure Time but ultimately it didn't work for me. So I was really happy to discover that Steven Universe does work really well for me.
posted by isthmus at 11:24 AM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've gone back and forth about this show, but Steven is just so likable it's hard to not like the show.

What? How could you have gone back on it?

This show is amazing. Every episode I've seen to this point has hit it out of the park IMO. It has so much heart.
posted by JHarris at 1:31 AM on December 23, 2014

And we're back doing geeklists again. The purpose of these lists, as before, is to point out things about the show you might not have noticed, to try to figure out the future direction of the story from hints dropped in earlier episodes, and just to have fun obsessing about a show I've found it really easy to obsess about. This contains many spoilers for both earlier and later episodes. This list was written after episode 1-40. Here-- we-- go.
  • The word is that the whole "monster buddy" premise is pretty much a riff on Pokemon, right down to the appearance of the Centipeedle's gem. With most of the crew being anime fans, Rebecca Sugar has said, if something in an episode seems like it might be an anime reference, it probably is.
  • We start out in the middle of a mission. Considered in context of Cheeseburger Backpack and The Test, it seems obvious that, whatever Steven comes to consider what the outcome of the trial mission to the Lunar Sea Spire to have been, the Gems definitely seem to think he passed it if they let him accompany them on these kinds of adventures.
  • They not totally irresponsible space moms though, they demonstrate that they have a backup plan if Steven is in serious danger: Garnet can bubble Steven and send him back to the Crystal Temple basement. Notably (and important to the story), the bubble isn't an inescapable barrier to him. He bursts it fairly easily from the inside. I guess the bubble prevents sealed gems from reincorporating.
  • When the attack knocks off the arm of the ice monster, Steven holds his own arm. He's starting to feel empathy for the creatures they beat up, even before the reveal, in 1-26 Ocean Gem, that the monsters they fight were once Gems like them.
  • The tunnel that Steven's bubble goes through on the way back is interesting. We've seen the warp space (which is a lot like actual space) that the warp pad beams move through, we've seen a rainbow tunnel like effect when Lion warps, and then there's this, a black void with beams of light. None of this implies any forethought on the part of the writers as to important differences between them, of course.
  • When Pearl bubbled the ice monster's gem, the bubble was blue. Garnet and Rose's bubbles are both pink (if there's a difference between the shades, I don't register it). When Steven arrives in the Temple basement, the gem's bubble is still blue. Later (in Secret Team), it seems that the Gems' different bubbles may have different properties; there Pearl is checking how gem fragments are reacting to a "Rose Quartz bubble," which apparently can persist even through their creator is gone.
  • While Steven's floating around the basement, you can see other gems hanging around in their bubbles. There's a lot of weird types. I have to wonder if we'll see what monsters any of these become in later episodes.
  • Others have noted what happens when the gem Steven releases regenerates--before it turns into the Centipeedle, it starts to adopt a humanoid form, which was an early hint about the nature of the gem monsters. It's not unlike the initial form we see after Pearl regenerates in Steven The Sword Fighter.
  • Something that occurred to me. The reason the Gems bubble the monsters may not be just to protect humans from them, but also to protect the monster Gems from getting damaged. We have seen that Gems are not entirely impervious to harm by combat or misadventure; if one gets cracked, it could quickly mean the end for it. While bubbled in the basement, they're safe from damage.
  • Let's take a moment to examine why Pearl is so afraid when Garnet bubbles Steven and sends him back. At first it's easy to dismiss it as typical Pearlanoia. But Steven does manage to accidentally pop a bubble while he's there. Not just Steven, but all the Gems, are very lucky when the Centipeedle Mother doesn't regain her former height but instead shrinks back down. Because that room is full of bubbles. These sealing bubbles aren't particularly durable, we've seen, it doesn't take a lot of force from the outside to pop one. The Gems have trouble fighting individual monsters sometimes. Imagine what would happen if one monster got out and started systematically popping bubbles? They could quickly end up having to fight a horde at once, and the strange terrain of the temple might not be of particular aid to them.
  • The Centipeedle starts to resume its original height and form (complete with its music from the first episode), but then something strange happens. It shrinks down, losing some of its monstrous attributes, and becomes something a bit different. It's still a monster, and it retains its wild white hair, and its but it's got a different design. What caused this change in manifestation? I've speculated elsewhere about this, but the plain fact is we don't know. The Centipeedle, by the way, appeared to still be in Garnet's bubble from the first episode. The gemstone itself has a subtly different design this time, by the way; back in Gem Glow the Centipeedle Mother didn't have an iris in its gem eye, and the circle was a little larger and lighter in color.
  • I missed it the first time I saw the episode, but the circle on the Centipeedle gem that serves as its eye develops a line like an eyebrow that gives it a bit of expressiveness, and also makes it about 40% cuter.
  • Let's talk logistics about keeping an acid-drooling Centipeedle around. Yes, it's cool, and you can see why Steven likes it. But that thing's dripping acid a lot. What I'm saying is, keeping it in the house would cost the Gems a fortune in floor repairs. Definitely, let's say, an outside pet. It seems to get its acid under control later on, and doesn't slobber corrosive fluid quite so much.
  • "Please Garnet! I'm begging you!" Steven's pleading for the Gems not to hurt the monster is an important moment in the show's development. Being a little boy Steven certainly isn't a fighter, but that doesn't seem to be his role in the group. One can also certainly see Pearl's point, concerning leaving Steven alone with a dangerous monster. I suspect that Garnet's future vision (see 1-39) has alerted her to the possibility of a good outcome.
  • Battle poses: Pearl, spear at ready! Garnet, fists bared! Amethyst, kung fu stance! Lion, growls! Wait, when did he show up?
  • S: "Calm, calm, calm. Just relax and let your hair down." The monster does actually lower its hair. That's a nice touch, giving the monster a fear reaction, like a cat fluffing its fur and bristling its tail.
  • The monster likes to eat potato chips. (Sorry, CHAAAAAAPS.) Pearl has said that the Crystal Gems, at least, get all the energy they need from their gems, but the monster seems to enjoy eating just the same. Maybe the gem sustenance thing isn't universal, or maybe the Centipeedle's energy system is damaged somehow and necessitates its eating. The giant bird from Giant Woman also seems to have an appetite, although it doesn't seem like it digests its food? That doesn't seem to be an issue with the Centipeedle though, that acid probably makes short work of anything that goes into it's, um, mouth? "I don't know how you eat with an eyeball in your mouth, but I'm glad you like it!" That's called hanging a lampshade on it.
  • "You love chips, and I love chips!" Yes, but you know who else loves chips? SEAGULLS. The true villains of Steven Universe!
  • CENTIPEEDLE, I choose you! CENTIPEEDLE uses Acid Spit! SEAGULL runs away!
  • This leads us to a fairly silly (but highly dangerous) scene, in which Steven inflicts both cosmetic and structural damage upon the beach house by squawking like a bird and aiming his new friend. A: "NOOO! ME TORTA!" I love how the expression on the photograph of Pearl changes as it melts. The damage inflicted by the Centipeedle's acid is what I'm calling "soft" damage: it disappears and isn't seen again in later scenes or episodes. The hole made by the Robonoid in Warp Tour, on the other hand, is "hard" damage: they patch it up with boards and it later leaks in the rain.
  • P: "But we have to go back for the Shooting Star!" Later on Steven asks Amethyst what they will do with it, and she replies, "Duh, you shoot it." This doesn't seem to be an ordinary Gem MacGuffin, they spend airtime in describing aspects of it that don't immediately factor into the episode's story. I have a hunch this isn't the last we'll see of the Shooting Star.
  • The look in Pearl's eyes, and her face generally, upon beholding the Shooting Star, are interesting. It's one of the few times we get a star-eyed look from a Gem. (It's still a four-pointer, not like Steven's trademark five-pointed star eyes.) But more than that, her face here looks familiar. I can't help but think it's a riff off of something I've seen elsewhere, maybe in another anime, or manga? There seems to be something Tezuka-like about it. Well, just saying.
  • The sight of Garnet's gauntlets is what sets the Centipeedle off again. G: "Something's wrong." Then there's a close-up of her gauntlets just so we know it's something about them. The five-pointed Crystal Gem star emblem might be the thing (notice: Steven's star shirt is either partly or completely obscured by his jacket throughout this episode), or it might just be the memory of getting struck by them, when the Centipeedle Mother was defeated before.
  • When the Centipeedle knocks Steven away from the icicle, notice: it gets a star-eyed reaction shot too.
  • And then there's that moment at the end where Steven suddenly develops further control over his Gem powers. It seems to happen at those moments where he's experiencing strong emotion, especially love.
  • Will we ever see the Centipeedle again? It'd be awesome to see it, and it appears to be an important of Steven's character arc. Note, the Centipeedle was sealed in a Steven bubble, and it's hinted, from Secret Team, that bubbles can have effects on their contents, maybe depending on who made them....

posted by JHarris at 2:07 PM on February 10, 2015

This episode shows us that Steven has more compassion than the other Crystal Gems, either because he's an innocent child or because of Rose Quartz or both. A theme that's returned to in a big way when we meet Lapis Lazuli.

I really hope we see more of Centipeedle in a future episode, and I can picture some conflict between Steven wanting to help the bubbled gem monsters, and the other Crystal Gems being afraid of the consequences.
posted by Foosnark at 1:06 PM on August 27, 2015

I feel like there are a lot of turning point episodes in SU, and this was one.
posted by Foosnark at 1:06 PM on August 27, 2015

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