Steven Universe: Gem Harvest
November 17, 2016 6:31 PM - Season 4, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Greg's cousin Andy makes an unexpected appearance at the barn.
posted by Small Dollar (20 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The first five minutes were amazing. The rest... not so much. I'm not sure not-thanksgiving deserved the double length episode.

Maybe some day we'll get another full length Peridot/Lapis episode like Barn Mates instead of these snippets before the obligatory plot (Beta and now this one).
posted by Memo at 6:59 PM on November 17, 2016

Pretty prescient with the "Steven meets a Trump voter" plot.

I was glad for the "What if the guy Steven tries to win over is just an asshole?" plot but a bit disappointed the result is "Steven wins him over anyway"

I'm 0% surprised that Universe sort of isn't Steven's actual name, but pleased that Steven has more blood relatives out there. Also, let's not have any more Andy episodes. None of the later-introduced human characters have been very interesting.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:41 PM on November 17, 2016

In fact, I liked the episode a lot (I seem to say that a lot about relatively unpopular episodes, but hey). They set Andy up to be one thing, but by the end he turned out to be something quite different, and I think, by the end, ultimately positive. In any case, like Lars, it's useful to have a character who isn't in tune with everything and friendly.

And it also finally gives us more information on Greg's side of the family! Aunt Deb, in particular, sounds interesting. (She drove off in the RV with her partner. I wonder if they got the idea from Greg and his van?) Steven Universe pays special care towards Steven's human relationships, and I for one appreciate it. One of the show's biggest tricks is having both space magic weirdness and normal human relationships, and sadly, a lot of us have a family member we don't see eye to eye with on many things. Shows are driven by conflict, and Steven Universe treats both gem business and human business as equivalent. That's an essential part of it.

Back to continuity.... One thing: the deed to Greg's uncle's mansion was mentioned to be in Greg's possession (although misplaced) back in Maximum Capacity. That implied it was given or deeded to him, and that his uncle had passed on. Before now, I had assumed that Greg was left the mansion and barn. I wonder if Andy has been out of touch with more than just Greg? Anyway, now it turns out Greg actually does have family, but they're just split up to the winds and don't see each other much.

Other things:
  • Pearl: "Andy, I heard you like marriage. So why don't we all marry each other!" (Presents cake randomly studded with groom and bride figures.)
  • Steven casually using a shield as a pan! He seems to have pretty good control over it now, and it has good enough heat-carrying properties to cook with.
  • In addition to Andy, we have another new character: Pumpkin, who's aversion to knives seems to have carried over.
  • This is the first episode that had Lapis interacting substantially with the Crystal Gems! Indeed, other than Same Old World and Barn Mates, this is the most we've seen of Lapis since Mirror Gem/Ocean Gem.
  • In the opening, Peridot and Lapis were complaining about how quiet it was. Presumably Andy and Pumpkin's presences will affect that a bit. Andy may be a common sight for the two of them, and it'll be interesting to see how that goes.
  • Pearl drives Greg's van and the other gems to pick up party supplies. We also find out that Pearl is still pretty careful about not stealing.
  • Andy mentions that the stove was made from "the legendary wings of the Daring Demayos," presumably they were a stunt flying group.
  • Andy mentioned that his grandfather (and thus Greg's too) is in "the Keys," and is too old to make the drive anymore. I notice they avoid saying Florida.
  • Andy to Pumpkin: "You got some leftovers for me too, you little, ya little freak of nature there?"
  • Finally: Andy's voice is also the voice of Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I've seen people already remarking they hope the show contrives to have him interact with Mr. Fryman....

posted by JHarris at 9:01 PM on November 17, 2016 [10 favorites]

This...this was not the soul destroying feels fest that an extended episode usually brings. I'm kind of glad, actually. Season Three was rough on poor Steven, it's good to give him some room.

And yes! More Lapis/Peridot! Like, they have this little relationship going (like the high five at the table!) and I'd love to see more of it.
posted by Jilder at 2:51 AM on November 18, 2016

I liked this!! Especially because of MOAR LAPIDOT!!!
posted by Pendragon at 10:37 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've seen people already remarking they hope the show contrives to have him interact with Mr. Fryman

That's all I want. That, and a Further Adventures of Pumpkin spinoff.

I basically liked this, too. Partly because I wasn't expecting it at all, so having a new Steven Universe pop up before bed was a nice little treat. It's neat to finally get some idea of Steven's human family beyond Greg, and that the first one we're introduced to is a huge jerk is pretty believable.
posted by byanyothername at 1:47 PM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

I started memorising favourite lines and then the episode kept, kept, kept on giving and I forgot them all! I liked Andy and loved that all the Crystal Gems made an appearance (except Rose if you're feeling fussy). The choice not to do standard tick-box seasonal episodes is something I like about Steven Universe so the having-it's -cake -and-eating-it pumpkin/Thanksgiving seemed, I dunno, out of place or maybe just lacking the courage of its convictions? Better to do a full-on theme episode than the heavy-handed not-quite stuff.

I've somehow talked against this episode so much more than it deserves. Was excellent. Such a good intimate one to return with.
posted by comealongpole at 4:21 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

This felt like a Very Special Episode, which is fine, but I'd be happy for Uncle Andy to go the way of Uncle Max from Calvin and Hobbes, and never be seen again.

That being said, the morals here are timely. I enjoyed how Andy's belligerence, xenophobia, classism, and general trumpishness we're revealed in the end to be caused by deep loneliness, resentment, and fear of change. I'm glad that Steven's super-empathy managed to turn him around, although frankly I worry that it was portrayed as a little too easy, and this might set up well-meaning kids for disappointment if they actually try and engage in asshole-outreach this Thanksgiving. But hey, worth a shot I guess.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 5:15 PM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've been thinking. I think this episode, in particular, might be the source of the recent hiatus. Think about it.

This is a definite Thanksgiving episode, intended for a specific time of the year, right? The episode before it, Onion Gang, definitely takes place at the beginning of autumn. And holiday episodes pretty much should be aired around their respective holiday, right? At the very least it's a ratings draw.

But what is more, it's not just a Thanksgiving episode. Now Pumpkin! Now Andy! Now we know about Greg's extended family! Now we have Crystal and Homeworld gems getting along a little better! It's a little bit of a status quo changer is what I'm saying.

In the past, we've known that Steven Universe episodes have been rearranged in the schedule in order to schedule it more effectively. Sadie's Song, for example, being a Beach City human episode not reliant on prior or later events, can be scheduled flexibly. (Although technically it should have aired after Steven's Birthday, because otherwise it may mean SU has had two Beachapaloozas within one year, but that's just me being pedantic. BTW, if you ever happen to want to read a massive list of every Steven Universe episode and where it fits in with establishing continuity, well, let's just say I have you covered.)

The result is, this episode can't be moved around much in air time because it's a holiday episode, but it also possibly can't be moved around much because of following continuity. Meaning... it's likely that the events depicted here will turn out to be important to following episodes in some way, if just because they're mentioned.

In any case... I don't think Andy is intended to be precisely an analogue for a Trump voter. I think the ease with which he came around indicates that. Thinking of Peridot and Lapis as hippies was just an excuse. He's really attached to the barn for reasons of family, but his family is scattered now and doesn't, or can't, come together every year like he wants. If they ever did, the barn, being the site of the DeMayo family reunions, would be needed. Once he gave up his hopes for that (largely spurred, interestingly, by the gems having a family-like conversation reminding him of the old days), that's when he flew off. His return signifies that maybe he can accept this strange new family, because it still has someone recognizable, Steven, who might be weird and all but still loves him. So they can still have family reunions, but they'll involve this weird new branch of the family now....
posted by JHarris at 5:34 PM on November 18, 2016 [7 favorites]

Yeah, this has nothing to do with the election, but I did need a Thanksgiving episode more than I realised. Thank you, children's tv show. The Andy character captures the passive aggressiveness of the person who feels left behind by all the changes pretty well. To me that's not a trump thing at all, but a family or old friend thing, and a thanksgiving thing.
posted by eustatic at 7:06 AM on November 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

I really, really liked Andy. Despite his tendeny toward closed-mindedness, he was really trying. And I appreciated that.

Also, it's nice to get an outside perspective on our heroes every once in a while.
posted by webmutant at 9:27 PM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Steven loves Demayo (DeMayo? DiMayo?) more than Universe as his last name.

NO MENTION of Greg's parents. Dead? Estranged? (this is where Steven's No Followup Questions thing gets a little out of hand; he has to know what grandparents are, and any kid would ask their names/what they were like. Though possibly there's a Very Sad Story to explain it!)

When they passed the cake around why didn't Greg take it???

Now we know the way to make a fruit/vegetable person follow someone besides Steven; have him carve a similar vegetable up in front of them. Will this come in as a major plot point or just be a throwaway joke?

How long do vegetable people live if they're not squished? We know they can "reproduce" without Steven around but will Pumpkin give birth to Pumpkin2? And then...rot?

All that unwanted food makes me sad :( I hope they gave the veggies to somebody.

I was not really shipping Peridot/Lapis that much (Amedot forever!) but they are sure pulling off "lesbian couple with adopted kid" dynamic pretty well.

The discomfort of the Crystal Gems while Lapis jokes about being trapped for a thousand years was the BEST.
posted by emjaybee at 10:57 AM on November 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

One way to interpret the show is, (the character of ) Steven Universe is really Rose Quartz choosing to discard everything about gem life, including her memories of it, in order to become a human, as a way to escape Homeworld's determination. Looked at that way, of course Steven would think DeMayo is a cooler name than Universe. (This is supported, BTW, if you think of Steven as being an object with a gem embedded in it, like Lapis' Mirror. Lapis could still communicate through the mirror, and so Rose's still is part of Steven's psyche.)

I've been playing around with an idea for a piece of fanfiction lately. It'd have two major parts:
  1. A possible future. Steven is grown and rules Homeworld with what appears to be an iron fist. As a way of keeping its tendencies toward empire in check (and protect the Earth while he's at it), while not getting deposed, he makes a show out of being the tyrannical ruler, down to visibly hanging out with a black-robed consort/assassin ("Kah-nee," playing her role to the hilt), but is actually more of an enlightened despot. In his reign he emphasizes the alienness of his Earth upbringing (compared to Homeworld) to keep his subjects off-balance and strike greater fear into them, which he constantly has to work at because he's not good at it. The symbol of his reign is a hamburger, which of course means nothing to the homeworld gems.
  2. Another possible future. Steven and Connie Demayo are a middle-aged couple living in an apartment in Empire City. They visit Beach City often, but live in Empire City to be closer to Steven's job, which is some meaningless office work. The Gems figure out how to make warp pads themselves and so visit frequently (Auntie Pearl loves being hot dishes, but had to be told not to bring more than seven at a time -- she's kind of spinning her wheels without a young Steven to take care of), but mostly Steven and Connie focus just on enjoying a simple, happily-domestic life. The two keep a pair of superhero duo outfits in the closet somewhere just in case, but really, there's not a lot of terrible crime that merits using them that they could reach in time, and they have to sleep at night anyway.
In the end it'd be revealed that both are Garnet looking into the far future to try to see how Steven's life could turn out, and those are two extremes.
posted by JHarris at 11:41 AM on November 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Now we know the way to make a fruit/vegetable person follow someone besides Steven; have him carve a similar vegetable up in front of them. Will this come in as a major plot point or just be a throwaway joke?

It's not in Steven's character to be cruel, so I don't see it coming up again.

I'm wondering about Lion's backstory, which must be something Rose got up to.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:59 PM on November 27, 2016

This is the first episode that had Lapis interacting substantially with the Crystal Gems! Indeed, other than Same Old World and Barn Mates, this is the most we've seen of Lapis since Mirror Gem/Ocean Gem.

Hit the Diamond has Lapis working together with the Crystal Gems, and Alone at Sea was all about her.
posted by divabat at 11:54 PM on November 29, 2016

You're right about Alone at Sea, but Steven is still the only other gem there. And I read Hit the Diamond's aid as being under protest mostly.

Here, Lapis goes with the others to a human store, and they have unspecified gem adventures that undoubtedly drove Pearl to distraction. (There's a fan comic about this out there but I can't find it again.)
posted by JHarris at 8:37 PM on November 30, 2016

Here's something I've not seen mentioned yet -- between this and what we saw in Beta, Peridot is apparently not just a general tech, but an expert in all things Kindergarten-y. And this is coming through apparently in her trying to apply her skills in other ways, like farming.

I wonder what she's going to think once she finds some of Rose's projects, like the gem moss from Lars and the Cool Kids, or the animate brambles from An Indirect Kiss?
posted by JHarris at 10:38 AM on December 8, 2016

This...this was not the soul destroying feels fest that an extended episode usually brings.

Speak for yourself, Jilder. I had to pause the episode to work through some tears.
posted by rebent at 6:56 PM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

The discomfort of the Crystal Gems while Lapis jokes about being trapped for a thousand years was the BEST.

I also enjoyed how Peridot was the only other Crystal Gem who found that funny. They were both holding their sides in. Probably not the first time they've joked about awful things together to make themselves feel better.

Stupid theory time: Uncle Andy's balding pattern is exactly the same as Marty's. Is Marty a relative, too? Are Sour Cream and Onion distant cousins of Steven's? (note: I do not actually believe this)

"Did I just die and go to the back of a cereal box?"
posted by duffell at 2:14 AM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Steven: Lapis, throw me onto the plane!
Lapis: Okay.

posted by kyrademon at 2:47 AM on August 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

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