Steven Universe: Mirror Gem & Ocean Gem
September 26, 2014 8:07 AM - Season 1, Episode 25 - Subscribe

In this special two-part episode, Pearl gives Steven a magical mirror to aid in his education about the history of the Crystal Gems, and it ends up teaching him lessons very different from what she expected.

Steven is more of a feral child wholly outside the system than one might have previously assumed! Hints from the last episode regarding the true nature of the Gem monsters blossom in to outright WOW OKAY SOME CRAZY NONSENSE WENT DOWN AT SOME POINT! A distinction between "Gems" and "Crystal Gems" is suggested, as well as a deep and sinister rift! An entire new layer of meaning is added to "the people of this world" in the opening theme! Steven continues to gain more control of his Gem powers, and his ability to heal begins to look like it may be the focal point on which the entire overarching narrative turns! And maybe this is more of a Space Opera than a straightforward fantasy show? MAYBE?????

METAFILTER, THIS IS MY FIRST FANFARE POST AND I AM HUNGRY FOR YOUR STEVEN THOUGHTS!
posted by Narrative Priorities (23 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Technically these are two separate episodes, not one half-hour episode.
posted by Small Dollar at 8:20 AM on September 26, 2014


It didn't seem to make sense to put up two separate posts, given that the aired together and had a continuous story? The Crewniverse Tumblr kept describing it as a "special two-part episode" or similar, so I decided to just go ahead and go with that here.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:29 AM on September 26, 2014


Holy wow, where to even start?

For one thing, I can’t get over the revelation that Steven hasn’t been going to school. Can he even, like, read a book? Is Connie going to have to teach him to read? The Crystal Gems obviously have their own priorities in re: his education, but those priorities might not include, like, fractions or social studies. I am completely fascinated to see how this ongoing tension between gem priorities and human priorities plays out.

Secondly, god damn, we’ve seen hints of the Crystal Gems strange moral compass, but here they’re totally bonkers. “Here, Steven! Have this mirror that can teach you about Gem history, which in no way is an artifact containing a sentient being forced into magical slavery and imprisonment, WHY DO YOU ASK?!”

And once again, it’s Steven’s empathy and kindness that saves the day, even more than his magical abilities—which, indeed, seem inextricably tied to his fundamentally good nature.

As it stands, I’m starting to assume that there was a long-standing ideological (at least!) rift among Gem-kind that Rose Quartz tried and ultimately failed to mend. But it seems like she had a plan, and Steven is at least part of it.

Also, I love that Steven’s powers seem to be focused around healing and defense, and that he often finds himself moderating the violence of the Crystal Gems—powers and roles that are more traditionally feminine, especially in the context of magical super-powered teams. I mean, he has a LITERAL HEALING KISS.

Steven’s destined-hero-ness is winning me over, too, in a way that destine heroes almost never do. Still trying to figure out exactly why that is.

ANYWAY, HOLY DIGGITY I LOVE THIS SHOW
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:42 AM on September 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


[this is a little confusing, but FanFare is new, TV shows vary greatly, so I think it's ok in this case to combine the two into one as long as the next episode is numbered 27]
posted by mathowie at 8:50 AM on September 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


OH HMMM! Well this is interesting...! From a Tumblr post by Matt Burnett, one of the writers:
Well, there you go. Season 1-A, in the bag. Hope you’ve all enjoyed it. I know I have certainly enjoyed being a part of it and getting to see people embrace something we all put a lot of love into. To think, that when we were coming up with the idea for Mirror and Ocean Gem, we thought they might be the last episodes we’d get to make! (Yes, we were willing to go out on a huge cliffhanger, infuriating the fans forever.) Thankfully, we’ve got a lot more show to share! Season 1-B starts NEXT THURSDAY!!!!!!!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:25 AM on September 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


From a different post from that same Tumblr:
We still look at things in 26 episode chunks when breaking stories, so episode 78, the midway point for season two, is indeed something special. But as we’ve joked about with the network, it feels like every other episode in the rest of season one and season two could be promoted as a big special event episode. Hope you enjoyed your warm-up lap, now it’s time to pick up the pace!
ffffffffffffFFFFFFFFFFFFF
posted by Sokka shot first at 9:32 AM on September 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Steven definitely can read, we see him reading in "Laser Light Cannon." The thing is, the Gems are doing their best training him to be a warrior or protector of humanity, like a Crystal Gem, not as a Generic American Citizen. It's like they're Amish or something, they have their own culture they're trying to raise him with away from the rest of the world. That's why he goes on missions and stuff instead of going to school.

The Gems are aliens and grown-ups, and Steven is half-human and a kid, and he doesn't understand everything that's going on, especially complicated histories and motivations. He's an innocent, and he just wants everyone to get along.
posted by Small Dollar at 12:58 PM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


His humanity is clearly crucial to his positioning as a hero, and it's obvious that the Crystal Gems don't really understand how to deal with that part of him. I wouldn't even say they're deliberately keeping him apart from human culture, it's more like they have no idea how to deal with it, so they default to... not. To their minds, so far as we can tell, his human heritage is more of a liability than it is a strength.

But obviously it is a strength, as we saw in the episode where the Gems destroyed the pizza shop and Steven was the one who reconciled them with the human family that owned it.

It's not remotely unreasonable to conclude that the Gems are neglecting Steven's human side because on a fundamental level they don't understand it beyond the ways in which it makes him vulnerable. So, I mean, he doesn't go to school, so who's teaching him about human stuff? Just because he's half-magical alien doesn't mean he doesn't also need some kind of human education.

It's this tension that's interesting to me.

It seems unlikely that the writers of the show would include the "Steven doesn't go to school" detail unless they were going to do something with it later. It feels like an important thing to know.
posted by Sokka shot first at 1:13 PM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I do love that Steven's sensitivity and empathy are what give him his strength. That's a rare thing to see in any character on TV, especially on a "kid's" show, and especially in a character who is a little boy. Steven is a delight. He is excitable and genuinely sweet. He just wants everyone to be friends. That's so awesome. And I really hope that there are sweet, sensitive little boys out there who watch this and realize it's a good thing to be who they are (I know a few kids like that -- and a few adult men who used to be those boys).

I like the slow burn of the mythology and I'm happy to see it come into play more and more. However, I hope that it doesn't overtake the characterization of everyone. But I trust the people making this show so I don't think it will.
posted by darksong at 4:41 PM on September 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


I just love that Connie saves the day. Connie may be my favorite character on the show. I also loved when Greg said, "Is this what your adventures are always like? I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that."

Steven is an interesting case. His compassion and his humility kind of set him apart from the other Gems. The one thing I'm trying to decide is whether Steven being the only male gem we've seen means something in the show or if it's the creators trying to say that's the last thing that matters.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:34 PM on September 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


What is it with Cartoon Network shows and building towers into space (may contain Adventure Time spoilers)?

or with "really good sandwiches?" There was one on Adventure Time and TWO so far on Teen Titans Go! and it wouldn't a stretch for any other show
posted by Small Dollar at 9:12 PM on September 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I love that this show is basically every animated thing I have ever seen all mashed together. Like the parallel between the Gem's world and Peter Pan's Neverland both being "stars" that you can fly to. And Garnet's fight with herself where they crater the ground around them through the force of their blows is found in so many DBZ fights.

At first I thought Lapis was the Gem that the fifth point of the star on the temple door represented since they are both blue, but the way she talked make that seem unlikely. Also, if Steven could heal her so easily, why didn't Rose Quartz do so? Specifically to keep her from going home I guess? That doesn't seem like her.

I'm hoping that the fifth blue member of the Crystal Gems is a super bishonen-y looking dude called Sapphire, a la Saphir from Sailor Moon.
posted by heart's ease at 4:07 AM on September 27, 2014


CONFESSION:

Not only would I be 100% a-okay with Steven being the only male-presenting Gem, Crystal or otherwise, I am actively hoping this turns out to be the case.

Having a show of any kind -- let alone an animated children's show -- where all of the superpowered/magical/badass characters are women, and PARTICULARLY one that isn't exclusively aimed at little girls, would be pretty fantastic. And I wouldn't be surprised if that's what Rebecca Sugar is aiming for.

(It would also be another way in which Steven Universe would actually be the show that everyone told me Adventure Time was going to be.)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:39 AM on September 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


HI I HAVEN'T WATCHED THE EPISODE YET BUT I SAW THIS ON TUMBLR AND IT WASN'T LINKED HERE AND I WILL BE BACK AFTER I WATCH THIS WITH MY DAUGHTER.
posted by sleeping bear at 10:03 PM on September 27, 2014


I think Steven's dad might be my favorite character. He's got a permanent t-shirt tan but I've never seen him in a t-shirt. And the line "Guys, I just had the best idea for an album cover" when he sees the water tower.

On a more serious note, I'm super glad Steven's powers are more defensive/supportive. It's great to see him solving conflicts by stopping the violence and just assuming the best in everyone.
posted by Peccable at 3:12 PM on September 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


Steven reminds me a lot of Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender - goofy, fun-loving boys who like animals and just want everyone to get along.
posted by Small Dollar at 3:54 PM on September 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Okay I finally watched this episode. Sorry about shouting earlier. So much happened in the last two episodes before this one (the centipeedle one and the Amethyst's gem one) that pointed to some of the revelations in this two-parter (Rose trying to heal corrupted gems but never being able to succeed, Amethyst's gem cracking--also gem dynamics referenced in Steven's Sword). There are so many rad references to other animes including the incredible expansion of the universe and the relationships in the show.

Does anyone else that if it's ever Steven vs the Crystal Gems, that Amethyst will be the first to join Steven's side? Think back to An Indirect Kiss; Amethyst is surprised that Steven genuinely cares for her. I wonder about compassion as it relates to gems.
posted by sleeping bear at 9:25 PM on September 28, 2014


Just as a heads-up, the timeslot for new episodes of Steven Universe has moved to 6:45 PM ET, right after new episodes of Clarence (which you should totally check out).
posted by Small Dollar at 7:17 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, something I had read before, but this episode was the first time it mattered to me.

JOEL HODGSON IS THE VOICE OF MAYOR DEWEY.
posted by JHarris at 1:41 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


(I can't get the sound of his truck out of my head. "MAY-or DEW-ey! MAY-or-DEW-ey!")
posted by JHarris at 4:43 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fantastic ending to the season! (Half season? Whatever.) I love so much that Connie just commandeered Lion to save Steven. She is so fabulous.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:17 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also: I have been singing the theme song to myself as I walk around my neighborhood. I love that song.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:52 PM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Watching this for the first time now, this was an incredible two-parter, ballsy in that it didn't give us any justifiable reason for the Crystal Gems to have kept Lapis (and so many others) bubbled away, but also showing us that Steven's powers come from something like love, empathy, belonging, and true emotional need.

Also, as a Monster of the Week player, I adore Connie, as a much better flashpoint for "the Mundane" than the more-often-than-not problematic Xander.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:08 PM on June 24, 2019


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