This Steven Universe review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Season 4 Episodes 8-9
When the team behind Steven Universe started to craft this episode, I don’t think they had any idea just how relevant it would be when it finally aired. A plot about an old guy with xenophobic tendencies stuck in the past? If you don’t know what I’m alluding to, read the news sometime.
With a name like “Gem Harvest”, fans suspected this episode would be centered on the Gems themselves but expectations were bucked when Andy, Steven’s uncle, showed up.Andy is resentful that Greg and the rest of his family have moved on from him. They all went to make their own lives and he was stuck in the same old place, wearing an outfit that wouldn’t look out of place in a World War II film. It’s not that everyone intentionally stopped being in contact with Andy, it’s that he expected all of them to stick around. He needed that deep connection and once it was gone, he was left all alone.
It’s no wonder he’s so bitter towards the Gems, or as he refers to them, the ‘weirdo hippie Martian immigrants’, for getting more attention from Greg then he has in the past twenty years. He lashes out at Greg for not marrying an American (geez, this episode is scarily relevant) but finally comes around when he meets Steven. How could you not, it’s Steven!
Steven is excited to meet this previously unknown relative and wants to bring Andy and all the Gems together. To show just how far Steven has come, compare this episode to “Fusion Cuisine” where Steven tried to mold his family into what Connie’s parents expected and it totally backfired. Here, Steven makes no effort to conceal that the Gems are his family and he dearly loves them.
It’s this love and commitment that actually puts Andy off the whole thing. Sure, they went a little far with the whole ‘every celebration in the human lifespan’ thing but they meant well. It’s the conversation at dinner that really throws him for a loop. He doesn’t get all the wacky Gem things they’re talking about. He’s not a part of their world and isn’t connected like all of them are to each other, so he flies off.
Andy would rather isolate himself and put the blame on his family than actually look in the mirror and realize he’s the cause of his own pain. Moving on was tough for him, but by episodes end with a little help from Steven, he’s able to take the first steps toward coming together with his estranged family.
It was a solid outing for the show, although some fans will no doubt be miffed that they didn’t use the double length episode for a story akin to “Bismuth”. I get it, we all want more stories about the Gems, their culture, and even flashbacks to what they all used to be like but Steven is the main character of this show and this episode did a lot to further his development.
Steven has been spending a large chunk of the series learning about his Gem half. Discovering what Rose was like, summoning his weapon, flying, etc. Very rarely have we dipped into his human side and now we’re finally getting that. Steven is half human so wanting to connect more to that could provide interesting stories down the road. Hell, Steven didn’t even know his families original last name! I’d love to meet some of Greg and Andy’s extended family, especially Aunt Deb and her partner. Did anyone else catch that? Steven Universe once again throwing in some quality LGBTQ content.
While this episode was human centered, the Gems still got a lot of fun moments. Lapis and Peridot’s farm provided the best gags of the episode, with Peridot furious the produce couldn’t talk. “I made you in my image and you will do as I say!” was easily my favorite. I hope we get to see the Pumpkin Dog again. Its look when Steven was disemboweling another pumpkin was one of those great comedy through horror moments Steven Universe occasionally indulges in.
I also loved the little touches of character development, Lapis making fun of her time trapped in the mirror especially. While that whole stretch of time was clearly traumatic for her, being able to joke about it demonstrates she’s finally starting to work through some of that pain.
Pearl, without hesitation, saying Steven’s dad was the superior Greg proves just how far she’s come from the events of “Mr. Greg”. As was the unifying theme of this episode, it’s not too late to change. Some more closed minded people in our world could do with learning that lesson.
Shamus Kelley can not stop saying weirdo hippie Martian immigrants. Follow him on Twitter!