This Steven Universe review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Season 4 Episode 18
Ronaldo is one of my favorite characters in Steven Universe. Apparently this isn’t a popular opinion in the Steven Universe fandom so allow me to explain.
I know people like Ronaldo. Hell, in high school I kind of was Ronaldo. Self centered, ingratiating myself in whatever social group I wanted, and not being able to shut the hell up about anime. Ronaldo is cringe worthy because he’s so real. The fact that Steven Universe is able to nail this kind of “nerd” character so beautifully without making him a total laughing stock, as I seem to say every week about the team behind this show, takes serious skill.
When you put him against the other series characters like Pearl, Garnet, or even Pumpkin I can see why fans may not latch onto him. Why would we want to focus on Ronaldo when we have other characters we love so much more? This episode tackles that feeling head on when Ronaldo tries to join the Crystal Gems. Steven, of course, lets him. Why not? They’re all about love and acceptance, right? How can they not let him in?
Slowly Steven comes to regret his decision. Ronalado, like many nerds at his age, is difficult to be around. It’s never about what’s best for everyone; it’s all about him. Steven gives him a lot of leeway, since Steven is naturally an understanding person, and Ronaldo zeroes in on that.
In the strongest scene of the episode, Ronaldo uses Steven’s most endearing qualities against him. When Steven criticizes him a little bit, Ronalado counters that, as a Crystal Gem, Steven should love everyone. If he can’t, he clearly shouldn’t be a part of the team. This sends Steven on a very brief soul searching walk before he quickly realizes what Ronaldo said was crap. It’s great that with all the development Steven has had over the last few years he can pull himself out of a funk without any help.
Steven comes back and let’s Ronalado know what’s up. Being a Crystal Gem isn’t about loving and accepting someone unconditionally. That’s impossible. To be a part of the team (and by extension, any friend group) is caring about more than just you.
This is another great lesson from Steven Universe. We’ve all been that friend who doesn’t want to be mean, but eventually you have to call people out if they’re acting a fool. Ronalado, like many nerds, has some trouble with socializing. As we’ve seen previously, he doesn’t have many in person friends. While online friends are amazing and wonderful, they don’t always give you the best in person social skills.
By the end of the episode, Ronalado has come around. He may not be getting it perfect, but he’s trying. He’s even made new pamphlets to promote understanding of the Crystal Gems. I’m sure there are some problematic things in there, but he means well. That’s enough for Steven.
I think that should be enough for the audience as well. Ronaldo is not a perfect person to be sure, but he tries. I’d argue that Ronaldo might be the most sympathetic realistic nerd on TV. Oh sure, sometimes we have the sweet nerds who just don’t know any better, but truthfully? I know more nerds like Ronaldo than not. They’re kinda assholes. Over the course of the series though we see Ronaldo is more than that. He has a girlfriend (or, well he did), he’s accurately predicted damn near everything that’s happened to Steven, and here he admitted he was wrong in what he did.
Yeah, he still phrased it in the most edgelordy way, “I am the ultimate outsider”, but Steven still accepted him. Ronaldo is who he is and I don’t see that changing too much as the show continues. That’s okay, but at least he knows when he’s taking it too far.
Special shout out to Zachary Steel for his hilarious work as Ronaldo. That voice never stops making me laugh.
What with Ronaldo predicting so much in this show, are there any clues to be had here? My guess is that Ronaldo’s warning about Rock People is setting up for a new breed of Gems or Gem Monsters attacking the Earth. Perhaps from Yellow Diamond? We’ll see.
– “Don’t say Rock People, it’s offensive.” With that line I really thought the episode was going to be about Ronaldo complaining Steven was too politically correct.
– A shocking return of the Cat Finger this week. I never thought Steven would summon one of those again.
– I need copies of I Can’t Believe My Step Dad Is My Sword ASAP.
Shamus Kelly is waiting for his ohime-sama. Follow him on Twitter!