This Steven Universe review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Season 5 Episode 1
“So? What was it? The answer?”“…Love.”
All the way back in “The Answer” those lines just seemed like a heartwarming message about the relationship between Ruby and Sapphire. Little did we know that it was actually one of the mission statements of the series.
In this episode, it isn’t any giant Gem weapon or clever plan that brings Topaz around to Steven and Lars’ side. It’s the two simply talking about their feelings. Lars admitting he’s afraid all the time ends up being more powerful than any laser light cannon.
Steven Universe as a series has always been one that highlights characters acting outside usual gender roles. Steven, even though he’s a boy, dresses up in more feminine clothing on occasion and openly discusses his feelings. It’s actually been shown multiple times that when Steven does try and hide his feelings, bad things happen.
It’s fantastic how the series has done this with Steven, but his character is more aspirational than realistic.
Lars on the other hand reflects far more teen boys in our world than Steven does. For a bevy of complicated reasons that I could fill a book on, teen boys feel they have to act tough and cool. They aren’t supposed to show their true feelings because that might mean they’re weak and if you’re a boy and you’re seen as weak? Well there goes your masculinity.
Lars perfectly embodies this tendency. Even if his parents seem kind and loving, he still acts that way. All that posturing and lying about himself has created a lot of self-doubt, to the point where Lars doesn’t even think he’s capable of anything. The more Lars has tried to put on a mask to be what others want, the less he believes in himself.
Thanks to Steven however, Lars has finally opened up and might be on the road to thinking better of himself. With the two now separated, I suspect Lars will have to find the self-confidence to stand up to the Diamonds in order to save Steven. And, what if Steven and Lars fused? All of Lars’ thoughts and feelings would be open to someone else and while that might be scary, it would finally prove to Lars that someone truly loves him for who he is.
As much as this episode could have been just about “love being the answer”, Steven Universe shows life isn’t always quite that simple. While Steven and Lars’ display of emotions brought Topaz around, it did nothing for Aquamarine. While I’m sure many fans would love to see this character redeemed, I enjoy there’s just an out-and-out dick Gem like her.
Not everyone has a complicated back-story for why they act like jerks. Some people are just mean and they have no desire to change. Although, Aquamarine did let Topaz get away with nearly letting Steven and Lars go, so maybe there’s something else going on with her? We’ll have to see.
Aquamarine also hinted something horrible is in Steven’s immediate future.
“You think shattering is bad? Just wait till the Diamonds get their hands on you.”
Worse than shattering? What could be worse than death for a Gem?
This episode was a triumph, especially since most of it was just the interplay between Steven and Lars. With a few adjustments you could turn this into a short play. I could easily see this episode being a nice money saver in order to make the next three episodes, which look to take place on Homeworld, even bigger.
The hype is real.
– “I meant worth less, not worthless!” Aww, Steven is so pure.
– “Lars, pull my pants off.” Even in an emotional episode like this, Steven Universe manages to get a laugh in.
Shamus Kelley may have to start calling Lars Mr. Brightside. Follow him on Twitter!