This Steven Universe review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Season 5 Episode 26
“This is so weird.”
You said it, Steven. Much like our titular character, I’m a little overwhelmed and confused by this episode. There’s both a lot to chew on and very little. We do get some story progression (Steven figures out he has to throw a ball) but this episode is mostly here to add some flavor to home world.
That’s totally fine in the grand scheme of things, it’s nice to get some insight into how the diamonds normally operate, but I won’t call it engaging content on its own. I’m sure on rewatch, viewed in sequence, this episode will probably make more sense. As the only new episode that airs in a week after a long hiatus? It’s… unsatisfying.
Much of this isn’t the shows fault. They have no control over how Cartoon Network schedules it and, instead of adapting to an unpredictable schedule (this is where standalone episodes thrive), it instead is content telling its story and knows it’ll all tie together by the end. I applaud the creative’s of Steven Universe for sticking to their story and Cartoon Network allowing them to tell it however they want, but you really need to be the most hardcore of fan to follow this series.
Remembering every single little fact over the span of months is daunting. It’s not impossible, but is it really good TV if you need to have a Wikipedia page open to keep track of the plot? Again, once the show is all said and done and we can just barrel through the story I’m sure this won’t be a problem, but it hurts reviews of outings like this.
“Familiar” doesn’t offer much to critique. It adds more layers to the questions of the series. What the hell are the Pebbles? Steven/Pink can bring them to life with tears? Reviewing this kind of information is almost fruitless because all that can be said is, “I’m sure we’ll get more on them later.”
Perhaps the only bit to really dig deep into here is Steven’s casual admittance that the Diamonds are dictators. He says it offhandedly, not as a joke, but a simple acknowledgement that’s what they are. Some may question why he isn’t going in sword at the ready, but in a show like this understanding is the key. Steven as a character NEEDS to hear from and understand White Diamond before he resorts to taking her out.
What will Steven do if he can’t win over White Diamond like he did Blue and Yellow? For that matter, is Steven ever going to hold Blue and Yellow accountable for all the worlds they hurt? In this very episode Yellow is still carrying on her conquests. Will the series address this? Will there be repercussions? Or will it be a simpler, “don’t do that anymore, okay?”
This isn’t even so much of a review as looking to the future as that’s all that can be done with the series. Taking the little crumbs (or dare I say, pebbles) given to you and trying to piece together what’s going on.
Steven Universe is a series that doesn’t lend itself to episodic reviews. I’d argue it can’t be fully appreciated until it eventually concludes to see how it all fits together. Any complaints about pacing are largely pointless since the show is committed to its long form serialized style, Cartoon Network airing schedule be damned. I applaud that; it just makes any reviewer’s job really difficult.