This Steven Universe review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Season 4 Episode 16
Whenever a series runs as long as Steven Universe, it has a little wiggle room to do off concept episodes. Fun entries that play with the current status quo and give us insight into characters/situations we wouldn’t normally get to spend time on. Sure they don’t have the biggest weight on the overall arc (although with Steven Universe who can say) but they’re always a blast.
“The New Crystal Gems” is a very rare outing that isn’t told from Steven’s perspective or any of the original main characters but side characters. Here it’s fan favorites Connie, Lapis, and Peridot (and Pumpkin!) who are given the simple task of protecting Beach City. While it would have been easy for the team to fight a huge threat and have to adapt to that huge weight of responsibility, the show instead gives them a pleasantly low stakes adventure of washing cars.
Like most Steven Universe episodes, it does a lot with little time. Right from the get go you know this is going to be a fun outing and it makes the most of its premise. All of the side characters taking on the personality of one of the main team was a treat, with Pumpkin clearly the winner with their little conenose to mimic Pearl. The more the Crystal Temps (oh my god I love that name) try to be Steven’s team, the worse it all gets until it climaxes in what would normally be a Steven speech. Instead, Connie totally botches it in a great bit of self-parody from the show. Of course she’s able to fix it and the team learns to be themselves.
Steven Universe is able to take that well worn kids show lesson and put a new spin on it thanks to the characters it’s put so much time into slowly developing over its run. At this point Connie, Lapis, and Peridot are so fleshed out that you could put those three in any scenario and it’d be a blast to watch. That’s the mark of great characters and when Steven Universe can achieve that with characters that aren’t even its leads? That’s a huge accomplishment.
While this episode was a lot of fun it also stealthy built on the shows recurring themes that were tackled in the most recent Stevenbomb. Much of the Zoomans plot was focused on their lack of free will and choice. Here, the Crystal Temps have both but instead of forging their own path they try and emulate others. Obviously trying to be someone else doesn’t work, as Steven demonstrated in “Adventures in Light Distortion” but it’s great that the show allows all the characters to explore different aspects of themselves.
It speaks to a theme of self-exploration, that we aren’t destined to only ever be one thing. We can try on new facets ourselves. Some may stick, like I hope Pumpkin’s new nose does, and some we’ll leave behind and that’s okay. Just don’t try on a new personality solely because you think you aren’t adequate.
It’s also great to see the main cast has come so far that the Crystal Temps are so quick to try and impersonate them. As much as Peridot acts all high and mighty she does look up to the other Crystal Gems. Even if the Gems are thousands of years old, they’ve only recently started to mature. Just goes to show that no matter how much life you’ve lived, you’re always learning new lessons and sometimes you can get stagnant in your emotional development.
This was a fun breather episode before we dive back into Steven’s quest for answers next week. That one sounds like it’ll be intense.
– I really wish they had done a new version of the opening theme with Connie, Lapis, Peridot, and Pumpkin. Imagine it, “Connie, Lapis, Peridot, and RUFF RUFF RUFF!” At least they replicated the opening theme song run.
– “That’s Steven’s third best friend.” Peridot is a national treasure.
– Connie with Steven’s shirt was super adorable.
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