This Steven Universe review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Season 4 Episode 19
There are pretty much three different kinds of Steven Universe episodes. The heavy plot episodes that reveal more about the universe of Steven Universe, like the recent “That Will Be All”. The character episodes that give us deeper insights into who these people are, like “Mr. Greg”. Then there’s the lighter Beach City centered episodes like this.
These episodes, as nearly all of the Steven Universe episodes do, focus on Steven but also give us a chance to get to know the world of Beach City. These are the ones that tend to be less popular with fans, as the reaction to last weeks “Rocknaldo” demonstrated. Fans love the Gems and the crazy big sci-fi universe they come from so episodes centered on Beach City feel pedestrian in comparison.
Normally I tend to argue in favor of Beach City episodes. I love the people who live there (even Lars and Ronaldo!) because I believe they ground the show in a way that enhances the Gem plots. Steven is half human after all so he needs some human people to hang around with. Plus having a connection to the people of Earth helps us care more when it gets attacked from time to time.
The best of the Beach City episodes have Steven sharing focus with one of his friends, the most successful of which I’d say is “Sadie’s Song”. That episode took what we had learned about Sadie and moved her forward. It also gave Steven a chance to strut his stuff.
The problem with “Tiger Philanthropist” is that it doesn’t really do anything. I know Steven Universe is all about foreshadowing so maybe I’ve missed something but this episode just didn’t seem to add much to the show overall whether it be character development or plot development. Sure, Steven and Amethyst stop wrestling but did we think they still were?
As much as I love Tiger Millionaire and enjoyed seeing him again, the show really needed a better reason to come back to him. As it is, the most I can get out of this episode is it’s about Amethyst moving on from her old coping mechanisms. That’s a great idea for a story but she’s barely in the episode and it’s more about Steven trying to find his place in the wrestling world without her.
Steven ends up spending most of his time with Lars, which I don’t mind, but it just doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Now I don’t mind the idea of filler. Some fans have this misguided notion that filler is bad. It’s not. It’s a great way to establish a new status quo and explore your characters. Not every episode has to completely change the fabric of the series.
What an episode does need to do is be entertaining. Steven Universe usually doesn’t have a problem with this but I really struggled with this one. I enjoyed the loving wrestling homage’s, especially the Wolves of Wall Street, but there just isn’t any substance here.
It’s a shame because it’s been awhile since we got a real focus on Amethyst. This would have been a great time to catch up with her or maybe see Smoky Quartz again.
I always try to find the positives in Beach City episodes but this one was a huge miss for Steven Universe. I guess one could read this episode as the characters from season four of Steven Universe going through the motions of a season one plot to show how they’ve changed in the years since but if that was the case it got lost in the shuffle. I can’t forgive an episode that just feels so empty.
If you liked this episode, let me know in the comments below what you dug about it. Knowing Steven Universe, maybe this outing is secretly a big lead up to Yellow Diamond invading the Earth. Can you imagine that? Tiger Millionaire takes on Yellow Diamond! Now that is an episode I’d love to see.
Thankfully next week we’ve got “Room For Ruby” which, by the sole fact that it’s Ruby focused, will be amazing.
Shamus Kelley would do it for Tiger Millionaire. And he’d do it again. Follow him on Twitter!