Oh, one more thing. Over dinner, Hubby watched (and I rewatched) Episodes 27 and 28, and it struck me how they go together. “House Guest” is, I think, always going to be heavily overshadowed by “Space Race”. Besides being much better animated, it has some real meat to it and more than a drop of angst, whereas “House Guest” is kind of fluffy, with even its character conflict pretty easily (if satisfyingly) resolved.
But together, they work REALLY well to highlight the two halves of Steven, and how much that’s in conflict. Not for STEVEN, which is really fantastic. Steven doesn’t have a Spock-like “I belong to neither world” thing going on. He LOVES being a Gem, he loves fighting with his mums, he is all about saving people. He’s having some trouble with his powers sometimes, but none of that makes him really question his GEMNESS, so much as it’s a reflection on his sincere desire to help and frustration when it seems he can’t.
And he’s so totally embracing his human side too. He loves eating and playing video games and hanging with his dad, and Connie is the bestest ever, and he loves his town and the people in it and they love him. Steven’s completely content with being human, and never for one second questions that. The problem stems from his “parents”, represented by actual-dad Greg and adoptive-mum Pearl.
In “House Guest”, Greg just wants so badly to spend time with Steven. He misses him, and feels he’s missing out on so much of his life. Greg is embracing the human part of Steven, and has to reconcile the fact that Steven belongs in that world, but not ONLY that world. Steven has powers, he can do good, and that means there’s a part of Steven’s life where Greg just doesn’t entirely fit. (Although, much like his duct tape, he can fit in better than he might expect, I think.) The episode ends with Greg near, with his van just outside, but not there in the house in the center of it all.
We immediately follow with “Space Race” and we’re actually revisiting the same ideas as in “House Guest”, only this time through Pearl. Following on from the previous episode, we see Steven totally at ease in the human part of his world, hanging with his dad, watching cartoons, building stuff and playing around. It’s Pearl who’s struggling with her situation, ultimately looking to resolve that through Steven’s wholehearted embrace of his Gem side (which to Pearl means her) and discarding his human side. Like with Greg, the real emotional conflict of the episode comes from Pearl wrestling with who Steven is and what it means to her, finally deciding that if Earth is the only place she can be with him, that’s all that matters.
They’re a really lovely – and important, I think – pair of episodes that don’t directly link, but which I think were clearly intended to go arm-in-arm. I love the connected ideas put forth here, I love how it’s a struggle for both “sides”, and I love how in the center of it all is Steven, for whom this isn’t even an issue at all. He loves his mums, he loves his dad, he loves his life, and despite whatever problems Pearl and Greg may be having, they aren’t spilling into Steven himself, and that’s sincerely wonderful.