One of my favorite things about Amethyst is how physically affectionate she is. I mean, look at this little purple nugget of sunshine, hopping around with fits of love so strong she can’t contain or help it, she just has to be expressive.
Can we just talk about how fucking great the writing on this show is?
Okay, this one requires a little explaination.
At this point in the series, we’ve seen people shrug off injuries like they were nothing. Steven and the Gems (especially the Gems) tank a HECK load of hits. Just watch Pearl v Sugilite (Coach Steven), Pearlbot v Peribot (Back to the Barn), the Gems v the waterclones (Ocean Gem), Garnet v Jasper (Jailbreak), Stevonnie v Jasper (Crack the Whip), or any other fight scene you can think of.
Now, the Off Colors (+ Lars and Steven) v Robonoids isn’t even that impressive of a fight. It’s fucking tense, sure, but there’s mostly just a whole lotta hiding.
Until this moment.
Lars is terrified, but he gathers his courage and attacks one of the robonoids head-on. He leaps on top of it, clinging onto it for dear life as it tries to throw him off.
Then we get a bunch of this fuckery.
And HERE, in THIS exact moment, is where things go south.
But the thing is, we don’t realise it yet. We as viewers are so absorbed in cheering for Lars, we don’t even THINK about the consequences this could have for him.
Now, another thing about Steven Universe is that things explode. And when they do, they explode impressively and they explode beautifully.
(from Laser Light Cannon)
(from Super Watermelon Island)
(from Serious Steven)
So when comparing those shots to this shot of the Robonoid exploding…
…this explosion is extremely underwhelming.
Combined with the fact that we’ve never seen a character get seriously hurt in explosions before, we don’t see this as a threat. We are not worried in this moment because Lars just beat this fucker! We are relieved, we are happy, we are ready to start celebrating. Meaning that seeing this…
…over the sound of a flatline…
…is jarring as all hell, because it immediately tells us celebrating viewers that something is WRONG.
And Steven knows it.
The reaction of the Off Colors here immediately becomes dissonant and strange. After all, these gems don’t know about human deaths. Lars hasn’t poofed, so he’s fine…
no he’s not.
he is not fine.
And that’s the kicker.
Steven Universe has been running for four seasons, and NOBODY HAS EVER DIED ON SCREEN BEFORE NOW!
We aren’t expecting it! We have gotten so used to death not being a real threat in this show because surely the Crewniverse wouldn’t dare kill off a main character that we’ve stopped factoring it in as something that could happen.
Even the Off Colors are realizing it now. Even Paddy realizes it.
One of Steven’s best friends just died. For real. On screen. In a fight we would have written off as underwhelming if not for this moment.
unpopular opinion: pearl’s actions in coach steven weren’t unwarranted. the issues stemmed from the character of sugilite being an evil racist stereotype. sugilite shouldn’t have been so chaotic in the first place, considering how even-tempered garnet usually is. but she was because the writers suck. despite this, based on her destructive (albeit ill-fitted) behavior which ended up injuring steven, it made sense for pearl to want to leave to get steven somewhere safer. and she didn’t abandon sugilite there, sugilite destroyed the warp pad after they left and pearl even was worried later that the warp pad was down. sugilite showed up and started destroying steven’s gym; even if she was angry about pearl and steven leaving without her, she shouldn’t have taken that anger out on his belongings.
i’m not saying pearl was perfect or did everything right, nor do i think sugilite did everything wrong. pearl barely gave sugilite a heads up that she’d hurt steven, nor did she explain to sugilite why they left. even if she was angry, sugilite was still a member of the team and deserved to know what was going on. pearl also let her jealousy get in the way of her influence on steven. she should have just explained to him that she didn’t think sugilite was a good role model because she paid little attention to collateral damage, and then discussed it with sugilite respectfully rather than looking down on her. but she instead got jealous and sang a song about being strong in the real way meaning determination > brute strength and while that’s a nice sentiment there wasn’t much else in the episode building up to that conclusion.
tl;dr i think pearl was rightfully frustrated with sugilite, but that her response was overblown and besides sugilite’s behavior is a bad anti-black stereotype anyway so it should be scrapped entirely and rewritten.
I had a bunch of ideas for how to make this episode better, along with a redesign of Sugilite, so I’ll start out my rewrites with this one, because I feel the episodes before it are fine. I’ll be rewriting a bunch of other Steven Universe episodes, too.