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.
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.
What if Steven went through public schooling along side learning gem stuff?
- Showing off his gem in like kindergarten but not being able to use it
- Human History with Bird Mom
- REFUSING to comb his hair until he’s like..13, and then everyone being confused because his hair is just super curly but if he doesn’t comb it it becomes an afro
- Being super annoyed with English classes because he thought itd be writing stories but it’s just essays
- Every April fools day he does SOMETHING with shapeshifting
- In P.E. classes discovering his gem strength and making sure to be much more careful
- Quartz growth spurts where he gets like a foot taller in just a few months, then stops growing for long periods of time
- Eventually being at least a head taller than everyone he knows BC quartz build
- Hating desks as he gets taller because his legs get all cramped
- Discovering wrestling and joining school teams
- Shapeshifting to look like an adult to skip class with friends–then getting caught and chastised by Pearl and Garnet. But cheered on my amethyst
- Willing to fight anyone who is fatphobic anywhere anytime
- Enjoying history and math and constantly asking questions about them to his teachers, sometimes even annoying them with his enthusiasm
- Joining choirs and performing in musical dramas (shapeshifting makes for some WILD costume changes..)
- Bringing gem tech from Pearl into Show and Tells when he’s young
- One time Steven got really pissed off and a door handle bent to his hand after he used it. Nobody asked him why.
- Inexplicably being friends with EVERYONE
- Having to awkwardly explain his absences due to gem missions
- Coming to school running on coffee and 2 hours of sleep after a gem mission in high school
- MESSING UP bullies
- Being super annoyed in highschool because he’s that one student bending down to get through doorways and everyone always makes “how’s the weather up there” jokes
- People flirting with him and he just doesn’t know how to respond at ALL
- Riding lion to school
- That one time a gem corruption came on campus, and everyone saw Steven kick its butt and bubble it. Nobody asks how.
- Sneaking healing spit onto friends who got hurt
- Pearl crying on his first day of school
- Garnet walking in on mile time day, telling the P.E. Teacher every students mile time, then walking away
- Going all-out on artsy projects and stuff
- “Why do you smell like roses all the time?”
- Going into astronomy/architecture in college because “going into a medical field feels like cheating”
- SENIOR PRANK WITH AMETHYST
- The Gems telling Steven he should get 2nd place in nationals wrestling because getting 1st would be suspicious (imagine the scene from the Incredibles with dash in the race)
- People always get confused and slightly afraid during his quartz growth spurts because he’s always eating or looking to buy food during them. People swear he’s glowing sometimes.
- Food fights with a shield
- Garnet spending a solid 30 minutes talking a teacher into a corner in a debate on whether or not Steven’s hair is too long and needs to be cut. Steven gets to keep growing out his hair.
- This one time Steven only got like an hour of sleep in a week and someone pulled his hair as a joke, he threw them down a hallway (they weren’t hurt but were pretty shaken).
- Visiting Connies speech and debate tournaments and getting stares because everyone’s wearing suits and stuff and he’s there with a tank top and gym shorts
- In P.E. he almost got suspended in high school because he got into a sort of contest of who could lift more with someone he didn’t like and ended up breaking a bench press machine but adding too much weight
- Using his shield to ride down staircases like a slide
- Giving his biology teacher a hamster grape
- Cooking clubs!!
- Being a guide for freshman coming into high school when he’s a senior and immediately regretting the decision once he starts talking to them because none of them will stop making height jokes
- Pearl WEEPING because she’s proud of Steven for getting into Empire City University with a full scholarship from wrestling
- “Can you drive?” “No. I have a magic lion that can travel via portals.”
- The football coach trying to convince Steven to play football, and Steven is vaguely interested, but Pearl REFUSES to let him play
- Really intense truth or dare games. One time he snuck into a club with shapeshifting from one of them.
- Always having a pair of headphones. ALWAYS.
- Forgetting homework and getting it from home during passing periods because Lion can get him to school and back in like a minute
- Somehow managing to be late sometimes just because “oh, I have lion, I’ll be on time” so he sleeps in then realizes school starts in 2 minutes and he hasn’t even put a shirt on
- Figuring out how to fuse somewhat reliably, and fusing with friends at school
- Randomly disappearing from the campus for quick gem missions during lunch
- He’s bumped his head in doorways more times than he can count.
- Stevens 1-4 grade teachers low-key hating Garnet because every time she comes over at least one child gets into her hair and she almost walks out with them because she doesn’t realize
- One time Steven tried to go to a parent teacher conference by himself because “I’m my own mom”
Honestly I love the idea of Steven going through public schooling and college so much.
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.