Sorry, Flame Con demanded my full attention so I’m doubling up the recaps this time. Also, Flame Con is awesome and we are coming back in 2017, so stay tuned for that. Back to weekly episodes too, so ONWARD!
Steven and Connie visit the local library for some word porn… err reading.While perusing the stacks, Steven discovers the lost journal of one Buddy Budwick, former gem associate and founding member of Beach City. Well that’s convenient. Guess it’s a flashback episode. Connie and Steven imagine Buddy as Jamie for simplicity’s sake.
Buddy hangs up his shipman’s hat and dons one of an explorer. His first stop is the strawberry battle fields. He encounters Pearl and Garnet. The two warn Buddy away from the area as it is dangerous. Pearl earmarks other locations to avoid on Buddy’s map, but the explorer only takes this as a challenge. Buddy explores a slew of gem locations seen in previous seasons. One location is new, The Palanquin. Steven and Connie remark as such in a bit of ominous foreshadowing. He eventually arrives at the Kindergarten and finds Amethyst. She helps him come to the realization that he isn’t really discovering new wonders by following Pearl’s map, and resolves to find a wonder that has even escaped gem detection in the desert.
Once there, Buddy finds Rose and her pack of lions. She accidentally spots the desert castle before Buddy, leaving him crushed. Rose reminds Buddy that he is the first human to catalogue all these amazing wonders. Rose inspires Buddy to become an author. He did so so fervently that he founded the Buddy Budwick library, where Steven and Connie currently are.
Final Score Time
Additions to the Lore: Buddy Budwick explored the world after having helped found Beach City. We are reminded that the world is not a carbon copy of our own Earth; their South America has much of Africa’s land mass, Oceania is all wonky and most of Russia is a giant ocean. Also, we learn some general locations of where gem ruins are on Earth. A location known as the Palanquin exists on Earth. While it is possible that it is Blue Diamond’s previously seen on Earth, it is also possible that it is Pink Diamond’s. Rose used to roam the world with a pride of seven lions. The males in this pride resemble Steven’s lion and hint at his origin.
Geek References: This episode is very much a lit geek homage. It has a very “Jules Verne” feel.
Queer References: The gems, save Rose, are all given period attire assigned to men; flipping the gender script.
Final thought: This was a world building episode, giving a slight glimpse into the earlier eras of western civilization in a world inhabited by gems. The travels of Buddy Budwick are illuminating, but a tad flat. We don’t care about this character or know him, so it’s a tad difficult to feel invested in him so quickly. Still, we get glimpses and threads of theories and conspiracies and for that, this episode revokes 3 gems out of 5.
Connie goes to Steven’s for training but is clearly distracted. Steven can’t even prank her with his fake baldness as a result. Garnet tags along for training as it’s fusion day. The Holo-Pearl’s fuse into a larger version, and Stevonnie fight it. Suddenly Connie has some flashes and Stevonnie defuses. Garnet and Pearl are concerned. Steven son learns that while at school Connie accidentally attacked a fellow classmate; he bumped into her in the hallway and her training superseded her judgement. She feels terrible but Steven encourages her not to think about the feelings. Wrong tactic dude. Garnet agrees.
Garnet initiates a meditation session with Stevonnie. Soon follows a truly gorgeous and zen musical number encouraging Stevonnie to accept painful or uncomfortable thoughts. The trick is to not lose yourself to them but to face the thoughts and find yourself, and accept that things are okay. Connie gains clarity and makes peace with the kid she hurt.
Steven and Connie resume training but this time Steven is tortured by the ones he’s hurt, Bismuth, Jasper, the Rubies and a lingering hurt about Rose. Stevonnie tries to meditate the pain away but they lose their footing and fall off the training grounds and defuse. Steven is beside himself with guilt and emotional pain. Connie talks him off a ledge, and the two fuse in free fall. Stevonnie manages to find their center and lands gently on the grass below, safe.
Final Score Time
Additions to the Lore: Holo-Pearls can fuse. Stevonnie has a variation of Steven’s floating powers. Garnet’s biggest fear is Ruby and Sapphire losing each other.
Geek References: The holo-pearls fuse and outwardly call it a “fusion dance” a la Dragon Ball Z. Stevonnie’s floating power mechanics functions like Yoshi’s.
Queer References: Stevonnie, the gender queer dynamo is back. Also, in Garnet’s meditative state, we see Ruby and Sapphire fear losing each other, in desperate and loving and longing fashion.
Final thought: This episode was actually quite deep. The lesson that facing painful thoughts and past actions, even ones you’re ashamed of, is the path to better emotional wellbeing. It is not easy, and it is not painless, but it is important. Steven Universe once again imparts a difficult and nuanced lesson with grace and care. Let’s also not forget the killer song between Garnet and Stevonnie. For that earworm, and the important lesson it imparts, this episode receives 4 gems out of 5.
Next Episode: “Future Boy Zoltron”, September 1 @ 7:00pm EST
Please feel free to add things I missed, your reactions, theories, and whatever else you’d like in the comments!