And today, what else should I take a look at but a season from one of my favorite TV shows?
Steven Universe season 1 is an intriguing block of episodes. I mean, take a look at episode 1, where Steven tries to harness his powers by eating ice cream. Goofy sci-fi comedy, right? Now take a look at episode 52, where Steven and the Crystal Gems are arrested for crimes of treason and face death row just as he starts to realize what the title means on a political level.
Goofy sci-fi comedy, right?
The second half of Season 1, while not perfect, is impressive as all hell, taking what once seemed like a silly little show and making it one of the most stunning and moving shows on cable television. Even the first half, while lighter and more self-contained, is often given a poor rap by the fandom (at least in my opinion), bringing with it some rather intriguing episodes under its belt.
But what episodes, from the season as a whole, managed to leave the largest and most positive impression with me? That’s where this list comes in.
Now, I will admit that, with one or two exemptions, this is basically a recap of my episode rankings, specifically, the top 12. I just happen to go more into detail here – think of it as a happy medium between my longer reviews and the simple list of episodes on the ranking.
In that one simple line, at the climax of “The Return”, we get to take a look at the grand overreaching theme of Season 1B of Steven Universe – what is Steven? In exploring that theme, Season 1B takes itself several cuts above its predecessor and cemented Steven Universe‘s place in the science fiction and animated pantheons – the latter moreso than the former.
In fact, I would probably call 1B my favorite of all of the Steven Universe seasons so far – pending a rewatch of Season 2, of course. It’s strange because it probably has a higher ratio of “dodgy” episodes compared to 1A (“Fusion Cuisine”, “Horror Club”, and to a lesser extent, “House Guest”) and 2 (maybe “Rising Tides/Crashing Skies” there), but there were more episodes rated “Gold” or Platinum in 1B than in 1A. In other words, it was slightly less consistent but made the top of the rankings more frequently. Continue reading →
“Tonight, there’s gonna be a jailbreak
Somewhere in this town!
See, me and the boys, we don’t like it.
So we’re getting up and going down!”
– “Jailbreak”, Thin Lizzy
Airdate: March 12th, 2015
Written By: Joe Johnston, Jeff Liu, and Rebecca Sugar.
Plot: After getting head butted by a brutish Homeworld soldier, Steven wakes up in a cell on a prison ship. Unfortunately, the cell doors don’t take into account human biology, so he’s able to escape. While looking for the others, he comes across three particular prisoners. One is Ruby, a tomboyish hothead desperately looking to initiate contact with her partner, Sapphire. Sapphire, meanwhile, is a more levelheaded and stoic prisoner who has been vocalizing through the prison, clearly to garner Ruby’s attention.
All while Lapis Lazuli has hit the depths of despair, resigned to what awaits them on Homeworld. Her desperation, however, does not take into account a prisoner rebellion – in particular, Ruby and Sapphire teaming up once again to try and fight Jasper.
Guess what their strategy is.
Review (SPOILERS FROM MOMENT ONE):
Ah, yes. “Jailbreak”. It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll, and here we are – not only the final episode of Season 1, not only it’s climax, but also probably the single most well-known episode in the history of Steven Universe. Poll anybody on the street what they know about Steven Universe, and you’ll get a select few answers:
“Isn’t that the show about that kid that summons weapons by eating ice cream? Even Into Darkness had a better premise than that.”
“That fandom made me abandon Intersectional Marxist-Leninist Feminism and vote for Trump.”
“Oh, yeah, one of the characters is actually two lesbians in a purple British trench coat.”
Yeah, that last one is what everybody thinks about. Garnet is not one person – she’s two people. As one person.
“You’re wasting time!” – the Viceroy, to the movie Shinzon.
Premiere: December 13th, 2002
Written and Directed By: John Logan and Stuart Baird
Plot It’s 2379. The Romulan Senate has just been assassinated en masse by being turned into stone en masse. This is part of a chain of events involving Shinzon, a clone of Picard who found himself brought up in mining pits by Remans, an alien race disliked by the Romulans. As you would guess, the Enterprise is sent to investigate, and Picard gets a look at the mirror of himself… sort of.
If you squint hard enough.
Y’know, after the dull fest that was Star Trek: Insurrection, I was actually getting myself hyped up to review the fourth and final movie in the TNG part of the film franchise, Nemesis. Not because I was particularly excited for a movie often ranked as the weakest of the franchise, but because after Insurrection almost served as a sleep aid, I figured that Nemesis would be at least slightly better. I wasn’t expecting anything good, but I figured that it would be more interesting than its predecessor. In fact, maybe I would be surprised and the movie would actually be halfway decent. Even if neither the director or the writer were involved with Trek before (in fact, the former never saw an episode before), maybe some new blood was needed.
So, I popped the movie into my PS3.
And, indeed, I was surprised. It did hold my attention more than Insurrection did. Because Nemesis ain’t a bad film. No, no.
In the interest of not burying the lede any further, it is hands down my least favorite of the TNG films. Pending a rewatch of Into Darkness, it might even be the worst of the entire film franchise. Oh, yeah – this movie is worse than the one where Kirk finds God. Worse than the one where Kirk gets crushed under a poorly constructed bridge. Far worse than The Slow-Motion Picture. Hell, even the reboot films are less irritating than this. This movie killed the franchise the way fans knew it for 40 years – and depending on how charitable you are to the reboots, stuck the knife in one of America’s most recognizable franchises.
To paraphrase a quote from Jeremy Clarkson, how was so much done so badly by so many?
Well, let’s start by going to the yin to this movie’s yang, The Wrath of Khan. Continue reading →
Just a reminder for anybody interested that Cartoon Network’s newest show, OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes is set to debut tomorrow night (August 1st) at 6:15. For the impatient, the first few episodes are online right now.
I bring this up because the show is the brainchild of Ian Jones-Quartey, well known as a Steven Universe alum. It got its start in 2013 as part of a shorts program from Cartoon Network, became a web series that debut on YouTube and on CN’s Website last year, and is now set to hit Cable TV. Continue reading →
“E-vac-u-ate!” – Mayor Dewey, putting “get out of dodge” succulently.
Airdate: March 12th, 2015
Written By: Raven Molisee and Paul Vilecco.
Plot: Lapis’s warning was rather prescient, as a hand of death makes its way from space into Beach City. The town bails out, and Steven is sent along to keep them calm and help them carry on. However, Steven encounters a disquiet when he realizes the sheer scale of the conflict and that the Crystal Gems may have thrown themselves to the wolves.
Well, after two long years, here I am – the end of Steven Universe Season 1.
And what a season it was. I mean, consider that the show was advertised as “some kid rooms with aliens, eats ice cream, and acts like a dork”. Now consider that Season 1B has exposed our protagonists as psychologically messed up, unsure of what the hell they’ve been doing or will do, and you start to realize that either Cartoon Network’s marketing department is incompetent, or Sucrose played them (and, by extension, us) for fools. In a good way.
With Steven Universe cementing itself as a more (albeit not exclusively) serialized dramedy in Season 1B, it was imperative that the two-part finale serve as the coda to the themes that this season was built on. Now the question is – what does “The Return” do to make said coda as effective as possible?
The answer – it focuses on Steven. That’s a good sign.
(And it’s written by the duo that’s partially responsible for “Rose’s Scabbard”. Even juicier!)