Steven Universe Review: "Laser Light Cannon" (Season 1A, Episode 2)

Oh, no – it’s the maker of rules. Dealing with fools, it’ll cheat you blind!

Airdate: November 4th, 2013

Synopsis: Short answer: the core four realize that Clear Eyes can’t cure Red Eye all the time.

Long answer – a red eye from space is gunning for Beach City. Attempts to destroy it (including throwing Amethyst at it) have failed. There is an option – a light cannon, used by Rose… Steven’s sorta-dead-ish mother. Still, there is more hope – the cannon could be in Greg’s storage unit… his crowded storage unit… which stores the stuff that doesn’t fit in Greg’s van, where he lives.

Review (SPOILERS): If “Gem Glow” established the relationship between the core four characters and established the start of Steven’s “coming-of-age” arc, then “Laser Light Cannon” takes a first look at the past for the main characters… or at least, one of them.

This is the first episode of Steven Universe to explicitly mention Rose Quartz, the mother of Steven. In this episode, much like Garnet in the last, she is an enigma – one that we know little about. However, the Gems do seem to hold a deep level of respect for their lost comrade. Filling the role of the Lost Lenore, Greg still has her stuff in his storage unit… alongside his other pointless stuff.

It becomes apparent, however, that the two’s romance was truly that – they loved each other, confided in each other. No moment is no personal, and yet more indicative of the series, than a catchphrase that is said through the entire episode.

“If every pork chop were perfect, we wouldn’t have hot dogs!”

Without giving much away, it becomes clear that this is Greg’s and Rose’s mantra. They completed each other. Beyond that, though, lies the fact that one simple sentence – that one above – is later established to be the mission statement for the writers. It’s a widely beloved fact in the fandom that every character is revealed to have some level of insecurity, have had some level of failure, etc. etc. etc.

No one is safe from Sucrose and Company’s wrath!

Steven’s role is somewhat less ambiguous – in effect, he is the direct successor to his mother. Hell of a lot to live up to for an 11-year old, eh? However, in many ways, I feel like he fits the “11-year-old” archetype a bit better than, say, Dipper Pines does the “12-year-old”. Don’t get me wrong – Dipper is one of my all-time favorite characters. However, something about Steven screams 11-year old – his idealism, his generally unblemished view of his father, a few insecurities about worth, and so forth. This creates a character that the target audience can relate to.

However, it’s Greg that gets fleshed out. Besides sharing catchphrases with Rose (as seen above), we also get a quick look at his own character – an aging ex-rocker now operating a car wash, living in his own van. He has his own insecurities (“Drive My Van Into Your Heart”, anybody), which are not helped much by the Gems’ dismissal of him. It’s also worth noting that, due to the seemingly short 11-minute structure, there’s less time to flesh him out than other shows would. And the writers still did it. Kudos to them.

Oh, that’s not getting into the rest of the episode. The animation is still fantastic, although the difference in storyboard crew (Rebecca Sugar and Kat Morris) shows a little bit. The cannon is a thing of perfection, the action sequences are well animated… it’s fantastic.

Did it reach “finest show on Cartoon Network” this early? Not yet, but at this point, it was one hell of a contender.

Tidbits:

  • This episodes introduces the Fryman Family, who operate a french fry joint. They would get an episode of their own with “Frybo”. Even then, Steven’s casual relationship with them is sort of cute. Frybits!
  • Also, there’s a very close bond with Steven and Amethyst, who act like best friends/close siblings. Amethyst brings out the more “childish” side of Steven, which helps keep him grounded as a character.
  • Oh, and the music… the music is simply fantastic. The background music, barring “Drive My Van Into Your Heart” (which might not even be background music) is very jazzy, mellow, and adds something of an added flavor to an already great series.
Favorite Scene: Everything involving the Laser Light Cannon… especially it’s activation. Animation, writing… fantastic.

Best Character:
 Greg, already more than one-dimensional in his first appearance.

Memorable Quote: “If every pork chop were perfect, we wouldn’t have hot dogs.” – Greg… and Steven… and Rose. Read above for why.
Score: 8.5 (Silver)
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