Steven Universe Review: "Island Adventure" (Season 1B, Episode 4)

It could be worse. You could be trapped on a shuttle that crashed on an ice planet.

“I’m the warp master!“That’s nice, Steven.” – Steven and Sadie, the latter starting to sound like she knows where her life is going, and ain’t liking it.

Airdate: October 23rd, 2014

Written By: Raven Molisee and Paul Villeco

Plot: While bragging about his ability to warp to Lars and Sadie, Steven realizes that the two’s relationship is down in the dumps… to say the very least. He suggests the trio go to the island that he and the Crystal Gems were on just before. Lars doesn’t want to stay, but the Warp Pad goes missing, thus stranding them on the island. There, Lars’s emotional defenses begin breaking down, leaving him vulnerable, and bringing him closer to Sadie.

Review (SPOILERS):

Last we left the tragic saga that was the relationship of Lars and Sadie, the former was breathing fire as a result of the latter’s act of revenge. Said revenge was caused by Lars betraying Sadie’s trust, after (apparently) they slept with each other. Yeah, those two get on like water and oil, and still work together. Get these two to Corrie already.

Personally, while not as interesting as the sci-fi antics of the Crystal Gems, I do like these two characters. They serve as Steven’s connection to the human world that the other Gems have a tenuous grasp on. And as the Gem sphere of Steven’s little life prepares to catch fire, the sparks are flying at the Big Donut.

As you could tell, this episode has the relationship between the two of them as cool as they have ever been. (Ironic, given the last episode that featured the two.) Here, we have a shining example on just how badly each other’s behavior cut deep in “Joking Victim” – what once seemed like a minor inconvenience to Sadie (and a pastime that she herself sort of partook in), Lars’s sleeping on the job now drives her openly spare.

So, why not trap the two morons together as far away from humanity as possible? Nice logic, Steven. That should solve their relationship. Steven still doesn’t get just how badly each other’s deception has tarnished their relationship.

The problems, though, cut deeper. In my “Joking Victim” review, I noted that, as selfish as Lars was, he did have something of a tragic aura to him. He didn’t really know just how badly his actions hurt Sadie until confronted by her. Here, we get a more tragic aspect of him – a deeply, deeply self-loathing aspect of him.

Do you ever get lonely, even when you’re around people?

Why would Lars even say that?

Does he have any sort of posse, even after hanging with The Cool Kids in “Joking Victim”? With that sentence, I have to say… I don’t think so. Does Lars believe that he doesn’t get other people? Most likely. Dare I argue that he recognizes, on a small level, that his behavior makes him fundamentally unlikeable on a level that Arnold Rimmer would feel lucky about? Well, I’d even argue that. Maybe it’s just Matthew Moy’s voice acting, but he makes Lars come off as so tragically pathetic, it’s hard for me to doubt any hints of self-loathing.

I mean, he does appear to have some cooking talent if the scenes featuring him cooking fish are any indication. Depression is not out of the question. That doesn’t excuse his more odious traits – his laziness, his selfish outlook on the universe – but it does lay down a couple more pieces to the puzzle of Lars.

But the big development in this episode involves Sadie. Back in “Joking Victim”, she saw the dagger that she saw before her – the fire salt – and grasped at it. Underhanded as it may have been, it was an action fueled by a lust for revenge. Here? She covers up the warp pad to trap Lars on the island. Her argument is that it will bring him to his emotional core. Cruel as her decision to taint the donut was, this is insane on a different level. Does it cross her mind that she’s trapping Lars and Steven away from the people they love?

Also, the fact that she committed her own lie to keep Lars on the island? Even if you use the “taste of his own medicine” defense, that not only still smells of hypocrisy, but her lie almost proved fatal to Lars and Steven.

Mutually screwed-up relationship, anybody? Tragic, insensitive dork together with somebody who’s screw-ups involving the man she has a crush on can be dangerous to her best friends. If Steven and Connie’s relationship is reminiscent of a brilliant partnership (which I will get to in later reviews), Lars and Sadie’s relationship is that of a teenage tragedy, damned by their own vices.

To be fair, though, they aren’t without reasons for their actions and behavior. First off, Sadie seemed to have a good excuse when it came to her sabotage – to try and get Lars to open up – and Lars seemed to have a good excuse in closing up, because Sadie has betrayed him on at least two occasions. However, good as these excuses may seem, they are still not valid excuses.

Give them some credit, though – the two of them have survival skills. Seriously – Sadie and Lars are pretty damn good at hunting and cooking. Honestly, when they actually work together, the two of them are a damn good team. The question is simple – is there too much deceit in this relationship? It a good thing unsalvageable?

Here’s where I think the episode falls short, though – at least in my own opinion, it tends to gloss over Sadie’s own deceit. Yes, Lars is livid, but the episode itself tends to put this on par with merely skipping out of work. Mind you, the trio could’ve very well died. And if you take what’s not depicted in the episode – the panic of the townspeople and the other Crystal Gems – logically, Sadie’s own deceit is far worse. And, again, the “fight fire with fire” excuse is not good enough – it’s a message that will eventually be addressed in the show, and needless to say, it doesn’t necessarily take a kind view to it.

I’m not defending Lars – again, he is a selfish ass. But it appears more tragic given the hell that he has to go through in this episode.

But, let’s get to the second aspect of this episode – Steven. I mean, it’s a Lars/Sadie episode, so what the hell is this kid in the episode for, you might ask?

Well, first off, title character. Weak defense, though, so I’ll go to my second off – last time Sadie and Lars came to blows, he was involved in the ultimate revenge – he brought in the Fire Salt to Sadie. Even so, what is his purpose?

Here’s the thing – the episode started with him and the Gems on a mission to the island, one involving a Gem monster. The thing is, they don’t exactly complete this objective. He brings the duo to this island, and it is there that he captures the Gem monster. While an argument could be made that this was an opportunistic – or at least subconscious – move on his part, I personally believe that it was more of a coincidence. Steven saw the island, saw the beauty of it, and brought Lars and Sadie there. There, after a few days, they encounter the Gem Monster. Steven points it out, and Sadie manages to take it down, saving Lars in the process.

Give him credit – he is becoming a bit more mature, a bit more active in his role as a Crystal Gem. That, and he easily bubbles the monster. Baby steps.

The question has to be asked, however – what do I think of this episode?

I think it was good, but not great.

It was interesting to see Lars becoming more likable, as Sadie merely grew more antagonistic and – honestly – disturbing. The writers managed to make the duo’s warped psyche quite interesting, albeit in a somewhat freaky way. I think the scenario could’ve been fleshed out a bit more, though.

Some might view Lars and Sadie’s relationship as teenage kicks. After this episode, I view it as a teenage wasteland.

Tidbits

  • I’ll admit – the island is pretty damn beautiful. Kudos to the animators.
  • As far as the “outside the island” scenario goes, I could assume that the Gems themselves have been underwater for about a week, and don’t really know about Steven being on a deserted island. Alternately, we’ll get introduced to a possible explanation in a couple of episodes. Still, what about the loved ones of Lars and Sadie?
  • Unrelated note, this is a thing now. Use it. In the very unlikely event that one is made for Steven Universe or Gravity Falls, I will eat my hat.

Wrap Up

Favorite Scene: Lars’ breakdown. Brings a more tragic aura to one of SU’s less likable characters.
Best Character: Uh, Lars.
Memorable Quote: “You trapped me on an island, so you could come on to me!” – Lars, calling Sadie out on her own deceit. No matter what her reasoning, Lars does have a point in calling out Sadie.
Verdict:  Silver. While the show could’ve expanded a bit more on the moral dilemma involving Lars and Sadie, and the situation at hand, it did showcase some development in Steven’s powers, gave some character development to Lars, and was visually quite good, so I’ll give it the “Silver”. 
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