“I wonder what kind of lunch my mom would’ve made me? Maybe actual space cookies! (sighs) I just wish I knew a little more about her.” – Steven, unaware that he said the secret phrase…
Airdate: December 4th, 2014
Written By: Joe Johnston, Jeff Liu, and Rebecca Sugar. (Yup, the creator wrote this.)
Plot: Sadie, disenchanted with the fact that her mother kept making her lunches, tosses one of them to Steven. This gets him thinking… what was his mother like? Could he get one more hit at the woman who brought him into the world? Well, thanks to Lion, he can… although it almost results in his suffocation.
You know, there is a question that often presses into my mind when I think about a certain sci-fi show… when did the Steven Universe Imperial Phase begin?
Or, rather, what is a Steven Universe Imperial Phase?
Well, to put it simply, the Imperial Phase is a term Neil Tennant (of Pet Shop Boys fame) coined to note an era when a production or producer is judged to have done no harm commercially or creatively. In the case of Steven Universe, this entails emitting critically beloved episode after critically beloved episode, being hailed as something so awesome that one has to wonder if the show is being written by super-humans.
The second question is – has it ended yet? Sure, there have been incidents in the fandom that have left them fighting off a stereotype of overzealous SJWs who constantly post on Tumblr that Hillary Clinton is the second coming of all major religious prophets combined. And of course, this could lead to a prejudice that the show is a hotbed of quasi-progressive SJW groupthink*. Still, the show’s critical standing remains strong – ratings on The AV Club haven’t dipped below a B yet, and “The Answer” even got nominated for an Emmy. (Then again, given that “Jurassic Bark” lost to “Three Gays of the Condo”, the Emmys aren’t exactly paragons of what is good.)
The third is, of course, when did it start? Opinions in the fandom in terms of “first great episode” range from “Mirror Gem” to “Jailbreak” – so, generally, Season 1B can be deciphered as the general start of the show’s Renaissance.
I’ve mentioned this idea before – mainly concerning the two-parter “Mirror Gem/Ocean Gem”. Still, I don’t think we’ve reached that point yet. Sure, “Mirror Gem/Ocean Gem” stretched the show’s boundaries from silly “monster of the week” into a myth arc that stretches through the galaxy. But after that, we had some inconsistent episodes, including two of my least favorite – “House Guest” and “Fusion Cuisine”.
Personally, I don’t think the Imperial Phase was truly confirmed yet with “Lion 3”, but it is not only a huge step towards the start, but it served as part one of a three-part link that cemented the show’s critical acclaim.