Steven Universe Review: “Mr. Greg” (Season 3, Episode 8)



Steven Universe Mr. Greg
“…why can’t I move on?”

“And we will never be alone again, ’cause it doesn’t happen every day.
Kinda counted on you being a friend. Can I give it up or give it away?
Now I thought about what I wanna say, but I never really know where to go.
So I chained myself to a friend, cause I know it unlocks like a door.”
– “Instant Crush”, Daft Punk ft. Julian Casablancas.

Airdate: July 19th, 2016

Written By: Joe Johnston and Jeff Liu.

Plot: Having netted a cool $10M from royalties for one of his songs, Greg is left wondering what the hell to do with all of that cash. Steven comes up with an idea to start – a night out in Empire City, complete with tagging Pearl along. Now, this is a risky gamble – Pearl and Greg have had a tense relationship for years now. Pearl, though, agrees to go, and is slowly pulled into the silliness of the resultant trip. However, deep inside, the agony of losing Rose still pierces Pearl in her core. And at the depth of night, she finally breaks down to herself…


On October 11th, 2010, Cartoon Network debut the second season of Adventure Time. The episode, entitled “It Came from the Nightosphere”, revolved around rock-bassist vampire Marceline and her strained relationship with her father. Central to the episode is a song entitled “The Fry Song”, which revolved around Marceline contemplating her father’s betrayal and his love… over the fact that he ate a box of fries. (Turned out, he did.)

The episode was the first penned by Rebecca Sugar.

I don’t think there could be a better opening salvo for Ms. Sugar’s television career. Not only did she help (alongside Adam Muto) pen an episode revolving around the interpersonal aspects of speculative fiction characters, but “The Fry Song” was also her first song for the show, taking such a silly idea and adding pathos to it. It would wind up being something of a trait for Sugar-driven episodes, using musical numbers to convey the themes within. Such was Sugar’s power that she wound up returning to write a song for the show’s very last episode.

Even further, it was the Sugar-penned “What Was Missing” and the song within (“I’m Just Your Problem”) that kicked off speculation that there existed a wayward romantic relationship between Marceline and Princess Bubblegum – even if merely implied and speculated, it was seen by those that saw it as romantic as a rather gutsy depiction of gay/bisexual characters at the time.

When she departed Adventure Time in 2012 to pen Steven Universe, it was clear that the musical numbers would follow. In fact, it was hearing “Giant Woman” sometime around the debut of that episode that made me suspect that her skills would really shine on her own show – enough for me to consider the show “awesome” even before I “properly” became a fan – and others have tended to agree. (Personally, cue the summer of 2015, I got a glimpse of “Rose’s Scabbard”, SOLD.)

Anyway, it’s the long, hot summer of 2016. Most of us remember it for the seismic changes that went on, be they political, cultural, or both. In this epochal moment in history, Steven Universe was in the middle of the Summer of Steven, new episodes every day for an entire calendar month.

But even within SU’s production, the world was changing. Joe Johnston, one of the show’s most prolific and (within the fandom) celebrated penmen, was promoted to a supervisor role. This would be his last episode. Concurrently, Rebecca Sugar was also yearning to write a musical episode. And in the universe, there was this question of the relationship between Pearl, Greg, and Rose that had yet to be settled.

What resulted is often regarded as not only Steven Universe’s most idiosyncratic and memorable outing, but in terms of episode quality, is often cited as one of the greatest moments in the entirety of the SU Canon. Continue reading


Steven Universe Review: “Sworn to the Sword” (Season 2, Episode 5)

A frame from the Steven Universe episode "Sworn to the Sword"

“It was here that I became familiar with the human concept of a knight – completely dedicated to a person and a cause. This is what you must become, Connie – brave, selfless, and loyal.” – Pearl. Oh, this is gonna be a happy episode, right?

Airdate: June 15th, 2015

Written By: Joe Johnston and Jeff Liu

Plot: After seeing Connie ward off a flock of seagulls (they flew so far awaaaaayyy), Steven encourages her to take up sword fighting under Pearl. Despite Pearl’s initial reservation, she takes up on the offer. However, in spite of Steven and Connie thinking they’ll make a great team, her teaching methods are unorthodox and a bit self-sacrificing… by which I mean, her methods are borderline suicidal.


Ever since I reviewed “Rose’s Scabbard” back in May, I’ve made it no secret that it is my single favorite episode of Steven Universe. Time and time again, I’ve argued that the episode is not only the pinnacle of character pathos, but manages to take a scenario that would be the height of melodrama and hit the perfect beat – between the fantastic score,  the fantastic visuals, the sobering climax, and the ambiguous ending, “Rose’s Scabbard” is known to reduce fans to tears. It was the episode that secured my fandom, and I will never regret it.

However, as I mentioned in the review, just because I think it’s my favorite episode doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the objective best. Not that I don’t think “Rose’s Scabbard” is a remarkable eleven minutes of television – it is. But I have entertained the idea that the show has produced episodes that, on a technical level, are better. In my head, I think of at least two episodes that raise that possibility. There’s “Bismuth”, the half-hour third season special that gave us the titular character and how she impacted the Crystal Gems.

And then there’s today’s episode, “Sworn to the Sword”. Coincidentally, it is the sequel to “Rose’s Scabbard”… as well as two other episodes – “Steven the Sword Fighter” and “Full Disclosure”. Continue reading

Movie Review – Star Trek: Nemesis

“A Generation’s Final Journey Begins…” (Taken from Memory Alpha)

“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 actually hold my attention more than Insurrection did. Because Nemesis ain’t a bad film.

No, no.

It’s shameful.

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? Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: “Rose’s Scabbard” (Season 1B, Episode 19)

Pearl clutching onto Rose's Scabbard.

“It held your mother’s sword. Nothing else could fit so perfectly.” – Pearl, not even trying to hide her crush on Steven’s dead mom when talking about the titular scabbard. And believe me, it just gets more unnerving from there…

Airdate: March 9th, 2015

Written by: Rebecca Sugar, Ravin Molisee, and Paul Villeco

Plot: At the Strawberry Fields, Lion unearths an old scabbard. Pearl instantly recognizes it as one to Rose’s sword and begins waxing quite a bit of nostalgia over it. Determined to have Steven comprehend its importance, she takes Steven to the storage cave where the sword is said to reside… and is shocked when Steven not only knows how to access the armor and weaponry, but that the sword lay in Lion’s mane. In fact, Pearl is quite shocked that Rose even had a lion in the first place.

A breakdown ensues.

Review (WARNING – LONG):

In 1990, the Pet Shop Boys released a single entitled “Being Boring” – a song about a man’s idealistic worldview being compromised by the inexorable march of time. Once mingling amongst the crowds of parties inspired by “a famous writer from the 1920s”, he reflects on having formed his own path of unfathomable success, all while many around him, including a particularly close friend, died. In spite of its comparatively weaker chart performance at the time, “Being Boring” has become Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe’s most critically acclaimed song, and it’s quite easy to see why. It combines beautiful vocals, with Tennant at arguably his most introspective; rather melancholic themes of love, friendship, loss, saudade, and an ironic sense of regret; all wrapped around gorgeous instrumentation.

Bizarrely, though, that song reminds me of a particular Steven Universe episode – “Rose’s Scabbard”. Now, I know what you might be thinking – doesn’t this connection seem a bit tangential? A pop record and an episode of a cartoon? When you put it that way, it might be. Still… may as well go to another dynamic duo – that of Steven and Pearl.

Full disclosure before we begin – Pearl is my favorite Steven Universe protagonist, and probably my all-time favorite character. Sure, many fans might feel enthralled by Garnet, or might really believe in Steven. Personally, though, Pearl is one of the most complex and well-written characters in western animation – behind the intellect she possesses is a character full of neuroses and faults, yet one that remains lovable.

Makes sense, then, that one of my favorite characters is the main focus of an episode that is cited as a fan favorite.

Yes, Steven Universe has had very few bad episodes. And most of them were more “mixed bags” or “mediocre” than downright bad. (“Fusion Cuisine” and “Horror Club”… aren’t making my hall of favorites.) Still, in this show where so many episodes are beloved, this episode, in particular, is hailed as a showcase of the writers in top gear – which, considering some of the episodes I’ve seen so far, is certainly no small feat.

Why is that? Are the fans overhyping this episode? What do I, some dork with a little review blog, think? Continue reading