'Project Perfect Citizen' Is The 'Papers, Please' For The Digital Age

0-steven-universe
10
  • Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Drama
2013-11-04

It’s been ages since the last new episode of Steven Universe, but all that changes tonight, as Cartoon Network welcomes the season 3 premiere of Steven Universe with its "In Too Deep" special event. While some episode footage leaked early , there should still be more than enough new Steven Universe goodies to go around.

The first episode to kick off season 3 of Steven Universe is titled “Super Watermelon Island” and is summarized as follows: “Steven finds out what happened to all of the sentient watermelons he created.”

The episode opens with a little Watermelon Steven on a tropical island, clearly just growing accustomed to his watermelon self. In silence the wee fellow tries to get acquainted with his new body, only for a watermelon dog to bounce out of the bushes and head his way. The dog leads Watermelon Steven through the lush woods to a rich tribal society filled with watermelons tending the earth, growing new baby watermelons, sweeping the front yard, and even raising little watermelon chickens.

A warning gong breaks the calm. The tribal leader paints a star on the new Watermelon Steven’s chest and places a flower crown on his head, then has him taken out to the cliffside, where he is exactly in the right position to watch Malachite emerge from the sea, still dragging her massive chains.

Then real Steven wakes up to the sweet sounds of Peridot panicking about the Cluster, which is due to start destroying the Earth any day now. Steven says he had a vision of Malachite coming out of the sea, which all of the Gems just immediately accept, because why not. They head out, leaving Peridot and Steven to guard the drill as the earth begins to shake.

Steven is deeply worried, but doesn’t want to disobey the Gems, so he compromises by taking a nap. This keeps his real form safe from harm while sending him straight into another Watermelon Steven, this time one playing hackey-sack with friends. The new Steven avatar runs out onto the beach, where the Crystal Gems are facing off against Malachite.

We get to see what a fusion dance looks like between three partners (yes, I know Garnet is a fusion herself), and of course Garnet keeps the beat. Alexandrite forms just as Malachite breaks free of Lapis’ chains. Clearly Jasper is ascendant, as Malachite growls, “If we’re going to be this thing together, we might as well have some fun.”

Malachite and Alexandrite commence battle, and it’s as epic as one might imagine. Malachite summons massive fists from the depths of the ocean as Alexandrite summons a profusion of graceful weapons echoing all three of the Gems’. Watermelon Steven panics as Malachite launches herself at Alexandrite, running off to summon the other watermelons, who are huddled together fearfully in a cave.

In one of the episode’s best bits, Watermelon Steven delivers a rousing speech to the other watermelons… in whatever language the watermelons have, which is incomprehensible. They don’t appear to understand, until the old teacher figure starts shaking her walking stick in the air. The watermelons gear up for war.

Jasper appears to have acquired quite a taste for fusion since we last saw her express an opinion on the subject, and it’s worth noting that Malachite (a fusion of two) can more than hold her own against Alexandrite (a fusion of three-technically-four). Malachite flings Alexandrite into the sea and squeezes her in a huge icy fist as Alexandrite threatens to come apart from the pain.

That’s when the watermelon cavalry arrives. Initially Malachite is amused, an amusement that turns quickly to annoyance and even pain as little watermelon attackers land on her face and punch her in the eyeballs. That’s when Malachite starts sounding a lot more like Lapis, knocking little watermelon bodies everywhere: “You think you can hold me down? Nobody can! Not anymore….”

The watermelons’ bravery buy Alexandrite the time she needs to break free from the icy fist. She drags Malachite forward and knocks her into the sky, shooting her with a Very Special Arrow as she delivers the most perfect line possible: “You two should spend some time apart.”

Jasper and Malachite fall from the sky and are gently caught by Alexandrite, who stumbles to the beach and immediately falls apart. The Gems are obviously exhausted, with Pearl laughing giddily and Amethyst not even bothering to raise her head as she gives a thumbs up. For a moment it appears that the day has been saved as Watermelon Steven blushes under Garnet’s praise.

But then a huge earthquake splits the island. One of the Gems manages to grasp Lapis, but Jasper falls into a deep crevice. (Jasper! Jasper!!! Noooo!) The Cluster is beginning to activate for real, and the warp pad has been destroyed, so Garnet instructs Steven to wake up and get the drill going with Peridot.

“Steven, we love you,” is the last thing Steven hears Garnet say. Roll credits.

All in all, an exciting and adorable return to form for Steven Universe . The silent expressiveness of the watermelons and the little details of their society (that one guy who plucked a baby watermelon and then delivered it to its parents! The hulu-skirted warrior pecking the tie-wearing dad on the cheek and going off to war!) made a cute and touching frame to the inevitable battle between Malachite and Alexandrite.

In their massive, thrilling fight, the fusions used a lot of different weapons and tactics that were a satisfying echo of their component Gems. With even Alexandrite cracking under the strain, it means Malachite was a truly credible threat - and that Jasper and Lapis are both very powerful Gems. Why Alexandrite can forcibly unfuse another fusion is anyone’s guess - maybe it’s just something a stronger fusion, or one composed of more Gems than the other, can do.

The threat of Malachite lurking and malevolent deep in the sea for so long has been hanging over quite a few episodes now, so it’s fitting to start season 3 by resolving that threat. (Leaving another one hanging: where is Jasper?) But this is just part one of a two-parter, followed up immediately by “Gem Drill.” (Recap available here!)

The "In Too Deep" special event for Steven Universe starts Thursday May 12 at 7 PM, with two episodes back to back during a 30 minute special on May 12, and then one per week for three weeks following. Cartoon Network has also promised a " Summer of Steven " running June through August.

Make sure to check back with iDigitalTimes.com after next week’s episode of Steven Universe on May 19 at 7 PM, titled “Same Old World.” We’ll have all the recap you need.

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