'Steven Universe' Episode 'Gem Harvest' Recap: Thanksgiving Special Introduces New Character (Not The Pumpkin)

  • Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Drama
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Steven Universe. (c) Cartoon Network

The last time Steven Universe was on the air, we got to enjoy iconic episode, “Mindful Education” featuring gamechanger song “Here Comes A Thought.” We also got to enjoy some light-hearted Pearl shenanigans in “Last One Out of Beach City ” and some citizenry backstory in “Future Boy Zoltron.” And then it all stopped, except for some teasing at New York Comic-Con: mew special episode “Gem Harvest ” sneak peek! A new song! The last time we had a special episode, we got into some serious Bismuth. What revelations can we expect in “Gem Harvest”?

“Gem Harvest” starts with Steven knocking on the door to Chateau du Lapidot, ready for their planned sleepover. He investigates the new corn fields and walks through them into a pumpkin patch. “Did I just die and go to the back of a cereal box?” he wonders. Lapis happily flies over to greet him as he accidentally sets off a watering hose.

Peridot quits riding her tractor in the background and bounds forward, asking his thoughts about their “experiment.” She explains that since she has all the skills needed to grow Gems, she wanted to try growing something else. She grabs some corn and says “Hello, corn.” After a pause, she shouts, “I made you in my image! You will do as I say!”

Steven laughs and explains that’s not how vegetables work. Peridot and Lapis look devastated and prepare to dismantle their experiment.

Steven knows how to make a living vegetable, though. He picks up a seed and licks it, then plants it. “Garnet says not to lick stuff I find on the ground, but this is for a good cause,” he comments. When they return the next morning, Steven sees a little doglike pumpkin bouncing in the field. The pumpkin is eager to hang with Steven and only Steven, who pathetically lies that it must be due to treats in his pocket.

“It’s only just come into existence and it already doesn’t like us,” says Lapis in distress. As the pumpkin purrs happily in Steven’s arms, Steven admits that he’s the one who made the living pumpkin.

Lapis lifts up the inert pumpkin she and Peridot grew as Peridot enviously looks at Steven’s pumpkin, which they point out has a face. Then the little pumpkin watches in horror as Steven starts carving up a pumpkin, jack-o-lantern style. Whipped into a terror, the pumpkin runs into Lapis’ arms, barking at Steven.

Just as Steven comments that it’s nice to have a new addition to the family, an old-fashioned airplane swoops over the corn fields. The old man inside is yelling up a storm about the barn. “A hobo is a man’s job,” he shouts. Once he lands, he stomps out and hollers: “You’re hippies! I heard about you on AM radio. What are you doing, coming in here, socializin’ this fine American barn?!”

Lapis holds him up in a water fist and Peridot is about to set off the drones when Steven approaches awkwardly to defuse the situation.

The old man claims he owns the barn, so Steven calls the Crystal Gems and Greg as well. The old man turns out to be Greg’s cousin Andy, so Greg introduces Andy to Steven. Andy is shocked to find that he has a nephew, but gamely scoops Steven up as all the Gems present tense up and ready themselves to attack. But Andy puts Steven down when asked. “Sorry, Steven. I’m not used to holding a nephew ‘cause I didn’t know I had one,” Andy says pointedly.  

Greg awkwardly says that his “wife,” Rose, is “no longer with us.” We learn that Greg’s real last name is DeMayo and that he up and left his family twenty years ago. We also learn that the DeMayo family used to use the barn as a gathering place for many years. Steven offers to have Andy join them for a big meal, eaten together as family. Andy skeptically agrees: “I’ll give your coven a chance and eat your dinner, but only because I lost my sandwich in the Atlantic.”

There is a montage of the Gems helping each other gather veggies for the dinner, with another quip from Andy upon realizing that the dinner from these “illegal alien hippies” will be vegetarian: “Don’t let them get to you Steven. I’ll give you a stick of pepperoni for your birthday.” (Please!)

Drama hits when Pearl and Peridot start repurposing materials from the barn in order to make an oven/cooktop combo. But those materials were part of the Daring DeMayos, which I guess is some kind of family aerial daredevil unit? He walks himself away in order to calm down. Steven instructs the Gems to up their game.

Notably, the pumpkin is whimpering and crying in the background, so Amethyst chases off after it. Why is it whimpering and crying? We don’t find out in this episode. Maybe it’s an Easter egg for some upcoming episode. Maybe it smells Jasper . I miss you, Jasper.

The Gems’ idea of kicking it up a notch is to incorporate as many human celebrations into ther dinner as possible: marriage, birth, death…. They bring a wedding cake, “It’s A Boy” balloons and a tombstone that says R.I.P Andy. It could have gone horribly wrong, but Andy demonstrates that he is truly Greg’s blood relation as the lunacy of it gets him to laugh and loosen up.

They start dinner off with dessert. Andy cuts up the wedding cake and passes down a slice. The Gems pass the slice down the table to each other until it winds up back at Andy, repeating his comment: “Where are my manners?” as though doing so is a human ritual. It’s a little weird and alien, which is perfect.

Peridot and Lapis start quarreling with Pearl over the rewards of saving the Earth from Homeworld, which is also accurate to Thanksgiving dinners. “All right, we don’t want to start another Gem war at the table,” says Greg. Dinner is saved as they start thanking one another. Pearl checks to make sure everyone got thanked - and they thank Andy as well. Andy looks down at the wedding cake and says they can have the barn, then takes off in a fit of emotion. Steven asks Lapis for help, and she obliges him, flying alongside the plane as Steven dangles determinedly.

Now we get an extended peek into Andy’s pain: he feels like the only one that was left behind, the only one who cared enough about the family to try and make sure things stayed the same. Andy only gets angrier as he talks, but Steven asks Lapis to throw him onto Andy’s plane and meet him back at the barn, confident he can get through to his uncle. He wants to know his human side as well as he’s coming to know his Gem side, and he can only have that through his Uncle Andy.

Steven falls off the plane and tries to activate his floating power, but fails. Andy scoops him up in the nick of time and starts yelling at him: “What good are you to me as family if you’re….” Then Andy says he’s just glad that Steven is safe.

Message time: It doesn’t feel fair that everyone changed, but Andy points out to himself that he owns an airplane and could have visited his scattered relatives as well. He could have been the change he wanted to see. Steven points out that it’s not too late. When they arrive back at the barn, Andy pulls Greg in for a big hug. Then the pumpkin pukes a wedding topper in front of them. “That’s gross,” says Andy. End of episode.

I’m not sure the Thanksgiving episode needed to be a half-hour special, but it’s hard to deny that Steven’s human side is as important to Steven and as important to the anti-Homeworld efforts as his Gem side. His very existence as a bridge between worlds requires him to know both worlds as fully and completely as possible. It was admittedly interesting to think about impetuous young Greg leaving his small town for the big city, and Andy’s plotline about how distressing changes over time can be is especially timely for the holiday. Andy himself was also full of funny quips, though I’m glad he warmed up to the illegal alien vegetarian hippie aunts in time.

As far as lore goes, we did learn something really important: what a Gem makes responds to that Gem with immediate love, interest, feelings of safety and devotion. No wonder the sentient Gem soldiers are so devoted to their Diamonds, just as the pumpkin was instantly ready to leap into Steven’s arms, purring. But that slavish connection can be subverted if something sufficiently horrifying or world-changing takes place, like when the pumpkin saw Steven, its creator, mangling something that looked just like it. That was enough for it to switch its allegiance. Might we see something torturous like this happen with another Gem that remains out there, corrupted yet still devoted? We’ve already seen it happen with Peridot and Yellow Diamond, so if Steven’s healing powers level up, we may well see it happen again.

Make sure to check back with iDigitalTimes for upcoming news, analysis and hot takes as they happen, with the new Steven Universe episode, “Three Gems and a Baby,” airing Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. Got any hot takes on “Gem Harvest”? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

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