'Steven Universe' Episode 'Mr. Greg' Recap: The Particular Pathos Of Pearl

  • Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Drama
Splash art for "Mr. Greg."
Splash art for "Mr. Greg." (c) Cartoon Network

We’ve got all of Steven Universe season 3 dropping every weeknight for the next few weeks, starting with last night’s “Steven Floats”/“Drop Beat Dad” double header. These two episodes gently eased us into Steven Universe season 3 without the high-stakes tension of Earth’s imminent destruction. “Steven Floats” established a new power for Steven, a floating ability regulated by his emotions like many of his powers. “Drop Beat Dad” grounded us back in the citizenry of Beach City, giving aspiring DJ Sour Cream a little time in the spotlight with his terrible bio-dad Marty (Greg’s ex-manager) and his stepdad Yellowtail (Onion’s bio-dad).

Today’s episode, “Mr. Greg,” starts straight off the end of “Drop Beat Dad,” where we discovered that Marty only swung through town because of his legal obligation to give Greg a check for 10 million dollars. The episode opens with a Pepe’s Burgers commercial to the tune of Greg’s old song, which Marty sold as a burger jingle - hence the fat check. (The residuals dream is real, y’all.)

Pearl eyes the jingle with bafflement, only to admit with fond frustration that Rose would probably have loved it. Greg and Steven share a moment of concern over Pearl’s reaction before they start discussing what to do with the money. A light guitar plays as Greg says that none of the things he want cost any money: a light summer breeze, son on the beach, time with his son.

Pearl stalks off in irritation. She’s always had a negative reaction to Greg’s music, and it’s not farfetched to conclude it’s because of how that music attracted Rose -- pulling Rose away from her.

Finally Greg gets an idea of what to do: they’ll visit Empire City. The light guitar changes to a heavier, rollicking and rolling tune as Steven and Greg get carried away with their own excitement. Steven wants to bring Pearl, but Greg delicately says that he and Pearl have never gotten along -- not since Greg started dating Rose. “It’ll be great! You, me, Pearl -- and don’t forget Mom,” Steven sings out, pulling up his shirt to show off his gem bellybutton.

Both Greg and Pearl recoil at that horrifyingly awkward image, but Pearl comes with them anyway to a snooty high-rise hotel in the heart of Empire City. They’re doted upon by the staff, and Greg and Steven appear to be enjoying themselves, though Pearl is stiff and uncomfortable. Their hotel room is a marvel, and Greg and Steven dress up in tuxes to splash around the pool and enjoy the room. Pearl cheers up once she’s in a tux, commenting on the tasteful fountains and even going as far as tap-dancing with Steven. But when Greg cuts in, delighted to see that she’s having fun, Pearl practically leaps away.

“Boo, you ruined the song,” hollers one of the wait staff. Greg tells a concerned Steven not to worry about it, as he and Pearl have always been this way.

That evening, Pearl stands over Greg and Steven as they snore. She sighs, then glances to the vase full of roses, which causes her to smile. The song she proceeds to sing is the most magnificently gay thing Steven Universe has done since Ruby and Sapphire got their own episode, as Pearl reminisces about how little Rose’s flings with human men mattered, until Greg. “After all those years, I never thought I’d lose,” Pearl sings as the lights of the city glow behind her. Her voice actress, Deedee Magno Hall, does an incredible job, her voice filled with loss and longing. Pearl cries that she’s lost, it’s over, Rose is gone, and she must be there for Rose’s son, but she still can’t seem to move on. It’s a devastating number.

Greg and Steven were both awake during the song, Pearl realizes belatedly. Greg leaves the room, apologizing dully for Pearl having to be around him. But Steven appears determined - he knew what he was doing.

The next morning sees Steven grasping Pearl by the hand with great determination, bringing her towards Greg, who looks just as awkward as she does. Then Steven bribes the piano player to take off (he marches off with a series of titillated root-doot-doots which have to be heard to be believed) and starts to sing, asking them both to talk to each other about what happened. Everyone starts to tear up when Steven sings that they have one thing in common: both of them love Steven.

In a dreamy style with the camera spinning around both of them, Greg admits that he’d hate himself in Pearl’s position, as he knew what Pearl felt for Rose and stayed around anyway. Pearl says that’s not the problem; the problem is that Rose fell for Greg in the first place. Pearl and Greg start waltzing slowly as Steven sings that they both need someone who knows what the other is going through. “You both love me and I love both of you,” says Steven.

Finally the bill comes through, ending their sojourn in Empire City. A tuckered-out Steven naps in the backseat, sleepily singing, “It’s over, isn’t it?” as Pearl and Greg nervously but sincerely sing together, no grand harmonies, just Pearl trying on Greg’s tunes for a size as Greg sings back. The episode ends with Pearl and Greg chatting to each other animatedly as they leave the Empire State.

Any episode breaking down the layers of complicated feelings Pearl carries around with her is a gem in my book. “Mr. Greg” delivers, breaking down the components of Pearl’s suffering just as Steven works to rebuild the relationship that never was between Greg and Pearl. Greg and Pearl may never be bosom buddies, but their understanding, based on their mutual love for Rose and Steven and their grief for Rose’s loss, is an unusually subtle one for any show, let alone a kid’s show on Cartoon Network. And they did it all to some of the catchiest tunes this side of Hamilton.

The "In Too Deep" Steven Universe special event kicked off with “Watermelon Island” and “Gem Drill” back to back and ended with “Hit the Diamond.” Cartoon Network has promised a "Summer of Steven" and are delivering the rest of season 3 in the biggest Stevenbomb yet: new episodes every single weeknight for over a month, July 18 through Aug. 12.

Make sure to check back with iDigitalTimes every weeknight after Steven Universe airs for recaps, analysis and news.

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