Steven Universe Episode Recap 'Nightmare Hospital': Seriously, Talk To Your Kids

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

Steven Universe's latest episode “Nightmare Hospital” marks the glorious return of Steven Universe after an extended August hiatus. The new episode of Steven Universe, “Nightmare Hospital,” is summarized by Zap2It as follows:

“Steven and Connie sneak into a hospital in order to steal Rose's sword.”

Watch the preview trailer for Steven Universe episode “Nightmare Hospital” below:

“Nightmare Hospital” starts off with Connie and Steven returning through Lion’s portal to Connie’s home. Connie sighs that it’s unfortunate how she’s unable to practice her swordsmanship at home, so Steven lends her his mother’s sword for practice. They have an extremely cute and funny ongoing archaic speech gag of “ethhhhhhh” and “thou” that rings true to two kids in a natural and entirely believable friendship.

Steven mentions that Connie needs to continue practicing her swordsmanship in case they need to fight Malachite or Peridot or whatever. This hint of the greater plot perks me right up: will this episode tie into the lingering threat of Malachite or Peridot or whatever? Surely with Rose’s sword on the line, it has to, right? But when Connie hears her mother’s car in the driveway, she panics: they have to hide Rose’s sword.

When Connie’s mother comes in, she sees Connie sweetly practicing her violin while Steven sits on the couch offering an object lesson in how not to lie. They’ve disguised Rose’s sword as a coat rack, but Connie’s mother soon realizes something is amiss, and the jig is up. Dr. Maheswaran, who was already frazzled from her day trying to help a strange patient at the hospital, enters a truly epic rant about how swords are the first step on the slippery slope towards hooliganism and gang membership.

Dr. Maheswaran? u ok
Dr. Maheswaran? u ok (c) Cartoon Network

While she’s reaming Connie out, Dr. Maheswaran’s phone rings. It’s someone at the hospital frantically asking her to come back because there’s “another one.” Wearily she assures the person on the other line that she’s on her way, jams the sword into her duffel bag and departs for the hospital. “I’ll have a talk with your father to calculate just how grounded you are. And we’re using the abacus,” she promises grimly.

While Steven hopes she will simply change her mind, Connie says that her mother just doesn’t do that. They arrive at the hospital via Lion, and suddenly we’re in a Halloween episode, all spooky bwom-bwom beats of Intense Portent and crazy perspective and dark colors. Steven and Connie race through the hallway with hands linked and narrowly avoid being caught by Connie’s mom, who rushes through the hallway, sword in tow. Steven and Connie peek through the window of the hospital room Dr. Maheswaran has entered.

“It doesn’t look like a car accident,” says Connie’s mom on the phone, eyeing the frantically twitching, ostensibly-human-shaped thing under the sheets. A grayish arm and hand flops out. Malachite? Dr. Maheswaran ends her phone call with a sigh, promising to call back when she finds an answer. Under the blanket, there’s more flailing and an increasingly more disturbing series of high-pitched, gasping breaths. The kicker? No heartbeat.

Is it Malachite? Is it Malachite? IS IT MALACHITE?

Steve and Connie are only focused on the sword. They sneak in bravely, grab the duffel bag with the sword and sneak out as strange sounds continue to emerge from the bed. Unfortunately, they run smack into Dr. Maheswaran, who enters full parental horror mode with a poignant touch of real distress, not just anger. “We will finish this conversation at home,” says Connie’s mom, snatching up the sword and marching them all out of the room

But the hallway is occupied, and it’s neither sir, nor ma’am, nor Doctor West. It’s the other patient, who we can now see clearly is one of the gem mutants, the horrifying forced-fusion cluster. Clearly they are no longer confined to the Kindergarten. The trio runs back into the patient’s room as the gem cluster rushes down the hallway and starts to fling itself against the door, braying wordlessly.

Hide your kids, hide your Connie?
Hide your kids, hide your Connie? (c) Cartoon Network

Connie begs for the sword, but Dr. Maheswaran refuses: “Now is not the time,” she says, and “You know I never go back on a rule.” But the situation gets increasingly more urgent as Dr. Maheswaran’s other “patient,” another gem mutant, snatches Connie. Steven immediately charges into the fray, picking Connie out of the gem mutant’s many hands and summoning his shield to keep the mutant off of him.

“These patients are beyond reason,” Connie’s mom says in a fright. Connie’s pleas for the sword grow desperate, but they hit deaf ears: “Mother knows best!” says Dr. Maheswaran, a note of despair entering her voice. The trio is increasingly cornered by the critters as the gem cluster in the hallway rampages and Steven tries his best to hold off the gem mutant in the room.

Finally, the trio is forced into the hallway. Steven summons his bubble as the mutants bang mindlessly on the rose-pink surface. It’s then that Connie and Steven finally reveal Connie’s secret swordsmanship training, to Dr. Maheswaran’s horror. Dr. Maheswaran denies it at first, stating that she knows all of Connie’s “activities and Internets,” but Connie shouts at her mother that she doesn’t know her at all; she didn’t even notice that Connie’s glasses don’t have lenses anymore. (It’s been over a year in-universe since that episode, apparently. Steven grins sheepishly in the background.)

Thank you, God, for Connie Maheswaran.
Thank you, God, for Connie Maheswaran. (c) Cartoon Network

Connie snatches the sword from her mom’s bag as her mother stares, and with Steven as her support, Connie slices and dices the monsters handily. Steven bubbles the shattered gems, and the trio leaves the hospital.

Outside of Nightmare Hospital, Connie and her mother have a tearful discussion about how Connie has been lying to Dr. Maheswaran: not just about the sword-fighting, but about her glasses, her time with Steven, her exposure to these monsters and all the magic that makes up life with Steven and the Gems. Dr. Maheswaran listens with increasing concern. Finally, she unbends enough to say that she’ll try to keep an open mind and relax with all the rules.

“It scares me that you can’t talk to me. I need to know what’s happening in your life. I need to step in when you’re in over your head. Will you just promise me you’ll stop all this lying?” Dr. Maheswaran asks her daughter. Connie agrees, and mother and daughter embrace with new understanding. Steven smiles wistfully and looks down at his mother’s sword as the episode ends.

While the return of the gem mutants is a welcome reminder of the bigger plot at hand, the heart of this episode is the rawness of both the lies and the honesty between Connie and her mother. Connie is a good daughter who has obediently submitted to her strictly-scheduled and highly-controlled life, with two devoted parents who are deeply invested in her enrichment and education.

With honesty and respect born of love, this was the best part of the new Steven Universe episode.
With honesty and respect born of love, this was the best part of the new Steven Universe episode. (c) Cartoon Network

But that’s what makes the reveal of Connie’s year of secrets so devastating to Dr. Maheswaran, who wasn’t merely angry, but also distressed, shocked, and baffled. As a good parent does, however, Dr. Maheswaran relaxed the rules and controls she put into place because she thought they were best in the face of her growing daughter’s changing needs. Transparency between a parent and child is critical, not just in the Gem War with its life-or-death stakes, but in real life, for the kids at whom this show is targeted. The talk between Connie and her mother is a model of the kind of conversation loving parents and children should engage in, giving Dr. Maheswaran more character and depth than “angry controlling mom who just doesn’t get it” and imparting a critical lesson without tiresome preachiness.

Even more than the Silent Hill meets Resident Evil vibe of the Nightmare Hospital, or the Akira body horror of the gem clusters, I love the sincerity of those last few minutes between Connie and her mom. Now that Connie can be more open with her mother, I wonder what kind of unexpected resource Dr. Maheswaran might become for Connie and even Steven.

The next episode of Steven Universe airs next Thursday, Sept. 17. Titled “Sadie’s Song,” its summary reads, “Steven helps Sadie with an act for Beach-a-Palooza.”

Need to catch up on some Steven Universe by next Thursday? You can log in to Cartoon Network’s web site and watch Cartoon Network shows, including Steven Universe episodes from last Stevenbomb like “ Historical Friction ” and “ Keystone Motel ,” streaming live after selecting your TV provider. The service is provided at no charge and included in your TV subscription.

If that doesn’t work for you, Sling TV offers a “Best of Live TV” package that includes Cartoon Network and has a 7-day free trial available. Otherwise, you can watch HD quality episodes of Steven Universe on Cartoon Network’s web site the day after new episodes air, or take a look at the HD quality episodes of Steven Universe already up for viewing.

To check out past recaps, just click here for all of our previous Steven Universe coverage. Make sure to follow us on Twitter for more Steven Universe recaps and other news. And remember to watch the new episode of Steven Universe, Sept. 17 at 5:30 PM EST.

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