'Steven Universe' Episode 'Tiger Philanthropist' Recap: The Purple Puma's Last Hurrah

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steven universe tiger philanthropist
Art of Steven Universe as Tiger Millionaire. (c) Cartoon Network

Steven Universe returned from hiatus on Jan. 30 with a five-episode gut punch covering themes like grief, loss and responsibility, packed with Homeworld lore and shenanigans. Then “ The New Crystal Gems ” gave us a little levity after all those feels, only to plunge us right back into an emotional ocean in “ Storm in the Room. ” Immediately we were forced to sit through a Ronaldo episode in “ Rocknaldo. ” But tonight the focus is back on Steven (and Amethyst) in new Steven Universe episode “Tiger Philanthropist.”

“Tiger Philanthropist” starts off with a bout featuring bored-looking Purple Puma and a still-pumped Tiger Millionaire. Amethyst doesn’t look mad or anything, but she definitely seems bored even in the wake of another victory. “Such dedication to teamwork and friendship,” says Mr. Smiley just as Amethyst takes the mic to announce her retirement. Oops.

Steven runs out after Purple Puma for an explanation as Amethyst returns to her normal form outside the warehouse doors, sighing, “Ah, got my Saturday nights back.” Amethyst says they don’t need wrestling to have fun anymore, but Steven, still holding on to the wrestling belt, looks sad.

The next day, Steven goes to the Big Donut to order the special. Lars is still deep in mourning over Tiger Millionaire and Purple Puma. “Just because Purple Puma quit doesn’t mean Tiger had to,” says Lars, a Tiger super-fan. This gives Steven an idea, and he returns to the underground wrestling scene alone and remade as “Tiger Philanthropist,” who’s ready to give back to the fans.

Steven is used to working with Amethyst and still stumbles when he reaches out a hand, expecting her there, but when his former opponents run up on him, he manages the battle on his own. He seems ready to be okay with this new equilibrium, but spots the boredom and irritation on superfan Lars’ face.

The next morning at the Big Donut, Steven runs eagerly forward to hear about Lars’ night. “He came back as some name Tiger Philharmonic Donation thing, which honestly, is such a weird angle, you know. The whole thing just felt so off. He took off his tie and he’s throwing money at everybody? It’s like the sequel no one asked for,” Lars complains. “Well, he just didn’t seem into it. He used to care about his money. Now he’s just giving it away! And he still just wins like every match.”

Steven whines that he wants to know what Lars wants from Tiger Millionaire, but Lars just kicks him out, bellowing about his complexity of spirit.

Back at the Temple, Amethyst explains she needed to be Purple Puma when she felt like she wasn’t good enough. But she no longer feels like that. Steven doesn’t feel like that either, but it was “their thing together,” even if it doesn’t make sense anymore. He says he should just tell everyone he’s quitting and leave like it’s no big deal as Amethyst looks down awkwardly, clearly not having anticipated Steven’s attachment to their Saturday routine.

At the warehouse, Steven says he is giving away the Tag Team titles to whoever can grab them from the ceiling first. Lars shouts “Boo! Philanthropy is lame!” as Steven says “These belts don’t mean anything to me! They never did,” looking miserable.

The Good-Looking Gang and the Construction Brothers approach to try and take the Tag Team belts. That’s when the Purple Puma comes back, to Steven’s surprise. “Those times we wrestled together meant everything to me! I will not stand up and let you give up our memories!” says Purple Puma before picking Tiger up bodily and crushing him in a hug. Amethyst apologizes for quitting on Steven.

Neither of them need wrestling anymore, but they agree to go out “with a bang” and let themselves get beat up. “Finish it,” they both say as the Good Looking Gang take them out. Lars is carried out by security sobbing “Tiger!” as the episode comes to a close.

Packed with cute callbacks to one of Steven Universe ’s most idiosyncratic and memorable episodes, “Tiger Philanthropist” also closes Amethyst’s major enduring arc: her feelings of inferiority and not being “good enough.” However, just because that particular arc has come to a close doesn’t mean she has nothing left to learn; she disregarded Steven’s feelings thoughtlessly, but quickly realized it and made amends. This episode didn’t exactly shake the earth, but it wasn’t “Rocknaldo,” so let’s keep perspective.

Besides, next Friday’s episode promises a really seismic landscape. Titled “ Room for Ruby, ” it appears that Steven’s Gem family will be growing by one. Don’t miss it at 7PM next Friday, Mar. 10 on Cartoon Network.

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