Note: This review was originally written before I finished watching the series. Future reviews will be written from a less inexperienced point of view.
So it would appear that we are continuing the trend of “not telling me what’s going on”. A bold writing decision and one that I admire. That takes guts. This is a show that trusts its viewers to not need spoon feeding. It also has confidence in its basic storytelling format to expect viewers to come back even without knowing exactly what is going on. Very much like how Adventure Time doesn’t explain its world immediately, but rather drops hints big and small throughout the course of the show. Ultimately that makes for a much more rewarding experience, so even if Steven Universe drops the ball later on, at least I have the promise of bigger things to come.
Note: The hypothetical ball dropping clearly did not happen. But we will get to that later.
However, some of the expository writing is a bit clunky for my tastes. I am debating whether this deserves a drop in rating loss because it is functionally clumsy, but at the same time Steven Universe is avoiding the massive info dumps lesser shows have struggled with. However, dialogue like this:
One of the Gems: “We need Rose Quartz’s Laser Light Cannon.”
Steven: “My mom?”
Steven’s Dad: “Your mother gave up her physical form to create you.”
Is not the best way to give us such needed information. It’s information that the viewer needs, and while not the greatest way to divulge such information, it may be the only way that was possible. I certainly couldn’t think of a better way.
It’s information the characters already know, but the viewer does not and it is thus not recommended that the information is shared in dialogue between characters that shouldn’t need to ask the questions, or share information other characters already know.
Yes Steven, your mother. You clearly were aware of her before this, so asking if they mean your mother when they say your mother’s name is a bit of writing that probably could have been cut. If Steven were finding out for the first time that this Rose Quartz was his mother that would be another matter. But nothing indicates that his mother’s identity was hidden from him at any point in the past. Making him asking for clarification unnecessary in the context of their world. In our world we needed to know that. In their world they already knew this.
Or, maybe I’ve been living life wrong and should have been saying, “My mother?” every time someone used her name in conversation. Either way, it’s a minor complaint at worst, and easily forgiven even after several re-watches.
The comedy remains strong. Amethyst being repeatedly thrown against the Red Eye, an orb falling towards the city, which remains unexplained in the context of this episode, is very funny. Though I’m afraid Marvel may sue for misappropriation of the Fastball Special(TM).
Steven’s character is charming. His quirks, like wanting just french fry bits instead of actual fries. The way he interacts with his dad. Going back to hit the drum after walking away from it initially. All add up to strong characterization, and a completely adorable kid that I could easily see existing in the real world. I don’t often use this word, but I’m going to slap the Precocious(TM) label on this kid.
The use of color is fantastic. The third act of the episode is done entirely in a shade of red that perfectly spells doom. I don’t know what the Red Eye will do, but if it bathes the scene in that color then it can’t be good at all. The art well compliments the minimalist writing style. This is a writing and art team that actually talk to each other.
The ending plays with the typical “everyone laugh at the end of the episode” format of old cartoons, but it does so with something that is actually funny. So points for that.