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‘Steven Universe’ Recap: ‘Beach Party’

“Beach Party”
Written and storyboarded by Lamar Abrams.

While this week’s Steven Universe opened a lot of doors as far as characterization and parallels, it was simply okay. Mr. Pizza was comical relief but other than that you had to dig for the entertainment.

We’d met some of the Pizza family before when Steven and Lars were trying to impress the cool kids, but this week we met the rest of the clan, and like the Gems, they’re a modern family in their own right. No mother in sight, it’s just a single dad with two daughters and his own mother in tow. It’s interesting how many of the characters on this show only deal with their fathers—Steven’s mom is gone, we’ve met Onion’s dad and Connie’s mentioned hers. It’s like classic Disney tales…void of moms.

Only Steven sees that the families aren’t that different from one another, and that’s why he pushes so hard for them to get along after the Gems are banned from Fish Stew Pizza. That, and one of Steven’s most humanistic qualities shined this week—his inability to not be accepted. He was really distraught about the Gems being banned, while they couldn’t care less, and by the end of the episode, had even forgotten about why Steven forced them to attend the beach party.

The biggest surprise came with the Gems. We’ve touched on their similarity to the Pizzas and the fact that they didn’t care about what others thought after they were banned from Fish Stew Pizza. On top of that, we saw them flip just a little. At the start of the episode, and most of the time, they were very mission oriented, but they softened for Steven and even changed from their usual uniforms. I actually liked the switch, although we aren’t likely to see it again. Amethyst with her Kelly Bundy ensemble, Garnet looking like Serena Williams in her almost-too-sexy wrap, and then Pearl in a demure outfit.

While the Gems and Mr. Pizza seemed to be on the fence about the party, it was nice to see them realize they weren’t so different after all once they got into that volleyball game. It was interesting that Steven was paired with the grandma, but the others went hand in hand. How many times have we said Garnet is definitely the father figure of the bunch…and then she was paired up with Mr. Pizza? Coincidence, I think not. It was a parallel that they pushed in this episode.

  • Chicken

    It wasn’t particularly exciting to see the gems do something as pedestrian as play volleyball. I like the affluences of the characters to the Pizza family, but Kaffi was a pretty two-dimensional character. You could argue that was the whole point, but on the overall I hoped for a little more silliness and subtle humor which carries and supports pretty much all other episodes so far. The concept of mending the relationship reminded me of inserted morals in 80’s cartoons. Maybe because the gems didn’t care, the stakes weren’t very high. Three out of four characters were apathetic to the main point, outweighing Steven’s intentions. Gems’ actions usually play contrast or act as a breakdown of Steven’s resolve. I get the whole parallel angle, but it may have contributed to the drowned out contrast in the writing too.
    Visually, this episode felt relatively unimpressive compared to the other episodes.

  • Alex Dudley

    My main issue with this, is that the Gems not only didn’t fix the damage they caused, they didn’t even apologize. In fact, Steven didn’t try to get them to. All he cared about was getting them unbanned from a restaurant they don’t go to, especially because they don’t eat, which he should know about.
    The volleyball portion was the best part, admittedly.

    • Chicken

      Must admit, I thought they should too. Kaffi was annoying, but he was right being pissed. Were they trying to show the gems as sort of living-in-their-own-world ‘celebrity’ status?

      • SarahJesness

        I think it’s more that the Gems are near-immortal superbeings who focus on protecting people from giant monsters and rarely interact with the people they protect. The sign being destroyed probably seemed like a trivial matter to them.

        • Chicken

          That makes sense, but to the audience it would read that way more if we already had a better understanding of what’s at stake. Not that a giant blowfish doesn’t seem dangerous, it’s just that we’ve seen Beach city in that kind of danger before, so it doesn’t really count as all that high-stakes.

    • SarahJesness

      I think the Gems not caring shows how disconnected they are from the human world. They never seemed to be all that concerned with the collateral damage from their missions.

      • Eman

        The concerns of mortals come off as petty and fleeting when compared to the challenge of simply keeping them safe from monsters.

    • Miss Finefeather

      Well, technically, it was the blowfish that broke the store, not the gems. Though, i would have liked to seen them work together to fix the place… Just as a neighborly gesture.

  • SarahJesness

    I like this episode. It was cute, and had a lot of little jokes, (like the cool girl frequently complimenting her grandma) which I LOVE.

    Maybe Steven pairs with the grandma because she seems to be a rather lighthearted character, like Steven. Kind of

    The Gems not caring about the pizza place or being banned didn’t come as a surprise to me. I get the impression that prior to the birth of Steven, the Gems (outside of possibly Rose; since it’s been stated that she saw beauty in everything, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we learned that she spent a lot of time around humans) barely interacted with the human world. Even with Steven, they only do a minimum amount. They take him out to do normal human kid things, but they don’t seem to put much into trying to understand humans.

    So, I found this episode interesting in that it’s the first time we’ve really seen the Gems interact with humans outside of Steven and Greg. In addition to interacting, they also befriend and relate to these people. I wonder if they’re going to hang out in future episodes?

  • Keen Bean

    I reallly wish this show would delve deeper into what the gems are actually trying to accomplish, where all these monsters are coming from and more of the history of what’s happened/happening to their order. What with the show moved to the wednesday slot, I don’t know if this show will last that much longer. THAT BEING SAD. I love this show. The art stye and music are probably the best on cartoon network right now but I don’t really find to many people getting drawn into this show’s universe, as fascinating as it is. i don’t think they’re really capatalizing on a really key appeal to the show being the universe it takes place in.

    • Eduardo

      A second season has been confirmed already, so the show is safe for now.

  • Mzuark

    Right I did not like what this episode implied about the Gems. They didn’t even acknowledge the collateral damage and they were remarkably cold to the family. Add that to how they treat Steven’s dad and it’s like they don’t really care about humanity, in fact they look down on them. Yeah they defend them, but what’s the point of protecting the world if you’re not going to honor it’s inhabitants? Or even help fix all the crap you broke. It’s like protecting the Earth is just a job.