Do you realize it’s been over a decade before Spongebob Squarepants aired “Bubble Buddy?” That’s all I could think of as Steven Universe started this week. With that Spongebob still imprinted in my mind (booboo keys…) and Steven’s history of having minimal acquaintances, I assumed he too would be making poppable companions. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. There were earthquakes, a couple of new characters, and a budding romance.
The Gems mention earthquakes, but we never really circle back to that with so many words. In the midst of that conversation, they notice Steven taking a Sisyphean bike ride on the sand. They quickly realize he’s trying to impress a young girl reading on the sand, and though they can’t wait to get involved, Steven warns them not to interfere as they could really mess with his “funky flow.” Up until this point, I assumed Steven was too young to have feelings like this. He seems so immature that it’s weird to think that he’s developed a serious crush on a girl and is acting on it.
Let’s take a step away from the story to talk more about this love interest of Steven’s—Connie. She’s taller than Steven with a darker complexion than him as well. I wanted to say she was black but assuming that Garnet and Amethyst are black due to their characteristics, I’d say Connie was more Hispanic or Indian. The idea of race seems to never play a part in this world, and why should it? As someone who is mixed, this is an exciting factor of the show because it never fails to make me smile when a couple is interracial, animated or not. That aside, Connie knows a lot about boats due to spending too much time on the various beaches that her father works at as a private security guard. If things get serious with Steven, will we meet the dad – perhaps on a first date?
Steven’s fumbles to impress Connie are all too familiar with what we’ve come to know about him: he screws up, saves the situation, and then plays that cycle on repeat. This is proven when Steven saves Connie from being flattened by a boulder, gets them stuck in a bubble, follows that with failed attempts to burst the bubble, and, finally, saves Connie from a glow-eating worm.
Other than Connie we meet Onion…man oh man. The little mute actually looks like a baby onion with that odd shaped head. This is the first time, other than the Gems, that a character has looked like their name. Is that a sign that Onion’s more important than we are led to believe? Like Peedee, who makes quite an appearance in this episode, I hope we see Onion again soon.
It always appears to me that Steven’s sort of a loner, but then we met Connie and realize Steven’s pretty sane for only having the Gems and Peedee by his side. Connie’s breakdown over dying—and only expecting her parents to care—was heartwrenching. It showed the maturity level of the show just as Peedee’s speech did in “Frybo.”
Another human level that was touched on was this idea of purehearted stalking. Okay, that sounds weird but who hasn’t lurked their crushes on Facebook before? Steven totally teetered on the line between sweet and weird when he admitted to holding onto Connie’s bracelet for over a year after she lost it. Did he know he’d see her again?
And like clockwork “Cheeseburger Backpack” accompanied “Bubble Buddies.” So far we’ve gotten a good grasp on Steven, the Gems, and some colorful acquaintances. The big question I still have after all these episodes is about Steven’s mother. All we know is that she had to cease to exist for him to be born, but that’s it. Let’s hope the next wave of episodes dive further into that aspect and that Steven gets a little further with Connie.
“Bubble Buddies” was storyboarded by Kat Morris and Aleth Romanillos.