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“Steven Universe” Recap: “Cat Fingers”

Remember last week when I was peeved about the lack of father-son time going on in Beach City and how “Light Canon” would’ve been a better fit with “Frybo?” Well I was wrong because this week was on point. “Light Canon” airing after “Cat Fingers” was perfection thanks to the common themes, recurring characters and bits – fry bits that is.

After a few weeks, Greg’s back for some bonding time with his son. Well, more like free child labor as he and Steven wash Mayor Dewey’s election wagon. The politician has been the most human looking figure in this town. We can assume the characters who stick out the most because of their differences are the ones we should mentally keep track of. Anyways, Amethyst shows up as a cat because we learned in “Together Breakfast” that she can shape shift. She then tells Steven that he can probably learn to do it. She was being coy because Pearl reveals all Gems have the ability to, but she dutifully warns Steven not to bite off more than he can chew. Surprisingly Amethyst agrees, and decides that Steven should start small and shape shift into a cat. 

Things don’t go exactly as planned. Only one of Steven’s fingers turned into a cat…a little, simple head with a long neck: no unnecessary limbs to bother with. Amethyst suggests Steven show off his kitty digit to his dad. Greg’s not amused at all, but the store clerk and stock boy cutie Lars’ interests are peaked but then Lars points out that solo cat has no friends like Steven. This leads to Steven’s whole hand being shifted into kitties. He then takes the show on the road to Petey’s fry shack for some bits (which Steven craves in “Light Canon”). By this time all 10 fingers are an array of colorful cats and they’re dining on the fry bits. As funny as it sounds, it was just as terrifying—where the heck were the bits going after the cat fingers swallowed?

It was cool at first, Steven learning a Gem trick, but things went from awesome to awkward fast as he figures out he can’t use his cat fingers as real fingers; they get pissed and hiss like crazy. The Gems are no help since they’re on a mission to fight a living island. As Steven tries to figure out how to solve his crisis, he overthinks and makes things so much worse. There are cats popping out of every part of Steven’s little pudgy body. After awhile he’s a self-proclaimed cat monster with nowhere to go for help except for his dad’s. 

Parental instincts aren’t Greg’s forte as Steven cries for help and he just stands there with his hose in hand, but that hose does inspire an idea in Steven – the super car wash. Cue the unexpected and over-the-top Hollywood-style score, which is used to dramatic effect. Obviously cats hate water (who knew?) so all is almost well once Greg agrees to let Steven endure the super wash. I say almost because one little kitty remains but is taken out thanks to Greg’s trusty hose.

When the Gems return from their latest quest to find Steven’s ok, Pearl is surprised but Garnet isn’t. She tells Pearl she should learn to have more faith in Steven. Who wants to bet that was a sign that “Cheeseburger Backpack” accompanies the new “Bubble Buddies” next week because of that little comment? 

We’re getting to the point where it’s easier to recall past characters and events like Amethyst’s previous shape shifting and the bits on Steven Universe, and the series is starting to shape into something we can care about on a weekly basis because of it.

“Cat Fingers” was written and storyboarded by Rebecca Sugar, Ian Jones-Quartey, Hilary Florido and Kat Morris.

  • K

    this show is strange. I’ve never seen a show that looks so saccharine and sparkly and pastel coloured with extremely high design quality, but in subject matter seems to be about body horror and gross-out humour. In one episode we see a mutant throbbing sentient french fry monster force feed parts of itself to unwilling people only to be defeated by the explicitly naked Steven and then he turns into this massive, writhing Akira-homage of a monster made of screaming cats which incidentally pulls out some of the best(and most disturbing) animation I’ve seen in the show so far.

    I’ll admit, I originally thought this would be a cuter, more heartfelt and sentimental show about working together to beat fantastical monsters in creative far off places that was to function as a love letter to the 80s/90s shoujo anime and video game scene, but so far it’s mostly just about Steven while the other Gems, which are barely featured so far, are there just to create a problem or in Pearl’s case… just yell at him as the show’s main snotty, bossy antagonist. They leave him behind in nearly every case. Though the feeling of Steven being a little kid trying to not be underfoot amongst a cast of adults who have a whole other layer of their own problems gets across well and I bet there’s a lot of kids who relate to him in this way. I’m sure the Gems will actually be in more episodes eventually, but I can’t shake the feeling that while the show was originally supposed to be about 3 righteous ladies kicking fantastical ass in their own unique ways, they’re trying their best to make it a show only about Steven and what Steven does and what happens to Steven. Not like that wasn’t predictable given the title, but their role has now been demoted to setting up something for Steven to deal with and then getting the heck out of the picture.
    I would be lying if I said I didn’t originally watch this show for the Gems and what their adventures would be. Oh well, only a few episodes in, I’m sure the ball has just started rolling?

    • SarahJesness

      The show seems to be a coming-of-age story for the title character. I imagine that future episodes are going to feature Steven going on more missions with the Gems.

      As for Pearl, she comes off much more as a mother figure than an antagonist, I think.

  • hitface

    steven’s massive catmonster self was kind of terrifying. it reminded me a bit of the demon in the opening sequences of spirited away, only made of cats instead of worms of hatred.
    this show is so amazing

    • hitface

      wow i meant princess mononoke, but i guess his cat monster self is similar to no-face too.??

  • Inkan1969

    I was very impressed with the design and animation of the cat monster. They took an absurd premise and made it a very disturbing image. I felt anguish for both Steven and his dad; a testament as to how appealing both characters are.

    The resolution was weak, though. I thought Steven’s problem was that he was too panicky, and he was trying to hard. I was expecting him to get a hold of himself, so that he could then calmly make the shape shifts disappear..

  • TheMarkedOne

    I was initially very skeptical when I first heard about this series, but it has pleasantly surprised me. This show has a lot of charm and characters that you actually care about. After being disappointed by Uncle Grandpa, this is definitely a step towards the right direction.


    As a European I can’t help but notice a certain obsession with dumb weak whimpy male characters in US American shows. Girls are allowed to be strong and have typical male warrior characteristics, men are useless out of shape dummies that need to be bailed out of situations they got themselves into, by female characters of course. From Homer Simpson to Earl Sneed Sinclair, King Of The Hill, Family Guy etc. it’s always a similar stereotype.

    Steven’s father in one scene wanted to give him life advice but of course that would be entirely useless, he should listen to Pearl instead, she’s a woman, so he quickly shut him down.

    Steven himself is the new generation of fat American losers, raised to be a consumer buying products and using technology developed by highly educated or highly motivated Indians, Europeans, Russians and East Asians who immigrate to the US whereas the main population serves as mindless snack eating cattle working at shopping malls and seven elevens for billionaires and drowning in debt. But he has a dream and believes in himself, that’s what truly matters, right?

    Is this show’s average viewer a frustrated single mother on child support that blames her castrated son for her misery and his crappy shape?

    • SarahJesness

      If this is supposed to be a “WAH men have it so hard!” comment, I’d like to point out that few shows are made by women, few shows have lots of females in the main cast. (and that the stereotype is negative to both genders: it suggests that men are inherently stupid, and it suggests that it’s up to women to take care of their idiot husbands/boyfriends, and also that they shouldn’t have standards, I guess) All of the shows you mentioned were created and written primarily by men. I also completely fail to see how King of the Hill fits with the description you gave. Hank is a responsible dude and usually fixes his own problems. Peggy has helped in a couple episodes but she got in a lot of trouble as well. She’s far from the smart and always-supportive housewife who needs to help her husband every time he does something stupid. Bill is a fat loser, but he has a totally different situation. Boomhauer is a womanizing bachelor and Dale is… Dale.

      Steven Universe doesn’t seem to fit the situation either. Steven screws up a lot, and he’s not a good warrior, but he’s a kid. His age is never stated but I can’t imagine he’s much older than 10. This show plays off as a coming-of-age story, he’s probably going to get more skilled and more responsible as time goes on. His dad? Mr. Universe is kind of a loser, but as far as we’ve seen, he’s not a complete idiot. He never seems to have gotten his life together but he does care about his son. So far he hasn’t gotten into trouble himself, as far as we’ve seen, he tries to stay away from magic stuff at the request of the Gems. He’s less of a bumbling, idiot dad and more of a once carefree, now washed-up musician who had a love child he probably wasn’t prepared for.

    • jeb

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  • This was my favorite episode so far. The animation of the cat monster was so weird and anime-esque. Also, smears! They used a bunch of smears in this episode. But the new kind of stylistic smear where I think it’s meant to be noticed and not just cover up fast motion.

    Also love how they keep messing with what they’re doing with Steven’s eyes. In some ways this show is experimenting more with the animation than Adventure Time, which I would consider a pretty experimental show. I hope they keep pushing it!

  • I shall never look at cats the same way now.

    • mick

      I never do… it keeps them on their toes

  • Ryan Lee

    I saw this episode and i agree with many of the others the cat monster was very disturbing and kind of scary and this is coming from a 24 year old guy LOL :) As for how i feel about this show it’s not great but it’s above average in my opinion i would give the show a 7.5/10.

  • Roberto Severino

    This is probably the best episode of the series I’ve seen so far. Absolutely amazing and you can really identify with the characters. Plus there’s some great animation timing here. It’s the kind of show you have to watch from the beginning to understand what it’s about and where they’re going with the concept because at first, there’s really not that much we know about Steven or the Crystal Gems but the character personalities are gradually building up and getting more interesting the more episodes you watch. What’s also great about this episode is that they’re able to turn something completely strange like cat fingers into a plot where you can get some kind of feel of the relationship between Steven and his father. Surreal and a bit scary but very creative in the end and has context within the show itself. Not weird for weird’s sake.

    Miles better than Uncle Grandpa for sure, which makes crap like My Gym Partner’s a Monkey and Squirrel Boy look decent.