“Steven Universe” Recap: “Cheeseburger Backpack” and “Together Breakfast”

Last week the premiere of Steven Universe introduced us not only to Steven and the Gems he resides with, but characters like his dad and the other inhabitants of their beach town. This week was void of anyone other than the four dwellers of the Gem household, and a mailman. So while I was a little upset Lars was absent, the lessons learned within “Cheeseburger Backpack” and “Together Breakfast” kind of filled the hole in my heart. 

“Cheeseburger Backpack” isn’t a metaphor for anything; it’s just what it sounds like. Other than Amethyst being too excited over a jumbo sized egg and the possible, most definitely, it better have been Full House reference, the first half of Steven Universe was all about taking risks and thinking outside the box, no matter the outcome.

Steven starts his day waiting impatiently for a package that will help him save the world. Isn’t that how we all feel about our online purchases? Cue the mailman, and then cut to the Gems telling Steven they have to go on a mission to save a building from falling apart by replacing its moon statue. Of course a certain someone swears his cheeseburger backpack can be of use because it can carry the statue; not only because of its novelty but its multitude of pockets, “Even the cheese is a pocket!” With so many, Steven overpacks – why would they need a kite? 

Those hoarder tendencies come in handy as all the extras help Steven and the Gems get to their destination. The only real problem in the end was the moon statue being MIA, so while sweaters and bagels and Steven’s quick thinking proved to be assets – the team failed. At least they tried though, right?

Failure wasn’t an issue in “Together Breakfast” though. Steven seems to be missing the family aspect of his life as he does whatever it takes to get everyone in the house to eat a meal together. Also, we have to ask…Is Amethyst a shape shifter? 

Not only do we get a look at an intriguing dish of pancakes topped with popcorn, whipped cream and a single strawberry, but also a peek inside the rooms (and minds) of the Gems. After all three ignore the breakfast invitation, Steven takes it upon himself to get inside their fortresses. Pearls is water based with a lot of knives; she’s clean and sharp. Amethyst’s is reckless and Garnet’s is unseen. Can we take that to mean she’s the ultimate personification of secrecy?

Things go the kind of the same as in the first, Steven’s mishaps sort of save the day only this time it’s a true success. The pancakes entrap the evil smoke monster, and save him and the Gems. It’s a win for the team but not for their appetites. Although Steven finally gets his together breakfast, the site of pancakes leaves a bad taste in their mouths. Pizza’s ordered instead. After all that we walk away with a lesson in togetherness; it’s safer to just make time rather than fight it. 

Like all shows, the first is often the introductory one and the ones that follow are built on top of characterization while heading towards a point. The second week of Steven Universe did one but left out minor players that fans might’ve already fallen for. As for building on the plot, we didn’t get closer to Steven figuring out how to control that belly stone. We just got to see him think on his feet. Next week we can only wonder what “Frybo” will bring and if “Cat Fingers” will be as literal as the backpack.

(Episode stills via Bubble Blabber)


  • Pedro

    When is he going to take on the NSA?

  • jmahon

    the casualness of how Amethyst and Pearl can use their shapeshifting and hologram powers respectively is super cool and I can’t wait to see what Garnet can do. Their temples are so beautiful, this show has such high design and production qualities. I guess it’s clear that Amethyst’s gem, over her heart, is what she follows to make it work. Same with Pearl’s, which is on her head, and she goes with her logic and concentration. I guess Steven’s goes with his gut feeling :P

    Steven sort of feels like the sheltered 7-8 year old kid who was raised on fruit roll ups and constant positive reinforcement, which I… guess is a good thing? Nobody ever really chides him for anything and it really shows. I don’t think anyone has ever told him off in his whole life. I’m not sure if that’s going anywhere, like it’s some sort of residual sentiment about his mother, or if that’s some sort of moral they’re trying to impart, but we’ll see?

    • Ben

      There was actually a big write up on tumblr going on about it.
      How their stones tie into their personalities through what month birth stones they are, as well as their placement on different chakra points (Heart, Mind and Hands) and how they fit into an Id, Ego, Super Ego dynamic. (Impulsive amethyst, thoughtfull Pearl, and Garnet as the balancing force between them)
      And how Steven is kind of like a chatoic force in it, his stone doesn’t relate to a chakra point, it’s not a birth stone and he doesn’t fit in the id, ego super ego dynamic.

  • IJK

    I can understand you wanting them to talk about animation for reasons stated by Mike, but saying they should do so because it’s an “animation website” means that all live-action stuff should just focus on camera work because “it’s live action”. Writing is a HUGE part of any storytelling medium and animation is no different.

    • Sophia Driavs

      This isn’t focusing on the writing though, it’s just a recap. I’d be interested if it focused on the writing, maybe some analysis of the characters, or the tone.

  • Ub Iwerks

    The together breakfast has waffles, not pancakes. It is pretty obvious at the climax of the episode. Were you actually watching?

    The crewniverse blog clearly states that Cheeseburger Backpack was one of the the earliest episodes boarded, even before the character designs were finalized.

    The animators in Korea are told to follow the drawing of the characters on the boards, and not be afraid to go off-model. Anyone familiar with Ian Jones-Quartey’s work can easily see his drawing style in both episodes.

    • meh

      I did notice that the volumes of Steven and height of Pearl varied rather wildly. That explains a lot. Going off model is totally fine, it just really sticks out when Stevens proportions, eye height, and head shape will change from scene to scene. The style doesn’t really seem geared for that kind of variety. I don’t know, maybe it will grow on me. I imagine these characters aren’t easy to draw though, they are much more volumetric then they seem. I’m just glad to see animation!

  • jonhanson

    I thought it was hilarious.

  • meh

    This is another prime example of a “If you don’t have anything nice to say…” comment. You’re entitled to it, sure, but frankly, it doesn’t bring anything to the table as far as this discussion goes.

    The reason we are all here posting in the first place is so that we can discuss the pros AND cons of the show. If you feel so strongly about the show giving us mere tid bits and hints at context sandwiched between aimless character driven plot lines then tell me why you feel it is important and beneficial to the show. I look forward to discussing this because I honesty WANT to enjoy the story to its fullest. Perhaps you can give me some insight and open my mind to a new point of view.

    • the Gee

      Good Gravy, meh.

      Just go ahead and start a discussion about any aspect of the show that you want to delve into. Don’t wait for me or any one to give you permission. If there is some point you think it worth highlighting, please, do.

      I am curious to see some of these things people are asking for, too. But, this is where you guys pull out the stops and discuss what ever is worth while about the show. Don’t think that a recap topic means you just have to complain about the topic or fact check the recap.

      The floor’s yours. Discuss anything about the show beyond the Original Post. Go for it.

  • meh

    Yeah, I thought it was predictable, and rather pointless.

  • the Gee

    Someone mentioned above that the “together breakfast” one was produced earlier. There’s a chance they have not been shown in order completed. That would be interesting to know, for sure.

  • Chino

    someone should make the cheeseburger backpack just like the one in Steven Universe. it has to be round and each piece have its own pocket

  • Mike

    Yes! That is a fantastic blog! I’m following it closely. But like you say I’d think CB, with its contributors’ knowledge of animation and/or clout among those who make it, could bring an interesting inside look or critical perspective on Steven Universe if they plan on covering it, be it the art, writing, direction…what have you.

  • LrsDude

    Based on the ads, “Cat Fingers” is quite literal.

  • Inkan1969

    Steven’s father doesn’t live with him and the Gems?

    “Cheeseburger Backpack” – It’s not that I want the gems to be furious with Steven. But I think they would be justified in being very disappointed with him for being so irresponsible. He promised to take care of the idol in his backpack, something not difficult for a kid his age, and he didn’t do that at all.