“Steven Universe” Recap: “Serious Steven”

It’s been over a month since we’ve seen Steven, the Gems, and the rest of the Beach City and that’s really made me forget a lot about this show. Well, not the characters and what they’re all about, but the humor. This week with “Serious Steven” I was way more annoyed by the pudgy little guy than anything else.

This is the first mission that the Gems allow Steven to tag along, and he is one hundred percent serious about the assignment. In Steven’s mind that means bringing a ukulele and fighting off butterflies. In his defense, the butterflies are definitely bigger when they’re on your eyeballs—agreed. They arrive at an upside down triangle that will look familiar to anyone who’s been to UCSD and seem their library. Only the one in La Jolla isn’t filled with revolving hallways and hieroglyphics that allude to some sort of Gem history. If the writing was on the wall, why’d they need to destroy it? Are we never supposed to learn why the Gems exist? This show’s turning into a mystery of sorts.

Of course Steven screws things up, but as expected saves the day.

Now for some things that came to mind during these ten or so minutes. Let’s start with the good, Garnet. She’s been such a background character, and this was the first time I walked away with some hold on her. She wasn’t just the strong silent type, the mysterious force backing up the group. This time around Garnet had more lines than usual and instead of just telling Pearl to back off Steven, she acted on it. It’s a nice balance to have him with her…the apparent hero and the unlikely one.

More about that annoying aspect though. Somewhere between December and now I’ve become Squidward, and Steven’s my Spongebob. There were various moments throughout where I said to myself, “Oh my God…this kid.” The biggest being when he made things go awry. Am I the only one a little annoyed by this kid? Maybe it’s because of the time we’ve spent apart. We’ll see if he continues to bother me next week when he joins an underground wrestling league with, who else, Amethyst.

Characters aside, I was really into the “teacup incident” flashbacks that kept sending Steven into a panic while in the temple. The show has proven to be the kind that circles back to certain events, so will we see the drama that led up to that day when Steven was forever banned from the amusement park? The bigger question is will Steven ever find his way back into the park. Only time will tell.

We’re eight episodes in and I feel like we’re not getting anywhere when it comes to the back story of Steven. My mind always rewinds to “Laser Light Cannon” when we’re introduced to Steven’s father Greg and heard a smidge about Steven’s Gem mother. I’d love more of that because this show was pitched as a coming-of-age tale and we haven’t gotten a whole lot in that direction. “Serious Steven” felt like a filler episode as it was paired with a stronger one, “Gem Glow.” Cookie Cats are proving hard to surpass.

“Serious Steven” was storyboarded by Joe Johnston and Jeff Liu.


  • Tronno

    Steven being annoying is why I had to stop watching the show. The artwork is incredible, the setting is interesting, and there are glimmers of a soulful coming of age story… but that kid gets on my nerves.

    I kept waiting for him to get punished after yet another screw-up; learn a lesson, develop as a character. He never did.

  • SarahJesness

    Yeah, Steven can get kind of annoying sometimes. I’m hoping/expecting that they’re going to do a character development thing where he gets less annoying. Still cheerful, but not so annoying. And I’m also hoping we get more backstory on Steven and the Gems, they’re certainly taking their time. Oh well. This episode was pretty fun anyway.

    Next week’s episode sounds like it will be pretty good.

  • Kirby

    I felt a bit annoyed with Steven. And I’d like to see more of Garnet. My thoughts are mutual. Though I feel as early as the show is, Garnet should be more exposed as a character. Though this mystery box approach can be good in the long term, slow reveals of character.

    Hopefully we’ll see more of Garnet.

  • James VanDam

    What’s with all the hate towards Steeven? He’s a super positive kid who is trying to live up to the huge responsibility he was born with. Of course he is going to be a bit annoying at times, just like any other kid. I really enjoyed this episode because it gave us a cool look at the relationship between Steven Garnet.

  • Chris

    There was a bit of a homage to the Zelda game series in this one, I thought.

    • IJK

      There seem to be a ton of Nintendo references and homages in most modern CartoonNetwork shows.

  • ddrazen

    It was totally frustrating to see a background drawing inside the pyramid, think “Wait a minute, is that Rose Quartz?” and nobody on screen even notices! There’s a lot of that going on here. We’ve never gotten an architecturally distinct look at the hillside house where the Gems live and the fact that some kind of goddess sculpture holds the house in her hands in a protective gesture that I think is adorable. I hope Steven starts noticing some of this stuff later on; he, and we, deserve to know more.

    • IcyTea

      I believe it could be Rose Quartz in the background pyramid, but no one really talked about that, it could have been some other gem we have not heard about. Now the “goddess sculpture” is actually Rose Quartz, if you notice on the first 4 or 5 episodes, there are portraits of Rose Quartz and you can see a better detail of her in “Laser Light Cannon”.

  • IJK

    Except you’re making Steven out to sound like some kind of brat.

    What you’re referring to is that childhood friend who would come over just to play with your video game consoles, never want to share, and if you refused to let him play they would whine and cry to to yours or his mother that they’re being mean.

    This isn’t Montana Max. Steven tries his best to help and to prove himself in the most positive way possible not realizing his limitations sometimes. He gets overly excited when he’s finally allowed to hang out with the “grown-ups” and comes up with good ideas from time to time to actually justify him being on the adventures.

    • IcyTea

      I agree. Steven may sound annoying or a whiny kid, but if you watch the episode, he actually is helpful even though it doesn’t always go in the direction the crystal gems and himself wanted. However he will always “find a way” just like in the title sequence.

      On many accounts, Steven has made friends throughout the first episodes of this show, so I don’t see how “we all knew this sort of kid, and nobody was his friend” would even be correct.

      Also that Steven has outsmarted Pearl multiple times, I think we should all focus on Pearl’s huge flaws on her character as being an overprotective mother to Steven and trying to cheer him up and at times not even realizing Steven has been helping them through missions that he helped. That’s probably why Steven is being a scapegoat in this whole argument, when most of what happens to Steven was usually caused from Pearl’s overprotective personality.

  • Lars

    Just gonna throw this out there Kendra, but these recaps might be more in-tune with the theme of CB(and a little meatier) if they had critiques or insight on the animation and/or design of the episode itself.

    I understand your criticism about the story but how many 11-minute comedy cartoons have a continuous serialized story 8 episodes in? I don’t know if its fair to treat this show like it should be “Lost” when it’s a little closer in format to “Adventure Time”(which didn’t even develop a mythos until its second season).

    Expecting a heavy story to analyze every week from a show like this may leave you a little disappointed.

  • SarahJesness

    Eh, I understand Tronno’s view. It’s kind of frustrating when a character makes a lot of dumb decisions and always gets defended by someone when he’s called out. But Steven Universe hasn’t taken it far enough to get me to stop watching.

  • SarahJesness

    Er, where’d you get this impression? Steven is neither bratty nor selfish. He can seem kind of immature sometimes, but it’s hard to really say on that because we don’t know how old he’s supposed to be. Yeah, he’s constantly being defended by someone, and that does get kind of annoying… But I don’t think it’s done to the level you make it.