By Jacob Huller
On Nov. 10, Cartoon Network’s hit show “Steven Universe,” which tells the story of a young boy of the same name and his guardians, the Crystal Gems, returned with six new episodes. The block of episodes, known unofficially as “StevenBomb 7,” were an exclusive to Cartoon Network, taking a lead from services like Netflix and Hulu.
The first episode, entitled “Dewey Wins,” deals with the fallout of Steven’s decision to surrender himself to the ominous threat of the Gem Homeworld and subsequent return, from its effect on the town of Beach City (who turns against the eponymous Mayor Dewey due to his inaction regarding the incident), to Steven’s relationship with his best friend Connie.
At the start, Connie is notably hurt by his decision to give himself up, despite being grateful that he’s back nonetheless. Steven, who has been known in the past to repress traumatic experiences, acts like nothing’s wrong just because he got back OK. Even after Steven realizes that doing the right thing can still hurt people in spite of good intentions, this conflict isn’t resolved at the end of the episode, showing that his choice to surrender had lasting consequences.
The second episode, “Gemcation,” showcases the family dynamic with Greg, Steven’s father, and the Crystal Gems. Sensing that something is wrong with Steven, Greg and the Crystal Gems take him to the wilderness to relax, but misread that he’s upset about his trip to Homeworld rather than his relationship with Connie.
While he admits the former was messed up, it’s heartwarming that Steven ultimately puts his friendship with Connie above even that. In the end, Steven decides to let it go, and his family gathers around to comfort him.
The third episode, “Raising the Barn,” checks back in on fan-favorites Lapis and Peridot. Lapis, a war survivor suffering from repressed trauma, immediately freaks out upon hearing that Steven went up against the tyrannical Diamonds of Homeworld, and leaves Earth, taking the barn she and Peridot had been living in with her.
While Lapis’ decision is understandable, the ending is heartbreakingly depressing, with Steven still not being on good terms with Connie, and Peridot sadly moving back into Steven’s bathroom. Her closing line, “What do we do now?” is the ultimate gut-punch, and an example of stellar voice acting by Shelby Rabara.
The fourth episode, “Back to the Kindergarten,” deals with the aftermath of Lapis’ departure, namely Peridot being depressed about it. Steven and Amethyst take her to the Prime Kindergarten and try to spruce it up to make Peridot feel better. However, when the Kindergarten cannot sustain the flowers they plant there, Peridot lashes out in anger. But in the end, she has her friends to help her, ending the episode on a heartwarming note.
The fifth episode, “Sadie Killer,” focuses on the titular Sadie as she moves on from the disappearance of her friend Lars, who was left behind on Homeworld at the end of the previous arc. While the episode is largely standalone, it does feature one major change at the end, with Sadie triumphantly quitting her job at the Big Donut to follow her dreams as a singer.
The sixth and final episode in the batch is “Kevin Party,” which marks the third appearance of the titular Kevin, a selfish teen who invites Steven and Connie to his party due to being obsessed with their combined fusion self, Stevonnie. While the episode lags during the actual party, the two’s conversation at the end is very well done, addressing how both characters dealt with the argument and giving a much-needed resolution to their conflict. (And it hints that the supposedly irredeemable Kevin might not be as one-dimensional as previously portrayed, though Steven and Connie aren’t particularly interested in digging any deeper.)
“StevenBomb 7” is, all in all, a good arc for Steven Universe. While light on action and lore, it most certainly delivered on emotion, something especially necessary after the intense events of the season premiere.