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Steven Universe Recap: “Chille Tid”

None of us want a nap, but maybe we need it.


The Recap: The Gems are still searching for Malachite at the bottom of the sea, but it’s clear our heroes are reaching their limit. Steven declares a slumber party for himself, Amethyst, and Pearl, but finds that his dreams have become a means of connecting with telepathically with Lapis Lazuli.

We’ve come to the end of Steven Bomb 2.0, and I can’t help but feel a certain kinship with the Gems after five consecutive days of new episode coverage. I’m typing this at 3am, and no longer remember what sleep is (what I’m saying is, if this recap is a little short I beg your forgiveness readers). But we’re not done yet, so let’s get to the meat of things: the importance of naps.

While I have no doubt that half a season from now I’ll look back on “Rising Tides/Crashing Skies” as a really interesting turning point for the citizenry or the smoking gun that brings outside trouble down on the Gems or something, right now it’s this episode that truly feels like the cooldown we needed after such an intense week. Obviously there was still a great deal going on – Lapis is beginning to lose her sense of identity, Malachite’s anger could “explode” in some vague and threatening way, and Steven seems to have a (unique?) ability to telepathically connect with other Gems. But the tone and presentation are very much couched in a sense of rumination, a literal calm before our next storm.

Steven’s dreams sneak in a number of cute, freeform nods before things start getting intense: dogcopter is back, we have a good ol’ DBZ flight pose, and someone has apparently been showing Steven a lot of ’90s sitcoms. The freeform silliness of it (Pearl’s dream both had me in stitches and pain, since it brings Pearl’s lonely jealousy from the past into a form of the present) makes the encroaching horror even more intense and unsettling.

And while I’m not a fan of the “I can’t believe this is for kids!” line of thought (it does a disservice to everyone to adopt the marketer’s mentality that younger audiences can’t handle intense subjects or complexity, not to mention the touch of patronization to it), I was genuinely unsettled by Steven’s dreams. This episode feels like a crossroads. While Steven is now effectively a member of the team and has gained both insight and heartening emotional maturity, he’s also seen things no one his age should have to see. And while Connie and Greg have both been support for him, they’ve been separate from this up to now, and especially to the key moments with Lapis.

It’s complex territory: at what age does Steven become “ready” for such things (does anybody), especially when these magical beings will be drawn to him regardless? Greg and the Gems have all done their conscious best to be a support system, but they’re often at a loss because Steven is literally the first of his kind. And on the other hand, while Lapis and Pearl are happy to insist that Steven “let [them] do this for him” (there’s a payoff coming to that line, and I hope that Steven isn’t in dire peril when he says it) they both overlook the impact those actions have on our very empathetic and protective youngest Gem. Fusion has been a major theme in this run of episodes, and yet moments like this are a reminder at how often the first instinct for the Gems (Crystal and otherwise) is to go it alone. Garnet, at least, manages some good advice (and an excellent final joke) – concentrating on what one can do now, and letting go of things that are outside one’s ability to change can make enormous, insurmountable problems in the moment to moment. As desperate as Steven is to help Lapis, that’s something he needs to hear right now.

While this episode’s left us plenty to chew on, I want to close on that final conversation between Lapis and Steven. It’s gorgeous to look at start to finish, full of telling little details (Jasper’s chains are obviously separate from her, while Lapis’ manacles appear almost to be extensions of her body; Jasper is unscathed when she emerges from “below” while Lapis is battered) that speak far more than even the intense dialogue. Most worrying is the fact that Steven seems to fall through Malachite’s hair to encounter Lapis, and is still inside that “headspace” when Malachite rises from the depths – implying that both Jasper and Lapis are on the verge of becoming lost in favor of the personification of their raging, destructive bond.

Particularly interesting is Jasper, whose coloring is completely washed out into that sickly green hue. Part of that is no doubt to keep the integrity of the mood (bright orange would throw the whole thing off), but combined with her single, repeated dialogue it paints an image of her being reduced to an almost pure, unthinking Id. It begs a question that’s been touched on (with Sugilite) but not fully explored as of yet: what happens when Gems start to lose themselves in a fusion? How long can they stay that way before it becomes permanent? And if you then split them apart again, what remains? I have a feeling we might be confronting these questions sooner rather than later.

So that’s our week! We learned a lot, we cried a lot, we made a lot of new theories (I’m especially on board with the combo of Jasper being a full-fledged fusion experiment and the corollary that Peridot’s mission was in fact a ploy to get rid of her, Invader Zim style). I had hoped that we might be back to the regular weekly schedule from here, but Matt Burnett tweeted that the Crewniverse is planning another Steven Bomb for July. So it looks like we might be apart for a little while, readers. And while that saddens me (or it will after I’ve slept for about twelve hours), I can’t wait until we can dive in and do this whole crazy shindig again. Take care of yourselves, and hope to see you then!

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Vrai is a queer author and pop culture blogger; their blood is currently more caffeine than hemoglobin. You can read more essays and find out about their fiction at Fashionable Tinfoil Accessories, support their work via Patreon or PayPal, or remind them of the existence of Tweets.

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