20th Jun2015

‘Steven Universe 2×13: Chille Tid’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“It’s easy. You just lie down, get nice and comfy, don’t move, and don’t think about anything…”

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Oops.

The last time Steven Universe went this weird it was for the paranoia-driven ‘Rose’s Room,’ an episode built around the impossibility of wish fulfillment. ‘Chille Tid,’ by contrast, is as placeless and strange as its name. The Norwegian phrase “chille tid,” roughly translated, means “chill-out time” or “chilling time.” The episode begins with Garnet consigning an exhausted Amethyst and Pearl to a sleepover with Steven after the search for Malachite drags on past endurance. The opening scene at sea is easily the episode’s funniest, and if there’s a better line reading in the episode than Pearl’s “..and I’m sick of these…life diapers” then I must have missed it.

From there, things get strange. It appears at first as though Pearl’s inexperience with sleep will be mined for comedy, but instead it quickly falls by the wayside as Steven’s dreams begin to go awry. The retro sitcom parody of Steven’s subconscious delivers us such moments as radical ’80s Amethyst grinding up and down invisible banisters while sporting a fanny pack and an entire crowd cheering wildly for Garnet’s backside. Oh, and this delightful image.

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Steven’s glimpse of a weeping, zombie-like Lapis spurs him on into deeper and darker levels of his own dreams. The idea that Gems can communicate through dreams hasn’t really been explored, but the connection that forms between Steven and Lapis allows him to see her in a bleak grey-green plane representative of her fusion with Jasper. Her existence is grim, her every moment dedicated to preserving control over the fusion Malachite. Steven’s arrival breaks her concentration and sends her spiraling into a loss of identity, her appearance ending on an ambiguous note. There’s a lot of random imagery in there as well, Freudian weirdness like an enormous Pearl head devouring Steven and spitting him out at hyper speed. The one sour note in the extended sequence is Pearl’s comedic dream about traveling the world with Rose aboard an enormous pizza whale, a gag that rests on showing Pearl’s neuroses in the exact same light they’ve been shown week in and week out. Her being in love with Rose can’t hold water if it’s played repeatedly for laughs.

The disturbing complexity of adulthood and its unsolvable problems is intruding on Steven’s idyllic world. Simple childhood pleasures like sleepovers are becoming intermixed with new concerns. It’s a sobering note for this week’s Steven Bomb to end on, especially when Garnet returns to tell a panicked Steven that there’s nothing he can do to help his captive friend. Meditations in an emergency, man.

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