06th Jan2016

‘Steven Universe 2×23: Steven’s Birthday’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“If I can just keep this up for the rest of my life, no one will suspect a thing.” Steven Universe is not made for me. This is good and correct, as it is made for children and the alternate Earth where it’s packed full of references to Hellraiser and soundtracked with deep cuts from Godspeed You! Black Emperor‘s discography is […]

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05th Jan2016

‘Steven Universe 2×22: The Answer’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“There’s still time!” “That is a nice thought, but no.” Love is a key component of the fabric of Steven Universe, a force the show treats as both weapon and comfort. It’s also a subject the show has displayed immense maturity in dealing with, but there’s very little to get into when it comes to ‘The […]

16th Oct2015

‘Steven Universe 2×21: Too Far’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“You stayed in the ground too long.” ‘Too Far’ concerns itself with the concept of the ideal Gem as seen through the lens of Homeworld culture. It isn’t Pearl, created to serve. Garnet’s unending fusion likewise makes her unsuitable. In Peridot’s eyes it’s Amethyst, the gang’s perennial screw-up and slacker, who most closely fits the […]

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09th Oct2015

‘Steven Universe 2×20: Back to the Barn’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“What a cluster-” “As it seems I have no other options,” Peridot monologues as the episode opens, “I have conceded to reveal some important information to you Crystal Gems.” With Steven’s aid she gives a brief audio/visual presentation on the threat posed by the Cluster, something we spent all of last week learning about in […]

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02nd Oct2015

‘Steven Universe 2×22: When It Rains’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“It’s just thunder. It happens when it rains.” ‘When It Rains’ is an old story: a spiky, unpleasant person learns to accept help and to open up to those around them. It’s a little shopworn, a little canned, but it’s still a pleasant quarter hour and a successful about-face for a character who looked headed […]

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25th Sep2015

‘Steven Universe 2×21: Catch and Release’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“You’re like…an angry little slice of pie.” ‘Catch and Release’ is a quiet, laid-back episode with much more to recommend it than the series last two entries. It gives Peridot some much-needed depth without resorting to making her likable, boasts an impressive array of gorgeous backgrounds, and makes a meager stab toward setting the stage […]

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18th Sep2015

‘Steven Universe 2×20: Sadie’s Song’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“Well, let’s just try to keep it simple?” It’s a baffling decision on the part of whomever at Cartoon Network pulls the particular levers that determine these things to air two episodes about the overbearing mothers of supporting characters back to back. ‘Sadie’s Song’ doesn’t really cover any territory that last week’s ‘Nightmare Hospital’ didn’t […]

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11th Sep2015

‘Steven Universe 2×19: Nightmare Hospital’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“Do you know how many children I see every day who’ve cut off their faces playing with swords? None! Because they all have parents who love them and who don’t let them play around with deadly weapons like some sort of gang member!” Strong art direction can make even a mediocre episode of Steven Universe sing, and […]

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19th Jul2015

‘Steven Universe 2×18: Friend Ship’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“I’m just a Pearl. I’m useless on my own.” ‘Friend Ship’ isn’t a spotless episode. The animation feels choppy, the pacing is cluttered, and Peridot’s villain routine wore thin a while back, but that sequence between Pearl and Garnet in the Temple of Doom chamber is what Steven Universe is all about. Using the bulk of this […]

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17th Jul2015

‘Steven Universe 2×17: Historical Friction’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“To be human is to be flawed. A real hero must struggle.” Steven Universe is in the middle of a quiet run after last month’s high-energy, high-impact slate. Including ‘Historical Friction,’ its last four episodes have dealt with daily life and the minutiae of emotional processing. ‘Historical Friction’ is a cute piece of work and a […]

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16th Jul2015

‘Steven Universe 2×16: Onion Friend’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“What can you do? Kids gotta express themselves.” Steven Universe, like many fantasy shows, is centered around a mystery. Over the course of two seasons that mystery has come to define the show, permeating its balletic action and complex character dynamics with a gnarled, inscrutable flavor of dread and uncertainty. I’m talking, of course, about the […]

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15th Jul2015

‘Steven Universe 2×15: Keystone Motel’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“Not now.” ‘Keystone Motel’ is a small episode concerned with big things. It feels overfilled and sometimes unfocused, but if its look at a long-lasting queer relationship is uneven, it’s impressive that it’s happening at all. Garnet, looking for space in the wake of her fight with Pearl, rides along with Greg and Steven to […]

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14th Jul2015

‘Steven Universe 2×14: Cry For Help’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“I’m just so excited to be here. You see, I haven’t exactly been myself lately.” ‘Cry For Help’ is a compact, emotional quarter-hour of television showcasing each of the Gems and how tentative their connections to one another remain even after a season of growth and change. Ameythst is the show’s eternal troublemaker, but in […]

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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…” 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 […]

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19th Jun2015

‘Steven Universe 2×12: We Need To Talk’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“Get open, get honest. That’s fusion.” Most shows with fantasy conceits similar to fusion use it as part of an ongoing game of power creep, ratcheting up the stakes by combining existing characters into newer, shoutier, more powerful versions of themselves. Leave it to Steven Universe to make it an expression of connection and love, a sort-of-but-not-quite […]

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18th Jun2015

‘Steven Universe 2×08: Keeping It Together’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“I wish you hadn’t seen that.” This is a dang kids’ show, y’all. ‘Keeping It Together’ takes a long, unnerving look at something Steven Universe has had on its radar since ‘Frybo,’ season 1′s early gross-out fest: voluntary and involuntary dynamics. The show has bumped up against the idea softly and repeatedly in its portrayals of imperfect people trying […]

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17th Jun2015

‘Steven Universe 2×07: Rising Tides / Crashing Skies’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“I’m so brave to be doing this.” ‘Rising Tides / Crashing Skies’ is that rare character study that offers insight without demanding that the audience render up sympathy. Ronaldo Fryman is a typical teenage boy in that, whether it’s acclaim or love, he believes the world owes him something. The faux-’Loose Change’ format of his delightfully […]

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16th Jun2015

‘Steven Universe 2×06: Sworn to the Sword’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“Why won’t you just let me do this for you, Rose?” After an uneven front end and a lengthy break, season 2′s first week-long Steven Bomb of new episodes starts with ‘Sworn to the Sword,’ a heartfelt success that touches on selflessness, friendship, and the relationship between “special” and “normal” people in science fiction and fantasy. […]

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01st May2015

‘Steven Universe S02E08: Reformed’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“It’s just fun to see yourself as a cartoon character.” Steven Universe has often and with mixed results made hash out of exaggerating the Gems’ defining traits, but in ‘Reformed’ the show digs with honesty and compassion into how Amethyst uses that exaggeration to combat her insecurities.  Things get rolling when Steven’s attempt to get Amethyst to take a clickbait […]

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24th Apr2015

‘Steven Universe S02E07: Love Letters’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

Garnet: “Start with the letter N.” Connie: “Huh, okay.  What next?” Garnet: “The letter O.” Steven Universe giving love at first sight the brushoff feels kind of shaky just a few weeks after the show waxed rhapsodical about it in ‘Story for Steven.’  Granted, Jaime the Mailman cuts an especially dismissable figure with his overblown confessions of […]

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17th Apr2015

‘Steven Universe S02E06: Shirt Club’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“Vote For My Dad.” The stakes have never been lower, but Steven Universe thrives on the small stage.  The episode’s plot is simple: Steven and Buck Dewey make T-shirts together, then disagree about what said T-shirts are for.  It’s a light, sit-com-esque premise that leads into an earnest look at what growing up can take from […]

10th Apr2015

‘Steven Universe S02E05: Story for Steven’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“You’re awfully cute, and I really want to play with you…but your life is short, and you have dreams.” Rose Quartz is the structuring absence of Steven Universe.  She’s the ducks flying north from Tony Soprano’s pool, the vacated desk of Laura Palmer, the hole around which the themes and characters of the series revolve and against […]

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