Growing up for Steven Universe (Zach Callison) is no picnic. What happens in “Snow Day” is minuscule but momentous, yet another idyllic day-in-the-life without punching antagonists. 16-year-old Steven is so frazzled and focused on the Little Homeworld school that his childlike spirit has been siphoned away. He is no longer partaking in the child relics of Steven Universe. He rebuffs Pearl’s (Deedee Magno) attempt to dress him, the Gems whipping up the infamous Together Breakfast, Garnet’s (Estelle) offer of pepperoni pizza (Steven is now vegetarian), and the Crystal Gems’ insistence to play tag.
When it’s snowed in and he has to cancel Little Homeworld sessions, he’s stuck on rescheduling. He seems to be rushing adulthood. Perhaps he’s taken more refuge in adult responsibilities—or his idea of adulting—after all the stress about revelations about his late mother or because he finds himself comfortable with the structure of scheduling. In a bid to revert Steven into the tiny childish “Classic Steven” they missed, the Gems rope him into an old game of Steven Tag, where each Gem shapeshifts into Steven’s form and chase him.
It’s a “parent tries to relive the good ole’ days and mourns for their little one” setup we’ve seen before. But with Steven Universe, it escalates the scenario to humorous and emotional platitudes, complete with fusion fun. It’s a thrill to see Sardonyx, Opal, Sugilite, and Ruby and Sapphire take up Steven shapes. Delicate touches, like Steven taking pleasure in seeing that Pearl has overcome a psychological shapeshifting block, sprinkle some well-needed emotions.
Without being a rude awakening to its long-time audience, “Snow Day” reminds them that a young human mortal like Steven will eventually grow out of some things, but that doesn’t mean he wholly surrenders his childlike fun. He might just have to update playtime.
In “Why So Blue,” Steven and Lapis Lazuli (Jennifer Paz) take the warp pad to explore another planet occupied with organic life. However, they discover two other Lapis Lazulis (Jennifer Paz voices them too), a cliquish duo, busying themselves in terraforming, a cleansing process where they use their water powers to split and crack land formations to ready the planet for colonizing, annihilating the organic life around it. It was something our Lapis once did and she’s ashamed of it.
So the two set out to change the Lapis Lazulis’ hearts. But Lapis Lazulis aren’t ready to surrender the old ways and see things through the Era 2 lenses—”How can the thing we’ve always done just suddenly be wrong?” They’re not going to put down outdated orders they already half-fulfilled.
It took our Lapis took a long time to come around to love the Earth and see value in organic life, so Steven figures a gentle approach would have to do. Steven Universe always had top-tier musical numbers and Lapis’s Disneyesque number “Why So Blue” is no exception, even if it doesn’t persuade the rogue Gems.
When mild diplomacy doesn’t change the Lapis Lazulis’ hearts, our Lapis resorts to aggression. She reverts when she sees the damage. Her aggression does work to intimidate the Lapis Lazulis from stopping their cleansing. It didn’t change their morals or provide a paradigm shift about respecting life, but it does mean they will leave the planet and its inhabitants alone. Though humiliated by her outburst, Lapis does take solace in the fact that she has come so far and is freed from her former prison. But one Lapis Lazuli is open to the idea of attending Little Homeworld, so it isn’t all lost. Hearts don’t change too fast.
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