Steven Universe Season 3 Retrospective

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BIG SPOILERS, BIG TIME

“My floating power is tied to my emotions! Just like all my stupid powers!!!”~ Steven (S3E6 Steven Floats)

So we have come to the conclusion of the third season of Steven Universe. I haven’t touched on SU on my blog, but it happens to be one of my favorite series currently airing. For an animated kids series on Cartoon Network, the show deals with some touchy topics, including sexuality, imperialism, and even rape. But it’s never overbearing. It does so in a subtle way, and is still a very interesting and sweet show. The characters are one of the show’s strengths, most of whom have a lot of depth. It’s a testament to how stuff can appeal to all ages and still be cerebral.  

Season 3 starts with the return of Malachite, the fusion of Jasper and Lapis Lazuli. They unfuse and Lapis is rescued, while Jasper (as usual) fell back to the bottom of the earth. Lapis is brought back to the barn and becomes a sort of uneasy ally with the gems. She comes across as a big jerk at first. With a capital J. Considering what she has been through it certainly makes sense, but in these early episodes (“Barn Mates,” “Hit the Diamond”) she’s just plain unlikeable. However, as the season goes on, I found her more bearable. She is great in one of the season’s standout episodes “Alone at Sea” in which she must face Jasper. I am interested to see where her character is going.

As for Jasper herself, she was alright. She’s always been a threatening presence, even if her character is weaker than the others. Something that got a bit ridiculous was how she was always rid of at the end of episodes. She’s always flung underground or into the bottom of the ocean. Luckily this stops after a couple episodes, which is good because it was getting to unintentionally comedic levels. Her eventual corruption contributed to what I felt was a recurrent theme. Corruption is also touched on in “Monster Reunion” and “Gem Hunt.” The former especially which was a whole episode based around it. I’m curious if this was just build up for Jasper’s corruption or if this has some bigger significance. Or maybe I’m just a rambling mad man. Who knows.

The Jasper storyline also spouted a sort of smaller arc for Amethyst after she was defeated in battle by Jasper. This causes Amethyst to fall into a sort of depression as she tries to better herself until she finally faces Jasper again. She ends up fusing with Steven and the new fusion “Smokey Quartz” defeats Jasper. I liked this arc. We haven’t really gotten any episodes based around Amethyst since the “Too Far”last season, so it was nice to have some episodes about her. She’s never been my favorite character, but her episodes are usually solid, and I found these to be among some of the better ones.

Steven has also grown this season. Not only has he discovered some powers previously unknown to him (and the viewer) but he also becomes disturbed when he learns Rose Quartz killed one of the diamonds. This challenges all his previous perceptions of his mom and even himself. He refused to use Bismuth’s Breaking Point weapon thinking that it would be against his mother’s values. We still don’t know the whole story, but I am really intrigued and excited to see where this goes. It not only creates some moral dilemmas for Steven’s character, but also add some layers to Rose. For three seasons now she has been painted as this sort of perfect, angelic gem who did no wrong. Now we know there was a lot more going on.

Though there was much in the way of progressing the storyline and arcs over the course of the season, we still had a handful of standalone episodes. In most of these we got to catch up with the citizens of Beach City, whom we haven’t seen much of since early Season 2. Some of these episodes were among my favorites of the season. Including “Drop Beat Dad,” “Too Short To Ride,” and “Mr. Greg,” a beautiful musical episode that explored the tension between Greg and Pearl. Sure, not all of these hit home (while not awful, I wasn’t a huge fan of “The New Lars” or “Restaurant Wars”), but it was still nice to have some variety and downtime from the main storyline.
On the whole Season 3 of Steven Universe was a success in my opinion. I liked how we got a good mix of storyline and standalone episodes. As much as I loved the tight latter half of the last season, I think they missed out standalone episodes somewhat. This season was a good mix of both, and when we did get storyline and character progression it was some of the finest the show has done to date. Overall Season 3 of Steven Universe was a great, fun, weird ride all the way through (incidentally, it was also the only season to have a somewhat regular schedule. There was only ONE break!). I can’t wait to see where the show takes us next season.

Image from the Steven Universe Facebook page.

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