Steven Universe Rewind: Cheeseburger Backpack / Together Breakfast

Spoiler Policy: All spoilers up to and including the currently discussed episode will be unmarked. Spoilers for episodes beyond the current point will be enclosed in Fast Forward blocks, which will include spoilers for the entire series.

Cheeseburger Backpack

Official Episode Description: A mission to the Lunar Sea Spire takes a treacherous turn.

Actual Episode Description: You know that horrible sinking feeling when you reach into your bag for your keys or your phone and they’re not there?

The episode opens on Steven waiting impatiently outside the beach house for the mail, and we get another minor character introduction.

Jamie (voice: Eugene Cordero) is the mailman who normally delivers to the beach house, and is therefore one of the only humans who routinely stops by the area.

Steven’s been waiting for a package from Wacky Sacks Supply Company, which he claims is going to help him save the world.

Steven: Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl think I shouldn’t go on magic adventures because I don’t know how to use my gem powers.

Jamie: …that seems reasonable.

(As Dramus pointed out in the previous comment section, they use the term “magic” a lot in these early episodes. That gradually gets dropped as Steven and the audience learns more about the Gems. In a few seasons, Steven isn’t going to be calling dealing with Gem bullshit “magic adventures.”)

Steven signs with a bunch of stars, which is cute as heck. Jamie explains that Barb yells at him if he doesn’t get signatures.

Fast Forward

Barb is Sadie’s mom, who we’ll see later.

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Their conversation is interrupted by the sound of the Gems warping back into the house. (This is a cool shot. I feel like the Warp Pad usually isn’t this flashy.)

Garnet is covered in feathers and Amethyst is dumping all the food out of the fridge to make room for a giant egg they apparently found on their last mission.

This episode, while fun, is filled with a lot of early weirdness while the show is still establishing its lore and tone. There’s a number of things here, like this giant egg, that don’t really add up with what we learn about the Crystal Gems’ missions later.

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In particular, most of the Crystal Gems’ standard missions are about hunting down corrupted Gem monsters. In general, corrupted Gems probably can’t produce feathers or lay eggs. When I first saw this episode I assumed the egg in the fridge would come up later, but I don’t think it’s ever seen again.

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Pearl explains that they’re only stopping by for a second and have to head out again. They have to place this “moon goddess statue” at the top of the Lunar Sea Spire before midnight or it will collapse.

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This is a second thing that seems out of place with Gem missions and culture later on. This is a very traditional fantasy setup, where a mystic artifact must be replaced by a certain time. Later episodes never really have explicitly magic or fantasy quests like this, veering more into the realm of science fiction as Gem culture is more fleshed out.

The moon goddess statue, in particular, is really strange as a Gem artifact. In no other episodes do they seem to have any kind of religion. In fact, future episodes make it pretty plain that Gems are required to show complete obedience to their Diamonds. This statue does vaguely resemble a Diamond so it could be an incredibly early form of Gem culture, but honestly it’s probably just that the lore wasn’t quite worked out yet.

Which brings us to the most important point about this episode: in later episode The Test, we learn that the mission to the Lunar Sea Spire was considered a test for Steven, one which he didn’t really pass. Some of this weird setup is probably because this seems to be an artificial mission for testing purposes. It’s possible that the moon goddess statue and time limit is completely made up by the Gems.

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Pearl explains that the Spire was “an Oasis for Gems on Earth” and shows Steven a projection of what it looked like. She says that it’s abandoned now.

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Pearl gushing about an oasis for Gems on Earth is more than a little weird considering she’s partially responsible for the rebellion that drove them all away. Yes, Pearl, it’s abandoned now. It’s abandoned because the Diamonds corrupted almost everyone.

As we’ll see throughout the series, Pearl clearly has a lot of mixed feelings about Homeworld even thousands of years after the end of the Gem War. There are moments when she’s enthusiastic about it and wants to share the old culture with Steven, like here and in Space Race. But just as often she doesn’t want Steven to know — especially when it comes to the many, many awful aspects. 

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Even the cheese is a pocket!

Steven is excited, and opens his new package to reveal the titular Cheeseburger Backpack. Behold its cheesy glory.

Also, behold the fact that everyone is pretty bizarrely off-model in this episode.

Steven wants to come along and carry the statue in his new backpack, but Pearl declines because he doesn’t know how to use his powers yet. He petulantly declares, “Whaaaat? I’m a Gem!”

Fast Forward

From the episode Familiar

Familiar, that she used to throw a tantrum

Insisting, “hey, I’m a Diamond too!”

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Amethyst points out that the mission could be educational for him, and Pearl relents.

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If this was meant to be a test for Steven all along, it’s interesting that Pearl denies him at first. She knows Steven well enough to know he’ll insist on coming anyway.

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Steven runs to get more supplies: bagel sandwiches, a kite, a sweater, and an inflatable raft. Up in his room, he tosses out a first aid kit to make room for his Mr. Queasy doll. Check out that N64, though. Given that smartphones show up throughout the series, indicating a modern level of tech, presumably either Steven is into retro gaming or that’s all he can get.

Steven’s backpack is so full that he can barely fit on the Warp Pad, and when he warps with the other gems he floats around goofily and sticks his head out of the warp stream.

They arrive at their destination and some cool, JRPG-ish music plays as they gaze up at the slowly crumbling Lunar Sea Spire.

Pearl is so done.

Steven nearly falls off a cliff that crumbles beneath him, and Pearl flips out and wants to take him back. She’s upset that he isn’t taking this seriously, yelling, “This is your heritage!”

Fast Forward

Pearl, maybe he’d have more respect for his “heritage” if you sat down and told him about it? Later episodes reveal he knows next to nothing about Gem culture. Which, again, is understandable given how much of it is awful.

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Steven’s really at his most childish and obnoxious in this episode. I remember thinking that he’s really hard to like here. If it’s your first time watching, just get through this. It’ll get better.

The first obstacle they face is a gap in the path. There’s a vortex underneath that pulls down anything that crosses, so jumping is not an option. Steven pulls out the sweatshirts he brought with him in his cheeseburger backpack, using them as a kind of sling to cross over. This earns him the praise of all three Gems.

They climb the tower, Pearl fussing over all the things that are damaged.

They come to an area that’s been infested by “crystal shrimp.” Occasionally the show will have little animals like these that aren’t fully explained by the lore, mostly in the first season.

Pearl uses holographic projections from her gem to demonstrate what she thinks the proper course of action is, resulting in cute little holo-Amethyst and holo-Garnet. Steven ignores all of this and solves the problem by tossing a couple of bagel sandwiches that the crystal shrimp flock to. Pearl says she wants everyone to know that her plan also would have worked (yes, almost everyone on this show has insecurity issues)

The next obstacle is a wall that bursts and creates a small river. Garnet looks at Steven and asks, “What else you got?”

Fast Forward

According to the Steven Universe Wiki, this is the ONLY time Garnet asks a question on the show, after her initial fusion and encounter with Rose where Rose tells her not to ask questions.

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Amethyst and Pearl both get into cheering Steven on with a chant of “Cheeseburger Backpack!”

Steven pulls out the inflatable raft and tosses it into the water… and it immediately goes over the waterfall. Garnet then solves the problem by knocking down a column and forming a bridge.

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Garnet’s really fast to knock over the column — she probably has seen everything Steven’s going to do here with her Future Vision, but for the most part is not intervening because it’s meant to be a test for Steven.

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They finally reach the top of the Sea Spire with the Moon Goddess Pedestal.

Garnet asks for the statue, and there’s a great little tense chiptune sting as he reaches into his bag and realizes he doesn’t have it. (I haven’t mentioned this before, but chiptune chirps are one of Steven’s signature instruments in the soundtrack.)

Steven’s been kind of an annoying little brat for most of this episode, but I do feel for him here. I can be kind of absent-minded and I recognize that awful sinking feeling of not having the thing you absolutely were supposed to have all too well, whether it’s your apartment keys or your entire toiletries bag on a several day stay at your ex’s parents’ house.

Steven proposes putting his Mr. Queasy doll on the pedestal. Pearl and Amethyst both look to Garnet to see if that would work. Garnet shrugs.

Fast Forward

They know Garnet knows because of her Future Vision. And Garnet probably can see the outcome here, given she knows exactly what she’s looking for (i.e. what if Steven uses the doll on the pedestal) — she is probably not saying anything because this is part of Steven’s test.

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Mr. Queasy floats up a few feet, and then explodes.

The spire collapses and everyone is dumped into the water.

Fast Forward

In a small continuity error, all the Gems gasp for air even though it’s revealed later that only Steven needs to breathe.

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Steven is apologetic, but Pearl and Amethyst are both very supportive, pointing out that the Spire was on the verge of collapse anyway and at least 50% of his ideas worked. The raft pops up near them and they all climb aboard cheerfully – at least until Garnet points out it’s a three hour paddle home.

Fast Forward

As mentioned before, in The Test, the Gems will accidentally reveal that this mission was a test for Steven and he didn’t do all that well on it. The nature of the mission as a test is probably part of why Pearl in particular is supportive and not very upset about the Spire falling.

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Final Analysis: This episode is a little below average, particularly for a Gem episode (as opposed to a Town episode — we’ll see those soon.) It suffers from some early installment weirdness and some seriously off-model character animation. Steven is at his worst here. Still, there are a few amusing moments and it is necessary for set-up later.

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This episode is probably worth it just to set up The Test, which is far better and gives Steven and the Gems a really sweet character building moment. Even then, it’s not all that entertaining on its own.

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Together Breakfast

Official Episode Description: Steven tries to get the Crystal Gems to take part in his special breakfast tradition.

Actual Episode Description: I’m not sure if something Steven clearly made up on the spot counts as a “tradition,” but his desire for his Gem family to eat breakfast together is pretty cute anyway.

I just like the colors in this shot.

We open on Steven looking out the window. He says, “Everyone’s out. Guess I’m making us breakfast.”

This is followed by a montage of Steven alternating between creating an elaborate breakfast while searching for the Gems. In a cute moment, he sits in front of the Warp Pad, saying, “One… two… three… warp in!”

One thing that isn’t addressed much on the show is that Steven is fairly isolated. He doesn’t go to school or participate in activities with other children. This is mitigated a fair amount when he starts making more friends and going on Gem missions, so his time is better occupied.

A chirpy, 50s-sitcom-esque tune plays while Steven makes breakfast, which suddenly drops the bass and turns into dubstep as he drops a single strawberry on top. And thus, the Together Breakfast is born.

The Together Breakfast consists of waffles drenched in maple syrup, with microwave popcorn sprinkled on them, and whipped cream and a strawberry on top. Dubstep NOT optional. It definitely looks like something a kid would make, and it makes sense that Steven doesn’t know how to cook much more than microwave waffles, given the Gems don’t eat like humans (more on this later) and before that, he lived in a van.

Fast Forward

Much later, the Together Breakfast will return in the form of Garnet’s wedding cake!

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Steven comes to the conclusion that he needs all three Gems to eat breakfast with him. That’s it, that’s the plot.

Garnet arrives on the Warp Pad, and Steven shows her the breakfast. “It’s not exactly healthy, but it is in a stack, so I guess you could say it’s a… balanced breakfast.”

Garnet doesn’t react. Steven makes this face.

Steven tells her he made breakfast and thought they could eat together “like best buds.”

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This bit is more early installment weirdness. Later episodes show that only Amethyst really enjoys eating and does it on a regular basis. Garnet only eats occasionally and Pearl hates it. Steven would probably know this by now, so the idea of making breakfast for everyone doesn’t really work (although he’d absolutely make this thing just for Amethyst.)

The “best buds” thing is also a little awkward. Steven, later in the series, probably wouldn’t hesitate to call the Gems his family. They’re just not quite as close yet. We need a little more singing and crying for that.

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Garnet doesn’t have time, and opens the door to the Crystal Temple using the Gems on the palms of her hands. Note the five colors here — red and blue for Garnet, purple for Amethyst, pale blue for Pearl (probably intended to be white, but the lighting makes it appear blue) and pink for Steven… eventually.

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I thought it was a little weird that Garnet had two Gems the first time around, but since the first time viewer hasn’t learned about Fusions they have no idea why. It’s extremely obvious in retrospect though. They even light up different colors!

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The door opens, and this is the first time we see the Burning Room. We’ll see it later in more detail, but you can see the bubbles containing Gems here, as shown in Gem Glow when they bubbled the Mother Centipeetle’s Gem and teleported it away.

Garnet can open the Burning Room with her gems, but it isn’t actually Garnet’s personal room. Garnet’s personal room is never shown.

Garnet says she has to burn this spooky scroll. We get a close-up on the scroll with ominous music. Steven thinks it’s cool and takes a picture of it, prompting Garnet to take his phone away to burn it too.

The evil scroll, like the giant egg and the moon goddess statue from the last episode, is another example of how the series had more fantasy / magic vibes at the very beginning.

Steven runs after her and tries to open the door with his gem, but as usual, his gem isn’t really working yet.

Suddenly, a “cop” breaks into the beach house, brandishing a water gun. Steven dramatically protects the Together Breakfast with his body, getting soaked. The cop shapeshifts back into a laughing Amethyst.

This is the first time we learn that Gems can shapeshift! There are a few general rules: their gem is still visible, their color remains about the same, and it seems to be difficult to change their mass too much from their standard form. All Gems can shapeshift, but Amethyst does it the most frequently by far, often shapeshifting for pranks and fun.

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Well, as we learn much later, all Era 1 Gems can shapeshift, leaving Peridot out in the cold.

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Amethyst’s door opens from the inside, and Pearl steps out, holding a sword. She demands to know why one of her swords was in Amethyst’s room. “Uh, having a sword party?” Pearl says she forgives Amethyst for taking her things, which elicits an eyeroll from Amethyst. She also mentions that she cleaned up Amethyst’s room, prompting her to dash inside, yelling “You what?! I have a system!” Flashbacks to yelling that exact same thing at my mom as a teenager!

Steven tries to explain the Together Breakfast to Pearl, but she ignores him and enters her room. Steven, determined to not make this “Together Brunch,” sticks his arm inside the door before it closes and worms his way into Pearl’s room.

Pearl’s room fits her gracefulness and aesthetic well, filled with lovely round waterfalls. Fittingly, we hear Pearl’s theme again here.

Pearl dances on top of one of the waterfalls as she organizes her sword collection. These swords are definitely somehow alphabetized.

Steven yells to get Pearl’s attention. She is upset, opening the door for him to leave, because the Crystal Temple is dangerous for him.

Steven, undeterred, tries to swim the Together Breakfast over to Pearl, but slides down a waterfall. The waterfall quickly turns into an elaborate water slide.

Both Steven and the breakfast survive the ride unscathed, and end up in Amethyst’s room, which, as you might expect, is kind of a trash pile filled with random human objects.

Amethyst asks Steven if he came down the waterfall, complaining that Pearl’s junk is always falling down into her room. “Junk like you!” Amethyst teases, tossing Steven onto the pile.

Steven shows Amethyst the breakfast, and she immediately wants to eat it, despite Steven’s protests that it’s meant for everyone. The above theme starts up as Amethyst playfully chases Steven out of her room and through the Temple.

Amethyst doesn’t really have a leitmotif in the same way that Pearl, Garnet and some other Gems do, but her associated instrument is a drum kit, and her backing music tends to be upbeat and fun like this track.

Steven comes to a room filled with floating rocks and leaps across, as Amethyst shouts, “You can’t outrun me, we both have short legs!” Steven and Amethyst are about the same height, which is something they occasionally bond over.

Anyone else reminded of The Binding of Isaac? Just me?

Steven runs into this room, the Crystal Heart, Amethyst following behind him, and Pearl running in from a different direction. Pearl freaks out because the Crystal Heart is connected to all the dangerous parts of the Temple, but before she can reach him, Steven accidentally slips down the column in the center.

On the way down, Steven passes through a bright pink area of the Temple.

Fast Forward

This is later revealed to be Rose’s Room, which Steven will eventually learn to open up with his Gem. Surprisingly, Steven will remember that there’s an artery running through Rose’s Room down to the Burning Room. He’ll use that method to sneak into the Burning Room in Catch and Release.

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Steven finally ends up in the Burning Room, which we caught a glimpse of Garnet entering earlier. It’s filled with floating, bubbled gems. Whenever a Crystal Gem captures a Gem Monster (like the Centipeetle) in a bubble and taps it, this is where it ends up. Bubbles serve effectively as a form of stasis for Gems — we’ll see some more detail of how they work later.

Garnet is here, burning the creepy scroll from earlier in a vat of lava in the middle of the room, and bubbling the resulting smoke. Amethyst and Pearl show up, and try to get Steven to leave without disturbing Garnet, but he’s too excited that he has everyone finally in the same room. His shouting distracts Garnet from her task, and the smoke escapes from her bubble.

It’s worth noting that this is literally the only time the series that a monster behaves anything like this — every other time they simply have a Gem that can be bubbled with little trouble. Just more of the fantasy trappings that the show will eventually shed.

The Gems try to beat back the smoke monster, but it beelines for Steven and possesses the Together Breakfast, forming the giant monstrosity shown above.

Garnet: Now it has all the power of a breakfast. We have to destroy it!

The breakfast singularity pins Pearl to the wall and flattens Garnet under a giant waffle. Steven grabs it by the plate and forces it into the lava, showing off his greater-than-human strength for the first time (possibly without even realizing it).


With the crisis averted, the Gems return to the beach house’s kitchen and construct an even larger Together Breakfast (again with sudden strawberry dubstep).

As they look at the breakfast, the creepy music associated with the scroll from earlier starts playing, and none of them actually want to eat it. Amethyst suggests ordering pizza instead, which they all agree to.

Garnet: It did try to kill us.

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As noted before, Pearl happily agreeing to pizza is out of character for her, since she hates eating, but it still kind of works if you assume she’s agreeing to it on Steven’s behalf.

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Final Analysis: I enjoy this episode considerably more than Cheeseburger Backpack. Steven is still a bit obnoxious here, but in CB he begged to go along on the mission and then didn’t take it seriously; in this episode, he’s simply lonely and wants to spend more time with the Gems, which is a more sympathetic motivation. I love episodes that expand on the lore and this one gives us insight into multiple rooms in the temple, as well as some good character moments for the three Gems. Garnet, as usual, has some very funny line reads.

Next time on Steven Universe Rewind! The show takes a turn for the weird — almost the weirdest it will ever get — in the pair of Frybo and Cat Fingers.

Previous: Gem Glow / Laser Light Cannon

Next: Frybo / Cat Fingers