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.
Lion 2: The Movie
Official Description: Steven and Connie try to ride Lion to the movie theater.
This is the second of four Lion episodes in the series. Lion episodes past the first all have lore related to Rose in them, as we’ll see. Lion 3 is widely considered by far the best of this series, but this episode is also decent. Notably, it marks the first appearance of Connie since Bubble Buddies.
The episode cold opens on a trailer for the action movie Dogcopter 3 (in 3D!) “Some people say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” says the movie trailer voiceover. It’s not necessarily intentional, but this episode also features Lion showing off quite a few new tricks.
The camera pulls out to reveal that Connie is showing Steven the trailer on her phone, and they both enthuse about the movie.
Steven: I can see why this is your favorite film franchise!
Connie: I just hope it stays faithful to the book.
I love that Connie is so devoted to this obviously ridiculous thing.
Marble Madness and Open Book are two examples of episodes later on that showcase how devoted Connie is to her favorite book series.
Their conversation is interrupted when the Gems warp in, posing as a team. Kind of. They’re pleased to see Connie, and Steven explains that they’re going to go see a movie about a wacky flying dog.
Amethyst shapeshifts into Dogcopter with a boombox for a head, saying “Who needs movies when you’ve got magic?”
This episode is full of references to Gem abilities and tech as “magic.” As noted in previous recaps, this tendency gets dropped later in the series once Gem lore is more fleshed out, and it mostly tends to crop up around Connie, as that’s how she initially understands the Gems.
Anyway, this exchange sets up the main emotional conflict of the episode: Connie fearing she is too mundane and boring to be friends with “magic” Steven.
Steven: Connie promises this movie will be better than any magic!
Connie: (emphatically) I did not say that.
Connie explains that her parents won’t let her buy snacks at the theater, so she and Steven are bringing their own snacks. Here, we have the return of the Cheeseburger Backpack and the not-Utz chips, as well as not-Utz cheese balls, “Ho Ho Ho” (probably Ho-Hos, which were a total guilty pleasure of mine as a kid) and cans of apple juice.
Not that it’s super important, but the same brand of apple juice will appear again in Last One Out of Beach City, when Pearl is trying to “drink” to look cool.
Connie asks how they’re going to get to the theater, and Steven explains that they’re going to travel in style — with Lion. Connie is shocked that Steven has a pet lion. Lion is currently sitting on the beach outside of the house, eating this crystal lizard… thing. Steven explains that Lion is “sort of like a pet, but he does his own thing most of the time.”
Connie laments that “everything in your life is so awesome and magical. The most exciting thing in my life is tennis practice.”
This basically becomes a huge theme of Connie’s character arc — the fact that she loves participating in Steven’s “magical destiny” (as they’ll term it later) but worries that, as an “ordinary” human, she doesn’t belong.
There’s a lot of foreshadowing of Connie’s eventual swordfighting skills in this episode, starting with here, where she swings her tennis racket like a sword.
The two climb on Lion to go to the movies, but Lion doesn’t seem all that interested in moving. Steven explains, “Lion isn’t trained very well, but I’m not trained that well either.”
At this, Lion’s ears perk up and he suddenly starts to run.
He races across the boardwalk and down the beach to the ocean. He begins to run across the water, prompting Steven to ask, “Why don’t you tell me you can do these things you do?” There’s lovely background music for this scene called Lion’s Ocean, that incorporates Lion’s Theme.
Lion roars, and a bright pink portal appears in front of him, that he jumps through. This is the first on-screen instance we’ve seen of Lion’s teleportation abilities. (It’s likely he used his teleportation abilities back in Steven’s Lion, as well, when he somehow made it from the desert to the house.)
Lion’s teleportation gets used a number of times in the series. Perhaps the most notable use is in It Could Have Been Great, when Lion takes the gang all the way to the moon for the first time.
They end up here, in this flooded cave, where the floor has a symbol that represents Steven’s shield. As Steven walks closer to the center, the floor glows pink and a pedestal appears. Connie asks if it’s a “magic gem place” and Steven agrees that it is.
The symbolism surrounding this place and the items it contains makes it pretty obvious it belongs to Rose Quartz. Later, in Rose’s Scabbard, Pearl will take Steven here, not realizing he has already visited it. This was a secret armory of hers that only Pearl knew about (or so she thought).
A hand-shaped pedestal emerges from the floor, also adorned with a symbol that resembles Steven’s shield.
Hand-shaped pedestals like these are common to gem technology. The Kindergarten is another place where a similar pedestal appears.
Steven complains that normally he’s interested in Gem stuff but “this is not the movies.” Lion roars, and Steven asks him “what does that mean, Lion? What does that even mean?” As Steven talks about how they’re going to miss the movie, Connie places his hand on the pedestal, causing it to glow.
Steven realizes his hand is stuck, causing him to panic. Connie casually remarks that they’re going to have to chop it off.
A large collection of swords materializes from the floor. Connie is immediately enthusiastic about the swords, but Steven freaks out, apparently still traumatized from the events of Steven the Sword Fighter.
Of course, Connie’s enthusiasm is more foreshadowing of her eventual enthusiasm for swordfighting lessons.
This also shows that Rose’s armory operates much like Rose’s room, in that it responds to user requests. Connie mentioned chopping off Steven’s hand, and swords appear.
Connie tries to help Steven control the armory by poking at him, but mostly succeeds in just tickling him. Many suits of armor rise up from the floor.
It’s unclear where these came from or why they’re here, given that they’re all average-human sized and Gems are never really pictured wearing armor like this. Armor for human comrades that fought alongside Gems, maybe? Just a collection Rose thought was interesting?
Stuff Bismuth makes when she gets bored?
Connie boops Steven’s nose and Laser Light Cannons, like the one in the episode of the same name, appear. Apparently, this was where Rose was keeping the ones that she didn’t leave in Greg’s storage unit.
The armory also contains axes, spiky chain balls, and this giant penny, which is a reference to a similar giant penny often depicted in the Batcave.
Connie remarks that this this is great, but she has the feeling she’s not supposed to be here.
Connie really tugs at my heartstrings as the girl who always feels out of place, and like she doesn’t belong. Steven is apparently the first friend her age she’s ever made, so it’s likely she would sometimes feel out of place with him even if he were just a normal boy. The fact that he is constantly involved in fantastic adventures makes it so much worse for her. She likes Steven and desperately wants to be involved in the new world of Gem things she’s discovered, but is also constantly anxious that she isn’t good enough. The feelings of constantly being inadequate likely also come partially from her parents — we’ve heard about how they are very strict, and this will be expanded upon more in later episodes.
Connie, of course, proves her worth and then some through many actions throughout the series, most notably saving Steven’s life in White Diamond’s chamber in Change Your Mind.
Steven reassures her that he wants her to be here — or more accurately, at the movies, where he could see lots of explosions.
The room responds to Steven’s request for lots of explosions by freeing Steven from the pedestal and summoning this giant robot shooty thing, that attacks the kids with electricity, ice and fire. It’s another early episode bit that is very reminiscent of a Zelda boss.
Steven manages to summon his bubble for the second time in the series, once again to protect Connie. This time, the bubble is split open by the robot’s fire, but the kids are fairly unharmed.
The presence of this robot also reveals why Lion took them here. Steven remarked that he “wasn’t very well trained,” and this room and this robot likely served as a training room at one point.
Steven implores Lion to get them out of here, and they climb on Lion’s back.
Lion takes them to the movies, finally. The girl working the ticket booth in the background is a very minor recurring character called Jane.
Her most notable role was when she turned out to be Ronaldo’s actual girlfriend in Restaurant Wars.
Steven asks Connie if she still wants to see the movie, but Connie sadly declines.
Steven: I ruined everything, didn’t I? I don’t know why you hang out with me. I mess stuff up all the time.
Connie: I don’t know why you hang out with me! I’m so much more… less interesting than you! And obviously you have some sort of magical destiny. Why would you even care about something like Dogcopter?
Steven: Why? Because it’s Dogcopter!… Dogcopter is very cool and important… to me.
And here, we have the crux of their relationship and its eventual problems in a nutshell. Steven loves Connie’s company, and on some level seems to crave the normalcy having a human friend his own age can provide him. At this point, he doesn’t have anyone except his Dad to really talk to about human life and culture, and he’s at the age where he really needs a peer sometimes, not just a parent.
Connie, on the other hand, has lived a very sheltered and controlled life. She also lacks and desperately needs a peer to connect with, and the excitement of Steven’s life is immensely appealing to her, even as she fears it.
Connie deciding that Steven must have a “magical destiny” is straight out of the fantasy books she likes to read, which is often how she contextualizes her adventures with Steven.
Trying to fit her experience neatly into a fantasy book one can get her in trouble sometimes, such as in Sworn to the Sword where she is easily caught up in Pearl’s idea of her serving as Steven’s knight.
Connie’s declaration that Steven has a magical destiny is just how she understands it. The show as a whole doesn’t really seem to believe in magical destinies. While Steven does have an extremely unique heritage that allows him to do things no one else could do, ultimately the show is less about destiny and more about Steven’s empathy.
The kids’ conversation is interrupted when the robot shooty thing emerges from the portal behind them. Steven asks how they’re going to beat it, and Lion suddenly starts to glow.
The hilt of a sword appears on Lion’s head, and Steven pulls it out.
This, of course, is the first appearance of Rose’s sword.
Rose’s sword was forged for her by Bismuth. It was designed to quickly poof Gems, leaving their actual gemstones unharmed. Much later, we will learn about how Pearl shapeshifted into Rose, faking Pink’s death by striking her down with this very same sword. Steven will eventually give the sword to Connie for her to train with. It will finally be shattered when Connie charges Blue Diamond in the battle after Garnet’s wedding. Bismuth will forge a replacement made especially for Connie.
Steven has no idea what to do with the sword. Connie grabs the sword and helps him deflect the robot’s beams back into it, which further solidifies the idea that this is just a Zelda boss.
This not only foreshadows Connie using Rose’s sword to fight, but also Connie and Steven fighting together as Stevonnie.
The robot explodes. A starry eyed Connie whispers that it’s “just like tennis practice.” “Magical destiny practice,” says Steven.
We’re treated to this absolutely precious scene of Steven and Connie holding hands to buy tickets to the movie. The episode ends with the two of them and Lion in the theater, finally watching Dogcopter 3.
I really enjoy this episode. Any episode with Steven and Connie being this cute is good in my book. It introduces many new concepts, like Lion’s new abilities and the things seen in the armory, that advance the lore, as well as introducing Connie’s primary character arc. It has a number of cute jokes, and some lovely animation, such as when Lion is running through the portal.
The next Lion-named episode is Lion 3: Direct to Video. That’s a ways off, in Season 1B, so you have time to grab a box of tissues.
Official Description: Steven throws a cookout at the Temple to mend the relationship between the Pizza family and the Crystal Gems.
Here we are at another townie episode! This one has some cute moments, but is otherwise pretty forgettable — the most notable thing in this episode must be the introduction of the delightful Nanefua Pizza.
The episode opens with the Gems fighting this enormous pufferfish.
This Gem is the corrupted form of Watermelon Tourmaline, a former Crystal Gem who is later seen around Little Homeworld.
Amethyst comments that they’ve been at it for an hour. The fish can produce enormous blasts of wind from its mouth, which it is using to deflect anything the Gems throw at it. Garnet tells Amethyst and Pearl to distract it, so Pearl throws her spear at it, which is blown away ineffectually. Steven tosses the little foam boogie board he’s carrying, which simply gets stuck on the spikes. Finally, Garnet comes down from the sky and very nearly punches the pufferfish, only to get blown away into the Boardwalk.
Amethyst gets fed up with fighting, shapeshifts into a baseball bat, and knocks the pufferfish away. Pearl points out that that didn’t solve the problem, since the fish will just be back later.
Garnet is just kind of lying on top of Fish Stew Pizza, on the remains of their broken sign. Kofi Pizza is outside yelling at her, but she isn’t even responding to him. The Gems’ aloofness towards humans in this episode is pretty common for early episodes. It’s obvious that they didn’t really care about, or try to interact with, the town for the most part, until Steven came along.
Later, the Gems will become much better integrated into the town, culminating with Gems and humans living and working together in relative harmony in the Future series.
Amethyst and Pearl show up, and Pearl complains that Amethyst knocked away the pufferfish, prompting Amethyst to call her a narc. Garnet proposes that they regroup at the Temple, and they all jump away, leaving Steven and the Pizzas in the lurch.
Kofi understandably complains to Steven that the Gems busted his sign and then jumped away “like a circus act” without offering to help. Jenny emerges from the shop, wondering what the yelling is about.
She’s followed out by Nanefua Pizza (voice: Toks Olagundoye), the delightful matriarch of the Pizza family, Kofi’s mother and Jenny and Kiki’s grandmother.
Eventually, Nanefua will become a more effectual mayor of Beach City than Mayor Dewey, and will even acquire a fiercely loyal Ruby guard.
Nanefua tries to get Kofi to stop yelling. He shows her the damage to the sign, prompting her to deadpan, “Cheese on bread!” Kofi asks why Steven, “such a nice boy,” hangs out with “such animals”. Steven says that they’re the Crystal Gems and they protect humanity, but Kofi doesn’t care. He bans Steven and the Gems from his pizza shop.
Steven arrives back at the house and announces that they’ve all been banned from Fish Stew Pizza. None of them care in the slightest — Pearl doesn’t eat, Garnet rarely eats, and Amethyst didn’t think their pizza was that good. They’re not interested in helping the Pizzas, because they’re busy trying to figure out what to do when the pufferfish comes back.
Steven says, “What’s the point of saving people if they’re just going to ban you from their pizza shops?” Like most townie episodes, this one seems to tie into the greater point being made by the series, and this is pretty clearly the thesis statement here. Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl are dedicated to protecting humanity, but in a very abstract sense. They rarely interact with humanity and aren’t too concerned about things like collateral property damage. Steven, living in both worlds, is very slowly getting them to change this.
Steven laments that the Pizzas don’t even know that they’re trying to save humanity, and if they got to know the Gems, they’d see how fun (Amethyst), smart (Pearl), and mysterious (Garnet) they are. Garnet laughs at the description of herself as mysterious. Steven decides he’s going to throw a little beach party in front of the Temple and invite the Pizzas.
Cut to Steven grilling hot dogs and hamburgers on the beach in a cute summery tank top. When the Gems show up, he shows them a magazine with swimsuits in it, proposing that the Gems change into casual beach outfits.
The Pizzas show up, Jenny remarking that she’s never been on this side of the beach before. Kofi, still angry, comments that the shop is closed today because the sign is broken.
The Crystal Gems introduce themselves in a flashy manner, changing into these swimsuit outfits. It’s unclear whether this is really shapeshifting or not — it seems as though modifying their “clothes” is something the Gems can do relatively easily. (I love Amethyst’s outfit here, the ponytail is so cute.) This display just confirms Kofi’s suspicions that the Gems are a circus act.
The group begins to eat, Nanefua commenting that Garnet and Pearl haven’t touched their food.
Garnet: We don’t need to eat.
Nanefua: Oh, you young people and your experimental diets.
Garnet: (deadpan) I am much older than you.
This line has a hilarious delivery. It’s also the first full confirmation that the Gems don’t need to eat. Of the three, Amethyst constantly eats (often eating things that aren’t even normally edible), Garnet occasionally eats, and Pearl despises eating and never does it.
Kofi asks if they all live in the tiny house, and Garnet explains that they “inhabit the inner sanctums, only accessible through magical extra dimensional doors.” (Another mention of magic again.) Jenny notes that the place looks like it’s falling apart, and Kofi gets agitated that when something is broken, the Gems just leave it alone, like his sign.
One of Steven’s main go-tos when in an awkward conflict is to try to distract, so here he proposes a game of volleyball. The Gem abilities could make the game unfair, so each team consists of one human and one Gem: Amethyst and Jenny, Pearl and Kiki, Garnet and Kofi, and Steven and Nanefua.
The group begins to play, and are having fun together despite the ways they go against the rules — Jenny messing with the net, Amethyst turning into a tennis racket, that kind of normal cheating. Kofi yells at Jenny that if she touches the ball she’ll be grounded, in order to make her miss her shot.
Amethyst hits the ball high in the air, and Garnet returns it with such force that it turns the beach sand into glass. (Nanefua helpfully explains that superheated sand can turn into glass, for Steven and the audience’s benefit.)
The group begins to bicker about all the cheating. Steven runs to get the volleyball as it rolls away, only to encounter a strong wind. The pufferfish monster has returned. The Gems immediately lift the Pizza family to safety. Steven laments that everyone’s in danger, but Nanefua has a plan.
Nanefua and Steven run around the pufferfish, causing it to spin in place. They instruct Amethyst to shapeshift into a ball, and Pearl to throw her high into the air.
Garnet spikes Amethyst into the beach, causing another enormous pile of glass shards to form. Steven and Nanefua lure the pufferfish near the glass spikes, as Pearl and the other Pizzas grab the net and start to push the monster towards the glass. Finally, Garnet punches it, sending it into the spikes and poofing it.
Kofi thanks the Gems for saving his family and unbans them from the shop. Garnet has a hilariously uninterested deadpan as she responds, “Okay, yes, thanks.” Pearl doesn’t even remember what they were banned from.
This was a fun episode, but a big chunk of its runtime is consumed by the volleyball game, which isn’t all that interesting or amusing. Nanefua is precious and Garnet gets some good one liners. It isn’t a bad episode, but it’s forgettable and easily skippable on a rewatch, like last week’s Onion Trade.
The setup of Garnet breaking the sign and the Gems not caring seems like it’s going to set up a moral about taking responsibility, but that really doesn’t happen. At the end of the episode the Gems still haven’t helped fix the sign and don’t care about the Pizzas’ problem; they’ve only been forgiven because they saved the Pizzas’ life. As stated above, I think this episode has more to do with Steven slowly dragging the Gems more into the human world. It also reminds the audience that the Gem adventures have stakes beyond simply what happens to the core Gems.
Next time on Steven Universe Rewind! We get a cool new fusion and a great song in Coach Steven, and Steven finally enters Rose’s Room.