Steven Universe Rewind: Joking Victim / Steven and the Stevens

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.

Joking Victim

Official Description: When Lars pawns off all his work on Sadie, Steven helps out by working a shift at the Big Donut.

The episode opens with Steven hanging out on the boardwalk, using a little foot washing station, which is a pretty cute beach-accurate detail. Amethyst walks up and offers Steven some “special” french fries. Steven shoves the fries into his face, but a second later he’s screaming in pain, because Amethyst covered them in “fire salt.” The handle breaks off of the water station, so he runs to the Big Donut to cool off.

The handle breaks off of the washing station, so Steven runs into the Big Donut and shoves his face under the soda machine, making a giant puddle of soda on the floor.

Lars complains about the mess, slipping on the soda, and tells Sadie to clean it up. Sadie points out “I’ve cleaned the last five ‘Stevens.'” Lars claims that the fall messed up his back in an obvious bit of bad acting, so Sadie relents and agrees to clean.

This episode is the first time we’ve really seen the dysfunction in Sadie and Lars’s relationship, as up until now they’ve mostly just been bickering. As Sadie cleans, Lars groans and plays up his fake injury, convincing Sadie to give him the day off. “You’re the best, Player Two!” he says as he heads out the door.

Sadie realizes she can’t run the shop by herself, so Steven volunteers to take Lars’s place. Sadie gives him a Big Donut shirt and shows him the back room. Note the Purple Puma and Tiger Millionaire poster on the wall. It’s the same one Steven drew to drum up publicity, that resulted in Pearl and Garnet finding out about the wrestling matches.

Steven declares the break room as “the most magical place he’s ever seen,” and he’s completely sincere about this. Steven’s awe at mundane human things — which he’s often not exposed to due to his relative isolation with the Gems — never stops being cute.

Sadie shows him around the break room. She says she sometimes sleeps on top of the box of napkins when she gets tired. “Is that why they’re called… napkins?” “No. Good joke, though,” says Sadie, patting Steven on the head. There’s even a television in the break room, where Sadie sometimes sneaks off to watch Canine Court.

Sadie shows Steven the boxes of donuts that are mailed in from a corporate bake-station. The Big Donut is not allowed to make its own donuts ever since… The Accident.

For Steven to work at the Big Donut, Sadie has to show him a training video.

The old VHS is a parody of corporate training videos. Specifically, it seems to be a reference to this actual Wendy’s training video showing employees how to make and serve hot drinks:

If you haven’t watched this before, be warned that it will most certainly be stuck in your head the rest of the day. Give the guest a juicy slice!

The video is hosted by a young Mr. Smiley, who Sadie explains used to be an actor / R&B singer. It seemingly goes on forever, covering a variety of topics from how to stop a customer from choking to sales tax laws. Steven remains enthusiastic throughout, but Sadie slowly slumps onto the table.

Steven: Are all videotapes that informative?

Sadie: In my experience… yeah!

Fast Forward

In next season’s Lion 3, Steven will find a videotape left for him by his mother, and he and Sadie will watch it right in this spot.

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As Steven and Sadie work the front counter, she explains that she thought the job at the Big Donut was just going to be a summer job, but that was two summers ago.

Fast Forward

Growing and changing is, of course, one of the biggest themes of Steven Universe. It’s obvious that Lars and Sadie are stagnating here at their dead-end jobs in the donut shop, and by the end of the series, both of them finally move on — and their lives change even further in Future.

Watching Sadie blossom from a donut shop clerk into a successful musician is one of my favorite character arcs on the show, and easily one of the most grounded.

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When Mr. Smiley shows up, Steven excitedly begins singing the song from the training video. Mr. Smiley happily joins in. Steven says he can’t believe he used to be a real singer, deflating Mr. Smiley’s pride.

Steven’s doing a great job, and Sadie jokingly suggests that Lars can stay home because she found his replacement. Steven is excited, thinking she’s serious.

Steven: I know we both love Lars (Sadie looks shocked and nearly spits out her coffee) but this job is the best thing to happen to me and we should fire Lars.

It’s cute how well Steven takes to having a job, and ties into his strong desire to be helpful. Honestly, it makes me think that Steven having some kind of job or responsibility outside of his Gem work might have been good for him.

Fast Forward (Future)

This seems especially true in light of the recent Future episodes, where Steven seems completely adrift without Gem problems to solve. He should really consider trying out a human job for a change!

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Sadie objects to firing Lars, even though he’s not a good employee, because “he’s a nice guy… once you get to know him.”

Sadie tells a story of when Lars begged her to stand in line for the new Army of War game for him, because he was banned from the only shop that sold it. She felt it was worthwhile because when she went to deliver the game to him, he had cleaned up his room a little, and got a big box of oyster crackers, her favorite snack.

I kind of love that Sadie’s favorite snack is oyster crackers. That’s a weird choice, right, it’s not just me?

Sadie: He let me be his Player Two, and we spent the whole night together.

Steven: That really is nice! It must’ve been one great video game.

Sadie: (looking embarrassed) Yeah, it was.

So, uh… they’re pretty coy about Sadie and Lars’s exact relationship throughout the series, but this is pretty strongly implying that they had sex, particularly combined with Sadie’s later reactions. There’s more than enough plausible deniability for a kids’ show, but c’mon.

Sadie and Steven decide to do something nice for Lars, and bring a box of donuts to his house after work. They hear laughing, and see him in the backyard playing on a trampoline with the Cool Kids. Apparently, he’s still on good terms with them after the events of Lars and the Cool Kids.

Sadie starts to break down crying, especially when he sees Jenny playfully bumping into Lars. She throws down the box of donuts and starts to run away. Her reaction here is a whole lot more like someone who’s found that they’ve been cheated on in a relationship than someone who is mad about her co-worker faking a sick day.

Sadie: He’s made a fool of me! Idiot! He’s burned me before. Just once I’d like to burn him back!

Steven: (cheerfully) I know how to burn people!

Steven gets an idea. He tells Sadie to go home and that he’ll see her tomorrow.

It’s Canine Court! I’d watch it.

Sadie is sitting in the break room watching TV and eating from a bag of oyster crackers, when Steven barges in with a tube of fire salt. He wants to prank Lars with a donut covered in the stuff, but Sadie objects.

Sadie: He did really hurt my feelings, a little. But what kind of person does that make you, if you try to hurt him back?

Steven: (skeptical) A… hero?

Fast Forward

It’s interesting that Steven tends to get much angrier and wants to get revenge when it comes to human targets, such as Lars in this episode and Kevin and basically every one of his appearances. Gems, even Gems that go so far as to want to kill him, definitely tend to get the benefit of the doubt much more. This is probably at least partially because Steven sees it as his duty to help bring Gems around to loving the Earth, as his mother once did.

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Lars comes in, playing up his fake injury and asking for another day off. Sadie, enraged, dumps a large quantity of fire salt on the donut and marches out to meet him. She tells him he can take it easy today and offers him the donut. Steven nearly gives the game away by laughing.

Lars eats the donut and begins to breathe fire, setting parts of the donut shop ablaze. Steven tries giving him a cup of soda, but he burns it before he can drink it. Sadie chases him with a fire extinguisher as he runs out of the shop.

Lars runs down the boardwalk, past shops called Danny’s Salt Water Taffy and Beach City Music, as Sadie and Steven follow the trail of fire. Here by the Gift Shark, Mayor Dewey is unveiling the largest bowl of ice cream in the county, which Lars promptly jumps in and melts.

Near the beach, Steven runs into Amethyst, who is hanging out by the arcade eating french fries.

Steven: I tried to prank Lars, but I used too much fire salt!

Amethyst: (very serious) Steven… that’s hilarious.

Lars spots Steven and chases after him, believing his problem to be Steven’s fault. Sadie shows up with the fire extinguisher and takes responsibility for the prank.

“After all I do for you, you lie to me so you can sneak off with some other girl?” Despite Steven interjecting “and other boys,” it’s pretty clear what this is really about.

“That night, I really thought… Player Two. Is that your way of saying I could’ve been anyone?” Even without the subtext, poor Sadie obviously feels so used here.

Lars tries to speak, but chokes. Steven remembers the song from the training video and administers the Heimlich maneuver on Lars, who coughs up the donut.

Lars sadly walks up to Sadie, who says she’s not apologizing. Lars says that he wants to help, unless she wants to be alone. Sadie immediately softens and says that he can help, but he should first get some water and get out of his burnt clothes.

You definitely get the feeling that their relationship is as dysfunctional as ever. One problem with Lars and Sadie as characters — albeit characters I enjoy — is that their character arcs tend to move more slowly compared to some of the other recurring characters and they both backslide a lot. Here, it’s not clear that either of them learned any real, sticking lesson from this. That’s very true for people their age, but can be a bit frustrating with them on the show.

This is one of the series’ first Sadie-centric episodes. I didn’t remember much about it before rewatching it, but it has a lot of cute and funny moments. However, it’s not one of the stronger Sadie episodes — those will come much later.

Most of the townie episodes have some thematic connection to the rest of the season. This one is perhaps a bit more oblique than the usual (or perhaps there’s something glaring that I’m missing) but if I had to take a stab at it, it’s about being honest with your feelings, a lesson that many people on the show will need to learn. In particular, Sadie here is pushing aside her own needs in order to accommodate what she thinks Lars wants, a pattern we we see recur with several other relationships on the show.

Steven and the Stevens

Official Description: Steven needs a musical partner for his upcoming show.

Actual Description: Countless Stevens are born and die as Steven rends the space time continuum.

First things first: I would like to direct your attention to Pearl. She’s looked so off for the vast majority of S1A that it’s a relief to see her looking much more like she does for the rest of the series. Her face actually looks right!

The episode opens in an underwater shrine filled with all different sorts of hourglasses. The Gems are looking for one particular hourglass, a magical artifact that can be used to time travel. As we will see, touching any other hourglass will result in the ceiling of the shrine opening up, filling the entire place with water.

It’s a setup much like picking the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and each Gem picks out an hourglass that fits their personality. Steven picks the smallest and cutest, Pearl points out the most “beautiful and grand” of the hourglasses, and Garnet thinks they should take the largest.

Their discussion is cut short when Amethyst impulsively picks up an hourglass she describes as “janky.”

Fast Forward

Of course, Amethyst picking out the “janky” hourglass relates back to her insecurities over the circumstances of her birth, and her later realization that she was “made wrong.”

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Because Amethyst chose poorly, the room begins to flood, and the Gems run for the warp pad. Steven stops and runs back to pick up the little hourglass he had chosen earlier. In a panic, Garnet shapeshifts her arm out to grab him and pull him to the warp pad just as a large wave starts to reach him. This is the first time we’ve seen shapeshifting used this way.

Part of the wave comes with them when they warp, and the Gems are covered in sea creatures when they arrive back at the house. Pearl starts to scold Amethyst for ruining the mission, until Garnet distracts her by pointing out that she has a lobster on her butt.

Steven’s alarm clock goes off, and he remembers it’s time for Beachapalooza.

Steven takes off on a scooter, humming the song he’ll sing later in the episode. He arrives at It’s a Wash to find Greg dealing with a problem: Yellowtail backed his boat into the car wash, only for it to become stuck because it’s too large. Greg tells Steven he can’t play at the concert at Beachapalooza that night, because he’s going to have to deal with this.

Steven: You’re bailing on Beachapalooza? But the whole town’s gonna be there!

Greg: Steven, that’s like fifteen people.

Steven rides off, dejected, and wishes that he could have been there to warn his dad about the boat.

There’s a flash of light, and suddenly, Steven is standing in front of It’s a Wash again, as Greg directs the boat into the car wash. Steven, realizing what happened, excitedly runs up to Greg, yelling “Fat! Fat fat fat!” Greg is offended until Steven points out that the boat is too fat for the car wash. Greg stops the boat in time.

Steven pulls the hourglass out of his pocket, excited that he was able to find the real Glass of Time. As he does so, Yellowtail’s truck starts to roll away, crashing into a nearby electrical pole, which sets the entire car wash on fire.

Steven hastily wishes that he could go back in time and stop himself from stopping his dad.

We see a repeat of the previous scene, with Steven running to warn his dad, but this time he’s tackled by another Steven. Steven informs two-minutes-ago Steven that it’s a bad idea to go around altering time, because it just makes things worse. A lesson he will promptly forget.

The Stevens are disappointed that Greg can’t play with them at Beachapalooza, until one wonders if maybe they could simply form a band together.

Cue the previous scene with Steven riding to the car wash on his scooter, except this time he’s suddenly jumped by the two other Stevens. “No time to explain!” “Wanna join our band?!” Steven 3 clearly has no idea what’s going on, but he agrees anyway.

The Stevens gather up a fourth to play drums, and we see them playing the song “Steven and the Stevens” on top of the Warp Pad back at the temple.

Steven sings: “I’m not like the other guys, I’m not like anybody…” Which is certainly true, given his nature as a human/Gem hybrid.

The Stevens are pleased with their performance, but all of them want to sing lead, since that’s what they usually do in their performances with Greg. To put an end to the argument, they agree that the Steven who has been around the longest should lead the band.

Original Steven marks the other Stevens with numbers on their cheeks, and assigns each one a role, like they might have in a boy band. Steven 2 is the smart one, Steven 3 is the funny one, and Steven 4 is the sensitive one.

Steven 1 declares himself to be the handsome one, combing his hair into a ridiculous pompadour.

Fast Forward

Later, Steg, the fusion of Steve and Greg, will have this same pompadour hairstyle.

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Steven 1 gets annoyed when none of the other Stevens fall into the roles that they were assigned — instead, they all crack silly jokes.

Steven 4: Hey, if Steven is the handsome one, does that mean the rest of us aren’t good-looking?

Steven 3: No way! We are all extremely attractive!

Steven 2: Let’s go get jobs as models!

I love Stevens’ confidence here.

Steven 1 storms out onto the porch, shocked to realize that he can be annoying. Honestly, I feel like Steven hasn’t been all that annoying since the first half of the season, but they’re definitely playing it up here to make the episode work. It probably helps that storming off in last week’s Rose’s Room wasn’t one of his finest moments.

His train of thought is interrupted by the other Stevens playing loud music inside. Steven 1 is shocked and irritated, since he thought they agreed that their band would be a lighthearted throwback to early rock-n-roll. The other three Stevens say that they don’t like Steven 1’s attitude and they’ve been more productive without him, having already composed “an angsty song about the time you made us feel bad for not being handsome.”

Steven 1 wants to know who is playing drums if he’s out of the band. The camera pans up to reveal Amethyst. “I’m down for whatever,” she says, and it’s hilarious that she’s completely unfazed by the appearance of three more Stevens.

The other Stevens sing: “Steven’s a big fat meanie! A big fat meanie zucchini!” Steven 1 angrily pulls the plug to the amps. He points out that they can’t kick him out of the band, since he’s the original Steven.

Fast Forward

Steven’s over the top reaction to being kicked out of the band relates back to his insecurity over being left out, and the way he lashes out when he feels he’s not needed is certainly a problem he still needs to work on, given the events of Prickly Pair.

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He suddenly remembers and pulls out the hourglass, warping back in time to the moment when he was riding away from the car wash on his scooter. He tells that Steven not to start a band, because it will tear “us” apart, but before that Steven can answer, the other three have appeared — of course, they all have hourglasses. Steven 1 disappears again, the other Stevens following.

They first appear on the beach during the events at the end of Gem Glow, when Steven was burying the last of the Cookie Cat wrappers. Steven 1 declares they’ve gone too far back and quickly warps out again, followed by the rest.

The four Stevens warp into Rose’s Room and start brawling. They’re surprised when another set of four Stevens materializes right next to them. As they all start warping away, the original Steven from Rose’s Room parachutes down from the sky, as he did in that episode when testing what the room could do.

Where are the Stevens now? I didn’t even remember this scene until I rewatched this episode.

Fast Forward

The sandy ocean floor and the beached ship mean that the Stevens have warped forward in time to the events of Ocean Gem, when Lapis steals the ocean.

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Steven 1 decides to go back to where it all started and warps back to the Sea Shrine just as past Steven is about to take the little hourglass. He confronts his past self and demands that he hand over the hourglass. The shrine is quickly filled with dozens of brawling Stevens as they warp in from various timelines.

Steven 1 finally grabs the hourglass from past Steven, laughing about as maniacally as Steven can manage (i.e. not much, and it’s pretty goofy.) He stops to look around.

The Gems’ stunned reactions to so many Stevens materializing out of thin air is priceless.

Steven 1 yells at the other Stevens to stop, and declares that all the fighting isn’t right. He realizes he has to end it, and smashes the hourglass he just stole from his past self.

The other Stevens all begin to dissolve into water, one of them clutching onto Past Steven and begging just as he dies.

Steven 1 takes Past Steven’s shoulder and tells him that his dad won’t be able to play Beachapalooza and he needs to find another way. “Stay cool, Steven. Arrivederci,” he says, as he finally dissolves.

Fast Forward

Steven 1’s stoic demeanor and using his last moments to console Past Steven is very much like Pearl’s reaction to being stabbed in Steven the Sword Fighter, something that Steven most certainly has not forgotten.

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It’s worth noting that the Steven that we’ve been watching throughout the whole series has technically died at this point, and we’re now watching an alternate timeline Steven.

We see the remaining Steven’s solution to not having a band at Beachapalooza — he gets the other Gems to play with him, each with an instrument that fits their personality.

Fast Forward

Garnet, the fusion, of course plays the keytar, an instrument that is a fusion of a keyboard and a guitar.

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Steven and the Crystal Gems / We’re gonna make you smile / I accidentally created / an alternate timeline

Pearl shoots Steven a worried glance as he sings this line.

Lars, Sadie, Ronaldo, and Kiki are in the crowd watching the performance. When the camera pans out, there appears to be only fourteen people, just shy of Greg’s prediction of fifteen.

“I learned to stay true to myself by watching myself die,” sings Steven. This was probably the hardest I had laughed at SU so far on my first time watching.

Fast Forward

Steven in this episode doesn’t really seem to have learned anything by watching himself die. In fact, this episode really didn’t have anything to do with staying true to yourself. A better lesson from this episode would be to not toy with dangerous artifacts for frivolous reasons.

However, much later in the series, in Change Your Mind, Steven will be split into his human and Gem halves, and he really will learn to stay true to himself by watching himself die.

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This episode really isn’t too important in terms of lore or character development, but I really like it. It has cute songs and is very funny, almost with a slightly different feel than many of the other funny episodes. The time loop concept is also neat, especially when it dissolves into mayhem near the end.

Next time on Steven Universe Future! We’re almost to the end of the season, and we’ve got some critical lore episodes coming up. Monster Buddies brings the Centipeetle back, and An Indirect Kiss introduces an extremely important plot point.