Steven Universe Rewind: Horror Club / Winter Forecast

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.

Horror Club

Official Description: Steven goes to the lighthouse to watch scary movies.

We haven’t really checked in with the townies since Keep Beach City Weird. This is apparently the first episode that does not have Garnet, Amethyst or Pearl in it.

This episode is also a Halloween episode in everything but name. Steven Universe doesn’t really do holiday specials, and officially the world has different holidays than ours, which makes me a little sad because boy would I ever have loved a Steven Universe Christmas special. (There are a few winter episodes, like the very next one in this block!)

Lars is locking up the back door of the Big Donut when he’s startled by Steven’s sudden appearance. Steven’s heading to a spooky movie party, and invites Lars to come. Lars briefly considers, then balks when he hears who’s throwing the party: Ronaldo, who he describes as “social napalm.” This episode is, in some ways, the reverse of Lars and the Cool Kids: instead of Lars’ desperate bid for acceptance among the cool kids, it’s about Lars frantically distancing himself from anyone perceived as not cool.

Steven seems totally okay with hanging out with Ronaldo in this episode, even though the last time we saw him he was kidnapping Steven and threatening to dissect him for science. I’m pretty sure that trying to kill Steven is the fastest way to make friends with him, though. Steven also cast Ronaldo as the villain in his story in Garnet’s Universe.

It turns out that Steven was actually waiting for Sadie to join them. Lars immediately invites himself to the group when he realizes Sadie is going. Check out Steven’s look of glee and Sadie’s look of… not glee.

Also, Lars has glow-in-the-dark skull plugs in his ears this episode which I think is a much better look for him than his usual, personally.

Ronaldo greets them at the door of the lighthouse wearing this cheesy monster costume. Lars starts cracking up and mocking him, and Ronaldo doesn’t seem happy at all to see him.

Sadie introduces herself to Ronaldo, saying it’s nice to officially meet him, and hold up, how has Sadie never met Ronaldo? They work down the street from each other and there are like twenty people in Beach City.

Ronaldo is shocked that Steven is friends with Lars. “Isn’t everybody?” asks Steven.

Ronaldo enthuses about the first movie he’s going to show, Evil Bear 2: Bearly Alive. Lars scoffs, saying it’s a lame movie with terrible CG. Ronaldo scolds him for having only watched the remake, and Lars tells him to take it down a notch.

Sadie, on the other hand, recognizes it right away and is excited that Ronaldo has the cut where “you actually see the Evil Bear eat the hermit’s leg.” This is the first time in the series that Sadie’s love of horror turns up.

Future Vision

Later on, we see that she has her own collection of horror films in her bedroom, and, of course, she even starts a band whose look and sound is based off of horror films.

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Sadie worries about how Steven is going to handle such a violent film. It turns out that Steven’s plan is to hide behind the couch. (It’s never actually said, but Steven is still actually grounded from watching TV, so this is also his way of not violating his punishment.)

The lights go out just as the movie starts to get good. Lars and Sadie assume a fuse blew, but Ronaldo, thinks it may have been a ghost. He declares himself a “skeptic of mortality” and begins rummaging through his file cabinet for information on ghosts.

Note that this is the G section and there is no folder for Gems. I enjoy the consistent detail that Ronaldo does not consider anything involving Gems to be paranormal, apparently because Gems are something everyone (at least in Beach City) knows about and accepts.

Ronaldo pulls out a coin on a string and beseeches the ghost to give them a sign. The pendulum flies out of his hand and hits Lars in the face, the first sign of what the “ghost” is really after. When Ronaldo asks for a few more signs, all of the files fly out of the filing cabinet and begin to swirl around the group. Mugs and other objects are tossed at them.

Steven is excited to see a “real life haunted house,” but Sadie suggests they make a quick exit. The “ghost” initially blocks the door, but they break through.

Ronaldo apologizes, saying that he didn’t know his lighthouse contained such a “violent presence.” “It happens,” says Steven nonchalantly, already used to everything in his life turning into a deadly situation. Lars vehemently denies that it could be a ghost, which, yes, he turns out to be right, but Ronaldo really should ask him what he thinks is happening here. Sadie, always the practical one, points out that whether or not it’s a ghost, they need to leave.

Ronaldo compliments Sadie at keeping cool under pressure. “When stuff gets hairy, I just keep my eyes forward, you know?” Sadie says. This certainly fits with what we saw of her in Island Adventure, where she bravely fought the invisible Gem monster to save Lars’ life. Ronaldo invites her to come investigate the lighthouse once the civilians are safe. Behind them on the stairs, Lars is flipping out with jealousy.

They hear a noise, and Sadie asks what it is. “It’s nothing. We’re all just hearing things and seeing things and feeling things that aren’t real!” says Lars. That last one is a little on the nose there, Lars.

The exit out of the lighthouse is blocked by Ronaldo’s scarecrow decorations, which have come to life and are shambling like zombies. One of them gets inside of the lighthouse and attacks Lars before they push it out again.

Ronaldo declares that this is no ordinary haunting: it’s a poltergeist, a ghost that haunts a specific person. “They’re usually attracted to the terrifying inner world of the emotionally disturbed,” he says, shining his flashlight on Lars.

Lars protests, saying that Ronaldo is a weirdo who lives in a haunted house and that he probably has something to do with this. Steven tells him to stop being such a “dink” to Ronaldo.

Lars runs to Sadie, who he declares is “not an idiot,” and asks her if she believes all of this. He wants them both to ditch the rest. Sadie refuses to ditch anybody — and then the ground opens up and swallows her.

The three venture into the basement looking for Sadie. Steven says that he can sense the “spirit” and that it’s hurting and obsessed. This is one of the first instances of Steven having explicit empathy powers, where he can feel the emotions of someone else (in this case, a Gem).

Future Vision

Later, this ability to feel the pain of other Gems will prove crucially important, particularly when stopping the Cluster.

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They turn to see a big, throbbing, veiny… something… with Lars’ name carved into it. Ronaldo yells at Lars that it should have been him who was taken. The basement wall turns into a giant mouth, and Ronaldo picks up Lars and offers him up as a sacrifice. “I deliver the package of darkness! Return to us the innocent Sadie!”

You know, Ronaldo is meant to be sympathetic in this episode, but he’s kind of trying to straight-up murder Lars here. I understand that Lars has been an awful bully to him, but this combined with the fact that he kidnapped Steven and threatened to dissect him does not paint a great picture of Ronaldo.

Lars objects, stating that they used to be friends, which has been hinted at throughout the episode but is the first time either says it. Steven jumps into the mouth after Lars, who laments, “Why does everything bad always happen to me?”

Steven manages to summon his bubble just as the teeth come crashing down. It’s worth noting how he’s gotten much better at summoning his bubble when in danger over the last couple of episodes. In The Test, he failed to bubble in time when the spike trap descended; in On the Run, he manages at the last second when the injector is coming down on him and Pearl; here, he not only summons his bubble, but he manages to expand it and push the mouth apart, exploding the wall and freeing Sadie and the Gem causing all the trouble.

I really have to wonder what this Gem is, because it doesn’t behave like any of the corrupted Gems we’ve seen before or after. It’s almost like an early Season 1 plot, where the writers played much more loose with what the corrupted Gems were capable of.

The Gem projects what is apparently a memory of something it saw while it was trapped in the lighthouse: a younger Ronaldo and Lars making a basement clubhouse.

“Ronnie” enthuses about making the perfect clubhouse, while Lars is mainly concerned with keeping it a secret. Lars carves his name into the wall with a screwdriver, because that’s “pretty metal.” One of the planks comes loose from the wall and smacks Lars in the face, and Ronaldo gets a picture of it using his Polaroid camera.

Ronaldo is thrilled to have photo evidence of something supernatural, and starts talking about how he’ll send the picture to every TV station. Lars freaks out that the clubhouse is supposed to be secret, takes the picture from Ronaldo, and tears himself out of it, ruining it.

Lars and Ronaldo fight. “Why do you care so much about what other people think?” asks little Ronaldo, just in case you’ve missed Lars’ entire character arc up until now.

“You wouldn’t say that if you knew what people say about you!” Lars shoots back. Damn, that’s cold.

So I guess we’re getting a little insight into Lars’ backstory here, but to me, this falls a little flat, mostly because it doesn’t really tell us much that we couldn’t have already guessed. Sure, we learned that Lars was friends with Ronaldo back in the day, but the way the friendship dissolved because Lars was concerned about what other people would think is basically exactly how one would expect that to go.

I’m not a huge fan of the fact that the Gem projects this exact memory. I think this moment might have been a little more effective if Lars and Ronaldo saw Lars’ name carved in the wall and remembered what had happened themselves.

Steven talks tenderly to the Gem, empathizing with it. In another show of his growing control over the powers, he easily bubbles the Gem and sends it on its way.

“So all that lashing out was just from feeling hurt and trapped for so long,” says Sadie.

And yes, obviously, that description applies to Lars, but it also applies to quite a few other characters on the show. Amethyst, for example, in last week’s On the Run, was also lashing out from a long-standing hurt. Lapis in Ocean Gem is another extremely obvious example. Steven’s power to empathize with people and Gems who are hurting will prove to be his greatest strength over the course of the series — but also something of a double-edged sword.

Lars doesn’t apologize, but he’s clearly ashamed and says that he didn’t mean to rip up the photo, which is probably the best you can hope for. Ronaldo asks Sadie if she’s okay, and Lars jumps in, claiming he ran down the stairs faster. Sadie and Steven both leave, thinking that Lars and Ronaldo have a lot to talk about.

Ronaldo starts to tell Lars that he wasn’t trying to make him look bad, but Lars freaks out, saying it didn’t matter and he doesn’t care. As Lars goes to leave, Ronaldo jokingly tells him to take it down a notch.

To be perfectly honest, this is one of those episodes that I forget exists until I see it in the episode listings. It has a few good moments, but it isn’t all that memorable. Lars’ emotional arc here is mostly just a reverse of his arc in Lars and the Cool Kids, a much more effective episode that has a more interesting Gem threat and also reveals a bit about how Steven feels about his mother. The reveal of Lars’ former friendship with Ronaldo would have been interesting if they revisited it later in the series, but I believe this is the last time they have significant interactions with each other. It’s not a bad episode, but it’s one of the rare episodes that can safely be skipped without losing anything critical.

Winter Forecast

Official Description: Steven has to get Connie home before it snows.

So this episode is mostly just Steven and Connie cuteness, not that I’m complaining. Here they are roasting marshmallows over a fire. Steven’s got this star sweater and Connie is wearing the most adorable winter dress. Steven asks why marshmallows are so good, and Connie jokes that it’s probably the animal byproducts, like hooves and bone marrow. (It was at this moment Steven decided to become a vegetarian.)

Connie gets a call from her mom, asking her if she’s been watching the weather on the news. Connie says that Steven has been grounded from watching TV, which happened in Fusion Cuisine and has come up a couple of times since. Dr. Maheswaran says that there’s a snowstorm coming, and if Connie can’t get a ride home, she’s going to send her father. As we’ll see later in the episode, this is an issue because Mr. Maheswaran can’t drive in the snow at all.

I like that Connie has a cute archaic flip phone. This isn’t really an instance of SU having older tech like Steven’s VCR, because the other characters generally all have smartphones.

Steven and Connie are sad that she has to go, wishing they could be snowed in together and watch the snow fall, and my blood sugar rises a few notches.

The Gems arrive, and Steven and Connie explain the situation. Connie thinks that maybe the storm will miss them because the forecast is often wrong, but Garnet says that it’s definitely going to snow. Steven explains to Connie that she has future vision.

Garnet says, “I know you don’t want to go, but you have to make the right choice.” She kisses Steven right on the forehead, complete with magical sparkles. If you’ve seen this episode, you know that this is the moment where she temporarily transfers future vision to Steven.

I wonder if something like this would have been helpful back in Future Vision, to help Steven understand what exactly Garnet is dealing with on a day to day basis. He seems to understand and take this whole situation pretty well in this episode, even given that a couple of the things he sees are pretty distressing.

At the car wash, Steven and Connie are horsing around with snowballs while Greg tells them he’s going to start the van. The Maheswarans think he’s a responsible parent (as of Fusion Cuisine) and he doesn’t want to jeopardize this.

Steven points out that if he wants to look responsible, he maybe shouldn’t be wearing this cherry sweatshirt. Personally, I can’t decide if I love or hate the cherry sweatshirt.

This is all a stalling tactic on Steven’s part so he can play around with Connie while Greg looks for something suitable to wear.

Greg pulls out the turtleneck he wore to meet the Maheswarans in Fusion Cuisine. Steven points out that if he wears that, the Maheswarans will think he only owns one nice shirt — which is true. Steven and Connie help Greg dig through the pile of clothes in his van to find something to wear.

Steven and Connie play in the snow and make snowmen while Greg tries on various outfits, each one rejected by the kids. First, a green sweatshirt, followed by a too-small tuxedo t-shirt, a luchador outfit (which makes me think of him going tag-team wrestling with Amethyst), Steven’s star shirt, and a blue floral shirt. That last one honestly isn’t so bad, but Steven and Connie reject it anyway since they’re trying to stall for time.

Finally, Greg emerges in this ridiculous disco getup, which Steven calls the best outfit he’s ever seen. Note that the snowman he built with Connie ended up wearing bits of Greg’s past outfits.

They finally get on the road, but the van spins out on an icy patch and ends up stuck in a snowbank. Greg decides they all need to get out and walk, because “A responsible parent doesn’t let two kids strand themselves in a van in the middle of nowhere. A responsible parent escorts those kids through wind, sleet, and snow to avoid making the other parent angry!”

They finally arrive at the Maheswarans’ house. Connie’s parents are furious that they arrived so late and that Connie is sneezing. Dr. Maheswaran pulls Connie up to bed. Doug tells Greg and Steven to leave, but Greg says he crashed his ride, so Doug angrily makes up the couch for them.

Greg is disappointed that he didn’t look responsible. Steven starts to stare at the weird pattern on the back of Greg’s outfit, becoming transfixed and sending himself into a different timeline.

Steven arrives back at the moment when the van wiped out. I really like how this episode gives us an insight into how Garnet’s future vision works, how it isn’t always perfect and how she can’t see every possibility — she mostly tries the most likely outcomes.

Steven tells Connie and Greg that they’ll be much safer if they stay inside the van, and they agree. Greg makes them dinner from waffles and eggs that he’s making on a waffle iron. Connie says “Itadakimasu!” before eating because she’s secretly a weeb.

Connie’s mom calls and says that she sent Doug out to fetch her. Depicted above: this is basically what it’s like when I attempt to drive in the snow. Doug loses control of his car and crashes into the van.

Steven sees the weird pattern again and ends up back at the moment when Greg pulled out the keys to start the van. Steven freaks out and chucks the keys into a snowbank, where Greg laments he won’t find them until spring. He drags Connie back to the beach house, claiming that’s the only way they’ll be safe: “I’ve seen it! Bad things! Several bad things!”

Connie calls her mom, who says she’s not allowed to stay over at Steven’s house, so Steven tosses her phone into the snow as they run back to the house.

They walk in on the Gems attempting to send the Shooting Star to destroy the Galaxy Warp. The Shooting Star is the weapon that they were trying to get in Monster Buddies. Pearl is concerned that the plan is too risky, but she’s overruled by the other two.

Pearl: “If the Shooting Star goes off mid-warp, it could explode forever in warp space. And even if we do manage to destroy the entire Galaxy Warp, they could still find another way to get here.”

Here, we see how deeply concerned the Gems are about Peridot bringing Homeworld Gems to Earth, that they’re willing to try this risky plan with a bomb just to destroy the Galaxy Warp. Pearl has a point, though, one that was apparent at the end of Warp Tour: just destroying the warps are not enough, considering Peridot was clearly able to send Robonoids to Earth with no warp required.

Steven’s arrival distracts Pearl, who drops the Shooting Star, causing it to explode and take out the entire beach house with them. Just like in Steven and the Stevens, Steven has had to watch himself die.

Future Vision

It’s worth noting that the Galaxy Warp is intact other than the broken warps the next time we see it, so the Gems apparently did not go through with the plan to try and destroy it with the Shooting Star, likely because Garnet’s future vision saw them all dying as Steven did.

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Finally we arrive back at the moment when Garnet kissed Steven. She explains that she temporarily gave him future vision so he could make the right decision. Steven takes Connie’s hand and runs to the car wash right away. This whole process seems to have taken no more than a moment, explaining how Garnet can react so fast.

Also, if this is what Garnet sees every time she uses future vision, she must have incredible strength of mind to not go insane from all of these alternate timelines, the trauma of watching disasters happen, and keeping all these memories of things that didn’t happen straight.

Future Vision

Presumably, Sapphire is at least somewhat equipped to handle it, but then again, she’s only designed to see one unchanging future.

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Steven and Connie arrive at the car wash, where Greg comments that there’s already an inch of snow on the ground. They drive safely over the puddles on the road and arrive at Connie’s house. Connie’s parents are happy to see her and Doug compliments Greg’s cherry sweatshirt, prompting Steven and Greg to share a smile.

Steven and Connie are disappointed that he has to leave. Connie’s parents point out that the snow is starting to get bad, and that it would be safer for Greg and Steven to stay instead of go out driving. They make up couches for them.

That night, as Greg and Steven sleep on couches in the living room, Connie comes down the stairs in her adorable nightgown, waking Steven.

She sits by him as they look out the window, quietly watching the snow fall.

I really, really love the ending of this episode. I love how it isn’t some obvious big important relationship moment, but the simple experience of waking in the middle of the night and watching the snow fall together is so heartwarming. You can really feel the affection between these two and the slight awkwardness of their not-quite-romantic relationship.

Winter Forecast is a really fun episode. First of all, anything with Connie is good in my book, but this episode is particularly overflowing with cute moments between Connie and Steven. We also get some insight into how future vision works, and a bit of a plot moment to remind us that the Gems are still in danger.

Next Week on Steven Universe Rewind! Those rotten CRYSTAL CLODS keep breaking an innocent engineer’s things! How dare they! She’s just trying to do her job! It’s Marble Madness.

Also, we get some insights into Amethyst and Greg in a very special Lil Butler Maximum Capacity.