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Official Description: Greg tells Steven the full story of how he met Rose Quartz.
The episode opens with Steven and Greg just chilling in Greg’s van as the rain pours outside. I really like the atmosphere her for how sweet and calming it is. Behind Steven, you can see two pictures: the picture of Greg and Rose in the picture frame that Amethyst gave him in Maximum Capacity, and what seems to be the picture of Steven with cat fingers that Ronaldo took in Cat Fingers.
An old picture is stuck to the bottom of Greg’s soda can. Steven asks who is in the picture standing next to young Greg. Greg explains that it’s Marty (voice: Jon Wurster), his old pal. Smiling, he declares, “he’s dead to me.”
The fact that Greg, one of the most easygoing and friendly characters on the show, feels that way tells you all you need to know about Marty. Marty has a lot of parallels with Kevin, Stevonnie’s human nemesis.
Greg asks if he’s told Steven the story of how he and Rose met, and Steven says he hasn’t heard the version with Marty. He gets comfy on the mattress in the van while Greg begins.
Greg’s tale opens with his younger self on stage, singing the song Comet.
“Some say I have no direction / that I’m a lightspeed distraction / but that’s a kneejerk reaction.” This seems like a reference to how it’s easy to quickly judge Greg for being a washed-up rock star who lives in an old van, but he has a lot more to him than that.
Greg sings the line “to my destiny I steer” with very clear diamonds in his eyes. I’m just saying.
The song is space-themed, naturally, but it’s also largely about fame and fortune, two things that Greg doesn’t seem to care about much at all in the present day. Given how uninterested he seems in fame later in life, either these themes were put into his head by Marty or he grew out of them. Another possibility could be that he mostly wanted fame and fortune to find love, and once he met Rose he was content.
Even after he becomes rich later in the series, he doesn’t seem to care all that much about the riches, only splurging on a few things but continuing to live in the van and work at the car wash.
It was actually this very song, Comet, that Marty sold to a burger chain for advertisements that ended up making Greg his fortune.
One of the last images in the concert / music video scene is a diamond-shaped star falling into Greg’s hand, right before he meets Rose.
Greg finishes his song, revealing that he’s been playing his heart out to a couple dozen empty folding chairs. The only one around is Rose, who stands in the back, applauding.
She approaches Greg’s merch table. You can see that he has stacks of Steven’s red star t-shirt, and there are more in Greg’s van later in the episode, explaining where Steven’s clothes come from.
Rose picks up one of his CDs, “Space Train to the Cosmos,” and asks him how he’ll get back to Earth from space. “I’m never coming back!” says Greg.
“Oh! That’s awful! This is your home,” says Rose. By now, we know that Rose fought against Homeworld and, as a result, she and the Crystal Gems can never return to their original home. Considering she also loves the Earth, she may not understand why a human would want to leave and go to space.
In the series, the only time Greg actually ends up in space is less than pleasant for him — when he’s kidnapped by Blue Diamond and put in the Human Zoo.
Greg offers her a CD for free, along with a t-shirt, but he needs to go into his van to get a t-shirt large enough for Rose.
When he opens the door to the van, Marty pops out with Vidalia (Jackie Buscarino).
Vidalia is Onion and Sour Cream’s mother. We don’t learn this until later, although the name makes it fairly obvious. In Drop Beat Dad, we learn that Marty is Sour Cream’s father and he skipped town on Vidalia, which means it’s entirely possible that Sour Cream was conceived in the back of Greg’s van pretty much in this episode. Once Marty left town, Vidalia married the fisherman Yellowtail and had Onion with him.
She’s apathetic to Greg here, but she later becomes friends with Greg and lets him crash in her house when Steven is young. She also becomes friends with Amethyst, presumably when Greg was spending a lot of time with the Gems.
Greg fetches an XXL t-shirt, but when he turns around, Rose is gone. Marty is disdainful of Greg giving away t-shirts, asking where his 75% cut will come from.
In Dead Beat Dad, Marty returns to Beach City to give Greg the 25% owed him from selling the rights to Comet, which turns out to be a staggering ten million dollars. Surprisingly, Marty is broke enough to shill for the nasty Guacola Soda in that episode, indicating he blew through most of thirty million dollars somehow.
Greg walks the boardwalk, looking for Rose. He approaches this fence with a sign, “Keep Off Beach – Please.” This fence doesn’t exist any more in the present time.
There’s a purple owl on the fence, and Greg jokingly asks it if it’s seen a giant lady with pink hair. The owl turns out to be Amethyst, who can respond just fine. Greg seems a little surprised but otherwise totally okay with the fact that this purple owl can talk. “If I told you any more I’d have to kill you!” she says, spreading her wings and flying off.
Amethyst flies into the cave in the side of the mountain, where the warp pad and the door to the Crystal Temple are. The house does not yet exist.
Let me just say that I am extremely into Pearl’s 80s-esque outfit in this era. Her gauzy top and pink leg warmers are too cute.
Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl’s early outfits here don’t have any stars on them, but Rose has a star cutout around her gem that matches Greg’s star shirt. It seems likely that these three adopted the star symbolism after Rose’s death to honor her.
Amethyst turns from an owl back into herself, and oh stars, is Baby Amethyst EVER cute. She has short hair and childish clothes, and she crawls around on all fours inspecting Greg. It’s interesting that Amethyst, who is thousands of years old by now, acts like such a child here, and in the present day she is far more like a teenager or young adult. This reinforces the idea that she was the “child” of the Gem family until Steven came along and she was forced to mature to help take care of him. She sometimes even seems resentful that Steven took her place as the youngest of the group, much like a jealous sibling.
Amethyst takes an immediate liking to Greg. She admires his hair — and in the present day, Amethyst has hair very much like young Greg’s. She also pulls up his shirt to look at his bellybutton, right in the spot where Rose and Steven’s gems are.
Pearl pulls Amethyst away, apologizing to Greg, as Garnet appears on the warp pad, brandishing two presumably corrupted Gems in bubbles.
This is genuinely one of my favorite looks for Garnet. It’s simple, but appealing, with a great silhouette. I kind of want her shirt.
Garnet asks Greg what his purpose here is, and he says he’s looking for a mysterious pink lady. “I don’t know how to make him go away,” says Pearl. Interestingly enough, she actually seems kind of bemused by Greg compared to how annoyed she can be with humans in the present day of S1 — likely because she’s exposed to them far less at this point.
Garnet suggests throwing him over the fence, which Pearl agrees with, before they’re stopped by Rose. I have to wonder how much Garnet’s Future Vision saw here of Greg getting together with Rose — she blushes as she drops him.
Rose leaps over to Greg, floating slowly to the ground in front of him.
Later in the series, Steven develops the same slow-falling power.
The pose here, with Greg on the ground taking Rose’s hand is shot almost exactly the same way as Pearl kneeling on the ground and taking the holographic Rose’s hand in Rose’s Scabbard, which is almost certainly intentional. It’s the beginning of Greg and Rose’s relationship, and therefore also the beginning of the end for Rose.
Greg presents Rose with her free t-shirt, which she shows off happily. “His gimmick is space,” she explains, causing Pearl to giggle. Amethyst asks him to play a song. “Better make it good,” says Garnet, brandishing one gauntlet. Her gauntlet does have a star on it, even if most of their outfits don’t.
Greg is suddenly reminded that he needs to get back to the van to drive to his next show. He asks what time it is. “Night… time?” says a clearly confused Pearl. They’re so much more divorced from human concerns pre-Steven, as you might expect.
Greg runs off, exclaiming, “I didn’t drop out of community college for nothing!”
Later, we learn that he had a very strict home life. Once he dropped out of community college and hit the road to become a musician, he was never in touch with his family again outside of some letters he sent that were never opened.
“I hope the stars will align for us to meet again!” Greg says as he leaves. He doesn’t know how right he is.
“I can sing!” Pearl says while transforming into an entire shaker of salt. And thus, we have the very first instance of Pearl being jealous of Greg. It’s hard not to feel a little bit bad for her, though, knowing what ultimately happens. She’ll never have Rose to herself again, and not long from now she won’t have Rose at all.
In Greg’s van, Marty is going on about his hookups with Vidalia’s friends, while Greg tries to tell him about the “wild ladies” he met as well. Marty ignores him, assuming he’s thinking up song lyrics, and pushes play on the van’s tape recorder. When it doesn’t work, he asks Greg if he’s been putting pennies in it. Is that a thing?
Marty asks Greg to play a song, and Greg starts on a new song he’s writing: “Do you believe in destiny? / Close your eyes and leave the rest to me.” The use of “destiny” here makes me think a lot about Connie’s insistence that Steven has a “magical destiny.” Marty hates the song, and asks where it’s coming from. Greg says, “I can’t stop thinking about that woman at the show.”
Marty asks, “Oh, here we go, how big was she?” I love how Marty just knows Greg has a thing for giant women. Judging by Steven’s enthusiasm for seeing fusions, his son might just have inherited that particular taste (although, to be fair, Connie isn’t particularly giant).
Marty: “See, Greg, this is your problem. You want one huge woman, when you could have multiple smaller ones.”
Oblique fusion joke?
Greg counters: “Ugh, Marty, women are people.” I love that he pushes back on a joke that many would see as harmless. This one little line goes a long way to show why Rose picked Greg out of all of humanity to have her child with.
We’ll see later in We Need to Talk that one of the main things that endeared Rose to Greg and brought them closer together was Greg’s attempt to honestly communicate with her and treat her as an equal. Apparently, it took her thousands of years to meet a man like that.
Marty dismisses Greg, saying that he’ll get Greg everything he wants. “What if I want to go back and be with her?!” Greg yells. Greg dropping everything — including, presumably, an important gig in Empire City — to go be with a woman he just met certainly explains where Steven’s romantic and occasionally impulsive streak comes from.
“No one cares about your feelings, Greg! They’re making you lose sight of what’s important!” screams Marty, proving that he’s the antithesis of Steven Universe’s moral code. Not paying attention, he accidentally runs the van off of the road.
“Why do you always decide what’s important?” asks Greg. Given Marty’s surprise, this seems like possibly the first time easygoing Greg has actually pushed back at his manager.
Marty tells him to shut up and go to the city to play, and an angry Greg throws him out of the van and goes driving back to Beach City.
Greg’s van careens through Beach City, in a shot similar to the show’s opening. He passes a “Vote Buck Dewey” sign — that’s the current mayor’s father, who the teenaged Buck Dewey is named after.
In a moment of incredibly blatant symbolism, Greg drives his van straight through the fence diving the Crystal Temple from the human world. This fence no longer exists in the present day, indicating it was never rebuilt after this moment.
The Gems aren’t around, so Greg stands on the warp pad and sings to the closed temple door.
“Do you believe in fantasy? / I have to when it’s right in front of me.” It’s interesting to me how close Greg’s mindset is to Connie’s when he encounters the Gems: that they’re creatures of fantasy, from a story. It’s clear that the human race knows something about Gems, but that knowledge seems to be very limited.
“What are you doing here, in the real world?” sings Greg. I think, even after everything he’s been through, Greg still somewhat sees the world of the Gems as not the real world.
Rose emerges, wearing the Mr. Universe shirt and an incredibly sad expression on her face. “You’re awfully cute, and I really wanna play with you,” she says, and wow, is that ever a loaded choice of words. The fact that Rose wants to “play” with Greg shows what she thinks of humans, and reinforces the idea that Greg is probably the first and only human she ever really respected as an equal — something we’ll see more of in later episodes.
Rose’s use of the word “play” here brings to mind some of her previous “playthings” and their fates — notably Volleyball, Spinel, and to a lesser extent, Pearl herself. She broke at least two sapient playthings previously through her careless actions. This scene is at the end of Rose’s character development, at which point she’s presumably come to regret those actions.
“Your life is short and you have dreams,” she tells him.
In It’s Over Isn’t It, Pearl sings about how Rose had previously dated men, but none of them “really mattered” and they were all eventually discarded in favor of Pearl. How many humans with short lives and dreams has Rose destroyed before this moment? The answer is probably “quite a few.” Most if not all of these were probably not out of maliciousness, but out of not understanding humanity. The Gems in general have serious, understandable issues grappling with human’s short lives, and it’s very likely that Rose didn’t realize the sort of damage she was causing until it was too late. It may also have taken her significant time to even care enough about individual humans to realize she was doing wrong by harming them emotionally.
This line functions as a sort of dramatic irony: Rose is concerned about Greg’s short life, but Greg ends up outliving Rose.
Rose: I won’t let you give up on everything you want.
Greg: That’s gonna be a problem. You’re everything I want!
Smooth, Greg. This cheesy pickup line moves Rose enough to produce stars in her eyes, just like her son.
Back in the present day, in the van, Steven teases Greg about loving Rose. Greg comments that he’s glad that Marty made it easy for him to stay, and he puts the old picture next to the picture of him and Rose together.
This is a great episode for giving us insight into both Rose and Greg as people — particularly Rose through the eyes of Greg, which we haven’t really seen before. It also starts to hint at some of Rose’s less savory qualities. Not only that, but we get a couple of nice songs by Greg, and everyone is wearing sweet 80s-style clothes (even though it’s probably not actually the 80s).
Next week on Steven Universe Rewind! Lapis Lazuli returns, kind of, in The Message!