Steven Universe Rewind: Jail Break

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 Future Vision blocks, which will include spoilers for the entire series.

Official Description: Steven teams up with a new ally.

This is one of the first really vague and misleading descriptions we get for an episode. Presumably the “new ally” means Ruby, who technically is not a new ally at all. But of course, they wouldn’t want to spoil the big surprise of this episode.

This is the first title card in the series to not show the beach house, as this time we’re opening with Steven in space!

Also, the title card clearly says “Jailbreak” but most sources list the title as “Jail Break.” I just went with what the wiki has.

Steven wakes up in a cell, to the sound of far-off singing. We’ll soon learn that the Gem singing is Sapphire, and her song is the melody to Stronger Than You, Garnet’s upcoming showstopper musical number.

Future Vision

Ruby and Sapphire will hum the melody of Stronger Than You in a similar way in The Answer, an episode indirectly referenced by this one in that Garnet tells the story of Ruby and Sapphire to Steven on his birthday like she mentioned she wants to do here.

[collapse]

Steven has a nasty black eye from Jasper’s headbutt, one that he presumbly can’t heal for himself because his healing spit still doesn’t work due to Greg’s ill-advised lie in House Guest.

He calls out for the other Gems, remembering Garnet’s two gemstones — one red, one blue — clattering to the ground in the previous episode. Looking out of his cell, he sees many other cells connected by yellow conduits.

I’m going to warn you that I absolutely love the designs of Homeworld tech and its color schemes and will be screenshotting them whenever they come up. I just love the harsh, technical color palette used here.

Steven makes the potentially unwise decision to stick his hand in the yellow field enclosing his cell, and finds that he can pass through it with apparently only minor discomfort. This field is made of the same stuff as the Gem destabilizers, as we’ll see later, and must only work on hard light and not organic bodies. This is one of the first times that Steven’s hybrid human/Gem nature saves his life.

Just down the hallway, Steven spots Ruby (voice: Charlyne Yi) in a cell.

As much as I love Garnet, I tend to have a soft spot for Ruby and Sapphire whenever they show up. They’re just so cute and lovable, and I’m glad I get to talk about them without putting it in spoiler boxes!

Ruby generally represents Garnet’s emotional, sometimes impulsive half. She’s also very likely the part of Garnet who immediately caves to Steven. She’s also perhaps not the brightest of Gems, although she does have a more thoughtful side that will turn up later.

Steven offers to help Ruby, but she yells at him to go away and not look at her, curling up into a ball. We learn later that this is because she’s upset that her surprise was revealed early — although it likely also has to do with the fact that Ruby tends to be somewhat useless without Sapphire, at least at this point in the series.

Ruby stops and thinks for a second, realizing that Steven got out of his cell, and Steven demonstrates that the force field doesn’t hurt him. Ruby hears Sapphire singing and starts calling for her.

Steven: Is she your friend? I’m looking for my friends too.

Ruby: She’s all alone! I need to find her!

First off, we’re about to learn that Ruby and Sapphire are much more than friends. Secondly, from the second Ruby hears Sapphire’s voice she is single-mindedly focused on getting Sapphire back at all costs.

Future Vision

This is our first hint at Ruby’s co-dependency issues, which come up in future episodes until Sapphire and Ruby finally decide both to get married and to allow themselves to have some healthy time separated from each other in The Question.

Rubies in general tend to be extremely single-minded and lose focus quickly, as we will see when the Ruby Squad visits Earth, especially in Hit the Diamond.

[collapse]

Steven blocks the yellow forcefield with his body to free Ruby, who immediately takes off at high speed, not even checking to see if Steven is following her. As we’ll see later, Ruby actually does care about Steven a great deal, but she seems to be completely incapable of thinking about anything else when Sapphire might be in danger. Garnet also seems to be the Gem who is most likely to assume Steven can handle himself — which maybe extends to Ruby running off on her own, assuming that Steven will be fine.

Steven tries to introduce herself, but Ruby complains she can’t see. It’s clear later that she doesn’t mean literal eyesight, but Garnet’s future vision, which comes from Sapphire.

Ruby is running all over the ship screaming at the top of her lungs, which really is not the best move when they’re trapped in space with a couple enemy Gems who easily bested them, but again, Ruby’s impulse control without Sapphire tends to be pretty nonexistent.

Ruby and Steven find a cell with a blue Gem in it, but Ruby is disappointed that it’s Lapis: “Oh, it’s just you.” Steven doesn’t seem to really question why Ruby would know who Lapis is.

Steven offers to help Lapis escape, but she refuses. “Things are bad enough as it is. I’ve already made too much trouble. Once we get back to Homeworld, they’re going to decide what to do with us… Steven, whatever you’re doing, just stop. If we do everything they say they might go easy on us.”

One of Lapis’ key character traits is that she is avoidant. This is entirely understandable considering the trauma she’s been through. She has no interest in trying to fight back, she just wants to minimize her own suffering (and Steven’s — he’s probably the only Gem she cares about at all.)

Future Vision

This comes to a head in Raising the Barn, where Lapis flees the Earth rather than face the possibility of having to fight the Diamonds, leaving behind her closest friends to possibly die.

It’s also worth noting that, while Lapis is immensely powerful near the ocean, the complete lack of water on the spaceship or, as we’ll later see, on Homeworld means her options for fighting back tend to be fairly limited.

[collapse]

I wonder a lot about what exactly happened to Lapis on Homeworld to get her into this situation. Did she try to resume her old life? Was she recognized? Was she in trouble for skipping out on her mirror punishment, or was that originally intended to be a limited sentence? How’d they figure out she came from Earth? How’d they match her up with Peridot’s mission? What exactly did Peridot and Jasper do to her?

Ruby storms off impatiently, while Steven tries to convince Lapis.

Steven: But they’re mean! They hurt my friends, they hurt my face! They’ve got you here in prison!

Lapis: That’s why we can’t fight them.

Steven: That’s why we have to fight them.

Young, hopeful, still relatively untraumatized Steven just can’t understand where Lapis is coming from.

Future Vision

Eventually, Steven will lose some of his hope, grow tired of fighting, and likely understand where Lapis was coming from a lot more. Honestly, what Lapis is saying here is not at all different from what Steven pulls in I Am My Mom — going along with Homeworld in the hopes that his friends will be spared.

He also changes his view on fighting, instead opting to win over hearts and minds. This goes better for him, in general, than his plot to turn himself in did.

[collapse]

Lapis just turns away from him, and Steven runs, saying he’ll come back for her. (Of course, he doesn’t.)

Steven runs towards the singing, but stops and hides as Jasper and Peridot walk by.

“We can’t leave yet! The whole point of coming here was to check on the Cluster!” Peridot protests.

Future Vision

It’s the first mention of Peridot’s actual mission! We don’t really learn more about what the Cluster is until she finally agrees to spill everything to the Crystal Gems in When It Rains.

[collapse]

Jasper pounds on the wall next to the cell, yelling at its occupant to stop singing. “Rose Quartz takes priority. Get back on the bridge and set a course for Homeworld.” Peridot grumbles but complies.

Future Vision

It’s interesting that Peridot calls Jasper an escort for her mission, but it’s clear that Jasper is the one actually in charge here. Later, when Peridot loredumps about the Homeworld caste system, we learn that Peridots are pretty low in the pecking order and a Quartz soldier — particularly a “perfect” one like Jasper — would generally be considered higher.

Jasper here is presumably defying Yellow Diamond’s direct orders about the mission, but she’s probably right in that Rose Quartz takes priority, considering how the Diamonds react when they think they’ve finally got Rose in captivity.

[collapse]

“Go to Earth, they said. It’ll be easy, they said.” A great line reading, but I also wonder how Peridot ended up with this mission. Presumably she was assigned it, but this line almost makes it sound like maybe she volunteered.

With Jasper and Peridot out of the way, Steven approaches the cell, where Sapphire (voice: Erica Luttrell) begins singing once more.

Sapphire generally represents Garnet’s cooler, more rational half, although Sapphire can be fairly intense emotionally when the situation warrants. She balances out Ruby by being patient and always searching for the best, most rational course of action — although this can sometimes be a flaw, as she can be too blase about the present if she thinks things will turn out fine anyway.

Sapphire doesn’t seem surprised that Steven escaped, and immediately understands what’s going on with his immunity to the forcefield. It seems likely that she was able to see Steven rescuing her in her future vision, helping her to remain calm. She greets Steven by name before he introduces himself, a clear indication that she knows him already.

Sapphire hears Ruby calling, grabs Steven’s hand, and pulls him along at high speed — super speed presumably being one of her innate powers.

When Sapphire and Ruby spot each other, they immediately rush to each other and embrace.

Ruby: Did they hurt you?

Sapphire: No, no, I’m okay. Did they hurt you?

Ruby: Who cares?

Sapphire: I do!

Future Vision

Later, when we learn more about the Homeworld caste system and Ruby and Sapphire’s place in it, we find out that Ruby guards are highly expendable foot soldiers, and this particular Ruby was assigned to guard Sapphire with her life. Homeworld put no value on a single Ruby guard, and even after thousands of years of living on Earth, Ruby still frequently thinks of herself as expendable compared to Sapphire, something that Sapphire tries to break her out of.

[collapse]

Here’s the first same-gender romantic kiss on Steven Universe, and one of the first on a kids’ show in general! This entire sequence is so cute I really just wanted to screencap the entire thing. The two spin around and fuse…

…and form Garnet! Garnet is indeed the permafusion of Ruby and Sapphire. There have been many, many hints of this — the fact that Garnet is the only Gem with two gemstones, of course, but also the brief silhouettes of Ruby and Sapphire during Fusion Cuisine, Garnet saying fusion comes easily for her and being thrilled about Stevonnie in Alone Together, and more.

She’s got a new look here caused from both of her components being forced to regenerate, and I really love the new color scheme. She’s happier here than we’ve seen her so far, overjoyed at her components reuniting. From here on out, she’s far less reluctant to show emotion around Steven, likely because he now knows her “secret” and she can be herself around him.

“We didn’t want you meeting us here like this,” says Garnet. It’s interesting that they didn’t tell Steven about Garnet even once he learned about fusions and even experienced it himself. Garnet clearly wanted Steven meeting Ruby and Sapphire to be a special occasion, though.

Steven: Well, did I make a good first impression?

Garnet: Oh, Steven, we already love you.

Sorry, I have something in my eye.

In the distance, they here Jasper yelling, “Where is she?!” Presumably she’s discovered that “Rose Quartz” is missing, since she’s the only Gem here Jasper really cares about. Garnet tells Steven to go find the others, and kisses him on the forehead, giving him momentary future vision like in Winter Forecast.

Garnet will hold Jasper off while Steven goes for Pearl and Amethyst.

Steven: Wait, are you gonna be able to beat her on your own?

Garnet: It’s okay, Steven. I’m never alone.

Jasper is annoyed that both Ruby and Sapphire have escaped and fused again. “Fusion is just a cheap tactic to make weak Gems stronger!”

Future Vision

Later, we’ll learn that Homeworld forbids all fusion except for same-Gem fusion in combat situation. A fusion between different Gems, especially one done for love, is not allowed. It’s likely that Jasper doesn’t even understand that Garnet is fusing out of love, and instead just assumes that Ruby and Sapphire fuse for attack capabilities.

Jasper’s loss to Garnet here will make her obsessed with fusion in order to get stronger, leading her to fuse with Lapis in this episode and corrupted Gems later on.

[collapse]

Jasper: I’ve seen what you really are.

Garnet: No, you haven’t.

And here’s the moment we were all waiting for: Estelle singing one of the best songs in the entire show, Stronger Than You. Just go ahead and look it up on Youtube or Spotify or something and sing along.

The two of us ain’t gonna follow your rules / Come at me without any of your fancy tools, sings Garnet, as Jasper pulls out her destabilizer and charges at her, clearly not caring about making this a fair fight.

Go ahead and try and hit me if you’re able / Can’t you see that my relationship is stable? / I can see you hate the way we intermingle / But I think you’re just mad ’cause you’re single

First off, Jasper got roasted.

Secondly, Ruby and Sapphire do have an uncommonly stable relationship, which is how they’re able to stay permanently fused with apparently little effort. They truly love each other and balance each other out. They’re certainly not entirely without issues, though, which we’ll see later in the series.

If you break us apart, we’ll just come back newer / And I’ll always be twice the Gem that you are

I just like that lyric.

Garnet kicks the destabilizer out of Jasper’s hands and makes the perhaps unwise choice of breaking it instead of using it herself. Even if she didn’t want to use it, taking it back to Earth and studying it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The action cuts to Steven freeing Amethyst and Pearl from their cells as Garnet hits the chorus: I am made / O-o-o-o-of / Lo-o-o-o-ove. She really is, too — she only exists because of the love between Ruby and Sapphire, which, honestly, I would think would be a little bit existentially terrifying. A breakup effectively means a death.

Steven, Amethyst, and Pearl confront Peridot at the helm of the spaceship. She tries using a destabilizer against them, but Steven just catches it in his hands — it has the same mild effect on him that the forcefields on the cells do.

As Garnet and Jasper fight, Amethyst ties up Peridot in her whip and thus Amedot was born.

“Don’t touch that! You clods don’t know what you’re doing!” Peridot yells. This is the first time she uses her favorite insult.

Pearl attempts to pilot the ship, which is done by sticking her hands into the control panel of the ship, causing her eyes to flash with lines. Steven watches the fight between Garnet and Jasper on a nearby screen.

We haven’t talked about it much, but the show has a rule that everything must be from Steven’s POV. This is one of the few times they play with that, justifying the cut to Garnet and Jasper with the fact that Steven is watching them on a camera. Honestly, I wish they’d played with that more — the Steven POV rule means there’s a lot of interesting private conversations we never got to see.

Jasper pulls the same Sonic the Hedgehog spindash move that Amethyst has done and knocks them both into the core of the ship.

Future Vision

Later, we learn that Amethyst is “supposed” to be a lot more like Jasper in size and capabilities, which gives her an insecurity complex up through finally defeating Jasper in Earthlings.

[collapse]

I know you think you’re not something you’re afraid of / ‘Cause you think that you’ve seen what I’m made of

Garnet sings this line while smashing Jasper’s helmet. Jasper continually underestimating Gems she sees as weak will become a theme with her.

Future Vision

Honestly, it’s less of a theme and more of a near constant with Jasper, starting with this episode, where she does not expect Lapis to be able to take control of their fusion. Later, she’ll continually underestimate Steven and Amethyst, and end up defeated by Peridot, whom she had written off as weak and useless. Much later, she won’t realize what she’s taking on when she tells Steven not to hold back against her and end up momentarily shattered.

[collapse]

I am their fury / I am their patience / I am a conversation!

This is my favorite description of a fusion in the entire series. Even more than being “made of love,” a healthy fusion is a conversation. One of the core values of the show is, indeed, that healthy relationships are built on communication.

Garnet tosses Jasper into the ship’s core, causing a massive explosion that rocks everyone on the helm. She runs away smiling: I am made of love / And it’s stronger than you

Part of what makes this song so memorable is that it’s a bit of a thesis statement for the show — not just the line about conversation above, but the idea that love, and working together, is stronger than having no bonds and working alone.

In the confusion, Peridot wiggles to an escape pod, and the hand ship flicks her to Earth, where I’m sure we’ll never see her again.

Future Vision

MY FAVORITE PLOTLINE I’M SO EXCITED

[collapse]

Steven, Amethyst, and Pearl watch in fear as the ship falls to Earth. Garnet appears on the helm, telling them the ship is going down, which I believe they knew already. Steven wants to go get Lapis, but Garnet thinks there’s no time.

We get a brief shot of Lapis curling up forlornly in her cell before the hand ship crashes into the side of the Crystal Temple and explodes.

Lion runs through the flaming wreckage. He uses his sonic powers to clear away some rubble and reveal the Crystal Gems inside of Steven’s bubble.

Steven’s come a long way from the first episode where he struggled to summon his bubble at all, hasn’t he? Here, he’s fulfilled the “destiny” he took on in The Return, and protected the Gems with his powers. This episode is about how Garnet is “made of love,” but it also shows how Steven and his Gem family are made of love as well.

Steven immediately starts shouting about how Garnet is “a fusion all the time!” The Gems explain that they were waiting for Steven’s birthday for him to meet Ruby and Sapphire. “We can still do it! I’ll just pretend I didn’t know!” says Steven.

Future Vision

In The Answer, Garnet wakes Steven up on his birthday, and instead of having him meet Ruby and Sapphire as she intended, she tells him the story of how Ruby and Sapphire met and fused for the first time.

[collapse]

The sweet family moment is interrupted by Jasper climbing out of the flaming wreckage. “You only beat me because you’re a fusion!” she says — she sure turned around quickly on the idea of fusion as soon as she suffered an unexpected loss, didn’t she? “If I had someone to fuse with…”

Lapis chooses exactly the wrong moment to climb out of the wreckage herself. She tries to fly away, but Jasper grabs her by the ankle and pulls her back to Earth. Looking at this scene, it’s notable how Jasper retains her orangish color while Lapis is drawn pale and gray. The way she looks here, it’s almost enough for the audience to forget how powerful Lapis is, especially near the ocean.

Jasper demands that Lapis fuse with her, shocking everyone. “These Gems, they’re traitors to their Homeworld. They kept you prisoner. They used you. This is your chance to take revenge!”

Jasper’s choice of words here is very, very poor considering she also took Lapis prisoner and used her — as we’re about to see.

Steven pleads with Lapis not to do it, but after a moment of contemplation, she holds her hand out to Jasper. Jasper pulls her into a rough dance and they fuse.

The Gems just kind of stand there instead of interrupting their fusion dance like they probably should, but then, it’s important for the plot.

Jasper and Lapis fuse into the enormous, monstrous Malachite (voice: Kimberly Brooks and Jennifer Paz — as an unharmonious fusion, her voice is always just the combination of her components.) What a fusion looks like has some rough principles around it. Generally, the number of Gems and their raw power affects how large a fusion is. Malachite is only two Gems, but two extremely powerful ones, and so she’s huge, only rivaled by Alexandrite so far. Secondly, Gems tend to be more humanoid the more harmonious their fusion is. Extra limbs and eyes are the most common signifier of an unhealthy fusion. Garnet and Stevonnie are near-perfect fusions; Alexandrite, who has difficulty holding herself together due to her conflicting parts, is comparatively very monstrous looking. Malachite has four eyes and six arms, two of which she uses as her legs, giving her an almost insect-like appearance.

Just as Malachite is about to smash the Crystal Gems, watery chains form around her and begin to drag her into the ocean. “I’m done being everyone’s prisoner!” shouts Lapis from inside Malachite. “Now you’re my prisoner! And I’m never letting you go!”

This decision is such a terrible, unhealthy one for Lapis, but it comes from a raw, emotional place that’s very understandable given what she’s been through. We’ve seen her power when she’s near the ocean before — if she wanted to, she could easily best Jasper and escape, but that’s not what she chooses. Instead, she chooses revenge — particularly, she chooses a form of revenge that’s harmful to them both.

Just as Garnet being “made of love” and “a conversation” is a metaphor for healthy relationships, Malachite is an unsubtle metaphor for abusive relationships. One thing that Steven Universe does here is very interesting and mildly controversial, in that this isn’t a truly clear-cut situation of “abuser” and “victim.” Jasper is unsympathetic, was cruel to Lapis, and coerced her into fusing — but Lapis is the one who decides to imprison them both on the bottom of the ocean and keeps them there out of anger and revenge.

Future Vision

Later, Lapis will recognize her unhealthy behavior and attempt to move past it, rejecting Jasper’s advances in Alone at Sea. Jasper will be much less successful in moving on, culminating in her making the terrible decision to fuse with a corrupted Gem.

[collapse]

Malachite’s face deforms as she’s dragged into the water. One thing that’s interesting is that previously, fusions immediately unfused if their components were in conflict. Here, we see that it’s possible for one component to trap the other unwillingly in a fusion. One possible explanation is that fusions can only stay together when their emotions are in sync, and Lapis and Jasper’s emotions actually are still in sync here — it just so happens that those emotions are rage and hate.

Future Vision

I’ve always thought that perhaps the reason Malachite is able to stay together is because Jasper is not actually trying to undo the fusion, but to take control of it. This matches what we see in Chille Tid, where Lapis is continuously fighting to stay in control of Malachite. It also matches Alone at Sea, where we learn that Jasper wants to form Malachite again, because she loved the power.

[collapse]

“Let’s stay on this miserable planet together!” Lapis’ voice calls out as Malachite sinks under the water.

“Yikes. They are really bad for each other.”

Steven’s phone rings. It’s Connie, responding to Steven’s message that they all might die that he left in The Return. This sets up the first episode of Season 2, Full Disclosure.

This is the first episode that plays Love Like You over the end credits.

If I could begin to be / Half of what you think of me / I could do about anything / I could even learn how to love

When I see the way you act / Wondering when I’m coming back / I could do about anything / I could even learn how to love like you

Rebecca Sugar has stated that she composed this end theme with no particular character in mind — and indeed, the lyrics of this song could apply to many of the characters, and even, generally, to the show itself. She has also stated that the original idea was of an alien who is loved by a human and is struggling to understand that. This would seem to be a reference to Rose Quartz, and it’s certainly easy to interpret this song as something Rose would sing to Greg. Really, though, the theme of learning how to love comes up again and again with multiple characters throughout the show.

Future Vision

Pearl learns to love herself, separate from Rose and her original purpose. Amethyst learns to love herself and the place she came from, finding her true family. Ruby and Sapphire learn to love in a healthier, less co-dependent way. Peridot learns about her capacity for empathy and compassion. Lapis learns that her love for her friends can help her overcome her fears.

Finally, in Steven Universe Future, Steven himself has to learn how to love all over again after all of the trauma of the prior years. He needs to learn to love himself again, and to love and trust the people who care about him.

[collapse]

Jail Break is considered one of the all-time great episodes of Steven Universe for good reason. The most memorable part is, of course, Stronger Than You, which is both an incredibly catchy song and one that also serves as a bit of a thesis statement for the show itself. We also have the surprising and explosive finale with Malachite. It’s also a gorgeously shot episode — the color direction alone is incredibly striking.

And now we finally roll into my favorite season of Steven Universe. Buckle up.

Season 1B Recap

Season 1B is probably my third favorite season of SU, depending on how I’m feeling about S5 at the moment. This is when the show really comes into its own, raising the stakes, introducing important new characters and lore, and setting up the plotlines that will last throughout the series.

Worst Episode: House Guest

I’m giving House Guest the nod as the worst episode of the season, despite a cute song and some good moments. What Greg does to gaslight Steven in this episode goes too far and makes Greg seem very unsympathetic, out of step with his portrayal elsewhere — while he’s clearly a very flawed parent, he never pulls a stunt like this before or after. This episode also features very off model and uncomfortable animation.

Other episodes I didn’t much care for include Horror Club and Shirt Club, two episodes featuring the town characters that don’t really go far enough in terms of their characterization and fall flat as a result.

Top Six Episodes of S1B

I meant to do a top five but I couldn’t narrow it down so I cheated a bit. I cheated twice, in fact, as you’ll see for my #1 pick.

6. Lion 3: Direct to Video

A notorious feelings trip, this episode gives us our first direct look at Rose Quartz and reveals one of Lion’s most critical abilities. The scenes taking place in Lion’s mane are absolutely beautiful. Rose’s speech at the end is one of the most important moments of the whole series, and an absolute tearjerker as well.

5. On the Run

This episode is absolutely jam-packed. We learn all about Amethyst’s insecurities, culminating in the incredible fight between her and Pearl where she laments ever being made. We’re also introduced to the Kindergarten — a bombshell piece of lore, and a wonderfully creepy location to boot. This episode also features a fun song and the charming sibling relationship between Amethyst and Steven.

4. Warp Tour

You know I have to have this episode on the list. It’s an amazingly tense episode throughout — Steven trying to convince the Gems of what he saw makes me anxious every time. It’s one of the first times Steven has significant conflict with the Gems. And, of course, we have the first appearance of best Gem my favorite character Peridot, whose presence changes the entire course of the series and upends what we know about the world of Gems. The uncertain note the episode ends on is a demonstration of how the show is shifting from an emphasis on one-off episodes to an ongoing plot.

3. Rose’s Scabbard

Season 1B is when fan favorite character Pearl really starts to come into her own, and this is the most significant character development we’ve had for her so far. We learn about her relationship with Rose and how she ended up trapped on Earth. Steven really comes into his own in showing empathy and compassion to Pearl, even after she rejects him. Pearl’s complicated relationship with Steven comes to the forefront here — she loves and cares for Steven, but also partially resents him for effectively taking Rose away. Like Warp Tour, it ends on an uncertain note, with Pearl still processing everything she’s gone through.

2. Alone Together

Steven Universe has a number of episodes that could be considered groundbreaking, but this is perhaps the most obvoius candidate. Stevonnie is an incredibly rare example of positive intersex and non-binary representation in a children’s show. I have no doubt that years from now, we’ll have stories from people who were helped through difficult and confusing times by seeing Stevonnie on the screen.

What makes Alone Together so great is not just the presence of Stevonnie, but the way it captures the wonderful, messy, scary nature of teens navigating young love. Garnet telling them “You are an experience! Make sure you’re a good experience” is amazing advice that a lot of adults in relationships need to hear. Stevonnie rejecting Kevin’s advances, unfusing, and letting off their steam in hysterical laughing and dancing, is the perfect note to end the episode on.

1. The Return / Jail Break

I’m cheating, especially since I deliberately analyzed these episodes separately, but I also don’t care. These episodes go together as a two-parter and they’re both astounding. The rising apocalyptic tension, the eerily lit scene on the beach when the Homeworld Gems arrive, Garnet’s song, the formation of Malachite — I’m not going to get into this too much since a few thousand words about Jail Break are right above, but these episodes are practically perfect and some of the best Steven Universe has to offer.

Next Time on Steven Universe Rewind: I’m going to be taking a quick detour into the first of the three primary games created for the show: Attack the Light!