Steven Universe Rewind: Say Uncle / Love Letters

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.

Say Uncle

Official Description: A long lost relative of Steven’s comes to town to aid him in unlocking the power of his mother’s gem.

Okay, let’s get this over with.

Uncle Grandpa was a show that aired on Cartoon Network from 2013-17. The show focused on wacky, surreal humor. To be honest, even though I try to keep somewhat up to date on animated media, I don’t think I had ever even heard of this show outside of the crossover with SU. Years from now, I think SU will likely still be remembered and watched, and first time viewers are going to be baffled by this episode — the only crossover episode, and the only episode officially considered to be non-canon.

This is my least favorite episode of the series and since it’s considered non-canon there’s not really a lot to cover here, so I’m going to dispatch it swiftly. Sorry to any Uncle Grandpa fans out there, I have Peridot posting to get back to.

The episode opens with Steven on the beach concentrating on summoning his shield, but only able to summon his bubble. This episode was originally intended to air during Season One, as this scene doesn’t make much sense post-The Return where Steven was able to summon his shield just fine.

Steven, frustrated, flops over and throws a mini-tantrum over his inability to summon his shield, which is also a very S1 behavior.

“Isn’t there someone who can help me?” asks Steven. The ground rumbles as a whirlpool forms in the ocean, surrounded by dolphins, and a shell slowly raises out of the water. It opens to reveal Uncle Grandpa dressed as Rose Quartz, in one of the better gags of the episode.

Steven recognizes Uncle Grandpa, indicating that maybe Uncle Grandpa is a show in SU’s universe? He wants to know how this is possible, and Uncle Grandpa tells him that none of this is canon.

I was not watching the show at the time, but if you read reactions to the episode as it aired, you can see that the Crewniverse teased the fans by saying this crossover would absolutely be canon and fandom was, predictably, freaking out about it. This bit is poking fun at that anticipated reaction.

In what is probably the most memorable bit of the episode, Uncle Grandpa pulls a cannon out and fires his own head at a passing ship. Lars and Sadie emerge on top of it as it sinks, Lars crying out, “Oh no, our ship!”

Future Vision

As of Steven Universe Future, the ship of Lars and Sadie has indeed sunk as Sadie has moved on and is now dating a musician named Shep, and Lars is fine with that and has decided he belongs in space with the Off Colors.

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Steven asks Uncle Grandpa if he can help with the issue with his shield, and Uncle Grandpa says that he’s seen this problem before. Cut to the scene of Steven trying to summon his shield by singing the Cookie Cat song back in the first episode, Gem Glow. An Uncle Grandpa ad appears at the bottom of the screen, and Uncle Grandpa unsuccessfully tries to greet Steven.

Uncle Grandpa points out that Steven can only summon his shield when he needs to protect himself, and decides to shoot Steven with a rocket launcher over his protestations. Steven fails to summon his shield, but the rocket was a tiny toy rocket anyway. Uncle Grandpa pulls out a “bee-zooka,” which produces the Beedrills that attacked Steven in his imagination in Future Vision.

Meanwhile, Amethyst is casually watching the pair from the beach house. Pearl asks her if she’s seen Steven, and she points out that he’s hanging out with “some weirdo” who is “trying to vaporize [him].” Pearl sees Uncle Grandpa lining up a huge laser and flips out. The laser fires, but Steven blocks it with his bubble, not his shield.

The Gems arrive on the beach and ask who the stranger is. Steven introduces him as Uncle Grandpa.

Pearl: So that would make him Greg’s brother… and father?

Garnet: That would explain a lot.

Okay, Garnet, that’s really mean, and also, wow, blatant incest joke on Steven Universe. I guess it can’t be helped with a character named Uncle Grandpa, though.

Uncle Grandpa explains that he’s everyone in the world’s uncle and grandpa (please no) and there’s a visual of everyone’s heads orbiting the Earth while the Gems freak out. When their heads float back down, Pearl is very much not okay and Amethyst has her head on backwards.

The Gems form a huddle to decide what to do, which is quickly infiltrated by Steven and two Uncle Grandpas. As they try to explain their decision, Steven and Uncle Grandpa are playing Smash Bros. using this sweet CRT TV and indigo GameCube. The characters in the game are Tiny Miracle from Uncle Grandpa and Hopper from the episode Garnet’s Universe.

Uncle Grandpa keeps interrupting Pearl, including a cut to him, Steven, and Amethyst sharing a three-way sub, until finally Garnet declares that he is a danger to Steven and the planet Earth and must be destroyed.

The Crystal Gems chase Uncle Grandpa. Title cards saying “Crystal Gems” and “Run Away” appear, and Amethyst trips over the Y in Run Away, screaming, “whyyyyy?”

“They’re not usually like this!” says Steven, and indeed, in this crossover episode all of the Gems act like exaggerated flanderizations of their usual personalities.

Uncle Grandpa pulls out a “plot hole” to escape, and he and Steven end up in a white void.

The two end up in the world of Uncle Grandpa, with Steven in the passenger seat of the “U.G.R.V.” Steven thinks it’s pretty cool and says his dad lives in a van, asking Uncle Grandpa if he’s a rock star too.

Uncle Grandpa offers to give Steven the tour of his van. Steven comments that it’s huge and he could fit forty to fifty vans in it. A sentient piece of pizza shows up and jumps a pile of forty to fifty vans Evel Knievel-style and I’m so very tired just let me finish this

Pizza Steve complains that there can only be one Steve around. A green dragon looking character called Mr. Gus appears and says that Steven is a Crystal Gem and he knows all about them. He’s even designed his own Gemsona, shown above.

Steven admires Mr. Gus’ drawing, and wishes he could be that cool. Mr. Gus tells him that his powers are maternal and that he can only summon his shield when he’s feeling extreme emotions.

Future Vision

While Steven’s shield obviously does come from his mother’s side, I’m not entirely sure Steven’s powers are all maternal. His powers tend to be empathy-based, and Steven derives his empathy from his father as much as he does his mother.

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Pizza Steven erases Mr. Gus’ drawing, and Mr. Gus complains that he should have done that on a new layer, chasing the piece of pizza around the van.

Giant Realistic Flying Tiger shows up and does nothing of consequence. “Now what?” asks Steven.

“We just sit here until something happens,” says Uncle Grandpa.

I don’t think I like this show.

Steven and Uncle Grandpa get sucked into a vacuum created by the fanny pack on a larger Uncle Grandpa. Sure.

Meanwhile, the CGs are running around in the white void. Pearl freaks out: “We’ll never escape! This is our new home!” She starts running around in a panic.

Pizza Steve shows up dressed as Steven. “That’s not my baby!” screams Pearl, hiding behind Garnet, and I guess it’s fun to see her be protective of Steven even if this is a non-canon hellscape. Amethyst runs after and eats Pizza Steve.

“Okay, I’m ready for this episode to end,” says Garnet, shattering the plot hole and returning them to the beach. Same, Garnet. Same.

The Gems spot Steven having tea with Uncle Grandpa on the beach, and run to attack UG. Steven jumps in front of him, summoning his shield as the main SU theme plays.

Forget Ocean Gem and The Return, this is clearly the best shield summoning scene.

“You just can’t attack people you don’t understand,” Steven tells the Gems, which is legitimately a lesson they need to hear in some of the canon episodes.

Pearl flips out yet again, crying hysterically and saying she’s sorry. “I also apologize for Pearl,” says Amethyst.

Uncle Grandpa departs on the back of Giant Flying Realistic Tiger, telling them to “see with eyes unclouded by hate.” He pulls out a list of past Cartoon Network protagonists to visit: Dexter and Deedee from Dexter’s Laboratory; Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup from The Powerpuff Girls; Ed, Edd, and Eddy from the eponymous show; Billy and Mandy from The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy; Mac from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends; Juniper from The Life and Times of Juniper Lee; SWAT Kats, the only cartoon on this list that wasn’t a CN original series and whose inclusion is somewhat random; Flapjack from The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack; and Finn from Adventure Time. The latter two cartoons are particularly notable as Flapjack launched the careers of several creators who went on to make CN originals, such as Pendleton Ward, who created Adventure Time, and Adventure Time itself launched Rebecca Sugar’s career so that she was able to make Steven Universe.

The show irises out on a title card that reads “In Loving Memory of Pizza Steve.”

This episode definitely gets a mixed reaction from fans. Some appreciate it for its goofy humor, particularly if they were already fans of Uncle Grandpa. Some, like me, are happy to skip past it on a rewatch. I enjoy surreal humor, but I don’t think his episode pulls it off well with a few exceptions, and the Uncle Grandpa character definitely crosses the line into annoying for me, especially as he says his catchphrase “good morning!” seven times in eleven minutes. Now that I’ve finished this article, I’ll probably never watch this again.

Love Letters

Official Description: Steven and Connie help Jamie the mailman with love.

After the events of Full Disclosure, Steven and Connie are friends again and are having fun hanging out and taking selfies by the beach. Also, the animators apparently have no idea how selfies or phones work, based on the screencap above.

Jamie the mailman shows up in his first speaking role since Cheeseburger Backpack. He’s wearing Movie Star sunglasses but otherwise looks the same as he did then. He tells Steven he’s been visiting the place movies are made — Kansas, of course, in another instance of Steven Universe history and geography being a little bit off from the real world.

Steven says he didn’t know Jamie wanted to be an actor. “That’s because I’m very good at acting,” says Jamie, overdramatically.

He’s supposedly come back because he missed being a mailman, and he has a giant sack of mail for Steven. Steven explains that Jamie is the only mailman who knows where Steven lives. I have to wonder how that arrangement came about. Is delivering mail to the Gems a job that the other mailpeople avoid? Did the Gems even receive mail before Steven started to live there? Did Greg arrange this?

Steven has a lot of packages to sign for, so he cracks his knuckles almost silently. “My hands are very polite,” he explains to Connie.

The conversation is interrupted by Garnet emerging from the ocean, dripping wet. Jamie, who has apparently never seen Garnet, is immediately smitten.

Garnet says she was at the bottom of the ocean looking for Lapis and Jasper. One trend I’m noticing in S2 is that they really don’t want you to forget about the ongoing plotlines, moreso than in S1 where a few episodes would go by without really touching on the major plot threads.

Jamie is amazed that she was able to swim to the bottom of the ocean. Garnet explains that she’s a “Really. Good. Swimmer.” Estelle’s line readings in this episode are definitely the highlight here.

Later that day, Steven and Connie are sorting through Steven’s packages, including dozens of boxes of “Sea Pals.” Steven says that he ordered a package, but it never showed up, so he kept ordering it again and again. He doesn’t even plan to keep them as pets, he wants to set them free into the ocean, in true Steven fashion. I guess I could draw some allegory with Lapis here but nah.

Jamie approaches them, pushes an envelope with a love letter for Garnet at them, and runs away in nervous excitement.

Steven and Connie run to show Garnet the letter. She’s busy heading back out into the ocean, but agrees to hear them read it. Jamie’s letter is obnoxiously florid, and the kids imagine Jamie dressed as Shakespeare writing with a quill pen. He closes out by inviting Garnet to lunch at the Crab Shack, the restaurant where the Gems met Connie’s parents in Fusion Cuisine.

Connie is excited that Jamie is asking Garnet out, but both Garnet and Steven immediately shoot down the idea. “Garnet is already in a relationship… She is a relationship,” Steven points out, referring to the revelation in Jail Break that Garnet is a permanent fusion and “made of love.”

Garnet agrees that she has no interest. “Three’s a crowd,” she says, immediately shooting down the hopes and dreams of people who ship Garnet with other characters.

Future Vision

This could be seen as both a reference to Sugilite — Garnet’s out of control fusion with Amethyst, who had to be physically fought by Pearl — and foreshadowing for what happens with Sardonyx. Pearl fuses with Garnet on false pretenses out of loneliness, and does grievous damage to their relationship as a result.

It’s quite possible that something about being fused with Ruby and Sapphire, who at this point have a somewhat unhealthy co-dependence, can lead to this kind of problem. In both cases, Amethyst and Pearl either don’t want to unfuse or want to keep fusing with Garnet, possibly because her status as someone “made of love” is so fulfilling.

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Connie is disappointed. “Jamie put so much thought into this letter. It would be rude not to reply!” she says. Connie, when you get older you gotta learn that just because someone put a lot of effort into an unsolicited pickup attempt doesn’t mean you actually have to give them the time of day.

Connie sits down to help Garnet write a reply letter. Garnet dictates what she wants the letter to say: “Start with the letter N… uh, the letter O… period… The end, forever, and even after that.” Savage, Garnet.

“At least it’s honest and to the point,” says Connie.

Steven and Connie go to deliver the reply to Jamie, and find him on the beach, staring out into the ocean. He launches into a monologue about all the rejection and sadness he faced when trying to launch his acting career, and how one more rejection would destroy his fragile heart. His speech is punctuated by the sight of two birds crashing into each other and falling into the ocean. After all that, Connie tries to give Jamie the letter, but Steven stops her.

“How can we give this letter to Jamie now? He might get upset,” says Steven, who has had several recent episodes to learn that it’s better to be honest and straightforward but never really quite learns that lesson.

Connie thinks they should rewrite the letter to let Jamie down easy. “I watched some episodes of a torrid soap opera once, so I’m confident that I get the gist of romance.” She uses a facsimile of Jamie’s obnoxiously poetic language which obscures the rejection message way too much.

Steven adds “also your hair is nice” to the letter, which, no, Steven, no mixed messages, don’t do that! The two put the letter in Steven’s mailbox for Jamie to find.

That night, Steven is playing video games. He’s holding an N64 controller, but there are two GameCube games on the floor next to him, Animal Crossing and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. He hears a commotion and goes outside to see Jamie, who has completely misunderstood the kids’ revised letter and is professing his love for Garnet.

Steven tries to explain, but Garnet joins him on the deck. When Jamie pulls out the letter, she hilariously deadpans, “I didn’t write that!”

Steven is forced to confess that he was the one to write the letter. Garnet shouts at Jamie to go away, and he runs off crying.

The next day, Steven and Connie are talking about Jamie and hoping he’ll be able to bounce back, when a new mailperson shows up with the mail. This is Barb Miller (voice: Kate Flannery), Sadie’s mother, in her first speaking role. We previously saw her in a non-speaking cameo in The Return. Barb asks for the home of Steven Universe, and Steven says that he’s the home of Steven Universe. She recognizes him as “Greg’s boy” and is surprised at where he’s living.

Barb says that Jamie couldn’t bear to deliver mail on this route anymore after having his love spurned. She hands Steven a book of coupons and walks off.

Garnet emerges from the ocean carrying a corrupted Gem monster similar to a tardigrade, presumably one she found while searching for Lapis and Jasper.

Future Vision

This monster is later seen among the corrupted Gems Jasper captured in the Beta Kindergarten, and is finally healed in Change Your Mind.

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Garnet asks Steven and Connie why they look so sad, and they explain about Jamie. Garnet offers to go talk to him, ignoring their protests.

Garnet tells Jamie she didn’t mean to upset him. Jamie asks if she’ll go out with him and she refuses. “But I’ve loved you since the moment I saw you!” he says.

“Love at first sight doesn’t exist. Love takes time and love takes work. At the very least you have to know the other person, and you literally have no idea of who, or what, I am.”

This is a great lesson that kids and a lot of adults need to hear. I like how the show recognizes that Jamie’s “love” is just infatuation and can’t possibly be “real” love when all he knows about Garnet is what she looks like.

Future Vision

Garnet claiming that love at first sight doesn’t exist is interesting in light of The Answer, the upcoming episode that shows how Ruby and Sapphire met. Within minutes of meeting each other, Ruby inadvertently fused with Sapphire while protecting her, and Sapphire was willing to never go back to her old life in order to spare Ruby from execution. At first glance, this certainly seems like a love-at-first-sight situation.

But I think what’s happened is that Garnet is thousands of years past that now, and has come to realize that what Ruby and Sapphire experienced in that moment was not real love like the love they feel after so many years of being fused. In S5, Ruby and Sapphire realize that being permanently fused at all times has cost them some of their individuality, and that it is healthy for them to spend some time apart and have their own interests. Ruby and Sapphire will also be tested in this season, particularly due to their conflicting feelings on Pearl’s violation of their trust, and their reconciliation in Keystone Motel is an example of how love takes work even for a fusion who is made of love.

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Garnet commends him on acting out the part of a lovesick fool, even well enough to convince himself.

Jamie drops his pining, seemingly agreeing with her. “What am I supposed to do now?” he asks.

“Start with local theater,” says Garnet.

Garnet walks away, and Jamie concedes that that was some solid advice. Steven and Connie help him pick up all the mail he tossed away in his sadness earlier.

This is one of the less consequential episodes of Steven Universe, but it has some solid funny moments and a good lesson. Once again we see the value of honest communication, which is one of the most persistent morals throughout the show.

Next week on Steven Universe Rewind! Amethyst gets a new look in Reformed.