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.
Leading up to this episode’s broadcast, a number of people assumed that the very dramatic title meant a plot-heavy episode — for example, the “rising tides” could refer to the return of Malachite.
Unfortunately for them, it turns out it’s simply the very dramatic title that Ronaldo gives to his documentary about the Crystal Gems. The “Rising Tides” portion of the title presumably refers to the events of Ocean Gem, even though those are not mentioned directly in the episode. The documentary primarily concerns the attack of the Homeworld Gems and the Gem battleship crashing into Beach City in The Return / Jail Break, hence “Crashing Skies.”
The opening is a parody of the amateurish, vaguely creepy intros that were common on VHS tapes in the 80s and 90s. “Keep Beach City Weird” is the name of Ronaldo’s blog, first mentioned in Cat Fingers.
The documentary opens with a pan across the Boardwalk. You can see the enormous crater left behind by the Gem ship crashing on the side of the hill.
For some reason I didn’t realize how close the Big Donut was to Steven’s house, which explains why he’s there all the time.
Ronaldo is sitting in front of a crude backdrop with a “KBCW” banner as he explains his mission to “expose the truth.” Images of previous topics he’s written about scroll across the screen. This includes the time he was attacked by many Watermelon Stevens in the episode of the same name, and the instance in Steven’s Lion when he took Steven’s joke about “eating for two” to mean that Steven was actually pregnant.
We cut to Ronaldo’s ACTUAL FOOTAGE of the approaching hand ship from The Return. “Beach City needed to be saved, but from what?” Ronaldo narrates. He makes dramatic sound effects while zooming in on a picture of the Crystal Gems.
The real villain: Comic Sans.
As someone who has had to watch a few too many amateur Bigfoot “documentaries” while visiting her family, I do appreciate the level of accurate detail they have in this episode.
Ronaldo first interviews “local business owner” Nanefua, who talks about how she was cleaning fish when the ship arrived, and the loud noise caused her to drop the fish and run outside. She asks what Ronaldo is filming for, and the camera cuts away abruptly before he answers.
Ronaldo interviews Peedee next, which devolves into Ronaldo teasing him about how he was scared and cried a lot. He cuts to footage of Peedee clinging to the Fry Shack from The Return. Back to the interview, Ronaldo hugs Peedee and tells him he’s here for him, then immediately undercuts it by saying it’s great drama.
Next up is more footage from the events of The Return. Ronaldo was filming from the backseat of the Fryman car as the town evacuated, but he missed catching the moment when the ship “exploded into an explosion.” Instead he provides a re-enactment with his fist and a little ramp. His hand gets pinched by a one-eyed crab — this will come up later.
The next interview is with Sadie, “horror movie enthusiast,” as she serves a donut to Mr. Smiley. This is a reference to Ronaldo and Sadie’s mutual interest in horror movies from Horror Club. Lars is nowhere to be seen, which could mean they’re not on good terms after that episode.
Ronaldo asks her who saved the city, and she says it’s “Steven’s family.” “Steven says they protect the planet and the human race and that they have magic powers… it sounds hard to believe, but I’ve seen some pretty wild stuff.” Out of the townspeople, Sadie seems to be one of the closest to Steven, so she unsurprisingly gets the closest to the truth.
Next up is Kiki, “Pizza Heiress,” who briefly recounts the events of Beach Party, where her family was invited to have a cookout with the Gems that ended with them being attacked by a monster.
Jenny crashes the interview and earns a chyron of “Intimidating Teenage Girl.” She talks about when “one of [the Crystal Gems] tried to knock me in the face,” referencing Joy Ride, where she jumped in front of Garnet’s punch before she could hit the pod with Steven in it. “I ain’t mad though.”
Mayor Dewey receives this redundant chyron. When asked who saved Beach City, he launches into a campaign-style speech, claiming it was the voters. Ronaldo explains it’s a documentary covering the Crystal Gems, but Dewey thinks he said “cover-up” and makes his security kick Ronaldo out. He apparently hasn’t fired his security even though they abandoned him in Shirt Club.
Ronaldo decides to go right to the source. Peedee films him in a distance shot on the beach in front of the Gems’ house, where he’s barely audible. He walks up to the door and blathers about how he’s going to make contact with the “mysterious, reclusive” Crystal Gems, when Steven shows up and invites him in for lemonade.
Ronaldo takes him up on the offer, and we cut to him interviewing “gracious host” Steven. Steven nonchalantly informs Ronaldo that the hand was “a spaceship coming to get us!” Ronaldo assumes he means him and Steven because they know too much, similar to Full Disclosure where he thinks that he and Steven are the same because they both have arcane knowledge of a sort, but Steven corrects him, saying they were coming for the Crystal Gems.
“Wait, so the hand wasn’t coming to snatch up humans for a human zoo? Or interfere with our subsidized Beach City wind farm? Or thaw out the cryogenically frozen pets of the one percent?”
Just as Ronaldo foreshadowed the Diamond Authority in Keep Beach City Weird, here he mentions the human zoo that will indeed become a factor in Season 4.
Ronaldo makes a startling realization: “So if you and the Crystal Gems weren’t here, we wouldn’t have been attacked by a giant hand?” Steven obliviously agrees.
Ronaldo comes to the conclusion that the Crystal Gems are a danger to the city and he needs to warn everyone.
Ronaldo first confronts Nanefua, who doesn’t seem to care or take him seriously. Next, he talks to Onion, “??????”, who simply smacks the microphone out of his hand.
Mr. Fryman is identified as the executive producer of the documentary. Out of all the people interviewed, he’s the most openly concerned about the Crystal Gems, but thinks there’s nothing a “regular guy” can do about it. He’s also annoyed that Ronaldo is working on this documentary instead of helping out.
Ronaldo decides he’ll be a “hero” by investigating the Crystal Gems, and gets Peedee to help him take some night footage. He confronts Steven, accusing the Gems of being a danger to the city, to Steven’s confusion. He and the Gems are in the middle of fighting this giant crab monster. It has many one-eyed crab minions just like the one that snapped at Ronaldo earlier.
The giant crab is Bixbite, who later appears uncorrupted and works at Fish Stew Pizza.
Ronaldo points to the crab monster as an example of how the Crystal Gems draw danger to the city, which isn’t exactly wrong.
Pearl is irritated: “Listen, Frybo, magic beings are indeed drawn to us, but we were here long before Beach City ever existed.”
First, it’s pretty funny that Pearl calls him “Frybo.” It’s a little surprising she even recognizes him at all. Secondly, she has an excellent point. It seems like humans really brought themselves to settle in the area despite the danger, bringing a fragile liability to the Gems against their wishes.
Ronaldo doesn’t care, and Garnet nonchalantly proposes that they pack up and leave. The other Gems are surprised, Pearl concerned that they’ll have to move the bubbles and Steven’s things, and Amethyst complaining that she likes it here.
Garnet’s bluffing, of course, because she’s already used her future vision to see that Ronaldo changes his mind. Or maybe she just doesn’t care and wants him to leave them alone.
Ronaldo declares “Mission Accomplished!”
Ronaldo kicks back in his flame shirt and fedora, congratulating himself on his success, when Peedee points out that with the Gems gone, he won’t have anything to blog about any more. Ronaldo is horrified as this observation hits home.
It’s interesting that in this episode Ronaldo seems to accept that the Gems are the source of all the weirdness in Beach City, whereas in other episodes he seems kind of blase about the presence of the Gems and attributes the weirdness to things like Sneople.
I also like the bikini potato calendar in the background.
Ronaldo runs to the beach house, Peedee following behind with the camera. He breaks down in front of the door, sobbing about how he inadvertently made Beach City normal. Garnet comes to the door, and he begs her to stay.
“I had no idea how this Crystal Gem would respond to my plea. The answer will SHOCK YOU!” he narrates, as the screen turns red.
“Okay,” says Garnet.
Ronaldo congratulates himself and speculates that he could have a future in intergalactic diplomacy.
Thankfully, not foreshadowing.
He comes to the conclusion that the Crystal Gems save Beach City from not being weird. He compliments Peedee on his camera work, and Peedee seems genuinely pleased.
The short credits.
The episode cuts to show the Crystal Gems watching the documentary on Youtube. Steven asks if they were really going to leave Beach City, and Garnet confirms that she just wanted to get Ronaldo to go away. Pearl wonders if anyone’s seen it, but Amethyst points out the view counter is one. Steven decides to “like” the video.
This episode is just okay, one of the weakest in Season 2. The documentary conceit is kind of fun and there’s some good moments. I think the most important aspect of this episode is that it shows how the town currently thinks about the Gems, which is something we don’t normally get to see. The conceit of Steven watching Ronaldo’s video allows them to bend the Steven POV rule to show how people talk about the Crystal Gems when they’re not around, which is something I wish they’d done more often with more consequential characters.
A similar device will be used in a far superior upcoming episode, Log Date 7 15 2, when Steven listens to Peridot’s tape recorder.
Next time on Steven Universe Rewind! We’ll get back to Plot and Lore and another appearance of Best Gem in Keeping It Together.