Steven Universe Rewind – Onion Friend

Episode Description: Steven and Amethyst visit the strange world of Onion’s house.

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.

I originally intended to do two episodes this week as both this and Historical Friction are fairly slight, but I ended up short on time and decided to just get out this one.

We open with Steven making a bagel sandwich with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and a fried egg. This is also one of my favorite sandwiches, although I don’t normally put an egg on it. Seems like a solid idea, though.

As Steven ponders what he should eat as a side, a visibly depressed Amethyst walks in from her room. She rejects Steven’s offer to eat the empty cream cheese container, instead flopping on the couch. When he asks her if she’s seen Garnet or Pearl, she says that they’re “somewhere not talking to each other,” showing that although a tiny bit of progress was made in the last episode, Garnet and Pearl are still far from repairing their relationship after Pearl’s betrayal. Although Amethyst doesn’t always get along with them, it’s clear that the prolonged fight is truly weighing on her.

Steven goes to fetch a bag of limited edition Maximum BBQ Chaaaaps to eat with his perfect sandwich, and finds Onion hiding in the cupboard. He grabs the chaaaaps and runs, breaking one of the window screens in the process.

I’ve always felt that the writers don’t know quite what to do with Onion — whether to make him a sympathetic human character, or a comic relief over the top nuisance. This episode is the closest the series comes to making him actually sympathetic, although it doesn’t entirely work for me, mostly because it doesn’t really square with his earlier appearances.

Steven chases Onion into town and follows him when he enters a garage with a curtain instead of a door. He sees that the garage is actually an art studio, filled with paintings of Amethyst.

I’m not entirely convinced there’s a heterosexual explanation for all of this.

Steven brings Amethyst to see, believing Onion might be obsessed with her.

Before Amethyst can respond, a woman enters the garage, brandishing a shotgun. She immediately recognizes Amethyst, who greets the woman, Vidalia. They embrace enthusiastically.

Amethyst explains that both she and Vidalia used to hang out with Greg, but since they were both cooler than Greg, they started hanging out just with each other. She was last seen in a flashback in Story for Steven, hanging out in Greg’s van with his sleazy manager Marty. This confirms that Greg and Amethyst used to hang out much more.

Amethyst and Vidalia haven’t seen each other in years, and she’s surprised to see that Steven looks like Greg now. “That’s good, that’s good. He used to be super hot,” he says, and she and Amethyst laugh. Back in Maximum Capacity I speculated that Amethyst might have once had a crush on Greg, and this supports that theory.

Considering they seem like they were once close, and Amethyst lives nearby, why haven’t they seen each other in years? It really seems like after Rose’s death, the Crystal Gems shut themselves away from humanity once more, apart from what they deemed necessary for Steven. Steven growing up naturally correlates with the Gems opening themselves up more to humanity again, as seen here. A human friend with a different perspective is really good for Amethyst, as we’ll see — Garnet and especially Pearl would probably benefit from one.

In order for Vidalia to be so unfamiliar with what Steven looks like, she would’ve had to have missed him at all the town events, including those her family was participating in.

Vidalia says that Amethyst used to be her favorite model, at least partially because she could turn into anything. She hands Steven a photo of herself curling Amethyst’s hair. Amethyst has the same form she did around the time of Greg’s flashbacks to meeting Rose. Another photo, which is clearly taken later as it features a newer form for Amethyst similar to her S1 outfit, shows Amethyst shapeshifting into an older Marty as a joke.

Vidalia says they’re the spitting image of mischief, and Amethyst teases her for wearing slippers. “You don’t know what I’ve done in these shoes!” Vidalia jokes.

Vidalia comments that it’s been a long time since they’ve seen each other because they’ve both been busy. “Kids,” says Amethyst, gesturing to Steven. Amethyst is usually in the role of a sister or peer to Steven, but here she’s explicitly a mom — telling Steven to go play with Onion while she and Vidalia catch up.

Onion walks in, and Steven is shocked to learn that Vidalia is his mom. She says that Onion loves to talk about Steven, and picks him up so he can whisper in her ear. Vidalia relays that Onion is asking if they can stay for dinner, and Amethyst quickly accepts despite Steven’s discomfort, eager to chat with her old friend for a while.

At the dinner table, Amethyst actually eats enough that she claims she can’t eat another bite, which is incredibly rare. Vidalia says it’s just noodles and butter, which to be fair is a great comfort food. Vidalia’s other son, Sour Cream, has joined them at the dinner table, rocking out to music.

Amethyst asks if Vidalia ever hears from Marty, and she laughs and reveals she’s married to Yellowtail, the fisherman, now. Pictures on the wall show Vidalia dating a younger Yellowtail, as well as Onion as a baby. There’s also a schedule showing when he’ll be home.

Steven greets Sour Cream, who waves but doesn’t stop jamming out to his music. Onion makes Steven’s head out of butter noodles, and Steven cheerfully says, “Hey, it’s me!” Onion then takes a long lick down the back of the sculpture, chews up the noodles, and lets them spill out of his mouth onto the table, disgusting Steven. Meanwhile, Amethyst and Vidalia reminisce about sneaking onto the mayor’s boat and trashing it.

Vidalia points out that Amethyst hasn’t talked about herself all evening and asks about the Gems. Amethyst dismisses it, saying the Gems are boring — which is pretty clearly a lie, given everything that’s happened recently. Steven, disturbed by Onion’s antics, tries to get Amethyst to go, but she wants to stay and talk to Vidalia longer.

Onion, speaking his native language, tells Vidalia that he’d like to show Steven around the house. At that moment, the lights start to flicker as faint music starts playing, making Onion look even more ominous. Vidalia explains that Sour Cream DJing uses up the electricity in the house, driving Yellowtail crazy when he’s home.

Future Vision

The plotline of Yellowtail disapproving of Sour Cream’s DJing career will come up next season in Drop Beat Dad.

[collapse]

Vidalia approves of Sour Cream’s hobby / profession, saying kids need to express themselves, as Onion smashes the sculpture of Steven’s head. A terrified Steven reluctantly agrees to let Onion show him around.

In Onion’s room, we see some broken-looking toys and a shopping cart he likely stole from a store. There’s a poster for Suitcase Sam’s, a nod to Onion trading with Sam in Onion Trade. Steven tries to make the best of things, but is confused when Onion ignores his trampoline in favor of jumping on the bed.

A mouse runs onto Steven’s foot, and instead of being freaked out like I might expect, Steven is delighted that Onion has a “mousey roommate friend.” Onion catches it and hands it to Steven, then gestures to a terrarium. Steven thinks it’s a pretty large container for a mouse, and it’s revealed that Onion actually has a pet snake. Onion tries to get Steven to feed the mouse to the snake, but he can’t go through with it.

Feeding live mice to pet snakes is generally considered a bad idea anyway, as they could escape, hurt the snake, etc.

Onion puts a VHS tape into his combination TV / VCR, and Steven is pleased that they’re going to watch a movie instead of something creepy. The video features Vidalia’s mom in a hospital getting ready for something, and Steven freaks out and covers his eyes as he watches it. Onion hands him the case, which reads “Happy Birthday Onion,” and Steven realizes it’s a video of Onion being born.

Rumor has it that this joke was put in due to theories that Onion was a Gem or some other non-human creature.

Onion turns off the video, but then pulls up a poster to reveal a hidden duct leading out of his room, and gestures to Steven to go inside. Steven can’t take any more and goes to find Amethyst and leave.

He stops short when he hears Amethyst talking about the situation with the Crystal Gems. “It’s awful at home. I feel trapped,” she confides in her friend. Vidalia says she can relate, since Sour Cream and Yellowtail are often fighting, and that she always admired Amethyst’s ability to just “roll with it.” Amethyst is surprised, since she always thought Vidalia was the cool one and that she was just a “dumb sponge” following her around.

This goes to show how much the Gems really need a peer outside of their immediate group. Vidalia is able to offer validation for Amethyst’s feelings and a new perspective on the situation. It’s a shame that we didn’t see more of their friendship in the series.

Steven realizes that Amethyst really needs this time, and decides to go back and face Onion. It’s a sweet moment, but another example of Steven swallowing his own wants and needs to emotionally support the Gems.

Steven goes back to Onion’s room and steels himself for whatever Onion wants to show him. They crawl through the duct to a secret room with a blue chest in the middle. Steven assumes it’s going to be something horrible. Onion slowly opens it and reveals that it’s full of G.U.Y.S. — the small, collectible capsule figurines that Steven loves. They were last seen in Onion Trade, where Onion stole Steven’s Ranger Guy and forced him to make a trade to get it back.

Onion also has G.A.L.S. — Hardhat Gal, Triangle Gal, Orange Gal, Karen… That last name didn’t age well. Karen here somewhat resembles Rebecca Sugar.

Onion shows him a particular capsule containing Explorer Gal, who seems to be particularly rare or desirable. Steven is thrilled. When he tries to give the capsule back to Onion, Onion gestures for him to keep it. Honestly, he owes him one after stealing his Ranger Guy.

Steven and Onion play happily with his collection until nightfall. Amethyst thanks Vidalia for dinner and for listening. “Don’t worry about that other stuff,” she says. “It’s gonna blow over. You’re a rock. That’s what you are, right?” Amethyst really needed this reassurance, as well as the day away from the tense situation back at the house.

Amethyst says she’ll stop by more often, and invites Vidalia and Onion to the Temple sometimes. Vidalia asks Steven if he’s ready for another round of playing with Onion. Steven smiles. Onion slowly opens his mouth to reveal the live mouse from earlier, serving the joint purpose of showing Steven that he didn’t actually feed it to the snake, and creeping Steven out. Steven laughs nervously.

This is a solidly middling episode. Vidalia is a treat, and it’s nice to see Amethyst having friends outside of the Crystal Gems. This is Onion at his most interesting and sympathetic — easily the best feature appearance of one of my least favorite characters.

Next Week on Steven Universe Rewind! Let’s get some historic revisions in Historical Friction. For real, this time.