Steven Universe Rewind: Restaurant Wars

Episode Description: Steven must help the Frymans and the Pizzas settle a reignited rivalry between their restaurants.

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.

This block of episodes is checking in with a lot of town characters we haven’t seen in a while. Here we have Peedee, who hasn’t had a role since Season 2’s Rising Tides, Crashing Skies.

Steven is bored with ordering fry bits and asks to order “off-menu”. Peedee points out that he always orders off-menu anyway, but goes to see what he can find. He ends up making mozzarella sticks which were shoved way in the back of the freezer.

I love mozzarella sticks so much. I probably shouldn’t be writing this recap while hungry.

Steven walks by Fish Stew Pizza eating his mozzarella sticks. There’s a tropical storm going on outside, think I could still order some for takeout? …probably not.

Anyway, Kofi spots him and flips out, because the mozzarella sticks are just a reconfiguration of the ingredients of a pizza. I always kind of thought this when some pizza places serve cheesy bread with dipping sauce, not that it will stop me from eating it.

When Kofi learns Steven got the mozzarella sticks from Beach City Fries, he declares the truce over and puts up a sign in his pizza show stating that they now serve fries. This causes Fryman to emerge from his shop. “Restaurant WAAAAAAAAR!” they yell in the middle of the street. We get this title card. In case it isn’t obvious, this is the second episode in a row that parodies anime.

Some time later, Steven walks the boardwalk, which is littered with junk food and unhappy people. Peedee is in front of the fry shop, wearing a pizza costume. Back in Frybo, he had successfully convinced his father to not make him wear the Frybo costume any more, but apparently this new mascot job is a punishment for his violation of the food treaty. (It’s worth noting that the pizza costume is not a horrifying abomination, unlike Frybo.)

Years ago, Fryman and Kofi came to an agreement to not infringe on each other’s business. Now that the truce has been broken, they’re both coming up with new foods specifically to steal business from the other…

Fryman calls Steven over to try his new deep-fried pizza. Steven seems horrified at it, which honestly seems to be out of character for a boy who constantly eats the unhealthiest junk food. Deep-fried pizza sounded like something that would serve as carnival food, and sure enough, it’s a real thing. The first recipe that comes up if you Google it is by Guy Fieri, which is exactly what you would expect.

Steven asks for fry bits, but Fryman says they’re out of fries and are making pizza bits now, which honestly sounds kind of good? Steven’s dismayed that the fry shack no longer serves fries, citing Fryman’s hair as one reason they should stick to what they’re known for, and revealing that the yellow tubes are, in fact, his hair and not a fry-themed hat.

Fryman yells at Ronaldo to go make some deliveries. Ronaldo doesn’t have a car, so he forlornly skates away on his heely shoes. He had a scooter last episode, but honestly the heely shoes are absolutely perfect for his character. Ronaldo is great in this episode, serving as more proof that he only really works as comic relief.

Fish Stew Pizza (they serve fries now) is bustling with the phone ringing off the hook, and it seems like this change seems to be working out for Kofi in general. Jenny offers him their special, a pizza topped with french fries with a french fry crust. French fries on pizza isn’t even that weird – out of curiosity, I checked and there are a number of pizza places in my area that have that as a regular menu item, in case I decide I hate my arteries. French fries as pizza crust is pretty unusual though, although it seems some Youtubers have done it as a stunt.

Things escalate quickly, as before Steven can order, Kofi asks him to sign a giant document and then get branded with a hot iron.

Steven runs out of the shop onto the boardwalk, where Kofi and Fryman fight over his business. Kofi has the hot iron and Fryman has the pizza bits, and Steven treats these both as horrifying options even though one seems to be significant worse than the other.

Steven gathers Ronaldo, Peedee, Kiki, and Jenny at the beach house to discuss the problem. Steven’s solution? He wants to manufacture a Romeo & Juliet situation where the families have to stop fighting if their children are in love. (Steven’s too young to know how that ends in the original, I suppose.)

He decides that Kiki and Ronaldo should pretend to be in a relationship literally because they’re sitting next to each other, which I think says a lot about Steven’s approach to shipping. This part of the episode is the only one that really ties into the larger themes of the season, as once again we have Steven manipulating relationships to try and get everyone to get along. Once again, it isn’t going to work, although this episode is obviously a lot lighter than something like The New Lars.

Kiki is surprisingly okay with the idea of fake-dating Ronaldo.

Surprisingly, Ronaldo’s the one who objects to this. He dramatically declares that he can’t do it because he already has a girlfriend.

Everyone reacts with surprise and doubt. “Where’s she at, though?” says a skeptical Jenny. Peedee has apparently never met this girlfriend either. They bulldoze over Ronaldo’s objections to go ahead with the plan.

Ronaldo and Kiki put on a big show on the boardwalk. “Oh, Ronaldo, you’re so sweet and quirky in a way I can tolerate,” says Kiki. Their fathers storm out of their respective stores, angry that the two are shirking their work. They explain that they are in love and that the only way they can be together is if the restaurant war ends. Surprisingly, this works, and both parents immediately agree.

Before they can shake on it, this girl shows up. She was working the ticket booth in Lion 2 and appeared as a background character in last week’s Beach City Drift. It turns out that she’s Ronaldo’s actual girlfriend, and she’s come to return his Koala Princess DVD to him. Seeing Ronaldo with Kiki, she runs off in tears, as Ronaldo implores her to come back.

The restaurant war is on again, and everyone is ordered back to work.

Everyone’s very blasé about this, which seems a little out of character for chronic shipper Steven in particular. He doesn’t even acknowledge that the plan he proposed has resulted in an actual relationship being destroyed, with Ronaldo devastated. (Ronaldo’s blog does reveal that they later get back together.)

This is a bit like the situation in A New Lars, where Lars is unsympathetic, therefore his violation is glossed over more than it would be for other characters. Ronaldo is a largely unsympathetic joke character, so his pain is played for laughs. But while Ronaldo’s been a jerk in the past, he hasn’t done anything here to make him deserve what happens. It’s less harsh here than in The New Lars, as that was the main focus of the episode, whereas Ronaldo’s breakup with Jane is a joke in a comedy episode. It does seem unlike Steven to actually break up a couple and not even remark on it, though.

Steven asks Jenny and Kiki how the truce came about in the first place. It turns out that the storefront where Suitcase Sam’s is now was once a restaurant called the Everything Buffet. (Suitcase Sam’s was seen all the way back in Onion Trade.) The Everything Buffet, as you can imagine, sold everything, and none of the other restaurants could compete. Kofi and Fryman teamed up to run the buffet out of town. Honestly, that kind of makes them sound like the bad guys.

Steven turns the beach house into a restaurant with the help of a cardboard sign and glow-in-the-dark stars. The Crystal Gems are there as staff.

The two families are led to their tables. It’s noticeable that Nanefua is not in this episode. Presumably this is because they didn’t want to pay another voice actor in an episode with a fairly large cast, but also, she would immediately put a stop to all of this silliness.

Ronaldo is still absolutely dejected.

Pearl is waitressing, looking very sharp in her outfit. Fryman orders the Fantastic Fries and Kofi orders the Pizza Bagel, which are the only two items on the menu. Each is sure that Steven’s versions won’t best their own.

Amethyst and Steven do the cooking together. Presumably Steven was the one who found or made the recipes, so that the food doesn’t end up with motor oil in it or something.

Garnet, incidentally, doesn’t get any lines, because this is part of a stretch of episodes where Estelle was apparently unavailable.

Pearl serves the food. Kofi scoffs at the idea that pizza on a bagel will be any good. Fryman asks for ketchup, and Pearl informs him that there will be no additions.

Fryman tries one of the fries, and is shocked to realize that the ketchup is already inside of the fries. Steven gives an anime-esque ‘kek’ in triumph.

Kofi is also surprised that pizza bagel, made with cream cheese, is delicious. “And when pizza’s on a bagel, you can eat pizza any time!” he declares, and I kind of wonder if this entire episode came about because someone on the crew had the jingle stuck in their head.

Kofi and Fryman beg Steven to shut the restaurant down, or they might be driven out of business. “There’s already a line!” says Kofi, pointing at Onion standing outside the door. I imagine that has nothing to do with the restaurant, and Onion just shows up at Steven’s house with a fork sometimes.

Steven agrees to shut down his restaurant on the condition that the war between the Pizzas and Frymans ends, and they agree. And thus, the most harrowing experience the good people of Beach City ever had to endure is over.

This episode doesn’t have a lot to it, but it is pretty fun, especially the parts that parody over-the-top anime. It also gets to show off the various personalities of townies who don’t usually get a lot of screen time in a fairly economical way.

Next Time on Steven Universe Rewind! Steven’s dreamwalking power surfaces again in Kiki’s Pizza Delivery Service.