Steven Universe Rewind: Kiki’s Pizza Delivery Service

Description: When Steven accidentally projects himself into Kiki’s dreams and saves her from a giant pizza monster, she asks him to help her out with what turns out to be a nightly stress dream.

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.

Steven’s apparently still in fancy restaurant mode after the events of Restaurant Wars, because we see him setting up a “fancy” spread with two plastic forks, a wineglass of orange juice, and an electric candle.

Kiki arrives with his pizza – cheddar cheese crust with double pepperoni. She explains that she’s delivering the pizzas on foot because Jenny broke the pizza car and needs to take it to the shop. She apparently blew out the tires playing one of Sour Cream’s mix tapes.

Steven explains that he’s taking some “me time” which is something I wish he would have kept up with later in the series. Would do him some good.

Steven falls asleep and dreams of flying. Soon, he’s flying over a landscape made of pizza, and all is well until a hand reaches up from the cheese and grabs his ankle. It’s Kiki, who Steven pulls from the cheese lake. A hand reaches from the cheese and tries to pull her back in.

Steven pulls her free, but she tells him to keep flying because the cheese monster won’t give up. Steven sets Kiki down and goes to fight the cheese himself. “Anything is possible when you have rockets for bones!” He fires rockets from his elbows and defeats the cheese.

Steven flies away on Dogcopter, a recurring element in Steven’s dreams, last seen in Chille Tid.

The next morning, Steven heads to Fish Stew Pizza to tell Kiki about his dream. He sees Jenny begging Kiki to cover her shift again, because she has a “life-changing” concert to attend. Jenny says the ticket was forty dollars, and Kiki asks if that’s a lot for a concert, showing that she really doesn’t go do these things like Jenny does. Kiki agrees, and Jenny hugs her and drives off happily.

“That was really nice of you,” says Steven.

“Yup, that’s me. The nice one,” says Kiki.

Future Vision

It goes without saying that Kiki’s self-sacrificial nature, constantly taking Jenny’s shifts even as it takes a toll on her own free time and mental health, is meant to parallel Steven’s own increasingly self-sacrificial tendencies. Of course, it’s far easier for Steven to recognize this problem with Kiki than to help himself. He does a good job setting boundaries in this episode, but really doesn’t fully learn the lesson here.

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Steven starts describing his dream to Kiki, who is shocked to realize that she had the exact same dream. Steven immediately apologizes for being in her head without her permission, which goes to show that he at least learned a lesson from the events of The New Lars.

This is the second time we’ve seen Steven use his dreamwalking powers. First was Chille Tid, where he was able to enter Lapis’ dream, and later, in Super Watermelon Island, he was able to inhabit a Watermelon Steven through the power of dreams. This is the first time he’s used this power for an ordinary human. The common factor is probably that the dreamer must be in distress.

Kiki is actually thrilled that Steven turned up in her dreams. “I always have that dream, and I always drown! I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in weeks!” (Directly before this, she mentioned that she’s been covering Jenny’s shifts for two weeks straight now.)

She implores Steven to do it again, and he agrees, happy to help.

Steven is very excited to be a dream warrior… at first. He defeats the cheese monster over and over again, and both he and Kiki are happier, even as Kiki continues to pick up Jenny’s shifts. After a few days, though, Steven is sleeping poorly and running out of steam, barely able to save dream Kiki in time.

Steven wakes up to see himself upside-down on the TV screen, looking pretty ragged.

The first half of Steven Universe concerned itself largely with Steven mastering his Gem powers. Now that Steven has far more control, we’re getting an increasing amount of plotlines about the drawbacks to those powers.

Kiki comes by to give Steven a pizza as thanks for his help. Steven is surprised at the idea of pizza for breakfast, but Kiki points out that it’s 3pm and asks if he’s sleeping okay.

Steven tells Kiki that she needs to quit her job because she has a serious problem with pizza. When Kiki denies it, he yells, “I think you do!” His relatively short temper here reminds me of when he was similarly sleep-deprived in Warp Tour.

Kiki realizes she’s been asking too much of Steven. Steven realizes that all they’ve been doing is treating a symptom, and they really need to get to the root cause, or the “sauce,” of Kiki’s pizza problem, a very astute observation. He says that once they do this, he can’t help Kiki any more, because he’s too tired, and once again, this is the kind of boundary Steven should have enforced more often.

That night, Steven and Kiki enter into her stress dream to fight together. Honestly, I think the fact that Kiki also is approaching this ready to tackle it instead of waiting to be saved by Steven is the biggest part of why they finally solved the problem. They fly into a cheese recreation of Kiki’s head, where a cheese river is filled with anchovies and “peppiranhas.”

At the center of the pizza cave, they find a cheese recreation of Jenny. She latches onto Kiki and begins absorbing her, in an extremely subtle metaphor. Cheese Jenny thanks Kiki for delivering pizzas for her. Kiki says she doesn’t mind, and immediately gets absorbed further by the cheese, nearly getting dragged into the cheese pool.

Steven tells her that her feelings matter and that she can say no, another example of advice Steven really could use for himself sometimes.

Kiki doesn’t want to let her sister down. Steven points out that Jenny cares about Kiki, too, and she doesn’t know that she’s putting her sister through this.

One thing I appreciate about this episode is how mundane and relatable the problem is. No one thing that Jenny is asking for is all that terrible; it’s not unreasonable to occasionally ask someone to cover for you if there’s an important event you want to attend. The problem is that Jenny’s doing it all the time and it’s adding up, but since each individual ask is so small, Kiki feels guilty saying no. I’ve been in this place a lot, mostly at work.

Kiki finally tells Cheese Jenny that she can’t cover a shift. Jenny seems disappointed, but simply says, “okay fine,” and frees Kiki.

Kiki is at least fortunate in this regard that Jenny is not malicious and really does care. This kind of boundary enforcement is much, much harder otherwise.

The nightmare pizza landscape disappears, and is replaced by the beach, with a few remnants of the pizza remaining. The Crewniverse continues its streak of anime references – in addition to the title of this episode, this shot references a famous one from End of Evangelion. I haven’t seen any Evangelion but I’m pretty sure the original context is far less of a happy ending than this is.

Steven, still exhausted, visits Fish Stew Pizza to find Jenny working there. Jenny says that she and Kiki had a talk about how Jenny is using all of Kiki’s “me time.” Jenny agreed to cover for Kiki so she could have a day off. We see Kiki running on the beach without having to carry hot pizzas.

“She deserves a break after working so hard for me. Right, Steven?” asks Jenny. Steven has fallen asleep standing up, a reminder that he’s been doing a ton of work solving everyone’s problems and probably needs a break too.

Is he going to get one? Absolutely not.

This isn’t one of the more memorable episodes of the show, but it’s pleasant enough. I enjoy Kiki as a character and her parallels to Steven. Once again, I think this might have been improved if the show picked a smaller group of townies to focus on, because I think it suffers somewhat from the fact that they really never again focus on Kiki before or after this.

Next Time on Steven Universe Rewind! We’ve had a string of town episodes. Are you missing Gem lore? Get ready for a heaping helping of Gem lore bombshells in Monster Reunion.