Season Three of Steven Universe is some of the most amazing animation I’ve ever sat though.
With one exception, every episode of Season 3 is strong…and they build on each other to an amazing extent. Which is why the first episode of the season is so damn annoying.
In Season 1, we’re introduced to the characters, and start to get a feel for their personalities and back stories. In Season 2, even as we start to truly understand the alien nature of the Crystal Gems and the war for Earth’s independence which isolated them from the Gem Homeworld, we come to appreciate their essential “humanity.”
The first episode, however was a misguided attempt by Cartoon Network to promote the unwatchable Uncle Grandpa. To salve our annoyance a genuine plot point is added, which moves the entire story forward in a leap.
From that point on, this season is two steps forward and one look back. We learn key backstories and by doing so, we can see just how much the Crystal Gems have changed from their days with Rose Quartz, in which they were far more alien than they are now.
Which makes it that much more poignant as the story forces every single one of them to confront their own fears, relationships and bonds. And just as they seem to come out the other side, Peridot joins the crew, which really highlights the changes they’ve gone through.
We now can say with complete confidence that Garnet is a fusion of two gems who are in love, that Pearl’s feelings for Rose go beyond a mere crush and that Amethyst is, at heart, a surprisingly fragile Gem. In the center is Steven, who is more like his mother than anyone has yet admitted – inspiring cooperation and fierce loyalty in others.
The humans in Beach City are not immune to this, either. Steven brings a little humanity to several of the town’s bored teens and we get to see a side of Greg we hadn’t really recognized – his ability to weather crises with a calm perspective. Maybe, we think, he was a good match for Rose, after all.
Let me once again wind up with Connie. Two of my favorite episodes in the series are in this season and both focus on Connie. In “Sworn to the Sword,” in Connie decides to train to be Steven’s knight. Steven’s affection for Connie brings about a shockingly raw admission from Pearl and in the resolution, we can see all three of them maturing as a result of the conrontation.
This is followed by “Nightmare Hospital,” in which Connie is forced to use her newfound strength to face the greatest monster of all – parental disapproval. Again, the resolution is satisfying on all levels.
At this point, I should probably note that the music for Steven Universe is as catchy as can be. I’m really hoping they just put together a soundtrack album, because I’d love to have all the music in one place. In the meantime, Season 2 has a “best of” songs episode, episode 101, “Steven’s Greatest Hits.”
Art – 8
Characters – 10
Service – Not visually
Yuri – 7 (“That’s my Laffy Saffy”)
Overall – 10
I’ve posted this here before, but it’s worth mentioning again, because once I start singing it, it takes a week to get it out of my head. Here’s “Do It For Her/Do It For Him” from “Sworn to the Sword.”