Previously on Steven Universe

In just a few days, on May 12, the hit Cartoon Network show Steven Universe returns for its third season. And I will be reviewing it for you. But first, let’s take a look at what happened before.

Created by an ex-Adventure Time alumni Rebecca Sugar, Steven Universe tells the story of the titular boy (voiced by Zach Callison), living with the Crystal Gems – defenders of Earth and humanity. As we learned later, they’re also millennia-old, extraterrestrial mineral-based beings, whose actual bodies are the gems they have on their bodies, while what looks like their bodies is a projection, similar to a hologram with mass. Steven’s mother, Rose Quartz, used to be their leader, but since she passed away during his birth, her place was taken by the stoic, cool and caring Garnet (voiced by Estelle), who can predict possible futures. The other Gems are: the intellectual, graceful, organized and sword/spear wielding Pearl (voiced by Deedee Magno) and the wild, rebellious and whip-wielding Amethyst (voiced by Michaela Dietz). The former was Rose Quartz’s trusted lieutenant, deeply in love with her leader and still in mourning over her passing. The latter, Amethyst, is the youngest of the Crystal Gems, born on Earth a long time after they arrived.

Garnet, Ruby and Sapphire

The Gems can fuse – i.e. form a single, larger and more powerful Gem out of at least two of them following a shared dance (yes, just like Dragon Ball, though SU has better choreographed dances). As we learned along the way, Garnet herself is one such fusion, made of two other Gems (Ruby, voiced by Charlyne Yi, and Sapphire, voiced by Erica Luttrell), who love each other so much, they can’t bear to be apart. And since Gems universally use only female pronouns when talking about themselves and each other (though they’re all genderless), this means that Steven Universe is a major animated show with a personification of a lesbian couple as one of its lead characters.

Greg, Connie and Lion

The last major characters introduced in the show’s early episodes are Steven’s dad, Greg Universe (voiced by Tom Scharpling) and Connie Maheswaran (voiced by Grace Rolek). Greg at first seems like the epitome of an embarrassing father – the Gems initially describe him as kind of a mess, and we quickly learn he lives in a van and is a bit of a hoarder. Ultimately however we discover his depths – he lives in a van, because most of the money he earns from his car-wash goes to support Steven (as the Gems don’t earn money). He was the one who took care of Steven until he was old enough to live with his mom’s friends. He’s kind, caring and supportive – and one of the best fathers in pop-culture.

Connie and Pearl

Connie was introduced later – a girl around Steven’s age and the daughter of a doctor and a police officer. Until she met Steven, she never had friends due to her family constantly moving, following her dad’s work. After an adventure she shared with Steven, they became best friends and, along with Ruby and Sapphire, are the show’s official couple. Connie is an intelligent bookworm, initially fairly insecure (since her parents were too interested in her „safety” to allow her to enjoy life), who along the way discovers her confidence and independence. In season 2 she started training as a sword fighter with Pearl and achieved great skill with a sword.

Steven himself

Steven himself is the antithesis of a boy main character. He’s caring, optimistic, loving life and a friend to everyone and everything. As the Gems reveal, he’s very similar to his mother in that. As the show goes on, he also develops abilities similar to his mom – he can heal with his saliva, he can summon a shield and create an almost indestructible bubble around himself and his friends.

Steven, Connie and Lion

His only connection to his mom is his pet, Lion, that he encountered on one of the Crystal Gem missions. Lion seems to have been created in some way by Rose Quartz, and has unusual abilities of his own. His mane is a gateway to a pocket dimension which Rose (and now Steven) used for storage. He can use his roar to open portals to wherever Steven wants/needs to get – he also uses that same roar to fight off enemies. While smarter than your average animal, most of the time he’s fairly lazy and unwilling to do anything he’s told, like a bigger house cat.

Gem Battlefield

As the show goes on, we discover that the Crystal Gems are crystalline alien lifeforms who rebelled against their own species after the Home-world attempted to colonize Earth millennia before humanity evolved. Out of the entire rebellion led by Steven’s mom the only survivors were her and the rest of the Crystal Gems. They did succeed, however, as the Home-world Gems’ colonization was stopped.

The Cluster's location

Or so they thought. As the Crystal Gems recently learned from a Home-world Gem, Peridot (voiced by Shelby Rabara), their opponents left behind a time-bomb called the Cluster. It’s a gargantuan artificial fusion created from millions of Gem shards, which has been growing in the planet’s core since the Crystal Gems victory. After it achieves its physical form, it will be bigger than Earth and will destroy it from the inside. And that will happen soon.

Steven, bestowing his wisdom on Peridot

The Gems and Peridot joined forces and have been building a drill, with which they plan to reach the Cluster and find a way to stop its growth. Along the way Peridot gained an understanding of her unwitting allies and the planet they were protecting. By the end of last season, she has ended her redemption and after contacting the Yellow Diamond (voiced by Patti LuPone), one of the Home-world elite and her overseer, she declined the order to allow Earth’s potential to be wiped out by the Cluster reaching its maturity.

Lapis and Steven

And that’s not the only threat the characters are facing – Peridot arrived on Earth with two other Gems. One of them was Lapis Lazuli (voiced by Jennifer Paz) – a Gem with the ability to control water, previously stuck on Earth since the end of the war. Steven befriended her and helped her return to the Home-world, which she quickly regretted. Over the millennia it changed to the point it became unrecognizable to her. After she was questioned about the Earth, she was sent to help Peridot secure it.

Jasper's game face

The other Gem sent with Peridot is Jasper (voiced by Kimberly Brooks) – a warrior who seems to have some sort of history with Steven’s mom and thinks he is her. After the fight between Garnet she fused with Lapis to form Malachite – but Lapis, unwilling to harm Steven, used her water-controlling abilities to trap them both at the bottom of the ocean. Unfortunately, as we learned later, they are both locked in combat for control over Malachite – and Lapis is getting weaker and weaker.

Malachite being scary as ***

And that’s the state of affairs at the beginning of the new season. It will begin with "In Too Deep" – a four week event of five episodes released weekly, with the premiere comprised of two episodes. The promo for the event (which I embedded below) teases the return of Malachite, the first rumblings of the Cluster – and the promise of a great and terrible secret involving the Crystal Gems being revealed. I’ll see you then.

Until then, here’s a video of Lion doing lion things!

Dominik Zine is a nerdy lad from northeastern Poland and is generally found in a comfy chair with a book in hand.