Steven Universe Recap - S03E01+E02 - "Super Watermelon Island" & "Gem Drill"

And so we begin – the third season of Steven Universe is here, and its opening two episodes are amazing. Let’s dig in!

 S03E01 – Super Watermelon Island

Back in season one Steven accidentally created a whole patch of watermelons shaped like him. They later gained sentience, wreaked havoc across Beach City and finally, after Steven managed to get through them, left to find their own home. This week we learned they managed it, having settled on an island from the episode "Island Adventure" – also last seen in season one.

The watermelon Stevens managed to make a nice home for themselves, creating their own culture in the process. We learn all that through Steven. Back in the season two episode "Chille Tid" we learned he’s able to connect with other minds when he’s asleep – which is connected to his already amazing empathy. Thus, he’s able to connect with one of the watermelon Stevens, and (since he created them) possess it. He quickly becomes friends with a watermelon puppy and goes on a tour of the village his creations founded. Said tour is cut short when tremors start. At this point the watermelons recognize Steven and send him with a painted star on his body (the recognizable star from his shirt) towards a cliff.

And that’s when Malachite arrives and attacks him.

Steven starts awake to a panicked Peridot, certain the tremors are a sign of the awakening Cluster. Steven informs everyone that Malachite has resurfaced and Lapis seems to be losing her grip on the fusion. The Crystal Gems leave him and the confused Peridot at the barn and run to face their returning enemy. After explaining the whole Malachite situation to Peridot, Steven bemoans the fact that he’s been told to stay safe while he wants to help. Peridot reminds him that the Crystal Gems are rebels – rebelling against stuff is their "thing." Inspired by that, Steven decides to be rebellious!

So he goes to sleep.

Peridot’s snarking aside, it’s actually a well-reasoned decision – while sleeping he can possess another watermelon Steven, and thus be able to monitor the situation while staying in a safe place. Plus, it shows how much Steven has grown as the show has progressed, easily reproducing an accidentally discovered skill.

He arrives just in time – at that moment Jasper manages to defeat Lapis and overtake Malachite. The Gems themselves fuse and form the (still uncanny looking) Alexandrite and the fight is on! Unfortunately, for all their combined strength, Malachite has a tactical advantage – she has Lapis’ water-controlling ability, and both fusions are fighting in the sea. Thus, she manages to fight Alexandrite with relative ease.

That’s when Steven rallies watermelon Stevens to form an army and march against Malachite (with a cute scene of a mommy watermelon leaving her husband to take care of their child). While many, they can’t exactly defeat the gargantuan fusion. What they can do is distract her and allow Alexandrite to catch a second breath and make another, more successful attack. In the end she manages to unfuse Malachite back into (now unconscious) Jasper and Lapis. Once again, the day is saved by the Crystal Gems!

And that’s when tremors return, signaling that Peridot was right – the Cluster is taking form. The earth ruptures, and Jasper slides down into the ocean, before anyone can help her (Lapis is saved in the last minute). The Gems tell Steven to wake up and go with Peridot and stop the threat – they themselves won’t make it as the island warp pad has been destroyed.

S03E02 – Gem Drill

Steven and Peridot start the drill and race towards the Cluster! For two hours, because that’s how far deep it lies. As they go down, Steven and Peridot talk about her being born on Homeworld, which she very clearly misses. But she has accepted that Earth is her new home, and Steven as her new family. And for a while, everything is quiet all the way down.

Well, except for an encounter with a few clusters, that Peridot dispatches with ease, using a gun she installed despite Pearl’s protestations. They finally reach the Cluster, and it’s magnificent and epic in scope.

As they prepare to strike, Steven has second thoughts – he wonders if the Cluster just doesn’t know what it’s doing. Peridot replies that it doesn’t matter if it knows what it’s doing – it’s going to do it. As the drill hits, Steven is increasingly more sick – which they dismiss as the effect of the drill’s sound. But it’s obviously more than that and as he finally succumbs to it, he connects with the Cluster’s consciousness.

As it turns out, all of the shards that make up the Cluster are forced to take form and want to find other, similar shards outside. Steven manages to dissuade them from the now impossible former goal, and comes up with a solution to the need to form – bubbling up the Cluster. There’s a problem with that plan, though – he’s unable to make a bubble big enough for the entire Cluster and there are too many shards to do so individually. That’s when he regains consciousness and discovers with Peridot that he managed to inspire the shards to bubble each other. And with their help, he manages to do it with the entire Cluster.

Still – this was a close one. As empathetic as Steven is, this time around he barely managed to find a solution, and only by inspiring other shards did he manage to implement it. It’s very likely he’ll soon face a problem where his empathy won’t help – maybe once Jasper resurfaces. It’ll be interesting to see what he does.

While I feel those two episodes would work better as a season finale than a premiere, it still was an emotional and amazing opening. And now that the show is back with more regular releases, I’ll see you next week for the episode "Same Old World."

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