Steven Universe Recap - S04E03 - "Buddy's Book"

Welcome back to Steven Universe recaps, now back to their regular release schedule (for a few weeks at least). We're still early in season 4, so no big drama yet. Instead, we get a bit more worldbuilding and a bit more foreshadowing.

Connie takes Steven for his first trip to the library, which elicits the reaction every young bookworm has when first entering a library or a big bookstore. While she studies ahead for seventh grade, the lovable dork that she is, Steven explores the place. He ends up finding the journal of Buddy Buddwick, Beach City founder Bill Dewey's travel companion and friend. Upon hearing the news, Connie drops her homework (it's not like she has a deadline for it) and the two start devouring the book. And because they have no idea how anyone looked during the events described by Buddy, they use their imagination to fill in the blanks, with Steven's friend Jamie, the former mailman and current thespian, imagined in the role of Buddy himself. We can only be certain how the Gem structures Buddy illustrated looked (also because Steven already knows how they look); everything else was likely filtered through his own eyes, in an "unreliable narrator" way.

Buddy, left to the sidelines after the founding of Beach City, was worried about leaving a mark on the world of his own and decided to become an explorer himself. During his travels he ended up in the Gem battlefield we first saw in "Serious Steven," which we now know is located somewhere in Norway (that's partially the shout out to supposedly delicious Norwegian strawberries, which as a Pole I find preposterous; the claim that you can grow tastier strawberries in the fjords than in the lowlands located more to the South is laughable. Laughable, I say!). He had an encounter with Pearl and Garnet: as Steven visualizes it, wearing the old timey clothes from the picture way back in "So Many Birthdays" (strap yourselves in, folks, we're in for a continuity cavalcade this episode). Pearl is, typically for her, surprised and annoyed at the presence of a human in a Gem-related location and marked several more of them for him to avoid. And because this isn't a clear enough schmuck bait, Garnet pitched in to say that only the bravest and boldest of explorers would dare go there. Until such a time either version is confirmed, it's equally possible that Garnet actually wanted him to embark on his journey (knowing thanks to her Future Vision it'll be needed), or Buddy just interpreted her words that way.

Regardless, Buddy decided to do exactly that: visit all the locations Pearl marked. He embarked on a frankly impressive journey, visiting the mountain home of the Heavenly Beetle from "Giant Woman," the Sea Spire from "Cheeseburger Backpack," the inverted pyramid from "Serious Steven," the Communication Hub from "Coach Steven" (fully operational and frankly impressive), and apparently Blue Diamond's palanquin (which is the first time Steven sees it), for some reason abandoned on Earth.

His final stop was the Prime Kindergarten, where he met Amethyst during her visit with her rock. He ended up boasting of his journeys, quite proud of himself, until Amethyst innocently asked him a piercing question what he actually discovered in his travels. Which led him to realize he never actually discovered anything, as the Gems were there long before him. As he despaired, he never was an explorer - but a tourist.

Amethyst suggested (more to get him out her hair) that he should visit the Sand Castle: a moving structure that we know from "Steven's Lion" is actually a corrupted Gem. Since it's never been in the same spot, upon finding it he'd technically discover it. Unfortunately, the Sand Castle's location was somewhere in the African desert, so the journey almost ended in his death, if it weren't for Rose Quartz and her pride of lions. While they're shown to be of a more typical color than Lion's pink, Buddy was more concerned with there being seven lions all around him than with their coloring. For all we know, they're Lion's ancestors. There's also the fact that Rose was apparently visiting the Sand Castle's location and the Gems didn't bubble it until much later, so for now it's anyone's guess what she was doing there.

In any case, he ended up finding the Sand Castle but only because Rose pointed it out for him, so he failed to discover a single thing. However, Rose was impressed with his writing and illustrations, which made the structures seem new and exciting even to someone who's already seen them. She suggested that instead of an explorer, he should become an author. And he did, writing enough to fill a library; the very library Steven and Connie are sitting in.

While primarily focused on the locations we've seen before, the episode finally gives us more of a handle on where they're located, while also foreshadowing future discoveries. Also, thanks to the use of unreliable narration, it allows the Crewniverse not to be bound by anything shown there. It also allowed us a little fun with Jamie, who we haven't seen since "Historical Friction," without having to do another theatrical play episode.

Next week, we're back to training with Steven and Connie and, according to the previews, Stevonnie. I'll see you then!

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