ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Apr. 30th, 2014
SYNOPSIS: The owner of the Fish Stew Pizza restaurant bans the Crystal Gems after they cause a wreck. Steven attempts to patch things up between the Pizza family and the Gems.
The Crystal Gems and Steven are facing a giant Puffer Fish Monster. Garnet leaps up to punch the aquatic menace, but it blows her away. Amethyst strikes it by shapeshifting into a giant baseball bat, leaving them to worry about the creature another day.
Garnet is safe, having crash-landed atop the Fish Stew Pizza restaurant rooftop. This incurs the wrath of its owner, Kofi Pizza. He’s not happy about the damage and even less so when the Crystal Gems ignore him and walk out of the mess, their minds too focused on the Puffer Fish. Kofi is flabbergasted why a nice kid like Steven would hang out with them. The latter tries to defend his guardians, but Kofi has enough and bans the Crystal Gems from his restaurant. I don’t blame him. From his perspective, a person walking out on the damage they cause accidental or not is a jerk move. The Crystal Gems aren’t trying to be rude, they’re just on a completely different wavelength from humans and remain neutral to their cause while simultaneously protecting their world and its inhabitants. It’s a well-meaning gesture, but carries a terrible level of condescension.
Steven reports the sad news to the Gems, but they don’t care. He tells them that the Pizzas should get to know the Gems so they can see how nice they really are. He decides on a beach party just outside the temple in hopes of defusing Kofi’s vitriol against the Gems.
The Pizza family accepts the invitation, though Kofi is still reluctant. All my love for his mother, Nanefua though, she sounds and acts like the kind of easygoing, fun-loving grandmother anyone would love to have. Lunchtime is a bust; the Gems talk a bit about their culture, but Kofi refuses to let yesterday’s incident go. Steven suggest a rousing game of volleyball. He splits the team equally so each Pizza family member has a Gem due to their powers and the inbalance it’d provide if the Gems were playing against the Pizzas. The game is a hit and everyone is having a good time. Maybe things won’t be so bad after all. Then the team starts arguing over who cheated who.
They’re interrupted when the Puffer Fish Monster returns. The Crystal Gems protect the Pizzas to the best of their ability, but Nanefua isn’t sitting around because Nanefua is awesome. She and Steven run circles around the beast, causing a distraction while they relay orders to the Gems and the Pizzas. The two groups work together: Amethyst turns into a ball so Garnet can punch her down to the sand, hitting her so hard the heat generated on impact turns the sand into spiky glass. The rest drags the volleyball net to the Puffer Fish Monster to push it into the spikes. They aren’t strong enough, but Garnet gets her second wind by punching the fish straight to it, popping it.
The Pizzas are grateful the Crystal Gems saved their lives. Kofi lifts the ban from the Gems and all is right in Beach City, even if the Gems are still nonchalant about it.
After all the destructions the Gems and Steven have unintentionally caused over Beach City (especially Funland Amusement Park), Steven Universe needed at least one episode to address this. The Crystal Gems spends so much of their time away from humans as much as possible that their very interaction is awkward and unusual. The Pizzas even comment in this episode that they’ve never been anywhere near the Gem Temple, indicating just how separated the place is in walking distance from Beach City. I get the feeling that the citizens view the temple as a landmark filled with local lores, maybe the kind of place daring teenagers trespass as a rite of passage. Wouldn’t they be surprised to meet the world’s friendliest kid.
Steven serves as the Gems’ liaison (for better or worse) because he represents both worlds and at his age, being banned from a pizza shop is worthy of intervention. Kofi’s anger is valid and though their teamwork saved everyone’s lives, it never provides a definite conclusion on the Gems’ relationship with humans. The ending of “Beach City” makes it pretty clear that they still don’t care for the trivialities of human nature, just that they’re sentient, albeit inferior beings worth protecting. They get along remarkably well with the Pizzas during that volleyball game though. Special powers or not, within the restriction of the game’s rules, everyone is equal. There’s hope yet that the Crystal Gems can connect on a personal level with Earthlings and if not, then it’s something they have to at least acknowledged for Steven’s sake. They cannot ignore his unique biology and being half-human means running into the denizens of Beach City, no matter how much they try to hole themselves in. The Crystal Gems may be trying their best to remain neutral and stay out of humanity’s hair, but Steven’s existance renders that mute, arguably for the better.
This isn’t to say the Crystal Gem’s self-exclusion is necessarily a bad thing, but after thousands of years, a shake-up is to be expected. They created a team that excelled in subverting and defying the rigid structure of their homeworld that it makes sense the Gems would at least lift a finger to try and understand Steven’s point of view. It’s clumsy and baby steps are required, but trying is better than doing nothing at all.