ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Sept. 25th, 2014
SYNOPSIS: Steven and his companions venture to find Lapis Lazuli and restore the Earth’s ocean.
The Crystal Gems ground Steven after last episode’s fiasco, but they’ve got bigger problems. The Earth’s ocean have suddenly vanished. The citizens of Beach City especially the mayor is worried that this will reduce tourism. Frankly, I’d be more concerned with the whole No Ocean thing and the devastating impact it’ll have across the globe, but that’s just me. Mayor Dewey demands an explanation from the Crystal Gems and to my surprise, Garnet is upfront about it instead of keeping their affairs away from humans. Methinks this issue has gotten so big that they decided it was worth telling or Steven’s influence might have caused them to try and open up to humankind. Or maybe Garnet just wanted to stop Dewey’s excessive whining. Whatever works.
Steven is confused why Lapis – a Gem herself – wouldn’t get along with the Crystal Gems, but there’s a lot he doesn’t know about the Gem species. This doesn’t deter Steven from packing up so he can fix his mistake and find her. Greg, Connie, Lion, and the Crystal Gems all accompany him on his epic journey. By this point, we’re halfway through season one and it truly does feel like the tides are turning, pun not intended. All the major characters lend their support to Steven, traveling with him in spite of how unconventional it is. Importantly, this is Greg’s first real mission with his son, just to emphasize how different and urgent the matter is.
That’s not to say there hasn’t been any changes in the past twenty-four episodes, but they were gradual and nuanced. The missions Steven endured may not all have been cakewalks, but there was always a looming safety bubble that prevented anything drastic from occurring. Here, we’re planted with a major answer that explains a great chunk of context: namely the Monsters of the Week. Pearl finally explains to Steven that all the beasts and items they’ve been fetching were once Gems like them, but they’ve been corrupted to a point where even Rose could not cure them. They find any they can locate and bubble them up inside the temple until a possible solution presents itself.
The Crystal Gems and Greg board the latter’s van while Steven and Connie travel via Lion. I’m surprised Connie was allowed to go with Steven despite her strict parents and the current ocean crisis. I’m thinking she just never told her parents she left. There’s a hilarious gag here that writing can’t do justice, but Garnet’s reaction when Greg plays one of his CDs is one of the best non-verbal expressions I’ve ever seen. It never fails to put a smile on my face.
They arrive at their destination where Lapis resides. She managed to convert the entire ocean into a giant watery tower that reaches to the heavens. Lapis tells them to leave her alone, but Steven refuses, not until she gives them back their ocean. Lapis retaliates by creating watery clones of Steven and the Crystal Gems, each as powerful as their counterpart (or in Steven’s case, more powerful.) Each of the respective Gems take on their own clones while Lion handles Water Steven. Lion doesn’t do so hot, so Steven and Connie give it the ol’ college try. I especially find it amusing that Steven attacks with a water gun. Water Steven traps the two with its own power, slowly drowning them. Greg saves them both by ramming his van into Water Steven, then expresses his concern; he had no idea how dangerous these Gem missions really are. Water Steven then throws the van aside. Greg is alright, but his leg is broken.
Steven’s had enough, he tells Lapis that he doesn’t want to fight and when she attacks, he whips out his shield to block it. The vibration from the shock is enough to disintegrate the water clones. Steven enters the tower which Lapis allows, pulling him up to the top. The oceanic tower is so high that it reaches the depths of space and my GOD, the background is fantastically gorgeous. I cannot express how beautiful space looks.
Steven tries to broker peace, but Lapis is angry at the Crystal Gems for daring to side with Earth. She never believed in this place and all she wants more than anything is to go back home. She figured if she could pile all the world’s ocean on top and stretch it to its limit, she can reach it, but that was a comically high expectation. She wouldn’t even needed to do this in the first place if her Gem wasn’t cracked. Fortunately she’s with the one person who has the power to heal it. Steven repairs her Gem, restoring Lapis back to her original form. Her eyes are no longer glossy and she sprouts watery wings. Lapis thanks Steven, then flies off for home, revealing all along that the Gems are aliens.
The water tower crumbles after Lapis leaves. Connie and Lion teleport to rescue Steven, but now they’ve got the entire ocean to deal with. Steven’s bubble saves the day as he manages to create one big enough for his allies and Greg’s van. They drive back to Beach City where the citizens celebrate the heroes’ victory. Garnet and Pearl have a private discussion: Lapis made it off-planet. Neither of them know what this could mean, all they can do is wait and see what happens. Ominous.
“Ocean Gem” is when Steven Universe’s main plot truly takes off. The big guns have officially come out and from here on out, things are only going to get increasingly unpredictable, dramatic, and amazing. I’m not going to lie, Steven Universe is a slow burn to track through when you start from the beginning. I actually gave up on this show early on because I felt nothing was happening and nothing would. “Mirror Gem/Ocean Gem” were not the episodes that turned me into a Steven Universe devotee, but it was a sign that there was more to this show than what I originally thought it to be. I don’t normally stick to a series if it takes forever to get to the “good part”; I don’t believe I should be forced to watch something just to get to its zenith point when everything prior couldn’t hold my interest, but I am very glad I gave this one a second chance. We’re not quite yet at the one Steven Universe episode that lured me in hook, line, and sinker (and I bet you can guess what it is since it’s fairly predictable), but we’ve reached the point of no return, folks. Welcome to the real start of Steven Universe. Bring some tissues.