ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Oct. 30th, 2014
SYNOPSIS: Steven gets caught up in Ronaldo’s conspiracy theories.
Pearl bolts in when she hears Steven crying for help, but he’s just being chased by Garnet and Amethyst who have both shapeshifted into Steven. They’re just playing a rousing game of “Steven Tag.” Pearl is not amused and refuses to join the fun. Garnet ends up winning the game anyway.
Steven later takes a stroll down the beach until someone stops him: Ronaldo. Ahh yes, Ronaldo, the conspiracy theorist. He’s only appeared as tiny cameos beforehand as the eldest son of the Fryman family. Unlike his kid brother, Peedee, Ronaldo doesn’t take to the family business, preferring to figure out the truth behind the vast mysteries of life. Right now, he informs Steven about the numerous holes drilled on a rocky surface, wondering what devastating creature could have caused this. Ronaldo tells Steven he’d know all about it if he kept in touch with his personal blog: Keep Beach City Weird. There he documents the real truth behind the strange occurrences plaguing his hometown. Ronaldo then asks if Steven is ready to get his hands dirty. Completely missing the context behind the teen’s actions, Steven happily follows.
Ronaldo takes Steven around Beach City, pointing out some of the weird things he’s spotted over time, unaware all of them came from past incidents Steven and the Crystal Gems had to face or already Gem in origin, like Rose’s flowers. Ronaldo thinks Steven has the guts to accept the truth, so he takes him to an abandoned lighthouse he uses as his personal headquarters and reveals his theory: Snake People or “Sneeple” are real and the true masterminds behind everything! Ronaldo states the Sneeple are secretly controlling the government, that the diamond and the snake on the dollar bill are connected, and that all mankind is under their evil schemes. …Yeah, this guy is nuttier than a squirrel’s night out.
Being the naive boy that he is, Steven buys it so well he runs screaming to the Crystal Gems to protect their home from the Sneeple! He shows photos of the unusual things Ronaldo pointed out earlier until the Gems correct him otherwise. Pearl is pretty adamant on the obviousness of it all. Even I question how Steven was unable to put two and two together since he bared witness to all the major events that Ronaldo later discovered. If anything, Rose’s flowers should have been an instant giveaway.
Steven breaks the news to Ronaldo, but he finds it hard to believe the Gems caused all this. This scene alone cements a lot of the general attitude humans have of the Crystal Gems. I don’t know how much they interacted and indirectly influenced mankind, but it’s clear they left some kind of mark for the past 6,000+ years. It’s wide enough that Earth significantly changed in accordance to their presence and due to the humans’ short lifespan, this has since been considered a normalized part of Earth culture. For example, that dollar bill with the diamond and snake design is no mistake, it legitimately is differently designed than ours because of it. Ronaldo knows the Crystal Gems exist even if he doesn’t understand them because they’ve been around for so long. It’s possible the he thinks the Gems are weird, but is dissatisfied with Steven’s answers regardless. Ronaldo tries to prove his theories are true by showing off this weird slate on the sand, but it merely houses an imprint of Steven from Steven Tag earlier. Ronaldo is crushed, knowing he is not the center of everything and solemnly walks off.
Steven feels awful, especially when Ronaldo shuts down his blog. Pearl, god bless her heart, tries to cheer him up by saying humans create stories in order to make themselves feel important because of their short lives. Well, she tried. Steven has an idea to fix this though.
He approaches Ronaldo behind the fries shop wearing a cheaply made snake costume, declaring he’s a Sneeple. Somehow it’s enough to fool both the Fryman brothers. Ronaldo bashes Steven unconscious with a potato and drags him to his base. While a scared Peedee is tasked to record the interrogation on video, Ronaldo examines the “Sneeple.” He doesn’t get far before the Crystal Gems crash the lighthouse to free Steven. Ronaldo thinks the Gems are Sneeple hiding under false exterior hides. Well, he’s technically right about a Gem’s body being an exterior projection of their true Gem forms. Ronaldo attacks, but he’s comically outmatched. Steven breaks free in time to stop them from hurting Ronaldo any further and keeping Ronaldo from activating his…psychic powers. Whatever floats your boat, buddy.
Steven explains the Sneeple thing was a fake and once more, Ronaldo is crushed. In a heartwarming act, Peedee plays along and informs his brother that Steven is merely a part of the puzzle. Passion for conspiracy renewed, Ronaldo comes to the conclusion that the diamond in the dollar bill means “Polymorphic Sentient Rocks” who are all part of the “Diamond Authority.” He’s atually a lot more on the ball than he thinks, but I guess a broken clock is right twice.
Ronaldo is interestingly blatant. Out of all the cast members in Steven Universe, he’s the most on-the-nose, tongue-in-cheek call out to nerd culture. If I feel Connie embodies the positive side (she is presented as a shy, but intelligent and clever young lady), then Ronaldo is the direct opposite, showing off some of the worse aspects of fandom: obsessively out-of-touch with any actual statements, preferring to believe his own opinions are facts for no reason other than he knows they’re true; easily delusional; and aggressively condescending.
But even he’s not ostracized from Steven Universe’s theme of love and acceptance. Like a lot of lonely folks, he relies on a hobby that gives him a sense of purpose. Whether Ronaldo really believes in the truth or not, it gives him something to cling onto until he finds the confidence to cope outside such means (and even then, it’s still healthy to have a hobby you’re passionate about as long as it’s within reason.) Like Lars, he’s a teenage with insecurities that only fantasy, for the time, can solve. I admit I’m a little troubled with Ronaldo’s attitude problem, but Steven’s lament on his incomprehensible nature seem to indicate that the show is putting a pin on this issue for now, so there’s room for character development. After all, Ronaldo can’t keep acting like this for the rest of his life. Eventually his arrogance will get the best of him. For now, the cast is content to humor him a bit. Even Ronaldo needs a bone tossed his way every once in a while.
Also, Keep Beach City Weird is a genuine blog on tumblr run by the creators of the show. Give it a read, it’s delightful.