ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Mar, 2nd, 2015
SYNOPSIS: Steven meets Uncle Grandpa in a crossover episode extravaganza!
Steven’s having trouble summoning his shield. Well, that’s weird. Steven’s already mastered this ability, so what gives? Maybe it’s just a continuity error. Sometimes that happens and even the best of shows will falter – wait a minute, are those dolphins crowding around a giant clam holding a middle-aged man dressed up as Rose Quartz?
Uncle Grandpa is in town.
He heard Steven’s plea and has risen from wherever he came from to help the poor boy out with his off-brand of fourth wall breaking, surrealist, pun-filled humor. And if this doesn’t sound like the Steven Universe you came for, don’t worry, dude, this episode is non-canonical.
Uncle Grandpa deduces that Steven needs to be danger in order to activate his shield, so he shoots a missile out of his rocket launcher. Steven is lucky the missile was a fake because that shield is being stubborn! Uncle Grandpa unleashes a slew of weapons at Steven’s disposal, but only when he brings out a giant death ray does the Crystal Gem react. Well, Pearl does, Amethyst has been watching in passive amusement the whole time. The death ray doesn’t work, Steven only summons his bubble. Pearl proceeds to flip out.
The Crystal Gems ask Steven who this weird old man is. Uncle Grandpa’s fanny pack, Belly Back, provides a decent explanation: Uncle Grandpa is everyone’s uncle and whenever he’s in town, something fun is bound to happen. While Steven handles the fourth wall perfectly, the other Gems can’t even wrap their heads around the concept. Non-canonical or not, I like to think this might be a reasonable explanation I can’t see Homeworld ever embracing something that subversive, not even as an imaginary tool! In fact, the Crystal Gems all come to the conclusion that this guy is a reality warper and his powers could threaten the very fabric of time and space. Amethyst admits she enjoys his company, but Pearl is losing it. Actually, that’s the best part about “Say Uncle”: Pearl’s inability to process the chaotic nightmare that is Uncle Grandpa which eventually cause her to run mad by the end of the episode. The Crystal Gems attempt to destroy Uncle Grandpa, so the latter drags Steven to a literal plothole and into his world.
Uncle Grandpa gives Steven a tour of his seemingly endless RV. There he meets the other Steven in his life: Pizza Steve, who, incidentally, is unhappy that there’s another Steve in the house. Uncle Grandpa informs Pizza Steve that Steven is special and he’s backed by his friend, Mr. Gus, a giant bipedal lizard man. He knows all about Steven Universe; he even created his own gemsona! Uncle Grandpa lays out the issue Steven is having with his friends, but neither Mr. Gus nor Giant Realistic Flying Tiger has anything good to offer, so they opt to sit around and wait for a solution. Fortunately that last all of a second before Something Happens.
Meanwhile, the Crystal Gems are literally stuck inside the Plothole, unable to find a way out. Pearl is, again, flipping out. Pizza Steve arrives since they technically are looking for a Steven, but Amethyst ends up eating him. Garnet has had enough of this episode and literally stomps the Plothole out, returning them back to Beach City. Steven and Uncle Grandpa are already waiting for them, having sat down for tea alongside Lion and Giant Realistic Flying Tiger. Whatever happened prior apparently didn’t work as Uncle Grandpa has yet to figure out Steven’s dilemma.
The Crystal Gems go straight for Uncle Grandpa, but Steven protects him, successfully summoning his shield in the process. Steven delivers a lesson, telling the Crystal Gems that they can’t just go off and attack right off the bat. The episode tried to make it seem like their actions were comically exaggerated, but it’s really not that far from the real thing. The Crystal Gems do have a tendency to attack until Steven plops in with a better, peaceful solution. That’s kind of the whole point of their dynamic. The Crystal Gems apologize and Uncle Grandpa leaves, satisfied with another day’s work.
Boy, I remember the mild controversy when Steven Universe was going to crossover with Uncle Grandpa. Without context, it is an odd mashup. I haven’t seen Uncle Grandpa, but if this episode is any indication, it’s an out there cartoon that can pull whatever rabbits out of their hats than Steven Universe could and would ever do. Airing a day after April Fool’s, “Say Uncle” is a complete derivation from the show, offering the crew a chance to let loose and have fun. And fun they had. The absolute best is Pearl slowly losing it until she’s an exaggerated incarnation of her former self, transforming from anxious-riddled, but capable and orderly Gem into a screeching, shaking mess that can barely squawk out a sentence without her head literally distorting into weird, oblong shapes. It’s stupid and meaningless filler – out of all the Steven Universe episodes, this is the one you can skip without scrutiny – but it’s by no means awful. I can’t cry foul on “Say Uncle” because it’s clear everyone was having a good time making this episode and there’s nothing wrong with that.