ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Nov. 25th, 2013
SYNOPSIS: Steven learns how to shapeshift his fingers into little kittens.
Steven helps his dad at the car wash, though it doesn’t take long before they start squirting each other with the hoses. The owner of the vehicle, Mayor Dewey, is displeased with their goofy shenanigans, so Greg tells him the wash is on the house. After a satisfied Dewey leaves, someone ambushes Steven and Greg with the hose.
The culprit is Amethyst, shapeshifted into a cat. Steven is in awe, wishing he could transform as well. Greg is significantly more nervous about this “magic stuff.” Eventually Steven follows Amethyst home where the latter pridefully shows off her shapeshifting skills. Pearl is thoroughly bothered by her companion’s candidness; just because they can shapeshift doesn’t mean they should. Pearl takes this time to explain the basics of Gem shapeshifting to Steven: all Gems are capable of shapeshifting, whether it means transforming into inanimate objects or altering a specific part of their body…or in Amethyst’s case, turning into Pearl and slapping her butt. Eh, different strokes for different folks.
Annoyed with Amethyst, Pearl storms off in a huff. Alone with Amethyst, Steven begs her to teach him how to shapeshift so he can become a lion! I smell another foreshadowing. For once, Amethyst agrees with Pearl, he’s gotta take it down a notch and start simple. Steven picks something managable and tries to turn himself into a cat, just like Amethyst did earlier. No matter how hard he concentrates though, he can’t pull it off. Steven takes Amethyst’s advice and tries to loosen up. Nothing works…until they hear a small “meow.” Steven lifts his finger up only to find a teeny little cat head on it! He did shapeshift somewhat, so it’s a step. Amethyst suggest he show that to his father since he’d freak.
Oh, he freaks alright. Even when Greg composes himself and compliments Steven on a job well done, he’s pretty unnerved by this. Steven doesn’t notice, leaving for the Big Donut to show Sadie and Lars. Sadie adores the kitty while Lars sarcastically points out the creature is as alone as Steven. Geez, Lars, who spit on your bean curd? Steven gets an idea from Lars’ unintended suggestion and concentrates, producing more kitties for the rest of his fingers. He bolts to the fries shop and asks Peedee for “the bits” so he can feed his companions. They’re just as suitably shocked by all this. Steven creates another batch of cats on his other fingers, prompting Mr. Fryman to call his older son, Ronaldo over, since he loves weird stuff. Indeed he does, Ronaldo asks to take a picture for his blog, “Keep Beach City Weird.” There’s an actual official blog for that on tumblr if you’re curious to check it out. It periodically updates in accordance to whatever new episode airs at the time. Steven checks out his picture on the phone, but the cats meow in pain, after all you can’t just mash kitty faces on the phone, Steven!
Steven is having difficulty maintaining his cat fingers. He can’t readily grab food for example and it’s stressing him out. He asks the Gems for help, but they have an important mission to deal with first. Pearl blames Amethyst for this mess and tells Steven to remain calm until they return.
Steven tries to fix the issue himself, but he only makes it worse. Soon, little cat heads start popping out all over his body. Without the Gems, he goes to the only other adult figure in his life: his dad. Greg witnesses a Cronenberg of Cat Heads as Steven struggles to approach him. “Cat Fingers” suddenly takes a giant mood swing and what was once a playful little incident turns into something grave and unsettling.
Since Greg’s first appearance, it’s become clear he’s not exactly the guy to call when it comes to Gem matters. The other Gems have no faith in his ability to handle a half-Gem like Steven and truth be told, they have a point. Greg is human and though he’s been with the Crystal Gems for the better part of twenty odd years, he doesn’t always understand or get their culture and biology. But Steven is only Half-Gem and his half-Human side is just as much a conundrum to the Gems.
“Cat Fingers” explores a well-worn, but underutilized territory of a scared parent raising a superpowered child. Imagine if you will, a single father raising a kid with a unique biology that is not completely human or Gem. The Crystal Gems and Greg work together to the best of their abilities to raise Steven, but he is both a part of their world and neither. Suddenly questions pop up, but where are the answers? What does a normal man like Greg know of shapeshifting? What do you do when your kid’s powers grow uncontrollable and you can’t do anything to help? Greg is watching his only child slowly suffocate from multiple Cat Heads and though the episode keeps it from getting too dark, it is a terrifying issue for any parent to go through. Greg tries, but this is a fear realized that he, as Steven’s father, can’t always fix his son’s problem and may, infact, lose his only offspring. That is an incredibly scary reality.
Fortunately Steven figures out a solution: the cats hate water. So Greg powers up his car wash and dumps all the H2O it can spew out onto his son. To both their relief, it works and Steven is back to normal. The next day, the Crystal Gems return, relieved that Steven’s cat problem has been fixed. Pearl chides Amethyst once more, but Garnet tells her that perhaps she should have more faith in Steven. Then Steven ends the episode with a series of cat puns. The Crystal Gems are not amused.