One of many issues that separates Steven Universe from most different mythology-rich exhibits is a level of route and goal. There’s by no means been a component of the Gems’ backstory or wider world that felt prefer it was written on the fly, or shoehorned in to retcon an unintentional discrepancy. As an alternative, Steven Universe has steadily maintained the sense of a bigger, constant story unfolding simply out of view. So after 4 years of hinting on the tradition of House World, the historical past of the Gems, and the complicated relationship between Rose Quartz and Pink Diamond, our first, intense glimpse of House World isn’t simply escalation—it’s the place the present needed to go all alongside. In Needed, Steven lastly sees the place he got here from, and the result’s dazzling.
From a plot perspective, probably the most stunning a part of Needed is the creation of an actual central thriller: Who killed Pink Diamond? Steven stands trial for the homicide, defended by a put-upon Zircon (voiced by Amy Sedaris). Virtually accidentally, Zircon unravels a number of holes in House World’s model of occasions, suggesting that the crime may need been dedicated by another person—somebody like one of many Diamonds. The suggestion that there’s extra to the story (and that uncovering the reality might assist heal the rift between the Crystal Gems and House World) is ingenious, and approach higher than treating Pink Diamond’s shattering than as one thing everybody simply refuses to speak to Steven about. Although Yellow is the apparent suspect, Rebecca Sugar has described the upcoming Steven Universe arc as a homicide thriller—so we nonetheless doubtless have a methods to go earlier than discovering out who did it and why.
House World itself is stuffed with beautiful visuals, like a short aerial view of what looks like a Gem megacity (together with what seems to be the large silhouette of White Diamond), the huge, sprawling underground Kindergarten, Steven’s neon pink, virtually non-spatial holding cell (which is the “Hotline Bling” video, sorry), and, after all, the imposing sight of Steven dwarfed by Yellow and Blue Diamond, caught up in one thing he doesn’t fairly perceive. Almost all of this imagery builds on what we’ve inferred about Gem tradition till now—the emphasis on technological progress, the parasitism, the limitless complexity—and whereas it’s a bit totally different from my imagined House World wanting like, it’s good.
If there’s a weak level right here, it’s the introduction of the “off colour” Gems, House World’s very personal Island Of Misfit Toys. After all Steven would in some way befriend the one pleasant Gems on House World, however they really feel a bit too flat to essentially register as characters on this temporary look. Nonetheless, there’s purpose to be optimistic about them as recurring gamers, particularly Fluorite, an unlimited, grandmotherly, caterpillar-like fusion of six totally different Gems. (Paparadscha, a Sapphire variant who solely predicts issues that simply occurred, feels virtually satirically one-note. Nonetheless, if we all know something about this present, it’s that each character has some stunning depth we simply haven’t reached but.) Although “Off Colours” is a little bit of a slower episode till the ultimate motion sequence, it’s nonetheless essential to arrange the stakes of Lars’ sacrifice.
Lars, Lars, Lars. Did anybody else see this coming? Needed’s opener “Caught Collectively” is a minor comedian masterpiece, monitoring the near-futility in Steven attempting to get Lars to do something, not to mention take his pants off as a approach of lassoing a destabilizer. (It additionally introduces Martha Higareda’s phenomenal, hilarious efficiency as Topaz, who’s silent primarily as a result of she doesn’t know how you can specific her feelings.) Lars confesses that he had already ditched his ube roll earlier than getting kidnapped, as a result of he was afraid to let everybody see how a lot he cared . Ultimately, Steven manages to get by Lars, by letting him admit his worry—who wouldn’t be?—and simply push by it, collectively.
This all culminates a genuinely stunning sequence: Lars blowing up a robinoid, solely to be flung towards a rock, exhausting. He’s injured sufficient to be, as he places it, “away from life.” And after Steven heals him, his gradual pulse and seemingly magically preserved physique appear to fairly clearly affirm that, even when Lars isn’t fairly a zombie, he’s one thing fairly shut. It’s beautiful that the Steven Universe crew obtained away with depicting this in a lot element—what’s the final demise you’ll be able to bear in mind in a youngsters’ present or film that was this specific?
“Lars’ Head,” the final episode of Needed, has the most effective storytelling twists Steven Universe has pulled off since “Jail Break.” It seems that Rose reviving useless natural beings is the method that created Lion—which means Steven can now entry Rose’s pocket dimension by Lars’ head, turning him right into a conduit between House World and Earth. (Additionally, his recent pink look is extremely badass, full with facial scar and ripped clothes.) However he has to remain on House World, lightyears away from his household, mates, and Sadie. His newfound resolve is efficient, and poignant—take within the care with which he’s drawn pushing apart Steven’s hand solely to attract him shut in a hug, or the best way he kneels right down to let Steven by like some type of Arthurian knight. (Matthew Moy is basically unbelievable.)
By the tip of Needed, the Steven Universe establishment has been completely upended. House World is firmly in play as a setting, the story behind Pink Diamond’s shattering has been blown up, and Lars is firmly in place as probably the most Gem-embroiled human this facet of Connie. Extra vital, Sugar and the remainder of the crew have introduced down the hammer (or breaking level, because the case could also be), with Lars’ actual, severe demise including a way of consequence that has been a bit missing over the past couple of seasons. When Greg was kidnapped by Blue Diamond, it didn’t really feel like there was any probability Steven wouldn’t get him again. Now, who is aware of? For the primary time shortly, there’s no method to know what’s going to occur on Steven Universe—and it’s thrilling.
Government producer: Rebecca Sugar
Starring: Zach Callison, Matthew Moy, Amy Sedaris, Patti LuPone, Lisa Hannigan
Storyboard artists: Lauren Zuke (“Caught Collectively”), Katie Mitroff and Paul Villeco (“The Trial”), Lamar Abrams and Jeff Liu (“Off Colours”), Jeff Liu and Madeline Queripel (“Lars’ Head”)
Debuts: Monday, Might 29 at 7:00 p.m. Jap on Cartoon Community
Format: Quarter-hour animated miniseries
Complete miniseries watched for evaluate.