About two months ago, Steven Universe returned from yet another hiatus debuting two new episodes right off the bat. The latter episode, Gem Drill, is one of my favorite episodes of the series & I immediately wanted to write an analysis on it. This whole blog basically spawned from the motivation to write about Gem Drill though obviously, it’s taken me quite some time to get around to it. There were a few a big contributors to my delay, time, laziness, and perhaps most importantly, a lack of urgency. Not too long ago, I saw this tweet and it became apparent that it was now or never. I hope to cover the five episodes of season three that have already aired before the 18th and then attempt to cover the entire season as it airs. Which brings me to the premiere of season three, Super Watermelon Island. To be honest, this is review is a tad perfunctory, as I a quite frankly don’t have as much to talk about here.
The episode opens up with Steven having infiltrated the body of a Watermelon Steven. After taking in the sights & losing nose goes, he is quickly made aware of the delicate situation his precious Watermelons are in. Malachite’s resurgence into the plot has been a long time coming & quickly shifts the episode from seemingly fun adventure to an episode with dire stakes. Malachite makes quick work of the sacrificial watermelon & upon waking up in his own body, Steven alerts the other Gems of his news. Peridot’s out of the loop here but Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl make their way to tackle Malachite, leaving Steven behind for his own safety. After a little talk with Peridot, a master plan dawns on Steven, go to sleep and lend a hand while possessing a Watermelon Steven.
Most of the episode is dedicated to the showdown with Malachite, who is now operated by Jasper instead of Lapis. The fight choreography here is rather dull & unlike prior battles, it really isn’t attached to any character development & the emotional stakes for Lapis are drowned out by the emphasis on the danger Malachite poses. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach, especially given the duration of the episodes but it makes the action a lot less compelling for me. That doesn’t mean this clash was without highlights though, for example the final sequence of events flowed really well & made good use of the shows history. It was pretty cool to see Alexandrite rely on moves from Sugilite, Sardoynx, and Opal to take down Malachite. Of course though, this showdown wasn’t exclusive to the two behemoths, after a rousing speech from Steven, the other Watermelons leap into the fray. There’s definitely a sense of fun to this sequence though I feel that may be a little misplaced considering the stakes but that’s a minute gripe formed on a high expectations. So I don’t necessarily hold the series accountable here. With Malachite defeated (who bows out doing her best exploding Cell impression), Lapis rescued, and an unconscious Jasper back in the ocean, the episodes ends with Steven fading out of his watermelon form resulting in the most clever use of their patented fade out yet.
As I’ve already mentioned, I don’t have a lot to really talk about here but I will say that I personally think the most interesting thing about this episode is how it relates to it’s sister episode, Gem Drill. Not only did the episodes premiere back-to-back but the connection between the two is further established through the titles. While I didn’t include it here, the episode guides list it as part one & Gem Drill part two. I don’t want to dig too deep here why it makes sense to offer this up as group but I will address the most prevalent theme here. As corny as it sounds, this episode was all about the importance of cooperation. The Watermelon Stevens default to sacrifice one of their own to keep Malachite at bay & cower in fear when the battle begins. When putting the weight on one sacrifice with poor reaction skills was no longer an option & Steven rallied them into a fighting mood, they manage to do a considerable amount of damage to Malachite using their impressive weaponry & strategic planned motions. Obviously, they’re not able to stop Malachite themselves instead that duty is carried out by the Crystal Gems. I’ve already mentioned the usage of past fusions moves but I didn’t point on the finishing blow, which was the true bright spot of the episode. The arrow shot at Malachite takes the form of Amethyst, Garnet, and Pearl, showing the viewers directly that it was the combined efforts of all three that granted them victory.