In the eighth episode of the third season of Steven Universe, what an achievement. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.
This show just gave us an entire musical in eleven minutes, complete with refrains, callbacks, and a complete story. WHAT THE FUCK, HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE.
Let’s talk, friends.
I’ve long been impressed with how well music has been integrated into Steven Universe, and that’s partially because these songs are so fucking good. They’re high quality, evocative, and thematically appropriate, and somehow, this show just KEEPS PRODUCING THEM. Yet “Mr. Greg” takes things a million steps further because it’s a full musical, complete with the vast majority of dialogue and storytelling happening in song. Each of the songs sung here (whose names I don’t know because I refuse to Google them in fear of spoilers) are also some of my favorites, but especially the one Pearl sings, wherein she realizes that she has to move on from her love of Rose Quartz.
I’ll touch on the story told here later, but I also wanted to address how the visuals themselves fit a Broadway production in a number of ways. The Empire City is a fantastic example of that, especially in how it ends. The protagonists are wide-eyed and excited to travel to a city of grandeur and spectacle, and the animation gives us all the glamour from a place like a giant metropolitan city. Then, we transition to the display of wealth and prestige that Greg, Steven, and Pearl experience once they check into the hotel, and that whole sequence is hilarious. But it also looks exactly like a musical, especially all the matching bellhops, the choreographed sequences, and the subject matter of the song. There’s even a joke about the absurdity of musical numbers when one of the servants objects to Pearl messing up the song.
Pearl’s number is the emotional ballad of the piece, and Steven’s song at the end is the one that ties up all the loose ends and conflicts. All of them reference other points in the musical, too, even borrowing melodies and lines from them. All the musicals I love the most do this, too, so perhaps that’s one of the reasons this felt so spectacular to me. But my own preferences aside, I still believe this was an ambitious idea that was executed perfectly, you know???
It’s Over, Isn’t It?
How is this show addressing something as difficult and uncomfortable as this? Pearl has to accept that Rose Quartz fell in love with someone else and not her, which means this is now absolute confirmation that she was in love with Rose. I can’t, y’all. Like I said in the review for “Hit the Diamond,” I’m so used to queer/LGBT representation being a singular thing within the things I read and watch, and THIS SHOW IS OVERFLOWING WITH IT. The beauty of that, aside from the way it makes me cry every time, is that it allows the show to tell a multitude of stories. Pearl’s story is nothing like that of Ruby and Sapphire; instead, it’s much sadder. Pearl grew to love Rose Quartz. Hell, she adored her. Thus, she resented Rose and especially Greg once Rose fell in love with Greg. It’s why her relationships have been strained and awkward with Greg and Steven. They remind her of what she cannot have. That’s not an easy thing to deal with, and I speak from firsthand knowledge. Unrequited love sucks, and it’s even more difficult to cope with it when you’re constantly reminded of it.
But “Mr. Greg” provides an explanation for Rose’s behavior towards Greg without excusing it. Her treatment of him is still unfair. It was unfair at the beginning, and now, it’s just cruel. What is Greg supposed to do? Accept Pearl’s coldness towards him forever? And for what it’s worth, he’s tried to be friendly to her, but in the end, she always rejects him, keeps him at a distance.
And once again, it’s Steven, in all his kindness and empathy, who gets Pearl to realize that instead of feeling like competition, Greg can be a friend, one who deeply understands what it’s like to feel so strongly about Rose Quartz. God, that last song is a heartbreaker, if only because after all these years, Greg and Pearl finally realize just how much that they have in common. Pearl can move on, and Steven unites people through the power of friendship. Y’all, this show was made for me, I swear.
The video for “Mr. Greg” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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