Mark Watches ‘Steven Universe’: S05E03 – Off Colors

In the third episode of the fifth season of Steven Universe, I have expired. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe. 

I love this show so much.

The Off-Colors

I know that this is technically repetitive because I wrote about it in the last review, but Steven Universe also repeatedly manages to pack a whole lot of worldbuilding into a very small space. In under twelve minutes, look at we get! Look how much detail there is in the Homeworld that we never had before. There’s a literal and figurative underworld in this city, carved out in the hollows of a Kindergarten that hasn’t been used in ages. Even worse, there are those weird Robonoids (excuse me if I get things wrong, SO MANY NAMES WERE THROWN AT ME) that scan all of the Homeworld city in order to find gems to shatter. Yeah, let that sink it: there is an automated process for shattering gems, meant to clean up the city and guarantee that only those gems who have a use to society are allowed to survive.

If that’s unnerving to you, I imagine that was the show’s intent. It’s a deeply disturbing idea, and it’s one that the writers didn’t have to invent. You don’t have to look far to see this phenomenon in our world; it’s in the way we treat the homeless and those in poverty; it’s present in compulsory hetereosexuality; it’s present in the way that our society values certain people over others. In Gem society, it’s just more concrete, more heavily defined, but it’s the same dynamic at hand. Thus, what are gems like Rhodonite, Padparadscha, Fluorite, and the Rutile Twins supposed to do? (Thank you, closing credits, for giving me these names, THEY WENT BY SO QUICKLY.) All of them survived the initial process that would have gotten them shattered, but there’s nowhere for them to live. Nothing for them to do. They’re all wrong by Gem standards!

Thematically, it fits in with what Lars is going through, but more on that in a bit. It’s also part of the larger message of Steven Universe and why Rose Quartz started a rebellion in the first place. People should not be treated like this. We should not be valued by what we can materially contribute to a society! We shouldn’t be punished for looking differently, for behaving differently, for loving differently. Yet in the Homeworld culture, Fluorite is an abomination. SHE IS PERFECT TO ME. Also: SIX FUSIONS AT ONCE??? WHAT THE FUCK THAT IS AMAZING. And Padparadscha has a power I would greatly appreciate on a personal level because I am often confused and it would be lovely to be granted instant clarity, you know?

Of course, we view these gems differently than they’re used to, and that’s certainly the case with Steven, too. These gems are wonderful and unique and magical to him. So… what happens to them? Can Steven help them escape? They might be better situated living on Earth, you know?


I can’t. I can’t believe this show went there, took us to one of the most upsetting places Steven Universe has ever been, and then turned it into something else. Lars’s journey over this show has been a slow burn, though the last batch of episodes I’ve done this month have given the writers a chance to focus on him in truly incredible ways. After addressing his fears and insecurities in “Stuck Together,” “Off Color” gives him a chance to face his terror head on. He’s spent so much of his life running away from the things he is afraid of, even when it comes to things as small as making baklava. (Which I deeply understand because it does seem super hard to make!) Yet in the Kindergarten underneath that Homeworld city, Lars stops running. He defends the Off Colors because he knows it feels right. He destroys two of the Robonoids and uses his body – which the Robonoids cannot see since he has no gem – to block the others from being scanned.

And in the end, he uses that body to destroy the final Robonoid, and he dies. I’m still in shock because… did the show actually go there? I didn’t think so until Steven put his ear to Lars’s chest and failed to hear a heartbeat. Oh my god… Lars died. LARS DIED. I was so upset and then this show had to go and fuck me up again because STEVEN’S TEARS CAN RESURRECT DEAD HUMANS. WHAT THE FUCK. WHAT THE FUCK!!!! I love so dearly that the script for this episode barely let the audience deal with one huge development before moving right into another one. Oh god, and Lars looks so different. What does that mean??? I DON’T EVEN KNOW!!!!

I need another episode now. I’m so glad I committed to fully catching up because I don’t know if I could have been cliffhanger’d here.

The video for “Off Colors” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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