Ingrid and I are re-watching the entire Steven Universe series — yet again — and I thought I’d blog some of my observations. Please note: I’m not writing these as a series summary or recap. I’m just writing down some of my observations and reactions, about individual episodes and the show as a whole. These posts will probably make more sense if you’ve already seen the show, but I hope they inspire the rest of you to check it out, as it really is one of the richest and most emotionally intense things I’ve seen on TV. This post contains spoilers about Steven Universe: the show as a whole, and/or about Episode 10: Steven’s Lion.
“You’re like the cotton candy of the jungle!”
Lion, Lion, Lion, Lion, Lion, Lion, Lion, Lion, LION!
When you ask Steven Universe fans which character they identify with most — not their favorite, but the one they identify with — it seems, from my not-at-all scientific observations, that the most common answers are Amethyst and Pearl.* People who are more anxious and detail-oriented identify deeply with Pearl; people who are more casual and impulsive identify with Amethyst. When I thought about which Stevenverse characters I identified with most, though, for a while I was stuck. I’m anxious, but nowhere near as much as Pearl; I’m impulsive, but nowhere near as much as Amethyst. I have some things in common with many of the characters, but none of them jumped out as my personal stand-in.
And then it struck me: Lion.
Lion is a sensualist, a lover of food and naps. Lion is not very attentive to authority: he’s not defiant of authority, so much as he is baffled by the very idea. When he’s asked or told to do something, he first has to understand why it’s important (or why it would benefit him: in “It Could’ve Been Great,” Steven has to explain to him that the destruction of the earth will mean the loss of treats and naps). Lion also tends to get lost in his own private world, and he can be a little clueless about what other people want from him. But Lion is also intensely affectionate, and fiercely loyal. Lion will go to great lengths to help and protect Steven and others he cares about. (Well, mostly Steven.) Yup — I’m Lion.
Also — kitty! (If you haven’t seen the Lion in a Box video, check it out immediately.)
I’m not sure if this episode has any great revelations or lessons. If there is a lesson here, it’s, “Don’t treat cats as if they were dogs.” Or, if you want to stretch it, “Let people be who they are, and don’t try to force relationships.” Steven first tries playing with Lion as if he were a dog: trying to play fetch with him, teach him tricks, make him stay. But Lion is all cat. He goes his own way, wanders off, stares obliviously into space, falls asleep randomly. At first Steven mistakes this for not caring — but Lion cares. Lion just shows caring in his own way, with his own personality and talents.
If there’s a lesson, it’s that. But I’m not sure this is a big Lesson episode. There is some foreshadowing, some hints of things that become important later. Lion himself is a very mysterious figure, and lots of questions arise as the show develops about who he is, what he is, where he came from, how he came into being. He obviously has some connection with Rose Quartz (there are hints in this episode and it becomes super-obvious later), but we don’t know exactly what that connection is. And of course, there’s the throwaway punchline at the end about “We kept Amethyst,” which becomes hugely important later. But mostly, this episode is about introducing Lion. Lion Lion Lion Lion Lion Lion Lion. Big pink cat that can warp space, and who is now Steven’s friend.
Side note: I’m convinced that the joke about “How can he be invisible and pink?” is a reference to the Invisible Pink Unicorn.
Ingrid notes: Ingrid thinks it’s interesting that the SU character I identify with most is one who’s completely non-verbal.
*Peridot also gets a lot of votes, as does Steven himself.