Friday, July 19, 2024

Doug Out Gives Fans a Maheswaran Stakeout

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Everyone recovered from Lion 4 yet? If not, don’t worry. The second episode of Steven Universe’s latest bomb doesn’t strike at the feels quite so hard. Parental issues come up, but nothing like the complexities between Steven and Rose. That would be a lot to ask of any parent/child relationship. No, we get a fun look at Connie and Doug Maheswaran this time around, with a bit of a mystery as well.

That’s right! Betchen is back again to geek out over stakeouts, Funland, and Carmen Sandiego. It will make sense, we promise.

Spoilers for 4×22 “Doug Out” below


Steven and Connie get some fry bits and catch up on the craziness of the human zoo. Then the cops roll up on Steven and he surrenders immediately, assuming his years of ordering off-menu have caught up to him. Only it’s not a cop, it’s Connie’s dad. Turns out his security company was hired by Mr. Smiley because someone is prowling around Funland. He has plans to stakeout the boardwalk to catch the culprit.

He’s happy to be yet another Maheswaran protecting Beach City! To be honest we’re still getting used to the idea of Connie’s parents not only knowing about her Crystal Gem missions, but being totally okay with them. It’s adorable, though. Doug is so supportive of his swashbuckling daughter. Connie and Steven want to help, and Doug decides to let them help. Not before busting Onion for loitering of course.

They spend the night in Doug’s security car, where tries to make the job exciting and expresses jealousy over the exhilarating experiences the Crystal Gems have saving the world. Steven says he wished the CG had a little more waiting around and less inherited intergalactic wars. Oh Steven, we just want you to be happy and loved. Connie finds a box of confiscated clothing that she and Steven use to go undercover. As who you ask?

Carmen Sandiego and Mario! Veronica Cucamanga and Peter Pizzapopolis!

Connie dressed as Carmen Sandiego. It’s everything we never knew we needed.

Mr. Maheswaran declines a disguise of his own, because security guards are serious bidness. After all, they get…flashlights. That he wields like a gun. Come on, Crewniverse. Their hijinks are interrupted by the sound of someone breaking past the gate. They find it ripped apart and enter Funland to investigate further. Connie finds a piece of ripped fabric on the fence that she pockets. Their first clue!

They chase shadows around the boardwalk and end up trapped in one of the rides until Steven stops it. Steven and Connie theorize that the culprit could be a gem mutant or Homeworld gem, which frightens Connie’s father. He puts on a brave face, though. A fence falls atop him as they continue the search, and Steven and Connie chase the shadow responsible.

They corner someone in an alley, who turns out to be a visibly terrified Onion. He tries to warn them about something but they don’t understand. Steven believes Onion was afraid of them, not having recognized them in their disguises. And unfortunately, all the clues easily matched up with Onion, including the ripped clothing Connie found. Mr. Maheswaran is disappointed. With his wife saving lives as a doctor and Connie saving the world as a Crystal Gem, he hoped this stakeout would show her that his job is exciting as well. He thinks being her goofy dad might not be enough for her. (Talk about role reversal from Steven and Rose!)

Connie assures him that she loves that about him. She has a ton of serious things going on, and her silly dad takes her mind off it. Steven talks Doug out of getting Onion in trouble for the fence. So they climb into the car, leaving Onion at Funland. As the car leaves, two gem silhouettes appear behind the boy, one large and square, the other small and winged.

Onion no!

Delightful Little Gems

  • “Fry bits are not garbage.” Except Greg used to fish them out of the garbage. Sorry, Steven.
  • Steven sure loves his awful Italian accent.
  • The noir-style music in the background really set the mood. The Crewniverse thinks of everything.
  • Steven and Connie were just adorable with how they humored Doug.
  • You know, Doug’s pretty handy with that flashlight.

Lingering Questions

  • How much of her Crystal Gem activities do Connie’s parents know about?
  • What exactly was Onion doing at Funland to begin with?
  • Since when does anything follow the laws of physics, Connie? Come on.

Closing Thoughts

And so it begins. Obviously the biggest takeaway from this episode is the final couple seconds. Two new gems, Onion in danger, huge drama setting up for the rest of the Bomb. In a lighthearted episode, those closing seconds were easily the biggest drama.

First, though, we’ll talk about the Maheswarans. Because wow, this family dynamic has changed a lot since we first met them. Remember when Connie worried her parents wouldn’t approve of Steven just because he didn’t have a nuclear family? Or when her own parents angrily refused hospitality to the Universes because of a cold? Remember how Priyanka Maheswaran reacted to Connie wielding a sword? Now Connie goes on missions with their full approval and they even know about Steven going into space.

“How’s my swashbucking swashuckler doing?” — Doug Maheswaran

While we’ve seen plenty of Connie’s mother, we’ve never really seen much of her father. Doug Maheswaran was just the guy who crashes the car in one of Garnet’s future visions and otherwise goes along with his wife. We love this episode just for a closer look at him. He’s all dad jokes and desperate attempts to impress his daughter. In fact, it looks like Connie takes after him more than her mother. Or at least totally gets her dorkiness from him. She’s right at home with his dramatic antics and goofy, playacting seriousness.

In many ways, Connie and her dad’s relationship acts as a foil to Steven’s with Rose. While certainly not as serious as Steven’s relationship with Rose, Connie’s faced her own burdens of expectations with her own parents. Those expectations caused her to keep the truth from her parents regarding Steven and the gems. Her perfectionism and tendency to be overly hard on herself when she makes a mistake (see “Mindful Education”) certainly reflect her parents demands on her. Though from this episode, the expectations seem to come more from her mother than her father, an interesting tidbit that we could compare to Rose if we had the time. Regardless, it’s been rewarding seeing the members of the Maheswaran family open up and accept each other throughout the course of the show. It has not been easy, but they’re the better for their honesty.

Another interesting foil for Rose and Steven is Doug’s confession of insecurity in his job. We can imagine watching your family members save lives in exciting ways would make a more mundane job feel small and unimportant. Besides, what father doesn’t want to be a hero to their daughter? We love that they don’t frame it as jealousy (or worse, emasculating). Rather, Doug just wants his daughter to enjoy spending time with him. He clearly admires her and Priyanka, and wishes he could do exciting things like they do. Perhaps, like Steven, he fears that he won’t live up to their high standards, that his ‘mundane’ job won’t live up to the lives he perceives them as leading. He saw a rare opportunity to wow Connie the same way she and Priyanka wow him.

Yet, like Steven, he eventually admits that he just wants to be someone special and interesting to the ones he cares about. He worries he won’t be enough because their lives are so much more exciting, or at least seem that way. And, like Steven, he learns that who he is is exactly the person he should be. Connie loves him not in spite of his silliness, but because of it. Doug brings much needed levity and joy to his daughter’s life. The episode thus drives home the message from last episode: being a person, no matter what that looks like, is ‘magical destiny’ enough.

Thus the midst of a funny stakeout, we got a nice bit on the Maheswaran family and a reinforcement of how important being a person is. We love it. Connie is the best, and we’ll take whatever we get between her and her parents. We’d love another Doug special at some point. Make it happen Crewniverse. He can battle light beings with a flashlight. It’s poetic, or something.

Tune in tomorrow for Lars baking ube cake!

Images Courtesy of Cartoon Network

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