Saturday, May 18, 2024

“Letters to Lars” Recaps Beach City’s Changes

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Change has been a recurring theme throughout the new episodes that hit the app on Monday.  “Your Mother and Mine” changed the off-colors’ idea of Rose Quartz and brought them closer to becoming Crystal Gems. “The Big Show” brought change to Sadie and Greg. “Pool Hopping” saw Garnet cope with the changes Steven has undergone. It only makes sense that “Letter to Lars” would continue the trend. A lot has changed in his life, and the lives of his hometown.

Here we are, everyone. One more episode. It’s been Betchen’s (Bo and Gretchen‘s)  pleasure to geek out over these episodes this week, even if it all ended too soon. At least we only have to wait until April for more.

letters for lars end of letter


Naturally, Lars opens this week. He has Rhodonite scanning for the mine mentioned in “Your Mother and Mine” when a letter from Steven pops out of his head. We really wonder what that feels like. Steven wrote the letter to catch Lars up on everything going on in Beach City. The Big Donut is still closed. Ronaldo wanders over wondering why Lars isn’t working there and Steven tells him about Lars being in space. Of course Ronaldo is jealous instead of worried.

Former mayor Dewey comes along as well to bemoan unemployment, and the letter transitions into talking about Nanefua’s election as mayor. We find her holding a meeting at Fish Stew pizza about evacuation plans in the event of another gem incident. Garnet and Pearl even participate and offer ideas. Dewey mopes here as well. We’re sensing a pattern.

Next, Steven catches Lars up on Sadie. Turns out Sadie Killer and the Suspects are preparing for a big show in Beach City. While they discuss their big finale, Dewey interrupts wearing a bed sheet ghost disguise. Surprisingly, Sadie is less concerned with why Dewey is in her house than whether he cut holes in her bed sheet.

Also happening in local entertainment news: Jamie has been doing one-man theater! He also started an improv group that includes both Amethyst and Peridot. Wearing sweaters. Yep, we’re sold. They ask for a word to start and Pearl yells out Steven’s name. Turns out she does that every time. Oh, Bird Mom. They end up arguing over a plumber scene and the necessity of Amethyst turning into improv objects when Dewey interrupts AGAIN. Damn it, buddy, you need a job.

Turns out Greg has started playing wealthy sports, and we find him struggling to play tennis with a barely-trying Garnet. Steven also catches Lars up on the local wrestling scene and Peedee starting his own food truck. Dewey overhears Peedee talking about converting his old mayormobile and slinks off sadly. Steven chases after him and Dewey talks about how everything has changed. All that change has left him lost, and he doesn’t know where he fits anymore.

This leads to what we all expected the second Sadie quit and Nanefua ran for mayor. That’s right, Dewey is the new Donut Boy!

Sure, he names all the donuts after himself, but he’s found a sense of fun and purpose again. The episode ends with Steven and Dewey bringing a new pink donut to Lars’s parents, and it turns out Steven was poking out of Lars’s head to read the letter. Lars thanks him, though he has no idea who a lot of those mentioned were.  My goodness, he HASN’T met Peridot! This needs to change!

Delightful Little Gems

  • Pearl has a cellphone! #callMysteryGirl2k18 (Mystery Girl was texting during the Sadie Killer show so…)
  • D’aww, Lars looked so happy about Sadie’s band.
  • “Being rich has made you weak.” Garnet is on fire in these episodes.
  • Lots of fans complain about the Crystal Gems being disconnected from Beach City. Hopefully these episodes calmed some of that down.

Lingering Questions

  • Who owns the Big Donut? Why did they not hire someone else before Dewey? Does Sadie still work there, technically?
  • Why have we never seen Peridot and Amethyst in the Laughgards before now?

Closing Thoughts

One of the strangest criticisms we’ve seen about seasons four and five of Steven Universe is the idea of the status quo. That nothing about Beach City changes and everything goes back to normal at the end of every episode. Hopefully those fans watched this episode and realized just how much has changed.

Just look at Beach City now compared to when Steven Universe started. The kids are growing up and leading their own lives. There is a new mayor. They’ve been through two alien attacks and a series of abductions. The Crystal Gems have gone from outcasts living in the beach to active participants in the everyday lives of the citizens. Which, by the way, we love.

We don’t dislike townie episodes at all. We’re actually two of the biggest townie fans around if Tumblr is anything to go by, but there’s no doubt they’re more fun with the gems involved. Seeing the gems and humans interacting with each other peaceably and helpfully is everything we want. It shows just how much Steven has been able to facilitate the integration of the two ‘halves’ of his life. Even seeing Peridot and Amethyst in an improv troop with Mr. Smiley and Barb (who would have guess that for any of them??) shows how far the Gems have come to be a part of Beach City, not just it’s aloof protectors. Hopefully they become a mainstay of these slice-of-life episodes.

In a way, it’s an parallel to what we saw last episode with Garnet and Steven. Garnet, and the rest of the Crystal Gems, are used to living apart from the humans they protect. Human beings are interesting and worthy of existence and protection, but not who they would socialize with. When Greg first met the Crystal Gems, they had a fence up to keep humans away from the temple. While Greg becoming closer to Rose mean the fence came down, the Gems have still lived a life apart from Beach City most of the time we’ve known them.

Remember back to the days of “Beach Party” (1×18) when Steven had to organize a beach party to smooth ruffled feelings after Garnet broke the Fish Stew Pizza sign? Yet there Garnet and Pearl are in that same restaurant helping Mayor Nanafua plan evacuation measures. The Gems have started to fully integrate into the Beach City community in a way we truly haven’t seen before, and it’s beautiful.

In the wake of kidnappings perpetrated by Homeworld, we could expect Beach City to be wary of Gems. That’s what our socio-political landscape would tell us—that we ought to be afraid of those who look different from us and come from the same planet as the ‘bad guys’. Given what we’ve been going through as a country, we could easily expect media to take a more suspicious take on the Gems, since Garnet and Pearl are both from Homeworld. Instead, we see that Beach City has zero reservations about them. They trust the Gems to help them. There’s no suspicion, no doubt, no fear, no xenophobia. Just a small town doing whatever it can with the resources it has to make sure that if the bad guys come knocking, everyone is safe. God, Steven Universe knows how to hit it out of the park!

As we keep seeing in this bomb, many people have grown in so many ways. We love how this episode put the spotlight on those fringe members of the cast we’ve loved to watch since season one. Peedee’s first episode was about wanting more responsibility, and here he is running his own food stand. Jamie was an unsatisfied mailman, and now he’s working hard to make his theater dreams come true. Nanefua is the freaking mayor.

Just look at the two former suffering wage slaves of the Big Donut. Sadie fronts a rock band and Lars leads a group of SPACE PIRATE GEMS. Even former mayor Dewey at the end of the episode, like Garnet, recognized how the people around him are growing up and need different things, and has found a purpose that brings him joy and fulfillment.

This episode had a pretty obvious function in the grand scheme of things. Some big plot stuff is probably going to go down when Lars and the off-colors arrive on Earth. We’re learning about Pink Diamond, have finally been “shown” White Diamond, and the Trial recently happened. The time will soon come where all those evacuation plans of Nanefua’s will be necessary. It’s important to show how much Beach City has changed since Peridot and Jasper first fell on sleepy town. We know now that they’re ready, no matter what comes, and that they’re going to stand together to face whatever comes next. When aliens are coming to exact revenge by trying to set loose a planet-destroying monster living in the core, it’s important to see everybody working together.

As with all of us, the citizens of Beach City truly are, stronger together. When fear and terror are on the horizon, we could stand to learn a lot from the cooperative, hopeful, and together-ness oriented attitude that Mayor Nanfua inspires.

Though, not everyone has changed. Come on, Ronaldo, get with the program. Hopefully staring at the moon will give him some perspective, and maybe set up Lapis’ coming episodes?? We can only hope.

Images Courtesy of Cartoon Network

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