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Did “Escapism” Escape Too Much?

Okay, it’s been a couple days. Hopefully, everyone has calmed down a bit. Alright, I’ll be honest, I saw a bit of a panic about this episode and avoided the discourse. Maybe it hasn’t been so bad. Still, let’s just say that “Escapism” wasn’t quite the episode anyone expected, especially in the middle of a Homeworld arc that just saw the Crystal Gems poofed and Stevonnie thrown in prison. What was it? Was it necessary? Let’s talk about it.

escapism psychic ghostscape

Recap

We pick up, of course, where “Together Alone” left off. Stevonnie tries to use their shield (and double shield) to bust out of their prison, and quickly realize they don’t have any physical options. Steven decides to try a mental option instead by using his psychic ghost dream powers to make contact with Bismuth on Earth. He manages to make it back there…but as a Watermelon Steven.

He follows a group of T-posing watermelon Stevens to a village filled with T-posing statues. They begin some sort of ritual Steven doesn’t care about. He leaves to try and escape the island by swimming but just ends up back on shore. After a brief attempt to tell an onlooking watermelon Steven that he wants to build a boat, Steven goes off to collect wood to make one.

This leads him to another group of watermelon Stevens wielding spears and shields. They take him to their village, but the T-posers soon show up to rescue him. Steven ignores the conflict that breaks out and leaves to build his raft. Members of both watermelon groups help him out, and he’s on his way!

Until a watermelon shark attacks, anyway. In expected Steven fashion, he cuddles and kisses the shark into not eating him. Lion finds him floating in the ocean afterwards and carries Steven to the Crystal Gem temple. After some frustration communicating with Greg and Bismuth, he plain writes out in the sand that they are in trouble on Homeworld and need backup.

He wakes up back on Homeworld. As he says to end the episode, “I guess we’ll see what happens.” In two weeks. Two weeks!

Delightful Little Gems

  • I’m not sure who is deader after the part where the watermelon bird fell; me or the bird.
  • Connie is the absolute best. I can’t believe the hate she got after “Together Alone.” Even in a gem prison, with no clue what awaits her, she offers nothing but support and optimism.
  • I’m assuming the Diamonds have imprisoned Pink in that tower before. The Arianne Martell comparisons only grow stronger. First, she’s only trusted to throw parties, now she’s being imprisoned in towers.
  • Steven traveling through the psychic ghost mindscape was straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Say what you want about this episode, but I can’t help but admire how Steven Universe still catches us all off guard like this.

Lingering Questions

  • Will the Watermelon Stevens expand outside their island now? Just how important could they be in the long run? They’re evolving quickly. Honestly, I would LOVE to see them become a major antagonist whenever the Diamonds are done with.
  • How exactly could Greg, Bismuth, and Lion get to Homeworld? Will the Off-Colors arrive on Earth and then have to turn right around? Maybe Bismuth will repair one of the Diamond ships, or build a new one from the wreckage.
  • Why was the “portal” to Earth a white diamond? Maybe White Diamond somehow interfered? I doubt it, but I’m curious.
  • Have Peridot and/or Lapis reformed yet???

Review

Okay, so this is obviously some massively unsubtle foreshadowing and symbolism. We may not understand it all, we may not know exactly what events the watermelon war was meant to symbolize. Something in the past? The future? Is this how Steven escapes Homeworld to end the Diamond Days event?

Obviously, we just saw a preview of something. The bigger question, I guess is whether this was a necessary or properly placed episode.

I really like the episode. It’s sweet, entertaining, obviously meaningful in a way we are not yet sure about, and has a beautiful little ending. Taken on its own merits I don’t have anything negative to say about it. Still, what a jarring, jarring time to air it. We’re right in the middle of one of the most intense arcs to date. Whatever its eventual symbolism, it’s hard not to feel a slight bit disappointed that this wasn’t something else. I feel like a lot of Steven Universe fans would have settled for 11 minutes of Stevonnie trying to escape over an unexpected Watermelon Steven adventure.

I’m not sure where I fall. On one hand, I like the execution and intent of the episode. On the other hand, I can’t help but think of everything Steven could have done, that the fandom has expected for the past week. What about Steven contacting Lars, or somehow ending up in White Pearl’s head? It would be a lot easier to hype myself up about Lars and the off-colors heading to Earth right now.

This isn’t a situation where an episode feels out of place just because of the airing schedule, either. It’s just weird, and even it directly showed us what is about to happen in two weeks, then it still feels weird. Still, it would be a lot worse if this was an episode I didn’t like at all, like “The New Lars.” It’s not. I expect I’ll get over it quickly when the next episode airs, and even quicker when I finally understand everything this episode foreshadowed and symbolized.

Which, by the way, I can’t wait to see the Steven Universe fandom dive into.

The watermelon conflict could not be a clearer representation of war between the Crystal Gems and Homeworld, whether it symbolized Rose’s rebellion or the conflict about to begin on Homeworld. Two different groups consisting of the same “species?” One that’s highly militarized and another seemingly non-violent? Statues that freaking pose exactly like White Diamond? Come on. They even wear the Crystal Gem star.

So what does it all mean? Will Steven leave Homeworld alone thanks to some coalition of Homeworld gems and Crystal Gems? Did Melon Dog represent Lion? Will Steven sacrifice some part of him, literally, to escape? Perhaps Adventure Time remains too strongly in my mind but I remember all the obvious foreshadowing for Finn losing his arm. Seeing Watermelon Steven lose an arm and a leg could be literal. Or maybe it just referenced some sacrifice Steven will need to make.

I have to be honest, the idea of Steven having to leave any of the Crystal Gems or off-colors on Homeworld to continue his rebellion sounds really tantalizing. It would also solve the problem of Bismuth and the inability to have Uzo Aduba as part of the main cast. What better way to undermine the Diamonds then by having active troublemakers in their midst? That way the rebellion can also continue and make progress without Steven’s presence.

You also saw how Steven’s actions as Watermelon Steven prove a larger point about his methods for uniting gemkind. He began the show making the mistake of trying too hard to be Rose. He thought he could only help the Crystal Gems by repeating what his mother did. Now he’s made the same mistake again. He thought he could only help the Diamonds by copying Pink Diamond. In the process, he made the same mistakes she did and failed the same way.

Now, obviously Steven isn’t going to try and change Homeworld by trying to leave it, but I think what “Escapism” ultimately showed is how he needs to be his own person to create the change he wants. He created unity between the two watermelon Steven groups by following his own example, not by appealing to them. I expect the same thing will happen with Homeworld.

Or maybe Greg will just create a few more Stevens to topple the Diamonds. It’s all plausible.

I’m sure the next two weeks will see a lot of theories based on “Escapism.” Anyone who argues this episode was filler or pointless is almost certainly wrong. For one, Steven Universe does not do filler. I’d hope the recent Pink Diamond revelation and all the foreshadowing found in previous episodes proved that much. Secondly, this one was just so obvious about it. It will be meaningful. Just because we don’t know exactly how yet doesn’t change that.

Maybe “Escapism” wasn’t the best episode to toss into the middle of such an important story arc. Maybe it felt a little unsatisfying knowing we need to wait two weeks for an hour-long special concluding Diamond Days. I think we’ll look back at it in time and feel differently, though. And hey, maybe this was just the kind of light tension breaker we needed before whatever happens now.


Images Courtesy of Cartoon Network

Bo
Written By

Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and feels slightly guilty over his love for Villanelle.

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