Steven Universe Recap: Maximum Capacity

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On last night’s Steven Universe, a somewhat goofy episode takes a sharp turn into emotional territory when Greg and Steven decide to clear out their storage unit. Also, fireworks. Blue ones!

Poor Greg. He fell in love with a ten-foot-tall crystal gem alien woman, and didn’t ask for any of the weirdness that went along with that. Rose was taken away from him when Steven was formed, and yet he’s such a nice guy that he doesn’t resent Steven at all. He’s the show’s anchor to reality; while Steven and the other gems are out saving the universe, he’s running a carwash that does so poorly that he’s semi-homeless. His love for his son is one of the show’s most touching relationships, and his respect but lack of comprehension towards the other gems is one of its most perplexing. We get another piece in that puzzle tonight, though, after Steven calls in Amethyst to help sort through all the crap in their storage unit in time for the new years fireworks the next day.

Greg is immediately skeptical, which he excuses as a desire to not let anyone see what a slob he’s been. Amethyst waves that off with a censor-defying “I’ve seen your junk,” and gets to work. All is well until a discovery is made: Greg’s old tapes of a terrible, terrible sitcom called “Li’l Butler.” It’s a spot-on parody of those overly precious,dull-edged shows from the late eighties/early nineties (Li’l Butler’s catchphrase? “You people have too much money!”), but Greg and Amethyst both seem to know and love it. “Oh,” I hear you think. “They’re going to bond over the show, which will show Greg how down-to-earth the gems can be and will bring them all closer together!” Think again.

Greg and Amethyst end up watching the stupid show all night, never moving, while Steven anxiously waits for them to start actually clearing out the shed. When the time for fireworks arrives, Garnet and Amethyst show up, but not the other two. As Steven wonders what’s going on, Pearl gives us some info: apparently, before Steven was around (And before Rose was gone), Greg and Amethyst would do this for days, holed up somewhere watching the show non-stop. Which of course begs the question: why did they stop?

Pearl has no answer for this, but we do. We cut back to the shed, where all is not well. Greg wants to go hang out with Steven and see the fireworks, but Amethyst doesn’t. Amethyst seems to find the show useful for tuning out the world, because the world as a lot of stuff in it she isn’t ready to deal with. Amethyst went through some heavy trauma a few weeks ago in “On The Run,” and there’s more of it tonight: when Amethyst was rescued from Kindergarten (*shudder*), Rose was the one who took special care of her. Amethyst was lost and confused, and Pearl and Garnet helped her along, but it would seem to be Rose especially who was there for her. But then she met Greg. And, as often happens when people fall in love, they didn’t have a lot of time for everyone else. Which Amethyst, in her poor, wounded head, blames Greg for. Greg wants them to mend their bridges and have a real friendship again, Amethyst wants them to both numb themselves to it with enough Li’l Butler.

And here we see what happened: Amethyst nags Greg to stay with her and watch the show, eventually shape-shifting (Which Greg already has a problem with) to look like Rose, delivering more of that patented, almost-too-real Rebecca Sugar dialog while she’s at it: “I bet you’d stay for her!” To which Greg responds “I want to be friends again, I really do, but I won’t let you do this to me again!” In Amethyst’s attempts to get them closer together, she ends up making them unable to stand each other.

There’s a whole web of messed up emotions between them, which would could probably have done irreparable damage to their relationship had the day not been saved, once again, by Steven. Steven has been trying to convince them to finish clearing out the shed, but now he delivers an expertly written monologue which applies both to the storage unit and to Greg and Amethyst’s history: “I get it. It’s hard to deal with stuff from the past. You want to put it off because there’s tons of it, and it’s really heavy, and it means a lot to you, so it’s hard to let anything go. But you gotta. Because this thing is full!”

Amethyst’s approach to dealing with her and Greg’s past is to forget about it: Just watch hours and hours of television and pretend all that stuff didn’t happen. But that doesn’t work, because the past always shows up again if you don’t reckon with it, which is exactly what happened. Amethyst runs off to be sad by herself, which was probably for the best. She probably went back to her room in the temple, to be surrounded by her own junk for a while, until she could face the music again. We cut to the next morning, when Steven and Greg arrive at the unit to find that the three gems have just finished cleaning it. Amethyst has offered to take all the stuff back to her room in the temple so Greg wouldn’t have to throw any of it away. There’s no big “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you”, just a simple “Thank you, Amethyst” from Greg after he sees the new frame for the picture of him and Rose after the old one was broken earlier in the episode. The past is a delicate object: you can’t fawn over it endlessly, and you can’t callously toss it away. You have to understand it, learn from it, and then move on. The healing isn’t over yet, but it has begun, which is the hardest step.

Final Rating: Great/Mind-Blowingly Amazing

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