Steven Universe – Sworn to the Sword Review
Sworn to the Sword is probably bound to be one of my favorite episodes of Steven Universe. Pearl and Connie are two of my favorite characters in the show, but up until this point their interactions with one another have been somewhat limited. Connie has generally served as a character that grounds Steven and keeps him tethered to Earth, much like Greg or Lars & Sadie. However, what sets her apart from those other characters is the fact that she is far from opposed to involving herself in Gem matters, and has displayed a fascination with the magical aspects of Steven’s world, so I was eager to see her attempt to take a more active role in the part of Steven’s life. This is reflected in the wonderful new opening for the show which contains a slightly reworked version of the theme and introduces new visuals. Those visuals have been updated to not only include the Gems in their newer outfits (since each of the Gems has been forced to reform their bodies by now), but also features Connie following after the Universe van and joining the rest of the main cast at the beachside barbecue, while carrying Rose’s sword no less. In the first opening, she was an observer who watched as the van went by, but now she is an active member who chases after them with a weapon of her own. It does a great job of representing her transition from outsider to part of the team.
I’m probably going to spend a while talking about that new opening because, despite being only 22 seconds of the episode, it deserves some attention since Connie’s role isn’t the only one that has changed since the first few episodes. When the show started, Steven held the role of a character who was desperately trying to determine his place in the group, and the opening reflected that in a number of ways. It often presents the Gems as being graceful and in control, and Steven as being… less so. He’s the one who drifts off without control as the teleporter activates in the opening. When Garnet rubs his head, you can see his annoyance at being treated like a child. When the group is running together, he has to rush to try and take his place at the front, and, when it comes time to announce himself, it is made to sound like a rushed self insert. This was all in keeping with much of the first season, but now both he and the Gems are in a different place character wise and this new opening does much to reflect that shift. When the teleporter activates now, it’s because he is the one activating it. When each of the Gems is bringing out their weapons, he’s right alongside them with Rose’s shield, and when each of the Gems rubs his head it’s in a manner of congratulations which he proudly accepts. Overall, what we have here is a wonderful update to an already classic opening, and, when we see the final shot of the Gems looking out over the water, it’s clear that they wouldn’t be complete without all four of them.
Now to talk about the actual episode. The episode kicks off with Connie and Steven having a jam jam (a musical jam about eating jam) with Steven on his ukulele and Connie on her violin. However, as their getting ready to eat a number of seagulls try to get at their food, forcing Connie to chase them off by waving her bow at them. Steven hits upon the idea that Connie should learn sword fighting from Pearl, and they go to ask her for training. It should be noted that Connie isn’t simply following Steven’s lead on this and that it is her desire to be a capable fighter that convinces Pearl to train her. Furthermore, it culminates in a shot of Pearl that reminds me a bit of a notable shot of Garnet from the episode Alone Together… and reminding me of Alone Together is never a bad thing. Pearl takes them to an arena in the sky that bears more than a passing resemblance to the location where she tried to train Steven in Steven the Sword Fighter. The similarities don’t end there as Pearl quickly summons a holo-Pearl training dummy to aid in teaching Connie the basics. My favorite moment in the entire episode might be the point where, upon seeing the dummy, Steven, without even thinking about it, summons a bubble shield around him and Connie. It’s a nice callback to the events of Steven the Sword Fighter which Steven obviously wouldn’t have forgotten quickly. From there, the show goes into a training montage which is accompanied by the song “You’ll Do it for Him.” If I have one issue with Sworn to the Sword, it is Pearl’s tendency to replace “him” in the lyrics with “her.” It occurs enough times to really hammer home the problem that she is facing, but, in doing so, it slightly diminishes the emotional blow of the climax. On its own, this is a minor complaint, and the song itself doesn’t really suffer for it, but I feel that the episode might have been even better had that tic of hers been downplayed. That being said, I appreciate the fact that Steven is quick to pick up on the fact that there is something wrong in Pearl’s approach and intervene.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- It would appear that Steven is now capable of bringing out Rose’s shield at will. This surprised me slightly, since I thought they would have made note of this. Perhaps they did in a previous episode and I overlooked it. If that is the case, let me know in the comments.
- Pearl has a habit of gazing out over the edge of cliffs when thinking about Rose.
- Steven’s book “How to Talk to People” is hilarious. “Step 1: Think of what you want to say. Step 2: Say it.”
- I like the design for Connie’s battle attire. I curious as to whether it will be a recurring aspect. I should also note that she removes her glasses in the opening when she joins the beach party.
- Garnet and Amethyst barely show up in the episode, but the “Garnet, master of comedy,” line is still worth noting.
- It shouldn’t be surprising that Connie gets to show off some improved fighting prowess, but Steven also gets some nice moments towards the end. They really come off as a capable duo, and it’s rewarding to see them working together. …I want to see Stevonnie in combat now.
- Again, Deadman is no doubt overjoyed that I chose to review a show that will be putting out a new episode every day this week. Happy E3, Deadman!
Sworn to the Sword is a masterful episode that blends action, comedy, and heart together to provide an extremely memorable and enjoyable entry in the series. Its only problem is that the final emotional beats don’t land quite as heavily as they might have had the foreshadowing been more subtle. In spite of that, we still end up with a very emotional and heartwarming conclusion, and what is easily the strongest episode of Steven Universe’s second season so far.
Sworn to the Sword is a great episode that serves to redefine the role of a fan favorite character and examines the personal issues of another. It is not to be missed.