Steven Universe – Chille Tid Review
Chille Tid is a peculiar episode. Much like Keeping it Together, it performs the role of setting up some future plot developments, but Chille Tid does a slightly better job of it by providing the viewers with a bit more information along the way. Surprisingly, Chille Tid also has a leg up on Keeping it Together when it comes to twisted imagery, and I will remind you that Keeping it Together prominently featured a monstrosity formed out of the fragments of defeated gems.
Chille Tid starts off with Steven and the Gems all in a raft searching for signs of Malachite, the fusion of Jasper and Lapis seen in Jailbreak. While Lapis succeeded in using that form to restrain Jasper at the bottom of the ocean, the Gems are concerned regarding what could happen were she to lose control. As Garnet puts it, Malachite is a volatile combination based upon anger and mistrust. Unfortunately, the Gems have found no sign of her and both they and Steven have been worn out by the search. Since Steven requires sleep, they return to the house, and Steven suggests that, since they all look pretty ragged, they should try having a slumber party. Pearl is reluctant since she thinks they should continue the search, but Garnet tell her and Amethyst to try it while she continues the search alone.
Steven tries to explain to Pearl how to sleep, but ultimately falls asleep while explaining, resulting in an odd sitcom-inspired dream. In the dream, he is waiting on Connie to go to a dance. Pearl is acting the part of the doting mother who ends up leaving to chase after a skateboarding Amethyst. Steven goes to answer the door, and finds a very Fonzie-looking two-eyed Garnet, whose catchphrase is apparently “Chille Tid.” Apparently, Chille Tid translates roughly to Chilling Time in Norwegian Bokmål. It’s a phrase that simultaneously summarizes the basic concept behind what Steven is trying to do with the Gems, while also capturing some of the uncanniness of dreams through its sense of both familiarity (It sound similar to something along the lines of “Chill it.”) and the foreign quality of its sound. Steven explains to Garnet that he can’t go to a party on the beach with her because he’s going with Connie to the dance. The doorbell rings again, but, instead of Connie, Lapis Lazuli is standing there with water pouring from her eye sockets and mouth. The image is bizarre to the point of being uncomfortable, and a pit formed in my stomach the moment she appeared. It’s a bizarre comparison, but, due to its sudden twisted imagery, watching that scene felt not unlike watching a scene from Hannibal. I mean that in the best possible way.
Steven wakes with a start, and tries to explain his dream to Pearl, but she quickly points out that it doesn’t make sense because Lapis is at the bottom of the ocean. Steven explains that dreams often don’t make sense, and tries to give her an example, but ultimately puts both of them to sleep in the process. Steven begins dreaming about chasing through the sky after a meowing Dogcopter… but gets swallowed by a disembodied Pearl head, and is then spit out which gives him a speed boost… It’s a dream. Just go with it. He finds himself in a black space where he again encounters Lapis. She questions what he’d doing there, but he insists that he’s just dreaming. Lapis is confused and states that she needs to concentrate, and Steven wakes up to find Amethyst laughing at a sleeping Pearl. Apparently, Pearl has fallen asleep and is projecting her dream via her gem, a dream which involves her surfing on a pizza slice with Rose.
Once Pearl wakes up, she theorizes that Steven might be contacting Lapis through his dreams, and Steven tries to see if he can do it again so he can ask Lapis where she is. This time he finds himself in a lucid dream, and again finds his way to Lapis. She is in a world of dark teal where she is using all of her power to keep Jasper restrained. She refuses to tell Steven where Malachite is, and is briefly dragged under the surface by Jasper who emerges and tries to attack Steven. However, Lapis reestablishes her control and tells Steven that she doesn’t want his help and tells him “I’m not Lapis anymore. We’re Malachite now!” She submerges herself again and this time reemerges in the body of Malachite and yells at Steven to go, at which point he wakes up.
The dreams in this episode are spectacular. We’re talking about Twin Peaks levels of unnerving creativity. They range from fanciful to outright creepy, and there is always an underlying aspect of the uncanny which permeates the entire episode and puts one on edge. While I feel that the first dream definitely had the biggest impact, due to the shock that comes with Lapis’s first appearance, all of the dream sequences have a sense of escalation to them. Each one feels like it reveals more than the last and each one feels like a harbinger for something to come. If I had a complaint, it would be that, with the exception of Steven’s ability to communicate with Gems while dreaming, we don’t really learn much that we didn’t already know. Still, it seems that darkness might be on the horizon, and Chille Tid offered some tantalizing first glimpses. Plus, I had been wondering what would happen with Malachite for a while now, since the conclusion to Jailbreak didn’t exactly seem like the most permanent of arrangements. I’m pleased to say that Steven Universe hasn’t forgotten about Malachite either, and her return, even if it was just in dreams, helped make Chille Tid into one hell of an episode.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- So… does Steven just happen to know random bits of Norwegian language that get incorporated into his dreams?
- This is the second time Dogcopter has shown up in Steven’s dreams. The first was in Lion 3: Straight to Video.
- Pearl is so tired she uses the term lightyears incorrectly, which Amethyst points out and then uses it incorrectly herself.
- Pearl’s outfit during the sitcom sequence reminds me of something Lucy from I Love Lucy might wear. That would explain why the set is in black and white. In a similar vein, I wonder if the skateboarding Amethyst is a reference to Bart Simpson. Her use of the term “Bungacowa” could be seen as an allusion to the character. As someone who doesn’t watch The Simpsons, I Love Lucy, or Happy Days it’s really hard for me to tell if I’m even close to being right.
- “Yeah, all of us together peacefully dozing off. It’ll be like there isn’t a vengeful fusion boiling the ocean with hated!”
Chille Tid is an episode whose purpose is to hint at the trouble that is brewing beneath the surface of Steven Universe, and it does an exceptional job of that. While it is a legitimately fun and humorous episode, there is an underlying sense of unease that makes even the more lighthearted and fanciful aspects of Chille Tid feel slightly off or sinister. It’s like Steven Universe embraced its inner Coraline and it is just as awesome as that sounds.
Chille Tid uses its unnerving visuals and unsettling tone impeccably. It is gloriously creepy in all the right ways.