Steven Universe – Cry for Help Review
I was never a big fan of season 1’s Coach Steven. I never found it to be a bad episode, but I wouldn’t have counted it amongst my favorites either. I wouldn’t say that Cry for Help, which in a number of ways serves as a mirror to Coach Steven, is a favorite of mine either, but I think I like it a bit more. In Coach Steven, we learned that the fusion of Amethyst and Garnet into Sugilite resulted in the more abrasive aspects of their personalities being amplified. Sugilite was violent and arrogant, but Cry for Help examines the underlying problems in the bond as we are presented with Pearl and Garnet’s fusion, Sardonyx. The end result is an episode that analyses the relationship between Garnet and the rest of the Gems, and, in doing so, puts some of Sugilite’s previous actions into perspective.
Cry for Help starts off with Steven and Amethyst watching an episode of Crying Breakfast Friends, when it gets interrupted by a distress message from Peridot to Yellow Diamond. The Gems quickly reach the conclusion that she must be using the communication hub that they had destroyed in Coach Steven in order to transmit her message. Sure enough, the find that the tower is now operational, despite that damage that Sugilite had inflicted upon it previously. Steven is quick to suggest that Amethyst and Garnet fuse in order to destroy the tower, but Garnet nixes the idea, stating that Sugilite is benched for the time being due to her actions in Coach Steven. Instead she fuses with Pearl to form Sardonyx. Sardonyx is just as arrogant as her counterpart Sugilite is, but she is more composed and precise. If I had to point to a single element of the episode that didn’t work for me, then it would probably be Sardonyx herself. She’s annoying in her arrogant grandstanding, and, while that is clearly intentional, it goes just beyond simply being amusing and becomes rather irritating.
These annoying qualities do serve an interesting purpose though, in that they disguise the cause of Amethyst’s frustration. Initially, one might assume that her dispirited attitude is due to Sardonyx’s posturing, and, while that certainly plays a role, the episode soon reveals that it isn’t the primary cause. Sardonyx quickly dismantles the tower, but, by the next day, it is operational again. The group returns to once again shut it down, and, while Sardonyx takes it apart, Amethyst has a musical number in which she admits that maybe Pearl is a better match for Garnet. She misses the powerful feeling of being Sugilite, and returning to the communication hub only serves to remind her of her own shortcomings. Upon realizing that Amethyst is struggling with self-doubt, Steven brings her back to the tower at night so that they can perform a stakeout and try and capture Peridot when she returns to repair the damage. However, it’s revealed that the one repairing the tower isn’t Peridot. It’s Pearl.
If I’m being honest, then I should acknowledge that it didn’t actually occur to me that Pearl was the one repairing the tower until about a minute before the reveal. It’s a twist that, with a lesser execution, could have felt telegraphed or unnatural, but works quite well here. Pearl, like Amethyst, looks up to Garnet for being as powerful as she is, and is looking for an excuse to keep fusing with her because she loves the feeling of power that comes with it. Garnet’s reaction, upon learning that Pearl had not only lied to her but had also been effectively sabotaging the mission, is one of harsh anger. Pearl could easily have come off as unlikable in this instance, but the fact that Amethyst never gets angry with her and even comes to her defense helps makes the selfishness of her actions feel less abrasive. However, Garnet cannot overlook the betrayal, and, after fusing with Amethyst to destroy the hub a final time, refuses to speak to Pearl.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- Sardonyx’s design is probably my least favorite of the fusions. She looks and acts like Peridot was fused with Papillon from the anime Busou Renkin. Reminding me of Busou Renkin is generally not a good thing.
- While I may not have been a big fan of the character’s entertainer personality, Alexia Khadime did a good job voicing Sardonyx.
- While trying to pass time, Steven shows Amethyst that, by unfocusing one’s eyes and poking their fingers together, they can make it appear as if there is a tiny sausage floating between their fingers. Amusingly, she complains that it doesn’t work for her until Steven stops to move her hair out of the way of her left eye.
- Musically, Amethyst’s song “Better Off With Her” isn’t a particularly notable one, though it is worth noting that the lyrics do carry a strong sense of emotion with them.
Cry for Help ends with there being a significant rift between two of our main characters, and, it is notable for being the first occasion in which this is the case. The episode does a stellar job at making sure that all parties involved feel relatable, and it even serves to make Sugilite more likable by exploring how Pearl and Amethyst view the process of fusing with Garnet. I’m quite interested in seeing how Steven Universe goes about handling the newly formed divide between its characters.
Despite Sardonyx's showboating, Cry for Help proves to be a solid episode that presents some very interesting character developments towards the end.