Steven Universe – Onion Friend Review
Onion Friend is a strange episode. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it is clearly intended to be unusual. In fact, this could be considered to be the case with any scene involving Onion, Beach City’s tiny mute Antichrist. I’ve sometimes wondered if Onion could be a remnant of Rebecca Sugar’s Adventure Time roots, as much of his bizarre actions feel reminiscent of the non-sequitur nature of the early episodes of that series. The problem lies in the fact that, while Onion’s bizarre activities may be amusing for a short gag, it’s difficult to support an entire episode with them. This was previously apparent in season 1’s Onion Trade, which was one of my least favorite episodes of that season. Fortunately, Steven Universe has learned how to approach the subject in a slightly different manner, and the result, while not great, is still enjoyable.
The episode starts off with Steven preparing himself a sandwich for lunch, but feels it isn’t complete. As he’s trying to decide what to have it with, Amethyst enters, but seems uninterested in joining him for the meal. She’s tired of Pearl and Garnet not talking to each other, and is getting depressed because of it. Steven decides to have the sandwich with some chips, but finds Onion clutching the bag in the cabinet, who then runs off with it jumping through the screen in the window. Steven runs after him pleading for him to give it back since Onion doesn’t even seem to eat food. He ends up following Onion into a garage where he finds numerous paintings, all of which have Amethyst as the subject.
He brings Amethyst to the garage to show her the paintings as he assumes that Onion might have a weird fixation on her. However, it turns out that they were painted by Amethyst’s old friend Vidalia, who was previously seen hanging out with Greg’s manager Marty in the flashback episode Story for Steven. After entering the garage and initially threatening them with a shotgun, she and Amethyst begin catching up, and Vidalia mentions that they had drifted apart and Amethyst chalks the reason up to simply being “kids.” It isn’t until Onion runs up to Vidalia, that Steven puts two and two together and realizes that she is Onion’s mother.
Onion suggests, by whispering his weird Jawa language in his mother’s ear, that they invite Steven and Amethyst to dinner. Amethyst, eager to talk more with Vidalia, promptly accepts the offer. During dinner, Vidalia tells Amethyst that she married Yellowtail, and also confirms the long running fan theory that Marty is Sour Cream’s father, though she also states that she doesn’t know where he is, and hasn’t seen him in a while. Onion, meanwhile, makes a bust of Steven out of butter and noodles, and then licks the back of its head only to spit it up onto the table… because he’s Onion.
After dinner, Onion suggests that he show Steven around the house, providing Vidalia and Amethyst and opportunity to talk some more. Steven follows Onion up to his room which contains an odd assortment of items from a shopping cart, to a trampoline, to what appears to be an assortment of ripped up teddy bears. Steven finds a mouse which he initially assumes is Onion’s pet, but Onion insists that Steven feed it to his actual pet, a snake. Steven states that he can’t and hands it to Onion before running off to avert his eyes. Onion follows this up with showing Steven a tape, which turns out to be his birth tape. Finally, Onion indicates for Steven to follow him into an air duct, but Steven is fed up with the strangeness, and goes to get Amethyst.
Before he can ask to to leave, Steven overhears Amethyst opening up to Vidalia about the problems at home, and, rather than cut the conversation short, he decides to return to Onion’s room for a bit longer. Onion leads him through the vent to a small room containing a chest full of G.U.Y.S. (the toys from Onion Trade) as well as G.A.L.S., their female counterpart. Onion shows Steven his Explorer Gal figure, which he insists Steven take. As Steven and Amethyst prepare to leave, Amethyst suggests that Vidalia come by the temple sometime, and that she could bring Onion for Steven to hang out with. Vidalia asks if Steven is up for that, and, as Steven smiles at Onion, Onion opens his mouth to reveal that he had been keeping the mouse in there… because he’s Onion.
What to say about this one… This review is pretty light on analysis, since much of what happens could be written off as pure weirdness on the part of Onion. It’s nice to get a clearer idea of his family structure, but the best part of the episode is clearly the scene of Amethyst talking with Vidalia. It’s rare that she can talk to someone outside of Steven and the Gems, and in a number of ways, Onion Friend does a good job of capturing the childhood sensation of hanging out with someone that you don’t necessarily get along with so that your parent can interact with theirs for a bit. It’s not a deep or exceptionally revealing episode, but it is enjoyable nonetheless.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- Yellowtail doesn’t actually appear in the episode due to being out on his boat.
- The fact that Amethyst knows Marty would seem to suggest that he returned to Beach City after his spat with Greg. I’m curious as to whether we’ll see more of him, either in flashbacks or in present day.
- It seems that they probably weren’t able to get Brian Posehn in to do any lines for Sour Cream, as the character barely reacts to Steven at the dinner table, and immediately goes back to listening to his music. It works surprisingly well given the general sense of weirdness though.
- It’s mildly amusing, in a meta sort of way, that Onion is voiced by Zach Callison, who, of course, also voices Steven.
- So what could the anagram for G.A.L.S. be?
Onion Friend is pretty much everything you might expect from an Onion-centric episode. It is bizarre. There isn’t much else to it, but Amethyst’s interactions with Vidalia will likely help those who aren’t fans of Onion get through it without too much trouble.
Onion Friend is a bizarre episode that feels like a spiritual successor to season 1's Onion Trade, but features enough character moments with Amethyst to sustain and carry its otherwise odd nature.