Steven Universe – Friend Ship Review
Friend Ship brings a certain degree of closure to the rift between Pearl and Garnet that had been created back at the beginning of this StevenBomb. The Gems are attempting to once again capture Peridot, but in the process of trying to track her they end up getting trapped within an ancient gem warship. Ultimately the episode allows for an excellent examination of aspects of Pearl’s character, but is hindered by her being unnecessarily annoying throughout the first act. This is clearly due to her urgent desire to mend fences with Garnet, but that doesn’t change the fact that it feels slightly excessive given that we’ve already seen how this has impacted her throughout the last few episodes. Strictly speaking, I’m also slightly disappointed that we don’t learn more about the Gems’s past, but that is mainly due to me getting my hopes up over the episode’s premise.
The episode kicks off with the Gems tracking Peridot to the galaxy warp. Through tireless effort, Pearl has found a method of tracking Peridot’s movements through the warp pads by linking her escape pod into the network. Despite this success, her eagerness in catching Peridot and making up for her mistakes causes Pearl to rush in and throws off the group’s rhythm. There is a nice hint at where the story may be going when Peridot states that the Earth has an expiration date, but she ends up fleeing via a warp pad before we can get more information. The Gems are able to track her to South America, but Amethyst is starting to express frustration over the fact that Pearl and Garnet won’t just stop and talk about their problems. It turns out that Peridot has taken refuge in the aforementioned warship which Gems had used to reach the planet prior to the construction of the warp pads. It’s an interesting bit of mythos, but again it gets shuffled aside so that Pearl can rush in half-cocked. As it turns out, Peridot wasn’t planning on using the ship to escape the planet, but instead is using it to trap and eliminate the Crystal Gems. They are able to evade the defense systems for a while, but Garnet and Pearl become trapped in an enclosure designed to crush intruders.
For all my complaining about how irritating I found Pearl’s antics to be, it is still based in an understandable feeling of having disappointed someone close and trying desperately to make things right. The scene where Pearl and Garnet are forced to address the issues that have been dividing them for the past three episodes is, without a doubt, the strongest part of the entire episode. Pearl’s admission of her own insecurities is heartbreaking, and those who felt there might be some significance is Jasper calling her a “lost, defective Pearl” will find those arguments supported by her admission that “[she’s] just a Pearl” and that “[she needs] someone telling [her] what to do.” She claims that she feels lost without someone guiding her, and her desire to fuse was fueled by her yearning to feel Garnet’s confidence and sense of self-security. Garnet, likewise, acknowledges that she isn’t as perfect as Pearl seems to view her, and admits that she literally came apart over what happened. Looking back at this StevenBomb, this scene is probably tied with the one in Keystone Motel where Ruby and Sapphire make amends as being the best scene of the group. Its conclusion is somewhat predictable, but it is no less affecting for it.
At the end of the day, Peridot once again escapes, though she loses her left leg in the process, and the Gems are once again united. All in all, Friend Ship is a very good episode, but it is easy to see how it could have also been slightly more.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- Peridot also seemed a bit more annoying than usual. This is probably due to the amount of gloating that this episode called for. I tend to prefer when she is being detached and analytical.
- Steven Universe will be returning on Thursday, August 6th. Presumably, the show will be returning to a regularly serialized schedule at that point.
- Did everyone else see that clip from SDCC of a young Steven performing “We Are the Crystal Gems” for Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl as they and Greg built the house in front of the temple? Adorable.
- Steven forms three shields through the course of this episode. He’s becoming quite proficient with them.
Friend Ship is an excellent episode that is hindered slightly by some issues with its execution. This Stevenbomb certainly wasn’t as impressive quality-wise as the one that preceded it, but it was still quite good and Friend Ship is one of its standout episodes.
Friend Ship is slightly derailed early on by the annoying aspects of Pearl and Peridot playing off of one another, but, once it gets going, it still proves to be an extremely enjoyable episode.