Steven Universe is the kind of cartoon that embraces its childlike qualities — and "Same Old World" is a perfect example of why that's one of the best things about it. This week's installment is a whole lot quieter than last week's double feature, trading in the fight scenes for a focus on Steven's boyish innocence.
"Same Old World" is a somber joyride
That shift is apparent from the get-go, as we drop in on an excited Peridot recounting Steven and her battle against the Cluster from the previous episode. It's a boastful and not especially good recap — try ours for a clearer picture of what went down last week! — and Steven is clearly disinterested. His attention is elsewhere: with Lapis Lazuli, who's finally back after splitting from the villainous fusion she and Jasper were trapped inside of.
As the official Most Caring Preteen Boy Ever, Steven is worried about the completely exhausted Gem. (Seriously, name another boy Steven's age with this much heart. That's right; you can't do it.) Lapis has been fighting against her fusion prison for so long, and now that she's free from Malachite and Jasper, Steven finds her passed out by herself in the Crystal Gems' barn (which has become a major location for the series lately).
He has sympathy for days, and his concern for Lapis is sweet. Even more endearing, though, is his empathy for Lapis when he discovers her getting ready to leave in the middle of the night. It's remarkable how, despite how much he might want her to stay, Steven doesn't even try to stop Lapis from leaving. She doesn't belong Earth, he admits; this isn't her Homeworld, and it's an uncomfortable fit for the deeply confused Lapis Lazuli.
But Homeworld isn't Lapis' home anymore, either. All of the other Gems have disavowed the planet, with Peridot the most recent convert. Now Lapis, too, recognizes that a kingdom that trusts Jasper and wants to hurt the people she does care about — like Steven — won't accept her.
Everything stays, but it still changes
Is Earth more hospitable, though? What with its ... natural beauty, welcoming people and diverse cities? That's how Steven sells Lapis on his home planet, after he finds that she hasn't ditched it yet after all. Instead of taking off into the night, he convinces her to hop aboard his fly-by tour of Earth's greatest pleasures.
Steven can find the goodness in everything, even the less hospitable parts of his home. (In case you were wondering if jokes about New Jersey could ever get old: No. No, they can't. At least, not to this fellow tri-stater.) Just as he was able to do with Peridot, Steven highlights all of Earth's most memorable and endearing parts, and Lapis cottons on quickly. How could you not? His age-appropriate sense of wonder about the world around him is addictive.
These are the simplest, greatest moments of "Same Old World," but there's some backstory here, too. Lapis reflects upon how she ended up on Earth in the first place when their tour ends by the Galaxy Warp. She's still feeling trapped, she tells Steven as she remembers what it was like to spend a thousand years as the Homeworld Gems' unwitting Gem War weapon and, later, prisoner.
"For a moment, I really felt like things were different, but they're not," she says. "No matter where I go, I'm trapped."
Steven puts it best, though: "Even Jersey changes." You can't really argue with him here. Looks like Lapis Lazuli is now the latest addition to the series' expanding cast of Crystal Gems — as long as she can learn to get along with Peridot, that is.
- I'm trying to decide which state Steven lives in. It has to be New York, right? New Yorkers reserve the most vitriol for their Jersey neighbors.
- Steven is almost infuriatingly wise beyond his years. It's unfair that he's already nailed down that whole "staying positive" thing, on top of being completely unselfish.
- Steven Universe has the best music all-around. There was no song in this episode, but the background music was so choice throughout.
- Peridot is still the best Gem, even if Lapis can't see it. The show seems to agree with me, considering all the extra screen time she's been getting lately.