Ep. #17 ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Apr. 23rd, 2014 SONG: No SYNOPSIS: Lion takes Steven and Connie to a secret hideout.
Connie introduces Steven to the Dogcopter franchise, a dog that is a helicopter who is also a cop. Steven totally digs it and agrees to go to the latest Dogcopter movie with her. He tries to invite the Crystal Gems, but they're a little less enthusiastic. Who needs Dogcopter when they got magic? Connie asks Steven how they're going to get to the theaters since it's pretty far, but Steven already has a solution: Lion!
Connie is impressed that Steven has a pet lion. In fact, she's impressed with a lot of his things. From the perspective of a nerdy girl who reads numerous fictional novels whilst living a mundane, mostly lonely life, this is an understandable reaction. Connie envies Steven's life because it fits all the requirements of the power fantasies she's likely imagined her entire life. Steven is the archetypical example of the Kid Protagonist With Magic Powers. He lives with three unique women who are unlike this Earth, is training to control his special abilities, and gets to go on awesome adventures. For Connie, it's a literal magical world that she desperately wants to be a part of. Her only excitement right now is tennis practice. For Steven, it's a Tuesday.
Fortunately she's hanging out with the one person who has no issues sharing his life with others. The Crystal Gems are hesitant around Connie because they try to keep a low profile away from humans as much as possible. Steven is half of that and thus has a connection wants a connection with everyone he meets. The two kids hop on Lion so they can go to the movies with style. It takes a bit for Lion to obey, but once he does, he reveals a couple of neat tricks that Steven had no idea he possesses, namely his ability to walk on water and a roar that can open portals to other parts of the world.
Lion does not take them to the movies because that's not how he rolls. He does take them someplace better: a secret cave. A secret Gem cave. Connie is into it, but though Steven is usually on top of Gem-related things, he's far more excited for Dogcopter. Inside the cave is a platform where a podium sporting a rose insignia rests. Steven places his palm on it, activating the podium and producing a handful of swords, armor, torture devices, and even light cannons. This is all well and good, but Connie gets the feeling that she doesn't belong here. Steven wants her here though. Well, he'd rather they be at the movies, but he's enjoying their time together.
Unfortunately Steven accidentally activates a deadly obstacle course, forcing the two to fend for themselves (Lion is no help, he just lies around.) The course is too much for them, so Steven begs Lion to take them out of here. Lion's stoic reaction is hard to make out, but he seems disappointed that Steven wants to leave a very important place, but he obliges and takes the kid to the theater. Connie isn't in the mood to see the film though; having taken a glimpse of Steven's supposedly "magic destiny", it's clear her life pales in comparison. She has no idea why he hangs out with her, but he counters by asking the same. He loves being with Connie and he wants to see Dogcopter. To him, the concept is as magical and amazing as Connie views Steven's world. This does nothing to deter Connie's embarrassment though.
One of the machines from the obstacle course managed to sneak in through the portal, shooting dangerous laser balls in its wake. Steven panics and asks Lion what to do. The creature pulls another trick up his sleeve: a sword. Steven literally fishes a sword out of Lion's glowing forehead, the imagery clearly meant to evoke another Revolutionary Girl Utena reference. Steven has no idea how to use a sword, but Connie helps him out by utilizing her tennis practice, swatting the laser balls back at the machine to destroy it. After that is all said and done, they go to the movies to finally see Dogcopter.
"Lion 2: The Movie" is an interesting duo role reversal. For Connie, seeing Steven's life is a magical dream come true, one she heavily idealizes (neither children knows yet of the danger and impact it will have later on.) To Steven, finding a secret cave is just normal routine and though Gem-related business is something he heavily focuses on, he spends the entire episode enamored over a silly movie instead. Gem stuff will always be there, but Dogcopter is a brand new experience he's never known before. Connie is an experience he's never known before. To Steven, Connie's life is fascinating because he's never had the kind of childhood the average American kid had. His enthusiasm to her interests and lifestyle is genuine.
This creates an equal footing between the two. Connie isn't relegated as the sidekick who barely has much to offer. She is Steven's support, but it's a far more active than most "sidekick" roles usually get. She doesn't stand by the side and offer a word or two, she pitches in and helps in her own way. Steven can't use a sword and the events of the last episode reveals he's not exactly the most disciplined to learn. Connie's tennis lessons and quick thinking is what allows a victory that would have otherwise killed them. It is Connie's skills along with Steven's sword that won the day: a mixture from both their worlds.
I love the subtle foreshadowing and broad hints of Steven Universe. Without ever uttering her name, it is clear the cave belongs to Rose Quartz. If the rose symbol on the podium or the decoration on the sword's handle wasn't enough, then the elaborate use of pink and the light cannons should have been a dead giveaway. The fact Lion took Steven here is an appropriate one, but for what exactly? Did he wanted Steven to learn more about his mother's legacy? Is he simply passing on the mantle that Rose left behind? It makes sense that Steven would be the heir to Rose's belongings and Lion was merely coaxing Steven to accept what is rightfully his. It's hard to say if Lion has any grander design than that, but it adds another mystery to the pile.