Steven Universe - Episode 21 "Joking Victim"

Steven Universe -  Episode 21 "Joking Victim"

Ep. #21
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
Aug. 28th, 2014
SONG:
No
SYNOPSIS: A jealous Sadie decides to prank Lars with Steven when he's burned her one too many times.

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Amethyst offers Steven some "special fries", having coated it with fire salt beforehand so she could prank him. The heat is too much for Steven, forcing him to run into the Big Donut and drown it down with soda. Lars trips on the mess Steven made and fakes a back injury so Sadie can clean it up. Concerned, Sadie tells Lars to take the day off to recover, a suggestion Lars happily accepts. Only after he leaves does Sadie realize that she's stuck running the whole store by herself. Steven volunteers to help, so Sadie deputies him as Lars for the day.

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Sadie takes Steven to the the employee room and gives him a brief tour. While the Big Donut is just a job for Sadie, Steven views it as a magical experience and laps it up with ease. Steven loves working at the Big Donut so much he considers Sadie's suggestion that they fire Lars so he can replace him. After all, Lars hardly works as is! Sadie was obviously joking and she'd never fire Lars, mostly because she has feelings for him.

Sadie is aware Lars is a dipwad, but once she got to know him, she realized he has a sweeter side. This isn't inaccurate, "Lars and the Cool Kids" reveal that he can be thankful once he drops the attitude. Lars hides under a facade and puts up an image of "coolness" when he's really kind of a bemused sadsack. Sadie tells Steven a story of their time together: Lars wanted the latest Army of War game, but he was banned from the one place that sold it. He begged Sadie to nab it for him, something she willingly agreed to. After waiting seven hours in line, game in hand, Sadie returned to Lars' place to find it cleaned up. Better, he bought oyster crackers knowing it was her favorite. There, the two spent all night together playing the game. For Lars to go out of his way to recognize Sadie's favorite food, let alone tidy up his pad, is a sincere gesture from him. There's every good indicator that he, too shares affectionate feelings for Sadie as she does him. Heck, the episode potentially hints that the two spent the night in a completely different way, if you catch my drift.

Steven thinks Sadie should repay in kind, so the two decide to take a box of donuts to his place. Unfortunately they find Lars jumping on a trampoline with the cool kids. He also seems to be getting a little too close to Jenny, forcing Sadie to run off in tears. Steven, bless his heart, tries to help, but he doesn't quite get the complexities of older teen romance. Sadie wishes she could burn him back the way he always did her. Steven takes this very literally.

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The next day, Steven brings the fire salt to sprinkle on a donut for Lars. Sadie lectures Steven on the kind of person he could turn into if he resorted to pranks, but when Lars comes to work still faking his back injury, Sadie's anger returns. She dumps the fire salt onto the donut and offers it to Lars. What should have been a comical prank (at least for Steven, Sadie views it as revenge) goes deep in the red...fiery red. Lars literally starts breathing fire, lighting up the Big Donut. Sadie and Steven try to extinguish the flames, but gets nowhere before Lars runs off, setting fire in his path. Sadie regrets tricking Lars, knowing it went too far. 

Lars eventually calms down long enough for Sadie to confess how much that night meant to her and how angry she is that Lars may have just been using her the whole time. She doesn't apologize, but pities Lars when she sees him in such a sorry state. To Lars' credit, he decides not to abandon Sadie or slack off, instead offering to help her clean up the mess. Steven counts this as a victory. So does Amethyst, even if she did nothing but watch the chaos unfold.

I'm off two minds with Sadie's refusal to apologize. The fire salt incident could have gone much worse than it did and what we got wasn't a picnic either. Sadie instantly regrets her actions, but it's troubling that she disses Lars afterwards. On the other hand, the effects of magic has reached something of a mundane point with the citizens of Beach City that fire salt on a donut probably isn't as poignantly deadly as it could have been. And let's face it, he kind of deserves it.

Sadie and Lars' relationship has always been a mixed bag for me. What does Steven Universe have in mind for these two? That in spite of how Lars treats Sadie, it's okay for them to get together? That Sadie pulling a potentially vicious prank is forgiven because she was tricked? Admittely the latter has a greater degree of sympathy attached since "Joking Victim" brings up a serious issue with girls being used by boys as one-time playthings. It's worthy of discussion and something we should be aware of, so it's even more troubling that Sadie readily goes back to Lars, no matter how nice he can be. Later episodes with these two doesn't exactly fill me with glee, but I'd be lying if I didn't have hope that Steven Universe has a fantastic resolution waiting for them by endpoint. I'll remain cautiously optimistic even if their romantic woes haven't convinced me in the slightest. 

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Updated 09/25/2017 By neoyi in the fan site Steven Universe

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