ORIGINAL AIR DATE: Oct. 2nd, 2014
SONG: Yes, “Dear Ol' Dad”
SYNOPSIS: Greg stays at Steven's place until his leg heals.
Pearl tasks herself to fix Greg's van after it got busted from the events of last episode. Greg offers an elegant solution that has resolved many a broken object: duct tape. It's how he made a leg cast for himself! (Note: Kids, do not do this at home.) Steven still feels guilty his father was a minor casualty during Lapis' rampage, but Greg takes it in stride. To make up for it, Steven offers Greg a place in the temple until his leg mends. Pearl is very reluctant with this idea though. Amethyst has a better suggestion: Steven can use his healing powers to fix Greg's leg.
Steven uses his power on Greg, but it doesn't work for some reason. The Crystal Gems assume Steven needs more practice, but at least this means father and son can spend some quality time together. They bond over a montage in all its hilariously inept galore. Their precious time is shortlived though as Steven is called away to a Crystal Gem mission to seal a cracked Geode. Greg plays up his loneliness to gain pity, so Garnet hands him a Warp Whistle (no relations to the Super Mario Bros. 3 item of the same name) to contact them from the Warp Pad. He uses it seconds after they teleport away.
After Greg interrupts Steven a couple of times, he finally gets information on the Geode's purpose. It contains a self-made synthetic storm, but the crack threatens to unleash it. The Gems' bodies will instantly vaporize if the lightning hits them, so it's up to Steven to use his healing abilities to seal it shut. Steven tries, but his powers are still on the fritz. Worse, Greg uses the whistle again just to inform Steven about a funny commercial he saw instead of anything serious.
Steven leaves to get Greg some snacks, but when he returns to ask his father what kind he wants, he sees Greg dancing, both feet very firmly not broken. Steven's powers did work that day when he tried to heal his dad's leg, but Greg faked the injury so he could spend time with his son.
Let's talk a bit about Greg. Way back in my recap of "Laser Light Cannon", I talked about my disdain for the Lazy Father character type. I find the idea of incompetent, uncaring, and often abusive father or father-figures to be a boring, overdone stereotype. Greg had all the markings to play it straight, right down to his sloven appearance, his barely sustainable job, and the fact that he lives in his van. But throughout the show, Greg's personality has been anything up. He's exceptionally goodhearted, optimistic, and even-tempered. His life isn't glamarous, but he takes each day with a skip in his step. Many of his positivity has definitely rubbed off on Steven, including his musical skills.
Importantly, Greg is a subversion to the Lazy Father Trope. He has shown nothing but love and support for his son. "House Guest" reveals that Steven lives with the Crystal Gems because it's part of his training and having a human like Greg constantly around could prove a liability (all but confirmed in the "Ocean Gem/Mirror Gem" two-parter, though he gave it his all regardless.) The temple is where Steven gets all his Gem culture and information from; outside, just within walking distance is where his father and Beach City is to support his human half. Steven and Greg may not be under the same roof right now, but the latter has always been physically and emotionally available for his kid. There has never been a single moment in the show where Greg's interaction with Steven has been negative in the slightest.
Which is why "House Guest" stands out as the only major exception and it comes with a heavy price. What Greg did, however heartfelt it was, was wrong. It's not even a matter of debate, he lied to his kid and guilt-tripped him into spending time with him, unintentionally impacting Steven's self-esteem. It wasn't intentional, Greg had no way of knowing this would happen, but his actions aren't excusable and it marks the only blip in an otherwise stellar parental record.
To Greg's credit, he apologizes immediately (something Steven does agree with) and uses the Warp Whistle on the Warp Pad to transport himself to where the Geode is. He plans to fix the thing himself to make up for his ill-conceived actions, but you don't send a human to do a Gem's job. He can't get anywhere near while the storm is brewing, but he does encourage Steven to give it another try and use his powers. Steven does...but nothing works. Greg steps in and saves the day by using duct tape to seal in the crack, proving once again that duct tape is the solution to life's problems.
After, Pearl managed to fix Greg's van up proper, so he can stop mooching around and move out. He and Steven patch up their differences and life resumes back to normal. For the most part.
It's curious that Steven's healing powers only manifested three episodes ago before he lost it. I wonder if the creators took it out to prevent it from becoming a convenience in later narratives. Whatever the reason is, it feels hasty for Steven to gain a new power only for the story to swipe it away before it had a chance to shine, making the scene where Steven fixes Lapis' gem a bit contrived.
It does contribute to his character arc and his complicated relationship with his mother though. More than anything, Rose's healing powers may be the biggest commentary on her glowing personality. We've been repeatedly that she loved every living thing on Earth and a consistent visual factor to this are the numerous gardens she left in her wake. Even upon her death, her actions and support left an audible mark on those around her, a healing of sorts that opened positive gateways for them. It is fitting that someone as empathetic and caring as Steven would possess this ability, too.
Every power Steven gained managed to stick with him. He's had stumbles, but until now, never enough to lose any of his abilities. Failing to heal his father's leg and later the Geode must have been a severe blow to his confidence. If this had occurred in an earlier episode, the severity of the issue might not have affected Steven as much, but "House Guest" comes after three life-changing episodes. "Mirror/Ocean Gem" questions the Crystal Gems' actions and what, if any of it, might have caused something for the worse, but it's "An Indirect Kiss" that laid the foundation of Steven's heavy burden. There, he revealed how intimidated he was of Rose's legacy as well as a mass of complicated feelings he has of her. The immense pressure likely messed with his emotional state so much that his healing powers are officially on lockdown for the time being.
Slowly, Steven's perception is being challenged and it's up to him to try, adapt, and ultimately work through it.