Steven Universe 2×11 Review: “Keeping It Together”


“The Kindergarten.”

It implies the presence of children, but the Kindergarten of Steven Universe is empty, haunted only by ghosts, dead long ago from a horrible disaster.

The Kindergarten was to be ground zero for the takeover of the world. It now feels like an equally-haunting mass grave.

The Gems, after a confusing episodes-long delay, finally casually decide that Peridot must eventually show up there to complete the Homeworld’s original mission. After learning that Peridot can walk on walls, can fly, and got what she wanted from the Kindergarten, Garnet brings Steven underground. And it’s there that the episode happens.

What Garnet sees is so disturbing that she shows fear, which she’s never so much as hinted at before. She freezes and almost comes undone into Ruby and Sapphire.

To Garnet, fusion is intimacy, so these shattered Gems’ forced intimacy comes across resembling rape. It certainly smacks of Josef Mengele. Garnet tries to make sense of it all in a conversation with herself.

“So this is what Homeworld thinks of fusion!”

“We couldn’t have known they would do this.”

“This is where they’ve been. All the ones we couldn’t find. They’ve been here the whole time.”

“Rose couldn’t have known.”

“This is punishment for the rebellion!”

“It’s not our fault!”

There seems to be an implicit disagreement between Ruby and Sapphire that hinges on Ruby questioning Rose’s leadership based on the fallout of her rebellion, which she thinks should have been anticipated.

Steven Universe has just gone to a very dark place. I just invoked rape and the Holocaust. I mean, jeez.

Garnet and Steven talking back at the temple while finishing up laundry tries to 180 to something softer, as every episode of Steven Universe tries to do, finishing in the same emotional position. But everything in this episode feels of no consequence aside from those few minutes Garnet and Steven spend underground.

Fusion on Steven Universe began feeling kind of gimmicky, as it did in Dragon Ball Z–they even do a fusion dance! Even as Pearl and Amethyst insisted they only did it when absolutely necessary, it seemed like an excuse for another character design and guest star to find their way onto the show.

But with episodes like “Alone Together” and especially “Jailbreak,” when we learned Garnet was made of love, the concept began to take on greater purpose.

“Keep It Together” is that playing out, but in a way none of us could have expected and no one could have wanted.

Score: 8/10

Joey's a 23-year-old who graduated from the University of Minnesota Morris and now lives in Minnesota's Twin Cities. He enjoys art, activism, and politics, especially when he's looking at them through a lens of popular culture. First and foremost he's obsessed with popular music, but aside from what you'd expect, he's also into comic strips, graphic novels, cartoons, and indie games made for mobile phones (his highest tile in Threes is 3,072). He'll tell you that his favorite book of all time is Goodnight Moon. He needs more people in his life who understand the joys of Achewood.