As I suspected in yesterday’s review of “Keeping It Together,” the concept of fusion continues to gain importance in the world of Steven Universe.
Taking place just months after Greg’s “Story for Steven,” Greg gives us another story in “We Need to Talk,” which begins with a brilliant musical number, featuring Rose singing (!).
The sexual undertones between Rose and Greg in “What Can I Do For You?” hit as hard as they can without being overt, with Rose twirling the microphone cord around her finger, close-ups of her lips, and the line “I like the way / Human beings play / I like playing along / Oh!”
But what’s important is a jealous Pearl (whose presumably 80s outfit was gorgeous, by the way) deciding to intimidate Greg by dancing with, stealing a smooch from, and then fusing with Rose into a giant woman who looks straight out of Flashdance. When they both emerge from the fusion, Pearl grins at Greg and drops the microphone.
It’s an awesome sequence, and it’s great to see that in this scene and the next, when she’s oh-so-catty to Greg, Pearl seems to have herself together. Since Rose has been gone, Pearl doesn’t know what to do with herself or even how to justify her existence, so these flashbacks to when Rose was alive show us a side of her we never get to see.
Greg decides to bat away the doubts Pearl planted by trying to fuse with Rose, and the climactic scene of “We Need to Talk” becomes one of the truest portrayals of early love ever put to screen, being adorable and embarrassing in equal measure.
Rose doesn’t seem to understand Greg’s anxieties, trying to quell his worries of his human limitation with, “That’s not a problem! I love humans! You’re all so funny!” Then Greg forgets Rose’s own limitation: “Can you just…talk to me for one second, like a real person?!”
“I’m…not…a real person.”
She really is an alien.
Greg laughs. He cries. Rose apologizes. He tells her not to. And so on.
Ultimately, “We Need to Talk,” one of only a few episodes right on the tail of “Sworn to the Sword” on the list of best Steven Universe episodes, isn’t about fusion. It just uses fusion as a tool to demonstrate different senses of belonging. Greg wonders if he can ever belong with a Gem, and at the end of the episode he tells Connie that she’s not alone in being a human who’s had encounters with fusion. They both do a little cheer of “human beings!” and Steven does the same, but clutching the gem on his stomach, both belonging to both teams and neither. Steven is uncharted territory.
But I think the most interesting part of this sublimely beautiful episode is that Greg and Rose didn’t fuse.
At least, according to our eyes. Garnet sees more than we do, and knows more about fusion.
“Why are they still dancing? It didn’t work!”
“Yes it did.”
From earlier: “Get open, get honest, invent yourselves together.”