'Gem Glow' is the series premiere of Steven Universe, first airing on November 4, 2013.
Steven is extremely upset because they stopped making his favorite snack, Cookie Cats. Lars, one of the teens working at the Big Donut, theorizes (rather coldly) that the product was discontinued because of cutthroat competition from Lion Lickers (a product Steven despises because "they hardly look like lions"). Sadie, the other, nicer employee, gives him the empty Cookie Cat mini-fridge as a keepsake. When he gets home, he finds it invaded by centipede monsters, but the other Crystal Gems deal with them, though Garnet warns that their mother must be near.
Steven describes his sadness over the discontinuing of Cookie Cats and while wrestling a baby centipeetle away from the fridge, finds the freezer full of them! It turns out that on hearing that Steven's favorite snack was going away forever, the Gems felt obliged to do something about it. Amethyst stole the last few Cookie Cats for Steven (though Pearl went back and paid for them). Overjoyed by the Gems' display of affection for him, Steven's gem starts to glow, and when Steven sings the Cookie Cat jingle, he manifests a shield not unlike Captain America's. It ricochets around the room before destroying the TV. The Gems impart their individual wisdom to Steven on how to call his weapon. Pearl describes fractals and mathematical calculations in real time. Amethyst says she doesn't try at all; her weapon just shows when she wants it. Garnet describes becoming one with the cosmic forces of the universe. All of this kind of boggles Steven and leaves him no closer to unlocking his own method of summoning his Gem weapon. He ends up believing that eating Cookie Cats is what does it.
The house is then attacked by the giant Mother Centipeetle, and it traps the Gems on the beach. Steven tries to help, but the shield won't reappear. He even tries scarfing every last one of the Cookie Cats the Gems brought him in hopes of re-manifesting his shield. When the monster destroys the fridge, Steven angrily uses it to attack the Centipeetle and accidentally electrocutes the monster, giving the Gems a chance to finish it off. Only a gemstone is left behind.
The other Gems congratulate Steven and reassure him that someday, he'll fully manifest his power. Steven is tearful that not only are his Cookie Cats gone, but so is his only keepsake. To top that off, he has a sick tummy from having eaten too many.
We Iris Out over Steven as he vomits.
- Big "NO!": The first word of the episode (and show) are Steven yelling "Nooooo!" when he finds out Cookie Cats were discontinued.
- Blunt "Yes": Steven asks Garnet for advice.Steven: So I'm supposed to try really hard, and not try at all, at the same time?
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The "Cookie Cat" theme song has your typical Excuse Plot, then suddenly Steven cries out that "He left his family behind!"
- Casual Danger Dialog: The Gems chat with Steven while killing a bunch of acid-shooting Centipeetles that have invaded the house, topped off by Pearl giving one a Neck Snap without pausing.
- Chekhov's Gun: There is a glowing pink circlet in the fridge that turns out to be important in "Bubble Buddies".
- Distant Reaction Shot: When Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl get their opening to attack the Centipeetle Mother, it cuts to a town-wide shot as the monster explodes into smoke.
- Establishing Character Moment: The Crystal Gems as a group are introduced when Steven walks in on them fighting the Centipeetles while casually making conversation: Amethyst pauses to greet Steven, showing her relatively laid-back attitude. Garnet silently tears a Centipeetle apart to establish her as The Quiet One. Pearl incorporates ballet into her fighting to display her as the perfectionist. Each gets an individual introduction as they try to teach Steven to summon his gem weapon:
- Pearl compares use of a Gem's power to a meticulously planned dance, and uses petals falling from a tree as an example of something that seems random but is actually brought about by innumerable factors working together.
- Amethyst says practicing isn't fun and that her Gem weapon just shows up whenever she needs it to without trying. She demonstrates by pulling out her whip with one hand for some random property damage, all while munching on a doughnut with the other hand.
- When Steven asks if he's supposed to do Pearl and Amethyst's mutually exclusive methods at once, Garnet just says "yes". Then she dramatically proposes letting the cosmic power of the universe flow through you as an alternative.
- Excuse Plot: In-Universe, the Cookie Cat ice cream sandwich apparently has a theme song about Cookie Cat coming from space and leaving his family behind.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: Garnet pulls on each end of a centipeetle until it neatly splits in half, showing its cross-section to be a pinkish ring around a white circle.
- High-Voltage Death: Steven uses the broken freezer to shock the mother centipeetle. This doesn't kill it directly, but lets the Gems finish it off.
- Improvised Weapon: Steven beans the mother Centipeetle with a broken freezer... while it's still plugged in.
- Jingle: Cookie Cat had one that not only told the story of the cosmic kitty, but where you could get the treat here on Earth.
- Mood Whiplash: The Cookie Cat jingle, helped by the cheerful way Steven sings it.Steven: Cookie Cat, he's a pet for your tummy! Cookie Cat, he's super duper yummy! Cookie Cat! HE LEFT HIS FAMILY BEHIND!
- Mourning an Object: At the end of the episode, Steven buries the last Cookie Cat wrappers.
- Neck Snap: Pearl snaps a Centipeetle's neck, while calmly talking to Steven no less.
- Offhand Backhand: Courtesy of Garnet to a baby Centipeetle.
- Oh, No... Not Again!: Amethyst splits the Big Donut's trash bin in half with her whip, then Lars walks in.Lars: [gasps in shock] AGAIN?!?!
- Powers in the First Episode: This is the first time Steven's ever summoned his shield, or been able to use any of his powers for that matter.
- Power-Up Food: Steven's gem twice starts glowing after he eats a Cookie Cat, so he assumes the ice cream is what lets him use his power. He finds out he was wrong when eating a bunch at once does nothing. It's heavily implied what actually brought it about was The Power of Love: first the Gems doing something nice for him by getting the Cookie Cats, and then when they tell him he's a Crystal Gem whether or not he has his powers.
- Sweet and Sour Grapes: Just after Steven decides he'll be happy even if he never figures out how to use his gem and is told he'll still be one of the Crystal Gems, it starts glowing again and he summons his shield.
- Title Theme Drop: An instrumental version of "We Are the Crystal Gems" plays when Steven summons his shield.
- Toilet Humour:Pearl: Calm down, Steven. Breathe; don't force [your power].
Amethyst: Yeah... and try not to poop yourself, either!
Garnet: Please, don't.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: The very last scene of the episode is Steven puking after commenting about how much Cookie Cats he ate in order to activate his newfound Gem powers. Not only does he obscure his face on a dirt hill, the episode Irises Out right there.