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Recap / Steven Universe S1E22 "Steven and the Stevens"

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Steven needs a musical partner for an upcoming show, and uses a time travel device to recruit the perfect bandmate... HIMSELF!


Tropes:

  • Adults Are Useless: The other Gems just stand there dumbfounded as dozens of Steven's Alternate Selves have a massive melee and paradox themselves out of existence. The Stevens are in obvious distress, but the Gems make no attempt to stop the fight. In fairness, their Heroic BSoD is rather understandable.
  • All That Glitters: Steven's suggestion that the small hourglass in a sphere might be what they are looking for is scoffed by Pearl, who insists it has to be the largest and most ornate hour glass in the area.
  • Awful Truth: Extended interaction with his time clones makes Steven come to a harsh realization:
    Steven: I can't believe it... I'm so... annoying!
  • Behind the Black: When Steven asks who's playing the drums, he could have just... looked up to see Amethyst sitting there. But seemingly he didn't see her because she hadn't been on camera yet.
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  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The version of Steven's song he plays at the end readily switches between a happy self-description of the band that fits the tune and detailing how the alternate universe Stevens met their end.
  • Brick Joke: Greg says early on that there will only be fifteen people at the Beach-a-Palooza. It sounds like hyperbole, but at the end there's exactly fourteen, and that's counting the ticket-holder.
  • Buffy Speak: Steven (and the Stevens) refer to the time hourglass as a "time thing".
  • Butterfly of Doom: Steven tries to stop Yellowtail's boat from getting stuck in his dad's carwash using the magic hourglass. Instead, Yellowtail's truck crashes into a utility pole, which falls onto the car wash and starts a huge fire. This immediately puts Steven off of using the hourglass to change the past.
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  • Clingy Aquatic Life: Teleporting out of the flooding Sea Shrine leaves a fish in Amethyst's mouth, an octopus in Garnet's hair, and a lobster hanging off Pearl's behind.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: During the time chase, the Stevens interrupt the ending of "Gem Glow", briefly show up in "Rose's Room", and even appear in an area during the future events of "Ocean Gem".
  • Delinquent Hair: Future Steven grows a pompadour as he begins to let his fame get to his head.
  • Differently Dressed Duplicates: To distinguish each other, the first Steven puts his hair up in a pompadour and writes the numbers 2 through 4 on the faces of the others. When they all go back to the Sea Shrine, the furthest-back Steven is differentiated by wearing a jacket (which he doesn't seem to have any particular reason to wear in-universe).
  • Downer Ending: It's mostly played for Black Comedy, but dozens of Steven's Alternate Selves die in front of him and the Crystal Gems — each of which may have taken an entire timeline with him.
  • Drowning Pit: The temple for the time hourglass is designed so that grabbing the wrong one causes the windows to vanish, flooding it. It drains 100 years later.
  • The End: Instead of an Iris Out, the episode ends with a "The End" card instead.
  • Eureka Moment: In an argument with the Stevens, Steven 1 declares they'd be nothing without him. Then what he's said sinks in, as he realises he can use the Time Thing to get rid of them.
  • Extendable Arms: Garnet shapeshifts to extend her arm to grab Steven and save him from the flooding temple.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The alternate Stevens dissolve into sand as they're erased from history.
  • Fantastic Aesop: Steven's final version of the eponymous song comically summarizes the episode's lesson as "By the way, don't go back in time / Or you'll destroy yourself!"
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Steven can be heard humming the melody of "Steven and the Stevens" on his way to his dad's carwash.
    • During the Stevens' fight while jumping through time, they land in a desert with a boat visible in the sand in the background. A few episodes later, the context of said location is revealed.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Both versions of Steven 1 that show up scare Steven. The second one realizes this, leading to his Heel Realization.
  • Gratuitous Italian: Says the first time-traveling Steven to the one who never time traveled: "Arrivederci!"
  • Heel Realization: Steven 1 regrets his actions when he sees how frightened his past self is of him and how all-out war's broken out between the Stevens.
  • The Hero Dies: The Steven that we follow for most of the episode ends up being erased from history. The one remaining after the episode ends thus has no memory of any of the events that occurred except for all of the other ones attacking each other before disappearing.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Steven 1 destroys the hourglass, destroying all the alternate Stevens (including himself).
  • Killing Your Alternate Self: Steven 1 destroys the hourglass before the Steven furthest in the past can get it, destroying all the Stevens from farther along the timeline, himself included.
  • Last Request: Future Steven returns to the sea shrine. He takes the hourglass from the version of Steven who hadn't used it yet (Past Steven) and smashes it, thus causing the later versions of the hourglass and the other Stevens to never have existed in a massive Ret-Gone. Future Steven then tells Past Steven to find another way to create a band besides Greg before disappearing. Then:
    Future Steven: Stay cool forever, Steven. Arrivederci.
  • Laughing Mad: Steven 1, after aforementioned realization that he can erase the other time duplicates, starts guffawing evilly. It's actually pretty sinister, coming from (a) Steven.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: The Gems have to choose the right hourglass, or the Sea Shrine will flood, and remain flooded for a hundred years. Amethyst, true to form, just grabs one that she likes the look of, causing the place to flood.
  • Low Count Gag:
    Greg: Sorry buddy, I don't think I can play in the concert tonight. I gotta deal with this.
    Steven: You're bailing on Beach-a-Palooza? But the whole town's gonna be there!
    Greg: Steven, that's like 15 people.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The end features Steven and the Crystal Gems singing a cheerful '60s-esque pop song about Steven watching multiple copies of himself die as the timeline repairs itself.
  • Me's a Crowd: There ends up being a roomful of fighting Stevens via time cloning.
  • Mirthless Laughter: Pearl nervously laughs as a rushing wall of water threatens to crush Steven.
  • Mood Whiplash: Dozens of Stevens are being paradoxed out of existence. They are in obvious distress. The original Steven knows he is going to die, and bids farewell to his younger self just before vanishing away. Younger Steven watches in shock. Cut to the only surviving Steven (and the Gems) singing a cute and upbeat Josie and the Pussycats-style song about accidentally creating alternate timelines and watching yourself die. The song itself is the Dark Reprise of a song originally composed and performed by the (now dead) Stevens, keeping the original upbeat tune for extra Lyrical Dissonance. Funny how "we're goin' to make you smile" scans with "by watching myself die".
  • Mundane Utility: Steven gets a time-travel device. He uses it to make a band composed entirely of himself.
  • My Future Self and Me: When Steven runs into himself for the first time, they decide not to change the past, but to play together in a band (and recruit two more of themselves to do so).
  • Mythology Gag: The episode was intended to be a re-work of the pilot and thus contains elements from it.
    • The small hourglass returns and is still a time-traveling device, and Steven uses it to go back in time multiple times (though going back in time creates time clones unlike the pilot, which was Mental Time Travel).
    • The device itself is repeatedly referred to as a "time thing", and the pilot's unshown title was "The Time Thing".
    • Just like in the pilot, Steven smashes it by the end of the episode.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Pearl implies the Crystal Gems came to the Sea Shrine a century ago, but Amethyst caused it to flood then as well.
  • Other Me Annoys Me: Steven (One) finds that the past versions of himself to be quite annoying.
  • Plot Hole: The Gems besides Steven don't have to breathe (and Garnet can swim in lava). There's no reason the Sea Shrine flooding should have kept them from searching it for the time hourglass (either this time or last century).
  • Reaction Shot: In the final scene, Pearl momentarily glances askance at Steven when he mentions what he did with the time hourglass.
  • Ripple Effect Indicator: The Stevens and hourglasses erased from the timeline turn into sand right before the youngest Steven's eyes.
  • Running Gag: Yellowtail's boat being too big to fit in the carwash is repeatedly described as "the boat's fat", usually completely out of context.
  • Spoof Aesop: Steven claims in the ending song that he "learned to stay true to myself by watching myself die", a bizarre non-sequitur as it relates to his brief and confusing experience (from his limited temporal perspective).
  • The Story That Never Was: Steven's attempts at Time Travel eventually cause a huge number of Stevens fighting each across time. The original Steven decides to stop it all by destroying the time travel device before Steven first used it, which destroys the Stevens from all other timelines (including the one who broke the orb). As a result, all events in the episode but the first and last scene, and anyone who could remember them happening, are erased.
  • Sudden Anatomy: Steven 1 has visible canines for a few of his more conniving expressions.
  • Teleport Spam: Steven and the rest of the Stevens bounce all throughout their timeline in an attempt to outmaneuver each other, ending with dozens of Stevens landing at the moment Steven first found the time hourglass.
  • Temporal Paradox: Steven paradoxes his other selves out of existence by destroying the time hourglass, leaving only the original Steven from before he used it.
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    Steven: Dad, dad, fat, it's fat! Fat, fat fat!
    Greg: [look at his own stomach] Rude.
    Steven: Not you! The boat! The boat!
  • Time and Relative Dimensions in Space: The time hourglass can send the user to the time and place that they described (possibly even if they don't know how long ago something happened).
  • Title Drop: Steven, Steven, Steven, and Steven form the band "Steven and the Stevens" and work their name into the chorus of their first song. That's TWO title drops in one.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Pearl is understandably a little concerned when Steven starts incorporating the events of the alternative timeline debacle into the song.
  • Unevil Laugh: Steven 1's wild laughter after taking the furthest-back Steven's hourglass is unhinged, but isn't exactly intimidating. Also, the goofy expression doesn't help either.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Amethyst doesn't seem to notice anything weird about playing drums for a band with three Stevens in it.
    I'm down for whatever.
  • Wasn't That Fun?: Steven's reaction to the Crystal Gems' narrow escape from the flooding Sea Shrine is "Hot potato! We're doing that again, right?"


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