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Recap / Steven Universe S1E28 "Space Race"

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Do they have The Right Stuff? Probably not.

Steven and the Gems travel to the Galaxy Warp pads, but find they're all inactive. Steven's method of helping is to put Crying Breakfast Friends stickers on each broken pad to identify it as such, and when he asks if they can be repaired, Garnet's answer is a simple "No." The Gems explain they've been broken for thousands of years but used to be able to use them to travel throughout space to Gem-controlled planets. As Pearl describes this to Steven, she becomes melancholy, and Steven realizes she misses space.

Steven asks his father Greg to help him build a spaceship so Pearl can see space again. Although he readily admits a spaceship is out of his skillset, Greg brings Steven to an old barn owned by his aunt and uncle, full of parts they use to build the first ship. They show it to Pearl as a surprise: it is mostly plywood and duct-tape, little better than a soapbox racer. Steven puts on his helmet for the test drive, and Greg lights the sparkler on the back, reminding Steven if the test doesn't go well, there's no shame in bailing.


Pearl is mildly amused that they thought this would get to space. Greg was pretty obviously humoring his son, but now the idea is in Pearl's head since a human, a monkey, and a dog have successfully made it to space, and that although it'd be primitive, it is possible. They test the Mach 2, which is kind of like an Ultralight. Steven lands it successfully, and the ejection seat works, but the whole thing falls apart. Pearl is undaunted, and says she'll work out the bugs in the next one. Greg realizes when Pearl talks about getting a space suit for Steven that Pearl is absolutely serious about going to space, and declares Steven is not allowed to leave the planet.

While Greg is asleep, Pearl shows Steven the Universe Mach 3, and offers to take him on a test run. Greg sleeps heavily through their preparations until the engine roar wakes him. The ship is soon gone too far, too fast, for him to keep up, so he gets on the radio and demands Pearl land.


Pearl: It's just a test flight to the nearest star system. I'll bring him back in fifty years.
Greg: What?! I'll be dead in fifty years!

But Pearl is closer to getting to space than she's been in years, and is determined to make it, and to show Steven. Suddenly the Mach 3 ship begins coming apart around them. Steven tells Pearl, but she ignores him, focused exclusively on her goal of getting back into space. Steven finally has to climb right into her face and tell her that although he knows she misses space and space travel, they're not going to make it and they have to bail.

A tearful Pearl acknowledges that Steven's right, grabs hold of him tightly, and triggers the ejection seat.

At ground level, a horrified Greg gets to see the ship leave a contrail in the sky before exploding. But the parachute soon appears indicating that Steven and Pearl bailed out in time.

As they drift back to earth, Pearl acknowledges that staying on earth is not so bad.

We Iris Out over the sun rising over the horizon.


  • Adult Fear: Greg experiences watches the remains of the Mach 3 crumble in the atmosphere, uncertain if Steven or Pearl made it out alive.
  • An Aesop: Sometimes you just gotta bail. Giving up or retreating is not always a bad thing when pressing onward could be harmful to you or others.
  • Anthropomorphic Food: Steven watches a bizarre cartoon show called Crying Breakfast Friends.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Just like "Ocean Gem", being at the edge of space is no problem for Pearl or Steven (though oddly enough, Pearl explicitly states that Steven needs a space suit before this happens).
  • Big "NO!": Greg lets out one when the Mach 3 explodes before proceeding to frantically look for the ejection seat via binoculars.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Steven admits he's used to being in danger.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Galaxy Warp that was mentioned in "Mirror Gem" makes an appearance.
    • Steven still has the duct tape from the previous episode.
  • Cool Spaceship: The Mach 3 looks cool, but quickly ends up falling apart.
  • Ejection Seat: The Mach 2 and 3 models of the homemade space ship have ejector seats (even the later seat is made form a recliner).
  • Explosive Decompression: Given a nod when Pearl says they need to get Steven a space suit to prevent him from exploding.
  • I Can See My House from Here: Steven says that he can see the temple from the ship.
  • Impossible Genius: Pearl attempts to make a starship far beyond any modern human capability very quickly from old aircraft parts. Subverted at the end though, when the junk starship simply broke apart during liftoff instead of doing what it was supposed to.
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    Steven: We could totally build a spaceship! People have done it before, and we're people!
    Greg: We are people.
  • It Runs in the Family: Potentially hoarding items for the Universe family. Greg comments that his aviator uncle and aunt never really threw anything away, much like with his storage, making him wonder if their family has a problem.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Greg stresses that, sometimes, you have to know when to bail.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others:
    Pearl: I hear what you're saying, and I agree— it would be incredibly dangerous; a fool's errand.
    (Pearl walks behind Greg and pulls some stuffing from his chair)
    Pearl: This chair is disgusting.
  • Latex Space Suit: Pearl gives herself one.
  • Literal Metaphor: Greg grounds Steven, having to clarify that he means Steven must stay on Earth.
  • Metaphorically True: Greg tells Pearl his equation weren't off—because he didn't so any.
  • Meaningful Echo: The first time Pearl talks about being in space, she ends with desolately saying she's stuck here on Earth. Steven pipes, "With me?" as a way of trying to make her feel better. She replies "With you" in a forced tone that implies she knows he's trying but she doesn't feel better. After the failure of the Mach 3, Pearl accepts being stuck on Earth. Steven pipes "With me?" again, and Pearl says "With you" more sincerely.
  • My God, You Are Serious: Greg is exasperated to realize Pearl really intends to go into space.
  • Only Sane Man: Greg clearly realizes that Pearl's getting a bit too into this space thing.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Pearl is normally very protective of Steven, but she was willing to risk it to go back to space.
  • Placebo Eureka Moment: An extended dialogue has Pearl talking herself into making a spaceship while acting as if Greg and Steven were talking along and agreeing with her.
  • Portal Network: The Galaxy Warps allowed the gems to travel to other galaxies. Now, only the warps connecting to Earth still works.
  • Reveal Shot:
    • Steven is covering Pearl's eyes with his hand, and the camera shifts back to show Greg has to lift him up high enough to reach.
    • A closeup makes it appear Greg is lighting some kind of fuse on Steven's first "spaceship", but it turns out to just be a sparkler that he sticks on the back.
    • Pearl takes Steven off of Greg's van, which is seen from the top and end, into the barn. She shows off her new ship, which includes the logo taken off the van. When she fires the ship up, a full view of the van shows Pearl took the paneling off with the decal and also repurposed the tires as landing gear.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: "Company" by-laws allow Greg to disallow Steven from going to space, which Pearl questions unsuccessfully.
    Pearl: Hey! Who made you C.E.O.!?
    Greg: (gesture toward Steven) He did.
  • Serious Business: Pearl REALLY wants to go into space.
  • Show Within a Show: Crying Breakfast Friends featuring anthropomorphic breakfast food which cries.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Greg can be heard talking as Pearl sneaks Steven out after dark.
    Greg: No. Don't give him the banana. That's what he wants.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: Greg curls up into a ball after Steven's latest near-death experience.
    Greg: This kid is killing me!
  • Unusual User Interface: Pearl has piano keys as part of her control interface for the ship.
  • Weekend Inventor: Steven and Greg try to make spaceships in their spare time out of junk, but Pearl ends up doing most of the work.
  • Wrench Wench: Pearl once again proves her stuff by managing to fashion a space-capable plane out of junk from Greg's garage and pieces of Greg's van. It didn't quite make it to space, but it got pretty close.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: When taking Steven out into the atmosphere, Pearl tells Greg that they'll be back from visiting Alpha Centauri in fifty years. To do this, her ship would have to reach approximately 16% the speed of light, or 48,000 km per second. Unless Pearl somehow managed to outfit her junk craft with a Reactionless Drive, the fuel mass and exhaust velocity required would be impossible to obtain with a design anything like what is shown. Currently the fastest moving man-made object ever was the Voyager 1, which at most went about 1/3000 of that speed. Of course, Pearl is a member of an advanced alien species with knowledge of technology unknown to humankind.
  • You Are Grounded: Greg tells Steven he's grounded, but then clarifies that he only means the boy isn't allowed to leave Earth.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Pearl (as well as Garnet and Amethyst) cannot go to the Gem Homeworld because the Galaxy Warp Pad is broken.
    Pearl: And maybe just for a second, from a distance, I could see what's been going on without me.


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