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Recap / Steven Universe S1E35 "Lion 3: Straight to Video"

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Original airdate: December 4th, 2014

Production code: 1026-032

While at the Big Donut, Steven notices there are a lot of packed lunches with Sadie's name on them in the fridge. Sadie explains they're from her mom, who still insists on making lunch for her every day, despite being fully capable of feeding herself. Steven asks if he can take one for himself, and the girl agrees. Back at the temple, Steven enjoys the lunch... but wonders what his own mother would have made him. Gazing up at the portrait of Rose Quartz, he wishes once again that he knew what she's been like.

And then Lion starts to get... clingy.

Very clingy, to the point where Steven wakes up multiple times throughout the night, unable to breathe due to the massive cat lying down on top of him. It frustrates Steven to no end (and rather scares Pearl), but eventually he realizes that Lion isn't just looking for hugs. It turns out that there's a magical pocket dimension in Lion's mane, one filled with a beautiful pink field and a blossoming tree.

Venturing inside despite the lack of air, Steven finds a number of items sitting beneath the tree. There's a tattered pink flag bearing the same symbol as his shield, a sword, one of his father's "Mr. Universe" T-Shirts, a strange bubbled gem, a mysterious chest... and a VHS tape with a label that says, "For Steven".

Remembering that the Big Donut has a VHS player, he rushes off, arriving just as Lars and Sadie begin to open the shop for work. Upon learning what this is all about, Sadie sets up the TV in the back room, and she and Steven watch the film. It's Rose, capturing a peaceful and happy day at the beach with Greg, as they enjoy the animal life and simply goof around. Finally, however, the Gem begins to address Steven specifically;

Rose: Isn't it remarkable, Steven? This world is full of so many possibilities. Each living thing has an entirely unique experience; the sights they see, the sounds they hear, the lives they live, are so complicated and so - simple. I can't wait for you to join them.
Rose: Steven... we can't both exist. I'm going to become half of you. And I need you to know... every moment you love being yourself, that's me, loving you and loving being you! Because you're going to be something extraordinary. You're going to be a human being.
Greg: Hey Rose!
Rose: Take care of them, Steven.

The video ends with Rose and Greg sharing a tender kiss while he caresses Rose's pregnant belly. Lars walks in on Steven and Sadie with tears in their eyes, then slowly backs out of the room. Steven hugs Lion for giving him such a wonderful gift while Sadie calls her mom, to ask her to keep making those packed lunches after all.


  • Beautiful Dreamer: A rare, motherly example when Pearl reveals to Steven that she watches him in his sleep. This obviously creeps Steven out...
    Pearl (to the other Gems): Steven doesn't want me watching him anymore, so one of you two has to do it.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: A nicer version when Steven tells Lion that he wishes to know more about his mother. Lion accomplishes this by trying to shove Steven's face into his mane, oblivious to the fact Steven can't breathe in there.
  • Book Ends: In the beginning, Sadie mentions how her mom still makes her packed lunches for when she's at work, which embarrasses her since she's fully capable of making her own. At the episode's end, after watching Rose's message to Steven with Steven, Sadie comes around and reconciles with her mom.
  • Brick Joke: Early in the episode, Steven tells Lion "blink if you love me" then blows on his eyes to make him blink when Lion just stares. After Steven locks Lion outside, he sees him blink naturally and decides to let him back in.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": Pearl tells Steven that she watches him sleep sometimes. And by "sometimes", she means "often".
  • Cats Are Mean: Lion appears to try to suffocate Steven repeatedly, until he realizes that Lion's actually trying to send him into his mane.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Lion presses his face up to a fridge full of Lion Lickers treats, which first appeared in "Gem Glow". Steven's opinion of them hasn't improved.
    • Lion's mane holds the sword from "Lion 2: The Movie", a Mr. Universe T-shirt from "Laser Light Cannon", and a photo of Greg and Rose with the former eating a hot dog, among other things.
    • Steven gives Lars a "chest high five" as he did in "Lars And The Cool Kids".
    • Steven dreams about Dogcopter, the fictional character first introduced in "Lion 2: The Movie".
    • On the video, Greg does a guitar riff similar to the air guitar riff the Greg simulation did in "Rose's Room".
    • When Steven finds the VHS, he can't play it at his own house because Holo-Pearl destroyed his VCR in "Steven the Sword Fighter". So he remembers the VCR in the back of the Big Donut he saw in "Joking Victim".
  • Crystal-Ball Scheduling: A cross-media example, as the Keep Beach City Weird post corresponding to this episode has Ronaldo talking about an episode of Koala Princess whose plot also involves the main character getting a message from their mother.
  • Deliberate VHS Quality: As the "For Steven" tape is a VHS over a decade old, the picture is somewhat brown, grainy, and has clear tracking lines.
  • Dissimile: Steven describes Lion as a "wonderful pink human being," except he's not, because he's a lion.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The name seems to be a play off the previous Lion episode, which has the subtitle "The Movie" (whereas this title references invoked Direct to Video). As it turns out, a videotape plays a major part in this episode.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The briefly shown Big Donut menu has three strange item: the Dog-Nut (a hotdog with several donuts on it), the Nut-Dog (a hot dog covered in unshelled peanuts; "may contain nuts"), and the Spicy Pretzel ("So spicy, you'll die!")
  • Happier Home Movie: Steven and Sadie find a home movie of Rose Quartz telling Steven how much she loves him, and how she'll become half of who he is when he is born. Both Steven and Sadie are driven to tears from seeing it.
  • Humans Are Special: In Rose Quartz's video, she tells Steven that she looks forward to being half of him — because he'll be a human being.
    Rose Quartz: You're going to be something extraordinary. You're going to be a human being.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: Rose's speech implies that Steven will take her gem when he's born.
  • Iris Out: Rose triggers one in-universe when messing with the effects on Greg's camera.
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: Rose's video tape ends with the camera turning off due to lack of charge, just before she and Greg share a kiss.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: While playing around with the effects on Greg's camera, Rose triggers a star-shaped Iris Out like the kind the show usually ends on, even making the same sound effect.
  • Mood Whiplash: During the home video, Rose gives a speech about how amazing Earth is, right before turning the camera to her face, and with a serious expression, saying: "Steven. We can't both exist."
  • Musical Nod: A small version of Lion's theme is heard when he does his puppy dog eyes.
  • Pocket Dimension: Lion's mane leads to pink dimension that consists of a field with an island covered in Rose's things.
  • Poor Communication Kills: As in "Lion 2: The Movie", Lion can't just tell Steven what to do, so he ends up nearly suffocating him in an attempt to comply with Steven's wish.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Lion gives Steven these (or Steven imagines him doing so) when Steven, upset at Lion sleeping on his face, puts him outside as punishment.
  • Running on All Fours: Shoeing away Lion and Pearl from Steven's bed causes both of them to hurry off on all four.
  • Sequel Episode: This episode can be seen as a resolution to "An Indirect Kiss", as it deals with Steven's desire to learn about his mom firsthand.
  • Shout-Out: Steven sincerely tells Lion, "You're a wonderful pink human being," even though he's not, 'cause he's a lion, which is a reference to when Han Solo in A New Hope tells Jabba the Hutt, "You're a wonderful human being," even though he clearly isn't a human.
  • Smash to Black: Instead of the usual Iris Out.
  • Tear Jerker: In-Universe, Rose's video brings Steven and Sadie to tears.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Rose explains to Steven that inheriting her gemstone means she, in some sense, is part of him.
  • Verbal Backspace:
    Sadie: You kids better hurry it up. Lars and I are closing up—
    (Lars steps into the room with his eye closed, wearing headphones, dancing and humming to music as he chomps on a donut)
    Sadie: I'm closing up for the day.
  • Video Wills: Rose leaves a video for Steven inside Lion that tells him he will enjoy the world and what would be of her when he's born.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Dogcopter is a small, cute-looking dog that in Steven's dream has a deep, authoritative voice that muses philosophically.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The plot of finding an old cassette recording and having to find a compatible player recalls "Speak Like a Child", the 18th episode of Cowboy Bebop; the tape in Steven Universe even directly mimics the contents and purpose of the tape in Cowboy Bebop, as do the way the tapes' audiences react to them in-universe.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Rose knew when she was pregnant, possibly before Steven was even conceived, that she'd cease to exist in her current form upon his birth. She isn't at all upset about it because she accepts Steven coming into existence as worth it.