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Recap / Steven Universe S1E38 "The Test"

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It's a rainy evening in Beach City. Steven and the Gems are playing "Citchen Calamity", one of the many board games in the Universe collection. Steven wins, and as he's going through the closet to find another game for them to play, he runs across the idol that he was supposed to have brought with him during their mission to the Lunar Sea Spire. Steven recalls having forgotten it, and that the Lunar Sea Spire collapsed into the sea, leaving them to have to paddle home for hours. Steven becomes sad, and apologizes for failing the mission. Seeing him upset, Pearl and the other Gems seek to comfort him, but Pearl lets slip that the Lunar Sea Spire mission was a test.

Steven is all the more upset when he finds out the mission was a test, because in his eyes, he failed it! Pearl tries to comfort him some more but only makes it worse by saying that his test should have been much easier than it was, but the Spire was in much worse condition than the Gems had expected. It takes Garnet stepping in and reassuring Steven that they did not plot behind his back, but saw the opportunity and brought him along to see how he did. Steven is even more upset by the idea that the test was supposed to be super easy and he still failed. He insistently asks for another test, and the Gems, realizing he won't let it be, oblige. They put together a dungeon for him, each room designed by one of them. Once Steven makes it through, the Crystal Gems will be waiting at the other end for him. They wish him luck, all light up their gems and open the way for him.

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The first room is Amethyst's room. It's a temple designed to look like her open mouth and the road Steven walks is her tongue. A giant boulder rolls down after him and chases him to where the road ends abruptly in a cliff, leaving a wide gap between where he stands and the door out of the chamber! Steven must grab a vine that resembles her whip and swing to safety. He does it and, proud of himself, continues onward.

The second room is a tiled floor with a door set high in the wall at the other end. Steven wonders how he'll get to it when the room provides a hint: it lights up different floor tiles in order; following that order results in a tune.

Steven: Oh. A music puzzle. This must be Pearl's room. Only she would make me think.

Steven dance-hop-walks across the room following the pattern of the musical lighted tiles. When the song is complete, the rest of the floor turns into stairs leading directly up to the second door. Steven is pleased with himself for figuring it out and declares the test "easy". But then axes begin swinging at him as he climbs the stairs. Not so easy!

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The last door is the one to Garnet's room. It is so hot that Steven's flip-flops sizzle against the floor! He has to carefully time his steps/jumps as there are gaps in the floor through which flames shoot up. Then there's a spiky piledriver coming down from the ceiling! Steven panics and freezes, then realizes it stopped well above him. After a moment or two, he becomes suspicious, and walks back. The piledriver senses his presence and stops above him if any part of him is in its path! Astonished, he jumps back. The flames that shoot up from the floor detour around him. He goes backward to Pearl's room. The axes pass through him. No matter what pattern or which tiles he touches or steps on, the song plays and the stairs generate. He returns to Amethyst's room, where he discovers that not only will the boulder chasing him slow down so as not to hit him, but the gap between the cliff and the final door isn't even a gap. There's an invisible structure there so Steven can't fall. The Gems have rigged every aspect of the test! There is literally no way for Steven to fail. The Gems have given Steven another super-easy test after he said how upset he was at having failed a super easy test!

Furious, Steven walks back up to the top of the dungeon, and climbs over Amethyst's boulder to the top of the structure, which is suspended in mid-air. Steven sees the obstacles and walks past them without harm.

Steven: I... can't believe it. Augh! "It won't be easy." "Good luck, You're gonna need it." How am I supposed to prove myself if you guys keep —

But at the other end, as they promised, the Gems are standing on a floating platform waiting for him with a banner that says CONGRATULATIONS STEVEN. From where he stands, Steven can hear the Gems talking to each other. They are a little worried that Steven hasn't finished the three dungeon tests yet. Pearl is afraid he's hurt himself. Garnet says there's no way because they set it up to be unfailable. Amethyst asks what the point is. Pearl says they have to bolster his confidence because although Steven has been able to bubble and summon a shield twice, he's lost his healing abilities and they want to build up his confidence. They go on to say they're not sure if they're doing a good job training Steven properly because he's the first of his kind: half gem, half-human. Amethyst worries if they're going the right way without Rose to guide them.

Amethyst: We're bad at this.

Steven realizes that the Gems aren't entirely confident that they're doing such a good job by him as teachers.

Steven returns to the rooms, walks determinedly through them, and meets up with the Gems, who cheer him for having succeeded, until they see the barely contained expression he's wearing. Their cheers slow to an Awkward Silence, into which Steven speaks:

I can't believe you guys!

But then he goes on to say the test was insane, and exciting, and thanks them for making such a great test for him. The Gems are pleased he found their test exciting, and obviously feel a little better themselves that he got through it without suspecting what they did. They each drop down to hug him.

Pearl: I'm so proud of you.
Amethyst: Yeah! You da man!
Garnet: I knew you could do it.

Steven realizes the Gems are genuinely proud of him, and that their sincere reaction was worth not losing his temper at them for their misguided good intentions. He closes his eyes and tenderly basks in the hug.

We Iris Out over Steven and the gems hugging.


Tropes:

  • Alliterative Title: Citchen Calamity, the board game.
  • Arc Words: "Believe" comes into play again. Steven is upset that he failed the test, and even more upset when the second test turns out to be rigged so it's impossible for him to fail. He feels like the Gems don't believe in him. But overhearing them talk, he realizes they want very much to help him, but don't believe in themselves entirely when it comes to how to raise him and train him to be a Gem. He ends up pretending he didn't know the test was rigged to bolster their confidence and spare their feelings.
  • Bland-Name Product: Steven lists a series of board games that are obvious references to real life ones, such as Operation and Sorry.
  • Call-Back:
    • The Lunar Sea Spire from "Cheeseburger Backpack" is revealed to have been a test for Steven. Amethyst claims Steven got a 50% instead of failing, calling back to her line "2 out of 4 of your ideas worked. That's 50%." Then Pearl point out the raft turned out to be useful, and says that makes 75%.
    • Pearl mentions that Steven's healing powers don't work, which was a problem in "House Guest" after he seemingly failed to heal Greg's leg (though that actually worked) and the broken dome containing the storm. She hopes that their test might give him the confidence to get them working again.
  • Calvinball: Citchen Calamity is so ridiculously complicated that no one but Steven has any idea what the rules are.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Steven's roof/ceiling has had the hole inexpertly repaired where the Robonoid crashed through in "Warp Tour".
    • Pearl mentions Steven using Rose's bubble and shield, and Steven's healing powers (and him losing them). Steven used the bubble power in "Monster Buddies" and "Secret Team", the shield in "Gem Glow" and "Ocean Gem", and he used his healing spit in "Indirect Kiss" and "Ocean Gem", only for the spit to stop working in "House Guest."
    • The lava and dropping blade platforms look a lot like the ones Garnet and Steven encountered together during "Serious Steven".
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: As Pearl is trying to justify using the Sea Spire as a test, she notes that they didn't expect it to be in such poor condition and the test should have been even easier. Naturally, this doesn't help her case with Steven.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Pearl desperately tries to cover up after accidentally revealing that the Sea Spire was a test. Steven immediately lampshades it.
    Pearl: It wasn't really a test, per se, not in the traditional sense, we just wanted to see if you were ready to go on missions.
    Steven: That's exactly what a test is!
  • Fake Trap: The Crystal Gems' assault course looks like a Death Course, but the traps can't hurt him, and the puzzles open no matter what solution he gives.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing:
    • In Amethysts's room, the boulder slows down ever so slightly to avoid hitting Steven as he jumps for the rope over the pit.
    • In Pearl's room, the pattern of lit-up tiles is inconsistent between the first iteration to the second, showing that the order doesn't matter.
    • In Garnet's test room, the third wall of fire starts to fire before retracting as Steven jumps over the gap. Mere seconds later, the spike column stops just before it would crush Steven, giving incredibly attentive viewers a brief chance to figure out what's going on before Steven does.
  • Flat Joy:
    Garnet: (reading a game card) I'm now the owner of the golden can opener... Yessss.
  • Foregone Victory: Steven's test turns out to be impossible to LOSE because the real purpose of it was to boost his confidence.
  • Group Hug: A truly heartwarming one between Steven and the Gems.
  • Homage:
  • Indy Escape: Steven outruns a giant ball in Amethyst's challenge.
  • Invisible Block: Amethyst's challenge has an invisible bridge between to the exit, which Steven discovers on his trip back through the sections.
  • Minus World: When Amethyst designed her room and made the boulder move to never actually hit Steven, she didn't seem to realize that meant he could push the rock all the way back to the hole it came out of. By climbing through that hole himself, Steven clips through the boundary of the challenge rooms and ends up on top, where he can see some of the props hanging from the ceiling that clip through it.
  • Oh, Crap!: Pearl after realising she said too much.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Pearl is in fine form.
  • Out of the Inferno: Downplayed since the flames in Garnet's challenge are harmless.
  • Parents as People: Discussed by the Crystal Gems.
  • Pun:
    Steven: Looks like Garnet turned up the heat.
  • Rain, Rain, Go Away: Everyone's inside because it's a rainy day.
  • Saying Too Much: Pearl accidentally blurts out that the Sea Spire was meant to be a test for Steven.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Steven decides to keep his discovery to himself so the Gems won't feel bad.
  • Secret Test: Pearl accidentally reveals that the mission to the Lunar Sea Spire turned out to be one.
  • Sequel Episode: To "Cheeseburger Backpack", since the Lunar Sea Spire mission turned out to be a test in disguise.
  • Songs in the Key of Lock: Pearl's challenge involves memorizing tiles that light up, though Steven discovers that the tiles play the right notes no matter what.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Discussed when the Gems note how far Steven has come from the first episode.
    • Steven's attitude completely changes when he retakes the challenges.
  • Unflinching Walk: When Steven retakes the challenges, knowing that they're rigged to let him succeed, he doesn't even bother to run away from Amethyst's boulder, solve Pearl's music puzzle or avoid any of Garnet's hazards. He just walks straight through the rooms.
  • Wham Line: When Amethyst says, "We're bad at this," after a long pause, it becomes clear that this episode is not about a problem that Steven must overcome, but one that Steven needs to help the others overcome.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Amethyst and Garnet give Pearl some crap for accidentally making Steven feel even worse about "failing" the test.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: Pearl questions who made Citchen Calamity such a confusing game.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Inverted with "Citchen Calamity," where the normally kickass letter "K" is swapped out for the calming "C."

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