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Recap / Steven Universe S1E3 "Cheeseburger Backpack"

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Original airdate: November 11th, 2013

Production code: 1020-002

Steven unwraps his package he received from Jamie the mailman to reveal it's a Cheeseburger Backpack. The Gems are not as excited, but Steven promises that he can bring all sorts of useful supplies with him in the backpack, so he'll be helpful on missions. The Gems are willing to let him give it a try since their next mission is to restore the Sea Spire, an old Gem landmark, by returning a moon idol to its proper place there.

Steven rushes to pack until the Gems call him back down. They warp to the location of the temple and run up on several obstacles. The first one is defeated by Steven tying together a bunch of shirts he brought for warmth and using them as a rappelling line. The second obstacle is bunch of razor-sharp crystal shrimp. Pearl uses her gemstone to project a hologram of her plan, but Steven upstages her by throwing bagel sandwich treats that the shrimp immediately pounce on. The third obstacle is a water hazard. Steven has an inflatable raft for that one, but it doesn't work, and Garnet makes do by knocking down a column to use as a bridge.

The time comes to place the idol on the pedestal, and ... oh, no! Steven has forgotten the idol. All he has is the talking "Mr. Queasy" doll. They're more or less the same size and weight, so after asking Garnet if it will work (she shrugs and gives an "I dunno" murmur), they try it. It doesn't work, and the Sea Spire falls apart around them.

Steven feels terrible about having failed the mission, but Amethyst points out how awesome all the other stuff he brought in his Cheeseburger Backpack turned out to be, and how the majority of his packed items were helpful. The raft, which floated away earlier, surfaces, giving the Gems a way home. Even if it is a three-hour paddle.

We Iris Out on Steven offering the gems a soggy bagel.


  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Garnet pats Steven on the head after he clears the gap to the temple, the same way she does in the opening.
  • Awesome Backpack: Steven definitely thinks the Cheeseburger Backpack is one.
  • Bag of Holding: The titular Cheeseburger Backpack can hold much more objects than one should expect from a backpack that size.
  • Brick Joke: Steven tries to cross a stream with an inflatable raft, but it just gets washed downstream and off the tower. At the episode's end, the Gems find it again while swimming around the collapsed temple.
  • Bridge Logic: Garnet knocks over a column to make a bridge over a flooded path.
  • Building Swing: Just jumping across the gap to the the temple isn't possible because its vortex sucks you down into the water, so Steven swings across with a rope made of tied-together clothes and climbs up. Then Amethyst does the same with her whip, carrying Garnet and Pearl with her.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Steven has something in his backpack for almost every problem the Crystal Gems encounter in the temple. Unfortunately, he forgot the most important item.
  • Creator Cameo: Steven's Mr. Queasy doll is voiced by Ian Jones-Quartey, the show's creative director and co-writer/storyboard artist for this episode and others.
  • Delicious Distraction: Steven interrupts Pearl's overly complicated plan to get past the crystal shrimp by just throwing some bagel sandwiches to the side of their path.
    Pearl: How did you know that would work?
    Steven: Well, if I were a shrimp, that's what I would do.
    Amethyst: You are a shrimp.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Unlike almost every other supernatural phenomena shown, neither the crystal shrimp nor the (unseen) giant bird that left the egg would have any clear connection to gemkind established.
    • The episode focuses on keeping an ancient gem site intact via a ritual involving a statue of a "moon goddess" and the position of Earth's moon. Later portrayals of gem civilization would be more technological and less religious/spiritual.
    • After emerging from some water, Pearl and Amethyst gasp for air. Later episodes would show that Gems don't need to breathe.
  • I'm Not Doing That Again: After Steven inspires Amethyst to swing across the vortex while holding the other two Crystal Gems, Pearl tells the two of them "Don't ever do that again!"
  • It's All My Fault: After the waterfall crashes in around the spire and sends it sinking to the bottom of the ocean, Steven cries that it was all his fault.
  • Lunacy: The ritual to repair the temple requires the statue to be placed on top when the moon is in a specific position.
  • Meaningful Background Event: If you pay attention while Steven is packing, you can see the moment he takes the moon goddess statue out of his backpack and forgets to put it back in.
  • Not So Above It All: After some prompting from Amethyst, Pearl joins her in chanting “Cheeseburger backpack!” as they wait to see what Steven will pull out of it next.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: At the beginning of the episode, the Gems tell Steven that they are returning from fighting a giant bird.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • This happens to Steven when he realizes he forgot to pack the statue, which was essential for the mission of the episode.
    • Pearl switches from worrying about the temple's statues to frantically attacking one when she sees it isn't just decaying, but also infested with monsters called crystal shrimp.
  • Red Herring: To accommodate his doll, Mr. Queasy, Steven jettisons a First-Aid kit, and we're led to believe that this will be an important plot point. Turns out they never actually need to use a First-Aid kit.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Steven makes his own sound effects when he pulls out his cheeseburger backpack to show the Gems.
  • Sea Sinkhole: The spire appeared as an intricately designed tower at the center of an enclosed waterfall in the middle of the ocean. After centuries of neglect, the mechanism that keeps the water from closing in on the tower is about to fail. Pearl mentions that the moon goddess statue is the only thing that can repair the spire (and presumably keep the water from crashing down around the structure), but the Crystal Gems ultimately fail to save the spire and have to watch as it is swallowed by the waves.
  • Selective Gravity: The vortex around the temple creates a pull force that only affects what is directly above it.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Steven tries to replace the moon goddess statue with Mr Queasy, but it doesn't work despite 2 of his other plans working fine.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Garnet interrupts Amethyst and Pearl chanting "Cheeseburger backpack" to point out that, because the temple took the warp pad with it when it was destroyed, it's a three-hour paddle to get home.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Pearl works out a plan to get past the shrimp, even demonstrating it with holograms, but then Steven suddenly comes up with and carries out another one.
    Pearl: I just want everyone to know, my plan would have also worked.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Pearl tells Steven that the Gems have to get back to their mission and place the moon goddess statue on top of the Lunar Sea Spire before midnight.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: When Steven starts blaming himself for the spire’s destruction, Pearl, who has spent the whole episode talking about the importance of the spire and wanting to return it to its former glory, reassures him that the spire was already falling apart and that he did a great job working under pressure.