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Recap / Steven Universe S1E47 "Political Power"

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The Gems—including Steven, to their surprise—gather on the beach for Pearl to test a device she's invented which will hopefully be capable of shorting out the robonoids when Peridot comes to... "meet" them. Unfortunately, it fails to shut down the robonoid, but instead produces an EMP which knocks out all the power in Beach City.
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The next morning, Mayor Dewey appears at the temple, having deduced that the Crystal Gems are usually behind things like this, and wants help restoring the power. Unfortunately for him, the Gems have more important things on their mind. They also refuse to help when Steven attempts to volunteer them to help clean up any mess left from the blackout, so Steven alone sets out with the mayor to try and keep the peace on the boardwalk. Dewey provides surprisingly shrewd advice about how important it is to keep people calm, but ultimately, it's Steven's inspiring speech about cooperation which calms the crowd.

Dewey's advice does allow Steven to finally realize that the Gems are purposefully keeping him in the dark to protect him. The young boy finally confronts them, saying that he wants to know the truth, no matter what. So Garnet tells it straight; Peridot is coming. They don't know when, or with who. They don't know how to fight her advanced technology. And they're afraid.

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Steven acknowledges their fear and indicates that the Gems are always there for him when he's afraid; that even when it's the unknown, they will face it together. As his words make the Gems feel a bit less hopeless, the power returns as if on cue.


Tropes:

  • An Aesop: It's not lies that keep a people together during the bad times, but trust, a strong sense of community, and good leadership that brings them closer.
  • And Here He Comes Now: Pearl verbally announces that now is the perfect time to test her prototype, since it's the middle of night and Steven is sound asleep. Cue Steven standing five feet away, wide awake and smiling innocently.
  • The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People: Downplayed as it's just a blackout and Double Subverted; Mayor Dewey is concerned because he's conscious that "when the sun comes down, so does the city" without electricity but Steven made everybody see that in times of crisis they need to be together as they're "the light of Beach City".
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  • Appeal to Obscurity: Mayor Dewey mentions an "Ocean Town" that also had to deal with some crisis that lead to mass panic and riots. When Steven doesn't recognize the name, Dewey uses it as an example of why they have to keep Beach City calm, lest it share the same fate. If this trope was the mayor's intent is less clear, as Dewey later mentions Ocean Town in a speech and gets a laughing 'Too Soon' thrown at him in response.
  • Batter Up!: Onion seemed prepared to beat up the mayor with a metal baseball bat. In the storyboards, it was a wooden bat with nails in it.
  • Big Black Out: Pearl causes one while testing out her invention.
  • Bowdlerise: The original storyboard for the episode had nails embedded in Onion's bat.
  • Bread and Circuses: Mayor Dewey tells Steven that his job is essentially to reassure the people so they don't pay too much attention to the fact that their town is threatened by magical horrors on a regular basis.
    The people of Beach City can't handle a situation like this. They need their electronic distractions so they don't notice this town is a magnet for disaster!
  • Breather Episode: After a run of five rather tense episodes, the characters get a brief bit of calm before the storm of the upcoming two-parter.
  • Brick Joke: Dewey mentions his van, which has his head on top, is sometimes confused with the truck of a certain exterminator he claims ripped him off. When the people confront Dewey about the lights still being out by sundown, there's a van in the background with a fly head on it and "Your Fly Is Down" written on the side.
  • Call-Back: Pearl repaired one of the Robonoids they gathered in "On the Run" in an attempt to try and duplicate Peridot's EMP.
    • Steven explains that Mayor Dewey was keeping secrets from the citizens to protect them, as he learned from Pearl that Rose Quartz used to do that, as a great leader, in "Rose's Scabbard".
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Steven didn't get that his "sisters" the mayor was referring to are the Gems.
    • Pearl doesn't get why humans would be so concerned with the power being gone. After all, they did just fine back when they were hunter-gatherers... thousands of years ago.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Steven sees the Quartizine Trio from "Lion 2: The Movie" and "Rose's Scabbard", hidden under a tarp under his house. His reaction implies they took it from Rose's armory without mentioning it to him.
    • Steven tried to heat a melted "Crying Breakfast Friends" snack in his not-working microwave.
  • Crush Blush: Mayor Dewey, shortly after referring to Pearl as "the hot one", is blushingly flustered for a second upon encountering her. He starts to speak in a sexy voice before remembering he's here in an official capacity. He has to clear his throat and start over.
  • Curse Cut Short: Lars calls having to lug out melted ice cream a "pain in my-" before being cut off by sitting on said ice cream and getting it all over his pants.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Steven helps a Mayor Dewey, a politician, during a power outage. Moreover, just as the town has no power, Dewey says the he doesn't actually have any power to make things better, just to make people feel better.
  • Dressed in Layers: As a fun Lampshade on Steven's Limited Wardrobe.
    Pearl I might have to take some parts out of the washing machine. Steven, you might have to wear the same shirt for a while.
    Steven: No problem! (Takes off shirt to reveal an identical shirt)
  • EMP: Pearl develops a device to shut down Peridot's Robonoids, probably drawing inspiration from the one Peridot herself used when she first appeared. It succeeds in knocking out power to the town, and knocking the Gems off their feet, but the Robonoid is unaffected.
  • Empty Promise: Mayor Dewey says it's essential for a politician to promise that things will be okay, even if he has no control or knowledge of the situation, so that the people won't panic. This episode partially serves to show that politicians are people too, and that in the long run, there is very little that they can accomplish since it's essentially one person maintaining the stability of a community to function as efficiently as it does. Steven realizes the Gems are doing the same things to him when it comes to Peridot so that he won't be afraid.
    Dewey: Look Steven: it's not lying when you're the mayor. It's politics.
  • Epic Fail: Pearl's EMP prototype. It deactivates everything but the intended target, a Robonoid that Pearl repaired specifically for the test.
  • Eureka Moment: When Steven tells the townspeople that Mayor Dewey only lied to protect them, he realizes that the Gems have been doing the same.
  • False Reassurance:
    Pearl: Oh, don't worry about that. The power should be back on as early as tonight or as late as... never.
  • Hey, You!: Mayor Dewey hasn't even bothered to learn the Gems' names, just referring to them as "the tall one", "the purple one" and "the hot one".
  • Irony: Pearl downplays the effects of knocking out Beach City's power, saying that if humans could get by as hunter-gatherers thousands of years ago they'll be fine now. The technological advances the Homeworld Gems have made in that time period are exactly what has the Crystal Gems so worried.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mayor Dewey comes off as a jerk when he's blaming the Crystal Gems for shorting out the power to the town, but he's entirely right (even if their experiments are important, they could have done them in an unpopulated area), and he accurately recognizes just how dangerous the power outage could be. Likewise, while he lies to everyone that things will be all right, in his defense it (while still implied to be not quite the right choice) is at least coherent and reasonable.
  • Last Note Nightmare: Following the credits from "The Message", this episode's are entirely static—already scary enough—with an abrupt crescendo emphasized by a Scare Chord.
  • Lightswitch Surprise: The episode ends with the power returning to Beach City.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: After an entire season, Steven calls the Gems on this and they finally open the metaphorical lock.
  • No, You: During an argument about what to do about Peridot's imminent arrival, Garnet tells Amethyst to calm down. Amethyst tells her to calm down before Steven interrupts.
  • Noodle Incident: Mayor Dewey repeatedly mentions something horrible that happened to a place called "Ocean Town". We're never told what exactly happened, but whatever it was, it's implied to have been very gruesome.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: The citizens of Beach City get angered with Dewey when the power isn't back by dark, and Nanefua convinces several of them to tip his truck while Onion seems ready to start attacking him with a bat.
  • Produce Pelting: The unhappy citizens of Beach City throw Mayor Dewey's pins back at him.
  • Relative Error: Mayor Dewey thinks the Gems are Steven's sisters.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: During his Rousing Speech, Steven asks if the townspeople really want to hurt each other. When they respond with unsure murmurs, he has to add "Of course not!"
  • Rousing Speech: Steven talks down the mob by reminding them that they are all capable of handling themselves, and will persevere even if the power stays off for a long time.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The Crystal Gems finally quit hiding things from Steven and tell him the truth: Peridot's coming. She's not alone. She has advanced technology they probably won't be able stand against. And they're scared. Steven reminds them they've been scared before and that they always find a way. The Gems nod in agreement — and then the lights come back on.
  • Smash to Black: The episode cuts to credits without an Iris Out over Beach City's lights coming back on.
  • Tempting Fate: Pearl says she thinks Steven is asleep only for him to show up right in front of her.
  • Too Soon: In-universe, Fryman jokingly says this when Mayor Dewey brings up Ocean Town in his speech.
  • Verbal Backspace:
    Steven: He's right. Mayor Dewey, this is our responsibility. We'll help you clean up this mess.
    Garnet: (off-screen) No, we won't!
    Steven: I'll help you clean up this mess.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: The townspeople are worried about their livelihoods if the town is without power for an extended period, but Steven assures them that every last one of them is capable of handling it.

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