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Recap / Steven Universe S2E6 "Shirt Club"

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NOTE: "Shirt Club" was meant to be aired as part of Season 1 but Cartoon Network's Steven Bomb event in 2015 caused them to air some of the episodes out of order. This episode is the third of 3 that were shifted to season 2.
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Steven is working on a drawing of his dad, and runs eagerly down to show the Gems his work. He explains to them that it's for flyers to advertise that Greg is giving guitar lessons. The Gems, still lacking a solid grasp of human idioms, don't entirely understand why the poster looks as it does. Amethyst asks what the cartoon lines for Greg's teeth are. Pearl asks what the lightning bolts are for.

Steven: I wanted to show how my dad rocks on the guitar!
Garnet: Then you should have rocks falling out of the guitar.
Steven:: It's a little too late for notes. This is permanent marker.

Steven goes to the Big Donut to start posting his flyers. As he is about to begin, Buck Dewey arrives, and looks at the selections. He asks for a caprese salad, which the Big Donut does not carry. Lars is still desperate to impress the Cool Kids by his immediate offer to get Buck a salad.

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Lars: Do-nut worry Buck! I'll whip you up a salad, no sweat! I'll be right back!
Sadie: Lars! We don't even have vegetables here!

Steven and Buck talk for a moment about the flyers. Seeing the art, Buck says it would make excellent T-shirts. He and Steven high five on it, and head to the warehouse. Mayor Dewey, who is working on his re-election campaign, is already there with a silk screen machine. He cheerfully explains he's been doing this for years, and runs across a drawing Buck did when he was little. It's an equally amateurish drawing of Mayor Dewey, who shows it to Steven with fatherly pride. Buck is immediately embarrassed by his dad, who is trying so hard to sling slang the way kids talk. He shoves his dad out, then gets to work with Steven.

Steven asks how to get the T-shirts out, and Buck decides they have to be radical about it. They get a T-shirt cannon and fire them at Sour Cream, Ronaldo, and Lars. Jenny Pizza finds one as well, and despite Kiki's misgivings, thinks the shirt is hilarious and fun. Buck and Steven share a toast of pizza that the shirts are a success.

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To Steven's dismay, though, nobody is coming by It's A Wash for lessons. They're coming by for selfies and driving by to honk at him and compliment him, but no lessons. Steven talks to Buck and says they have to stop promoting the shirts because they're not getting Greg any business. Buck replies saying that that was never the point. The shirts were meant to be funny because Steven's art is so naive and innocent, from the love for his father. But he doesn't seem to care or understand that Steven is upset about Greg not getting any business. Buck states plainly that was never his purpose as a tastemaker, and that he's going to make taste forever. Well, forever after his father's campaign event.

Upset, Steven rushes home to the Gems, saying it's an emergency. They ask what the problem is.

Steven: ... he's just using my art in a way I disagree with.

The Gems, once discovering that the shirts don't cause people to catch fire, sap their will to live, or do anything else dangerous, refuse to assist. Instead, Garnet advises Steven to polish his conflict resolution skills. She tells him to make his problem known so that an understanding can be reached.

Steven walks off muttering to himself, and before long, has reloaded the T-shirt cannon. He begins firing at the gathering on the boardwalk where Mayor Dewey is trying to do a spontaneous, off-the-cuff speech about dedicating a new bench. The T-shirts in this barrage, though, are Buck's childish and innocent, love-driven artwork from before: A picture of Mayor Dewey with "Elect My Dad" in Buck's childish hand writing. Mayor Dewey isn't upset at the interruption; he's actually sort of touched to see his son's artwork on the T-shirts, and settles down, admitting that the new bench is sort of comfortable.

Buck looks up as the crowd declares the shirts cooler and funnier than "Guitar Dad". A Single Tear rolls down his cheek from behind his shades.

Back at It's A Wash, Steven proudly presents his father with the very last, and therefore super-limited-edition "Guitar Dad" T-Shirt.

Buck arrives, and Greg, resigned to the weird fame he has gotten as "Guitar Dad", asks if Buck wants a selfie. Buck announces, tearing open his button-down to reveal he's wearing a Guitar Dad shirt, that he actually wants a lesson.

Tropes

  • 555: Guitar Dad's number is 555-3682.
  • An Aesop:
    • Don't do anything to others that you wouldn't want done to you.
    • Alternatively, don't make a joke out of amateur art, especially when it's done by children. (which ended up being extremely relevant, since the episode happened to run shortly after several people mocked a younger fan's self-insert animation.)
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Mayor Dewey is a never-ending embarrassment to his son, especially with his lame attempts to get the youth vote.
  • Brutal Honesty: Buck tells Steven his drawing really is terrible.
  • Call-Back: To "Lars and the Cool Kids", in which Lars is desperate for the attention of the Cool Kids: Sour Cream, Jenny Pizza, and Buck Dewey. He's still desperate for their attention here; so much so that he runs out out of Big Donut on the clock to get vegetables to make Buck a salad.
  • Conspicuously Public Assassination: Hilariously played with. Steven, wearing shades, fires a T-shirt at Mayor Dewey from a secluded rooftop, causing the crowd — including the Mayor's security — to panic.
  • Continuity Nod: Steven uses the T-shirt cannon from his father's storage unit.
  • Cool Teacher: Buck to Steven, and vice versa too in the end. Notable also because it's stated Buck had a Montessori education. The Montessori system pairs up older kids with younger kids so they can learn from each other, with the goal being that each kid subsequently learns how to do/understand things on their own. This is exactly what happens between Buck and Steven in the episode.
  • Cross-Popping Veins: Steven draws Greg as impossibly buff, impossibly cut, with these all over his body.
  • A Day in the Limelight: For Buck.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Steven wants to show Buck how he (Steven) felt by firing t-shirts with Buck's drawing on it at people. But the way Steven chooses to fire the shirts at the mayor's bench dedication, starting with the mayor, plus the high perch, the sunglasses, and the sinister way Steven was talking beforehand, makes it look like he went off the deep end and is assassinating a politician.
  • Doing It for the Art: In-universe, as Buck wants to continue making taste forever.
  • Epic Fail:
    • Steven tries to high-five the utterly motionless Buck. He misses.
    • Later, Steven's attempt at working the T-shirt equipment gets him completely covered in ink.
    • The Gems only managed to correctly assemble one stool. As for the other two, one looks like an abstract art piece, while the other is just a pile of unassembled stool pieces.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Buck somehow missed the numerous hints (including a "WE ONLY SELL DONUTS!" sign) that the Big Donut doesn't sell salads. Or he just didn't care.
  • Figure It Out Yourself: The Gems tell this to Steven after he asks them to help with the shirt situation, since it's a completely mundane situation that doesn't require their help.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • On the right of the Big Donut's menu, it explicitly says "We only sell donuts!" There's also an 8-donut combo called the Breakup.
    • If you look at the Gems' surroundings during their two scenes, you can see they tried to build some stools in the time in between: They started with three boxes and one instruction manual in Pearl's hands, ending with one in-tact stool, the pieces of one stool in the wrong place, and one of the boxes entirely missing.
  • Fun T-Shirt: Steven's "Guitar Dad" flyer is made into one. When Steven realizes Buck did it because he thought it was funny, rather than for advertising purposes, he makes one out of Buck's childhood drawing urging people to vote for his dad.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: An alarmed Pearl displays these as she asks if the shirts possess people or sap the will of the wearer to live.
  • Ironic Echo: Now that he's a teen, Buck is embarrassed by the art he did of his own father when he was around Steven's age and thoughtlessly disparages when he sees Steven's art of Greg. Steven gets through to him by making T-shirts of Buck's childish art and firing them into the crowd at Mayor Dewey's speech.
  • Irony: Buck's low opinion of Steven's design may be his way of trying to ignore that a few years ago, he wasn't only producing the same kind of art, he was also doing it because he just loved his father that much.
  • Jerkass Realization: Buck got to experience what he made Steven go through after Steven makes his old drawing mass known and his friends began to mock it. He sheds a Single Tear, goes to apologize to both Steven and Greg, and even asks for a guitar lesson.
  • Literal-Minded: Steven's flyer tries to show how much his dad rocks at the guitar, so Garnet thinks there should be rocks coming out of the guitar instead of lightning bolts.
  • No Bulk Discounts: The per-donut rate for different orders on the Big Donut menu don't follow any pattern:
    1 donut - $0.99
    2 donuts - $3.39 - $1.70 each
    3 donuts - $2.49 - $0.83 each
    6 donuts - $4.99 - $0.83 each
    8 donuts (the "Breakup") - $6.49 - $0.81 each
    12 donuts - $10.99 - $0.92 each
    "Party" quantity of donuts - $20.99 - ($0.87 each if 24)
  • Off-Model:
    • In the long shot of the interior of the Big Donut, the menu features a reasonably priced combo of two donuts and a coffee for $3.49, but in a closer shot, there's a strangely overpriced two-donuts-for-$3.39 combo, which doesn't include coffee, in the same position instead.
    • When Steven goes to ask the Crystal Gems for help and finds them on the couch, Pearl appears to be hovering slightly above the cushion in the first couple long shots, although her bum finds the seat by the time he leaves.
  • Out of Order: The second of the three episodes meant for being between Rose's Scabbard and The Message due to the Stevenbomb premiere week, made obvious by Garnet having her old design.
  • Pun:
  • Running Gag: In-Universe: if the "we only sell donuts!" sign is any indication, people other than Buck (who appeared to be in earnest) find it funny to walk into the Big Donut and order something other than donuts.
  • Senseless Violins: Parodied. Steven gets a t-shirt cannon out of a violin case to shoot one at Mayor Dewey.
  • Speaking Like Totally Teen: Mayor Dewey tries to speak current teen slang in an effort to get the youth vote. It embarrasses Buck painfully.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: The Gems all give good reasons for why they can't help Steven with the shirts; Pearl notes the problem is abstract, Amethyst states they can't exactly punch the issue away and Garnet says that Steven needs to brush up his own problem solving skills and learn how to handle his own problems. Pearl and Amethyst quickly agree with Garnet's point.
  • Taking the Bullet: Averted. When the mayor's security sees he's about to get hit by a t-shirt, they panic and ditch him.
  • The More You Know: Garnet's advice to Steven to use his conflict resolution skills to find a way to solve his problem. At the end, there's a mini Bishie Sparkle beside her head.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: In-universe, Buck claims he doesn't really care what people say about the shirts as long as they're talking about them. Of course, he thinks the work is horrible and assumes everyone agrees with him.
  • Would Not Hit a Girl: Steven and/or Buck, apparently. They hit Ronaldo, Sour Cream and Lars with their shirt cannon, but when Jenny has a shirt later, she specifically mentions that it landed on the ground in front of her.
  • Wrong Restaurant: Buck orders a caprese salad from the Big Donut despite the fact that it's not on the menu because it's not a donut (heck, as Sadie points out, the store doesn't even have any vegetables.)


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