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Recap / Steven Universe S4E3 "Buddy's Book"

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Buddy meets Garnet and Pearl.
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Steven and Connie, atop Lion, travel through one of his roar-portals and park in the library. Lion walks off the moment Steven and Connie have dismounted. Connie expresses surprise and amusement that Steven's never been to a library considering they contain one of his favorite things:

Steven: BOOOOOOOKS!
Librarian: Shhh!

Connie gets set up to study as she's trying to get a head start on seventh grade. She explains sheepishly that research on the Internet isn't always reliable as she turned in a report stating Raccoons have Eye Beams. While she gets to work, Steven explores the library with his typical exuberance.

He lies on one of the wheeled stepstools, and comes across a tome under one of the bookshelves, covered in dust. He blows the dust away and after leafing through it a bit, realizes it is the journal of one Buddy Buddwick, first mate to William Dewey (ancestor of Mayor Bill Dewey), who founded Beach City.

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Steven brings the book back to Connie and once Steven tells her what the book is, Connie is too excited to keep studying:

Connie: Forget homework! [sweeps desk clean]

As the two of them begin to read, the view changes to their imagination of what Buddy must have looked like. Recalling the play in which Jamie the mailman portrayed first mate Buddy, that's who they envision as Buddy. He laments that he is bored with Beach City and wants to be more than a simple first mate who no longer has a voyage. He sets out to travel the world looking for a way to make a name for himself.

He goes across the sea and finds the Strawberry Battlefield, where he encounters Garnet and Pearl in colonial garb. On hearing the reason he's visiting the battlefield, Pearl takes Buddy's map from him and marks all the places that are too dangerous for a human to visit if he wants to live. Garnet, on the other hand, encourages Buddy to follow his vision and be adventurous.

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Buddy's travels take him to several places across the world already familiar to Steven and the Gems: the home of the Heaven Beetle, the Sea Spire, the communication hub, the inverted Pyramid, and the sand castle.

Reaching that last, Buddy is overheated and exhausted, but feels he must leave on his coat lest passers by mistake him for some wanderer without a purpose. As he's about to pass out from the heat, out of the haze of the desert comes the woman Steven and Connie (and the viewers) recognize at Rose Quartz. She has seven lions with her, and although Buddy is frightened, he comes to no harm. He laments of never making a name for himself. But Rose, upon reading his journal, says that he has a special gift for making a story sound fresh, exciting and new, even if it's a familiar one the listener has heard before.

Inspired by what Rose told him, Buddy returned to Beach City, became an author, and founded the library.

Connie and Steven recognize a portrait hung in a place of distinction as being the real Buddy Buddwick. They admit that they prefer their imagining him as Jamie. The portrait changes to the Jamie-version of Buddy who winks and smiles before the episode Iris Out.


Tropes:

  • Adorkable: Steven is overjoyed to find the library is full of "BOOKS!", and Connie is preemptively studying for the next grade, just because she wants to.
  • All Animals Are Domesticated: Rose appears with seven lions, all of them as aloof and tame as Lion. One of them even turns away, seemingly annoyed, when Buddy puts his head inside that lion's mouth.
  • Alliterative Name: Buddy Buddwick.
  • An Aesop: Just because It's Been Done doesn't mean there's no value in doing it your own way.
  • And You Were There: Connie and Steven imagine Buddy as Jamie.
  • Apocalyptic Log: As Buddy gets to the part where's he's in the desert surrounded by lions, he writes that this may be the last thing he ever writes. Subverted when Steven turns the page and realizes that he wrote a lot more.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: While in the kindergarten, Amethyst looks at the map Pearl drew for Buddy and casually asks, "So, what did you discover on it?" Trying to answer her question makes Buddy realize he didn't really discover anything and thus isn't truly an explorer.
  • Aside Glance: When encouraging Buddy to become an author so readers can benefit from his books, Rose takes a look at the camera. Buddy takes one, too, but his confused look suggests he's wondering who she's looking at.
  • The Beastmaster: Rose shows up with an entire pack of tamed lions.
  • Bifauxnen: Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl in XVII century's men attire. But of course, Gems are actually genderless and they're not used to wearing big puffy dresses, unlike Rose.
  • Call-Forward: Buddy visits many places that Steven is already familiar with in his journey.
  • Circling Vultures: Two circle above Buddy when he's about to pass out in the desert.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Buddy travels through many locations seen in the show.
    • The strawberry battlefield, which is evidently in Norway.
    • The mountain home of the Heaven Beetle from "Giant Woman". note 
    • The Sea Spire from "Cheeseburger Backpack".
    • The communication hub from "Coach Steven".
    • The inverted pyramid and its murals from "Serious Steven".
    • A palanquin similar to the one Blue Diamond used in "The Answer". Mysteriously, this one is down on Earth, abandoned.
    • The Prime Kindergarten. Amethyst stops by to visit her rock.
    • The sand castle from "Steven's Lion". Rose is there with a bunch of (evidently native and certainly not pink) lions. The desert the castle is in is also shown to be somewhere in central Africa.
  • Continuity Nod
    • Steven shouts out "BOOKS!" when he enters the library.
    • The librarian at the front desk is reading Passions of Xanxor.
    • Steven discovers the journal of Buddy, the first mate of Captain Dewey's ship.
    • Connie brings up Jamie's "drama zone".
    • Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl are dressed similarly to how they dressed in the picture from "So Many Birthdays".
    • Buddy wanders right past some of the Crystal Shrimp in the Sea Spire. Although "Cheeseburger Backpack" had the gems treat these like an obstacle to be avoided, "The Test" later revealed that the whole mission was just a test for Steven, so it's likely they were either disinterested in non-Gem beings or entirely harmless all along.
  • Critical Research Failure: In-Universe, Connie somehow got the idea from internet research that raccoons have either Eye Beams or the ability to see heat signatures, depending on how you interpret "Heat Vision".
  • Crossing the Desert: Buddy spends 10 days traveling the desert in search for the sand castle there, and nearly dies of exposure to the heat. Luckily, Rose finds him.
  • Diary: The whole episode resolves around Steven and Connie reading Buddy's diary.
  • Dirty Old Woman: Nanefua Pizza makes a cameo at the library, reading a saucy-looking romance novel called Brigand.
  • Eye Beams: Connie once somehow got the idea that raccoons had them, and Steven easily believes they do when Connie mentions it.
  • Field of Blades: One of the landmarks Buddy visits is the strawberry battlefield. He briefly wonders who could've wielded the giant weapons and why they fought.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Pearl helpfully marks all the locations on earth Buddy shouldn't visit because they're dangerous. Garnet even says only the bravest of men would attempt it. So naturally, he does.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Buddy's last name can be briefly seen on the library sign when Steven and Connie head into it.
    • When Steven is first flipping through the diary, there are drawings of Mask Island and the Galaxy Warp, as well as a detailed drawing of the Temple prior to Steven's house being built there.
    • On the first diary entry about William Dewey founding Beach City, Buddy has spelled his own name "Budwick" and Dewey's named "Duey".
  • Glory Seeker: First mate Buddy, after the founding of Beach City, started to worry about his own legacy. So he decided to travel around the world and find new lands. When Pearl and Garnet mark all the important Gem locations, he decides to see them all to prove his bravery to future generations. When Amethyst made him see that he was basically a tourist, he went on a mission to find the current location of the Sand Castle, but Rose "found" it before him. Thanks to Rose's encouragement, he settled on recording all the sights he witnessed as an author.
  • Hidden Eyes: When Buddy first sees and describes Rose, the top half of her face is in shadow.
  • Historical Beauty Update: In-Universe. Steven and Connie imagine Buddy as Jamie, because Jamie set up the play seen in "Historical Friction". When they see a picture of the real deal at the library, showing a short, balding, bespectacled man, they decide they like their version better. However, the Buddy in the picture appears middle-aged; he may have been significantly younger when his journey began (despite the imagined version not aging, it presumably took many years to travel so far, write so many books, and found a library).
  • Imagine Spot: Rather than being a Whole Episode Flashback, it's established early on the entire 'flash back' is how Connie and Steven are imagining the events they're reading rather than being what things actually looked like.
  • Large Ham: Buddy is very hammy, which is why Connie and Steven imagine him as Jamie.
  • Literal-Minded:
    Connie: Time to beat these books!
    Steven: Ugh, what did they ever do to you?
  • Leitmotif: Lion has a new one inside his warp. It sounds like the Diamonds.
  • Mundane Utility: Steven and Connie use Lion's portal ability to travel to the library.
  • Nice Hat: Buddy starts out with a comically small "dixie cup" hat. When he decides to be an explorer, he switches to a tricorne that matches his black coat. The portrait of him in the library sports a tiny blue bowler hat, showing that the real Buddy liked small hats.
  • The Nicknamer: Buddy from Steven's perspective, he doesn't know the Gem names of the locations, so he gives them names (like calling the Communication Hub the "Steeple of Hubris"). He got the Moon Goddess statue right though (possibly either the Gems told him or they're using the name he picked).
  • Noodle Incident: Connie mentions writing a paper about raccoons with heat vision due to some poor information from the internet.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Buddy managed to get to many Gem sites despite their remote location, navigating terrain that is treacherous or even seemingly-impossible to get through. In particular, the Lunar Sea Spire is completely surrounded by whirlpools and waterfalls hundreds of feet high, as the whole thing is located in a depression of the ocean's surface. Considering how many of those locations hosted Gem Monsters when the Crystal Gems visited them with Steven, either they weren't interested in a lone human or he had to navigate around them somehow.
  • Oh, Crap!: Buddy when Amethyst makes him realize he didn't really discover anything new, since he was following a map Pearl drew for him. And again when he finds the Sand Castle, only to realize that Rose beat him to it. It even causes a Heroic BSoD until Rose snaps him out of it.
  • Our Founder: Captain Dewey has a bronze statue erected in his honor.
  • Pun:
    • In the beginning narration, as a bronze statue of Captain Dewey is raised:
      Buddy: With Captain Dewey's legacy cemented - well, bronzed - I wondered what my legacy would be.
    • Buddy travels to Scandinavia, and his diary reads:
      Buddy: I traveled for many days and nights until finally, I found myself in a field of sorts. (The location is revealed to be the Gem Battlefield.) Or should I say: a field of swords!
  • Purple Prose: Buddy's description of Rose when he first comes to goes, "the ringlets of her hair spilled over her shoulders and back like a swath of roses." Reading that, Steven is able to figure out who's being described.
  • Running Gag:
    • The librarian going "shh" whenever Steven or Connie speak too loudly.
    • Buddy's quill going from lush and long to a tattered tiny stick.
  • Sequel Episode: To "Historical Friction", in that it continues the story of Captain Dewey's first mate Buddy.
  • Shoehorned First Letter: Buddy's declaration to become an explorer:
    Buddy: No. I shall not disappear. I shan't die a lowly first mate! I shwill do something great with my life!
  • Shown Their Work: Apparently the Gem Battlefield (the one with the strawberries) is in Norway. In our timeline, Norwegian strawberries are highly prized for their taste, sweetness, and flavor. One can only imagine how different that is in the SU-verse, seeing as they can grow to the size of people's heads.
  • Shout-Out: One of the books prominently on display behind Steven when he asks about raccoons having heat vision is The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: When Amethyst finds Buddy in her hole in the Kindergarten, she first calmly greets him and talks a little to her rock before suddenly demanding to know, in a loud voice, why Buddy is even there.
  • Suicide as Comedy: When Buddy realizes that he didn't really discover any of the Gem artifacts and structures he documented, he sticks his head in the mouth of one of Rose's lions.
  • Swivel-Chair Antics: With a rolling stool instead of a chair; Steven bumps into a wheeled step stool and decides to slide down the aisle on it.
  • Tempting Fate: Lion leaves immediately after Steven and Connie head in, despite Steven assuring Connie that he wouldn't.
  • Unreliable Voiceover: The entries Steven and Connie read appear to be accurate, but their visualization is imperfect because they're forced to make up details themselves. Most significantly, they imagine Buddy as looking like Jamie (his actor from the play), but the real man looked nothing like him. This is lampshaded when they first imagine the Gems meeting Buddy in their current designs, Connie points out that's not what they would look like, and they imagine them to look like the painting Steven saw in "So Many Birthdays".
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • Apparently humans really don't care about all the stuff the Gems have left on the planet, as it seems Buddy is the sole person to even bother studying them.
    • Buddy also doesn't even seem to notice when Garnet opens and closes her third eye (completely visible over her glasses) repeatedly.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Pearl emphasizes the "short life" bit when telling Buddy how dangerous the locations she's marked are.
  • Wingding Eyes: Steven's eyes have stars when he realizes the library contains books.
  • Worldbuilding: This episode helps to fill out our understanding of the SU universe, at least in terms of where some Gem locations are. It also offers a glimpse at how humans treat all the ruins Homeworld left behind when they evacuated Earth.
  • The X of Y: Buddy calls the Communication Hub the "Steeple of Hubris".
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: When Buddy gets depressed at his 'failure' as an explorer, Rose rebukes his feelings of uselessness, instead telling him even if he didn't discover anything new, he's a marvelous author and illustrator and made the locations feel new even to someone like her who knows everything about them. Her encouragement resulted in him becoming an author and the library in Beach City being named in his memory.

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