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Recap / Steven Universe S5E14 "The Big Show"

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"I think I might be... a gh-gh-gh-ghost!"
As Sadie practices with her band, Steven acts as videographer, using his dad’s VHS-era camcorder.
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Steven explains he wants early footage to look old, while the band discusses songs and the effects Sadie wants to have with her voice. There's a brief interruption by Sadie’s mom, which embarrasses her, given Barb’s over enthusiastic stage mom behavior in the past. Barb mugs for the camera briefly, then recognizes her daughter’s discomfort and backs off, leaving them to rehearse.

The scene cuts to Greg Universe listening to the band. Steven explains about Sadie’s alter ego, and how if he likes what he’s hearing, he should see them live.

The scene cuts again to Sadie’s basement, where the band is working on their "I Am" Song to introduce themselves:

Teens by day, we’re all right
Teens by day but every night we’re
Sadie Killer and the Suspects! Sadie Killer and the Suspects!

Greg compliments Sadie on her alter ego and her voice. The band is in store bought Halloween costumes to evoke their spooky vibe, even as Greg tells them they're doing great as beginners, but they need someone to handle gigs and merchandise. Steven pipes up that Greg knows all that stuff, and Buck backs him up as having taught Buck everything he knows. The kids are all in agreement. That's that: Greg accepts the job as their manager!

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Greg calls his old friend Sunshine Justice and plays a snippet of “Working Dead” for her, before deciding to email her a link to the song. She replies quickly and Greg reads the reply to Steven.

Greg: [reading] “This is absolutely the worst recording I've ever heard. It's a shame because I love the song! Let's get them on stage with some decent equipment!” THEY'VE GOT A GIG!

Steven: Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

Next up: planning for the gig. Greg’s still got a significant bankroll so he tells the kids to go big so they can have a proper presence on the stage and make a splash in their first appearance. Greg springs for Fog machines. Lasers. T-shirts. The kids are amazed.

As they begin packing up to roll out, Jenny shows off their new T-shirt. Barb delivers more equipment. Greg explains its for the band given they have a gig in…

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Sadie: [interrupting] Some no name city! Not a big deal!

But in her hurry to hide the truth from Barb, Sadie knocks over the banner announcing the band live at Empire City. Barb immediately begins getting worked up and trying to think of all they'll need, but Sadie cuts her off and reminds her that the band is hers to do on her own. Barb backs off again and Sadie groans in dismay, explaining how suffocating her mother can be, and she's just waiting for a chance to interfere. Dismay turns to confusion as Greg laughs and explains his parents wanted nothing to do with his music, and wanted to hear nothing about it because they thought he was throwing his life away. Sadie ponders this new perspective.

There's a brief shot of the band kids excitedly sitting in the van, then they're backstage at Sunshine Justice’s venue. As Sadie gets made up, she peeks out at the crowd, seeing a blonde woman with punky hair and big shades. She becomes upset thinking her mother showed up in a wacky disguise expecting Sadie not to notice. Steven awkwardly suggests Barb should've gotten makeup tips from Sadie.

Showtime!

Sadie Killer and the Suspects take the stage, with Buck, Jenny and Sour Cream dressed in black dress suits, and Sadie dressed in white. A creepy organ opening is followed by a Ska riff and Sadie sings the band’s newest number, “G-G-G-Ghost”. She offers a wink to the punky lady in the audience as she performs, and the crowd eats it up!

Backstage, the band celebrates and the punky lady comes backstage. Sadie starts to greet her but Greg beats her to it. It turns out that wasn't Barb Miller, but Sunshine Justice herself. She teases Greg about his “star child” gimmick, but tells the kids that the crowd loved Sadie Killer and the Suspects. Sunshine tells them they're welcome to play her venue any time.

Homeward bound.

Sour Cream, Jenny, and even Buck Dewey are asleep in the back. Steven’s still filming on his old camcorder. Sadie realizes and muses aloud that she kind of did want her mother there. She asks Greg to set them up a gig in Beach City. Greg promises to make it happen. Steven closes out the tape.

Iris Out.


Tropes:

  • "Awesome McCool" Name: Sunshine Justice.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Greg sends Sunshine Justice a recording of "Sadie Killer and the Suspects", which she calls the worst recording she ever heard in her life. Which is a shame, because she loves the song, and therefore she wants the band to come to Empire City to hear it in better quality!
  • Breather Episode: A momentary relaxation from the plot-heavy arc that has been building up since the season premiere.
  • Call-Back: Steven uses Greg's old camcorder, which Greg and Rose used to record their video for Steven, to film the band's documentary. He even uses some of the camera effects that Rose did at a few points, which is how the episode ends with an Iris Out.
  • The Cameo: Mystery Girl from "Last One Out of Beach City" is in the audience for Sadie's band.
  • Can't Tie His Tie: Buck gets some flack for being completely unable to tie a tie despite being the son of the previous mayor, who wore them every day. He admits that Bill wore clip-ons.
  • Character Development: Sadie rebuffs Barb when she discovers the band is playing Empire City, fearing a reprise of her overeager stage mom behavior in "Sadie's Song"; Barb, to her credit, takes the hint and backs off as asked. In turn, Sadie becomes more forgiving of her mother's behaviour upon learning from Greg that his family never supported his music career.
  • Continuity Nod: After "Shirt Club", Buck apparently kept up guitar lessons with Greg, to the point of crediting Greg with everything he knows.
  • Deliberate VHS Quality: The episode is almost entirely shown in the same quality as the old "For Steven" tape, because Steven is filming a documentary with the same camera and wants the footage to look as old and authentic as possible.
  • Flourish Cape in Front of Face: Sadie wears a cape during "Sadie Killer and the Suspects", and pulls it front of her face.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Mystery Girl can be seen briefly in the audience for Sadie's show.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Sadie tells her mom the band is playing at "some no-name city", before accidentally unrolling a banner saying "Sadie Killer and the Suspects at Empire City".
  • In-Universe Camera: All of the episode's scenes are recorded by Steven on his dad's ancient camcorder, which noticeably decays the picture quality. The only exception is the stage performance of "G-G-G-Ghost", which is entirely clear and uses multiple camera angles, which is presumably recorded by a better (system of) cameras.
  • Luminescent Blush: Sadie, who's generally pretty shy, blushes when Jenny suddenly hugs her before the show.
  • Mistaken for an Imposter: Before the show in Empire City, Sadie sees a woman in the crowd she thinks is her mother in a wig and sunglasses, only to learn to her disappointment after the show that it was Sunshine Justice, the venue owner; the realization that she actually wanted her mother to see her play makes her resolve to hold the band's next show in Beach City.
  • Name and Name: Sadie, Buck, Jenny, and Sour Cream are in a band called "Sadie Killer and the Suspects".
  • Never Say "Die": "G-G-G-Ghost" is a song about a dead girl, though the word "dead" is never spoken, as the girl interrupts herself after realizing no one can see her, and ever other instance has her saying she's a "G-G-G-Ghost" instead.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Subverted. Sadie sees a woman in the crowd who has some similar features to Barb and assumes she's Barb in a wig and sunglasses, but it turns out to be Sunshine Justice instead.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Greg holds his phone up to a laptop with a recording of the band's performance, only to realize the sound quality must be terrible. He emails a copy of the track instead.
    • During Sadie's on-stage performance, she has to switch the mic off (even though this clearly breaks character) before it falls to the ground to avoid a horrible feedback sound.
  • Retraux: In-universe, Steven uses Greg's old camera to record his documentary footage, because he wants their early days footage to look old.
  • Sequel Episode: Portrays the exploits of the band formed by Sadie, Steven, and the Cool Kids in "Sadie Killer".
  • Sequel Hook: Sadie decides to hold the next concert in Beach City, where her mom can see, and Greg promises to make it happen.
  • Scary Flashlight Face: Sadie performs "Sadie Killer and the Suspects" while shining a flashlight on her face.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sixth Ranger: Steven doesn't seem to be taking an active role in the band itself, preferring instead to act as their videographer. He does however set them up with his father Greg as their manager, who uses his recent wealth and music connections to book their first major gig in Empire City and give their stage show a much needed tech upgrade. Buck seems to have taken up the lead guitarist position in lieu of Steven, who at least co-wrote "Working Dead" previously with the band during their first jam session. Given Steven's got a lot on his plate, he probably realized he couldn't commit full-time to the band.
  • Special Guest: Joan Jett as Sunshine Justice.
  • Stylistic Suck: Sadie Killer and the Suspects, to start with, are still performing shows with improvised and homemade monster costumes and stage effects; Greg at one point compliments Buck's "wolfman" costume, only for him to sheepishly respond that he's supposed to be a witch's cat. By the time of their concert, they manage a much better funeral theme, with Buck, Jenny and Sour Cream dressed in black dress suits, and Sadie dressed in white to emulate a ghost.
  • Tempting Fate: The character Sadie plays in "G-G-G-Ghost" starts the song celebrating a sudden recovery from a debilitating illness, then cuts herself off when she realizes no one is responding to her.
    But I'm suddenly up and out of bed
    You'd never believe I was almost... why can't you see me?
  • Title Drop: "G-G-G-Ghost" has the titular ghost calling herself this throughout the song.

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