Steven Universe 4×03 Review: Buddy’s Book

buddy's book library shot

“Buddy’s Book” was the Steven Universe equivalent of a clip show, moving from familiar locale to familiar locale. Through the eyes of Steven and Connie as they read through the titular journal, Jamie the Mailman reprised his role from “Historical Friction,” standing in as first mate Buddy Buddwick as he traveled all over the globe visiting Gem sites.

buddy's book rose looks at the cameraIt was not a coincidence that Rose Quartz looks directly into the “camera” when she explains Buddy’s journaling makes the places we revisited “new and special all over again.” Any given episode might tread on familiar territory, but with the network of storyboarders and the whole production team of Steven Universe, it can still offer exciting new perspectives that go hand in hand so wonderfully with collaborative art.

Jamie episodes are often also Connie and Steven episodes, and always seem to include a whole lot of grade-A silliness. From “locking” Lion in place, to Steven’s over exuberance at the sight of so many books, to the Gems’ old-timey outfits, “Buddy’s Book” was silly in spades. And the episode still managed to drop tantalizing lore on us — why was Blue Diamond’s palanquin from “The Answer” apparently abandoned somewhere Buddy traveled? Or was this not Blue Diamond’s at all, but her sister’s, the erstwhile Pink Diamond?

buddy's book fare thee wellThe way the humans of Steven Universe deal with magic has always been rather interesting. They treat fantastical occurrences like monster attacks or magical lions with a nonchalance that would simply never happen in our reality. We finally get some glimpse into how this attitude developed. As far as humanity is concerned, magic has always been a part of their world — mysterious and confusing, certainly not commonplace, but recognized. It sets up some excellent gags and callbacks, getting to see Buddy explore settings familiar to us, but with none of the context. Buddy might not have gotten many of the details right, but considering the difficulty historians have figuring out human history, we can forgive him for not cracking the secrets of a super-advanced alien race. Plus, getting to all those places as an ordinary, 18th century human is incredibly impressive.

And then, of course, we come to Rose Quartz and her lions.

It is very Rose Quartz, to surround herself with the trappings of lethalness, and make them gentle. “We mean you no harm,” she tells Buddy, scratching at one of the lion’s manes like it’s nothing more than a house cat. Honestly, after the revelations that Rose lied to her closest friends for millennia about Bismuth and that she shattered Pink Diamond, it is really nice to get back to the glimpses of why everyone loved Rose so much. Flawed she may be, but she is still kind, and helpful, and seems to bring out the best in everyone, from wayward human traveler to vicious desert beasts.

buddy's rose and the lionsSeriously, this has got to be leading up to Lion’s backstory, right? Aside from their coloring, the bemaned lions could have been Lion’s twins. We have speculated for some time that Lion was some kind of Rose Quartz experiment, and “Buddy’s Book” all but confirmed that. The question is, considering Steven was several hundred years away, why? Why breed lions to be docile, Rose Quartz? Because it would be “interesting,” or for some more complicated idea? Were you already searching for someone or something to pass your Gem along to in case Homeworld ever returned? Why did you never tell any of the others about them? And how exactly did you imbue Lion with magical powers?

This episode offered us a new perspective on the world of Steven Universe — something not of Steven, or the Gems, or even of any of his human friends. It was sweet, it was silly, but it was also strangely intimate, reminding us of the show’s core theme: that anyone can make a longstanding difference.

Author: KK Bracken & Laura B

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