Steven Universe 3×15 Review: Alone at Sea
When “Alone at Sea” began with Steven and Lapis, I was definitely excited. This week of Steven’s Summer Adventure has featured two very lighthearted Beach City episodes followed by the lovely but heavy “Monster Reunion“; based on the first few minutes of “Alone at Sea”, I really thought we were heading back in that lighthearted direction.
There were, after all, Greg’s puns and the little moments he and Steven shared about them, as well as Lapis seeming to truly enjoy herself from time to time (mostly when she was blowing the boat’s horn). Even the quieter happy moments in “Alone at Sea”, like Lapis’ reaction to Greg and Steven “renaming” the boat Lil’ Lappy, were wonderfully refreshing. (That snort-laugh! Eee!)
But in the end, “Alone at Sea” wasn’t the lighthearted romp that those scenes portrayed, because they were definitely not the focus of the episode as a whole. Lapis didn’t even want to go on the boat at first, but Steven reminded her that water is a part of who she is, saying, “You can’t let one bad experience take that away from you!” Of course, as Lapis pointed out, it was more than one bad experience, but she agreed to go because Steven asked her to give it a chance and promised it would be fun – and she really does trust him (with good reason).
Trigger Warning: This review of “Alone at Sea” includes discussion of abusive relationships.
Unfortunately, despite the renaming of the boat and Lapis enjoying blowing its horn, it was clear that overall she was uncomfortable (at the very least) throughout most of “Alone at Sea”. She didn’t think she deserved the effort they’d put into trying to help her and make her happy; when Greg asked her to be captain, she yelled, “Don’t put me in charge!” Yes, when Greg offered her the hat anyway, her reaction – “Thanks, but I’m not putting that on my body” – was amusing; but it was merely one of those fleeting positive moments in the episode.
Sadly, Greg didn’t know how to handle it when Lapis tried to help them fish by pulling up a huge water orb filled with fish for them to catch. He was kind enough about it when he insisted that they do it the old-fashioned way, and of course Steven praised her strength and told her she was amazing, but she didn’t even let him finish saying the latter before laying her hand on his head to stop him. It also didn’t help that they apparently fished for long enough that it turned out to be very boring, until they finally had a bite and couldn’t reel it in, actually breaking the fishing pole in the process. As Lapis was the one who was reeling, even Greg and Steven’s reassurances that she did well didn’t make her feel better.
Seriously, everything was going wrong on this trip, and when the boat broke down, it wasn’t just the suddenly ominous sky overhead that made me realize that they weren’t out of the water yet. (See, I can make bad puns too, Greg!)
It’s almost impossible to not quote huge portions of the last third of “Alone at Sea”, because it was heart-wrenching. It wasn’t surprising that Lapis freaked out a bit when Steven told her that they were stuck, and I outright gasped when she refused to let him apologize because she was trying to enjoy it but couldn’t stop thinking about being fused as Malachite. Their conversation may have featured some SU-themed things that we wouldn’t say in real life, but it was very much the story of someone being stuck on the idea of an abusive relationship while a caring friend tries to help them through it.
“I used all my strength to hold her down in the ocean…I was always battling against Jasper to keep her bound to me,” Lapis explained. “But it’s not like that anymore – you don’t have to be with Jasper!” Steven reminded her.
But then Lapis admitted, “That’s not it. I MISS her…we were fused for so long.” Steven was appropriately upset, and this time reminded Lapis that Jasper is terrible. Only Lapis had a very familiar argument for that, too: “I’M terrible! I did horrible things, I broke your dad’s leg, I stole Earth’s ocean. Go on, tell me I’m wrong!”
Before Steven could say anything, though, JASPER ARRIVED! Of course my immediate thought was that there would be a fight, but yet again the show turned the tables on me – at least for the most part. Steven tried to protect Lapis, as he is wont to do, but Jasper told him that he had his shield pointed the wrong way – that he should be afraid of LAPIS!
Lapis insisted that wasn’t true, and everything that happened after this was one of the most simple and honest portrayals of an abusive relationship that I’ve ever seen. Jasper said, “You can’t lie to me – I’ve seen what you’re capable of. I thought I was a brute, but you…you’re a monster!” Steven being Steven, of course he didn’t believe that, but when he tried to run at Jasper she merely knocked him out of the way. Lapis ran to his aid, but Jasper stopped her…by grabbing Lapis’ hand and kneeling at her feet.
“Let’s be Malachite again,” she begged. Lapis asked why she would want that, and Jasper claimed, “I was wrong about fusion – you made me understand. Malachite was bigger and stronger than both of us – we could fly!”
Yet even with that, their conversation still hadn’t reached the almost nauseating perfection that it eventually attained. Lapis told Jasper, “I was terrible to you. I liked taking everything out on you. I needed to, I hated you…it was BAD!”
That was when I really started to cry. I’d been tearing up since Jasper called Lapis a monster, but suddenly it was full-on waterworks. Yes, they’re talking about fusion, but if you get rid of the whole “[we were] bigger” and “we could fly” aspects, from the moment Lapis admitted that she missed Jasper, I saw myself as I’d been when I was in the most awful and abusive relationship of my life. And then Jasper really cemented it when she said, “It will be better this time. I’ve changed – YOU changed me! I’m the only one who can handle you’re kind of power – together we’ll be unstoppable!”
Thankfully Steven Universe is a smart and amazing show, which meant that Lapis gave the perfect response. “No! What we had was unhealthy! I never want to feel like I felt with you! Never again! So just go.” Throughout my experience in an abusive relationship, those were almost the exact words that I wanted to say so many times, the words that I held back for far too long, so long that it was almost too late for me when I finally DID say them.
But it wasn’t too late, and to be honest, as time has passed I realize it almost never is. Saying something like that to an abusive partner – or not saying anything at all, but leaving the relationship nonetheless – only happens “too late” in very specific instances. So it wasn’t too late for me when I said those things, and it wasn’t too late for Lapis, either. Jasper immediately tried to blame it on someone else – in this case, Steven – which is also a regular occurrence when someone is trying to leave an abusive relationship. But of course Lapis saved the day…somewhat. She punched through the boat with a water fist, sending Jasper far out into the ocean. That may mean that poor Greg will actually have to “buy” the now-sunken boat, but then Lapis flew them home, and even agreed with Steven when he said, “The ocean’s really beautiful from up here.”
Yes, Lapis has a long way to go. As KK and Laura mentioned in their review of yesterday’s “Monster Reunion“, “Centipeetle isn’t ‘healed’ by the end of the episode, but she doesn’t need to be. She is reunited with her crew, her friends, and finds happiness her own way. She didn’t need to be the person she was before her corruption to find peace.” While Lapis may not feel at peace quite yet, I think she took some very big steps in “Alone at Sea”. This episode was heart wrenching, possibly because it hit so close to home for me, but the insight it gave us into Lapis and her ongoing plight, sad as it was, also gave me even more appreciation for her character, just as last week’s “Too Short to Ride” did with Peridot.
I loved the Beach City episodes, don’t get me wrong, but I am definitely looking forward to more Lapis and Peridot. (Especially if we get to see them grow together, since they’re in such similar situations.)
What did you think of “Alone at Sea”? Were you ever worried that Lapis would agree to “be with” Jasper? Let us know in the comments!
One last thing: A huge thank you to my “crew” for helping me find that happiness in my own way. You know who you are.
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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