Steven Universe 5×14 Review: The Big Show
They got an awesome sound, a nifty gimmick, and a super cool band name. They’re “Sadie Killer and the Suspects” and they’re heading to Empire City for “The Big Show”!
That’s right, the band which Steven, Sadie, and The Cool Kids started in “Sadie Killer” is about to get their big break. All of “The Big Show” is shot on an old camcorder Steven borrowed from his dad as he documents the band’s humble beginnings for posterity (“These are your early days. It has to look old!”). It seems Steven is not going to be playing with them this time around, but they still sound great in the two new songs they perform in this episode.
Steven urges his dad to listen to the band’s recordings, and then later to watch them perform live. Greg is impressed, the kids ask him to be their manager, and things look like they’re going great. Greg calls up one of his contacts from his time as a one-man band (and how cool of a name is Sunshine Justice?) and books a gig for the band in Empire City. The band is stoked, especially when Greg talks about buying them special effects equipment for their on-stage performance.
They’re packing their instruments when Barb comes along to deliver the new equipment Greg ordered. It’s only then that she discovers how big the new gig is. She starts to get excited– her daughter, playing in Empire City!– but Sadie cuts her off, reminding her of the talk they had in “Sadie’s Song“. Disheartened but still supportive, Barb wishes them a good show and heads home.
Sadie vents her frustrations to Greg, how her mom was so into her life that she was suffocating. She loves being Sadie Killer because it’s a thing that’s completely her own, and now she’s just waiting for the other shoe to drop when Barb will get her hands all over that, like everything else Sadie has tried to do before.
Greg offers a second perspective, saying he thinks it’s amazing that Barb is so enthusiastic about Sadie’s band. Back in the day, his parents didn’t want anything to do with his music– never went to his shows, never even wanted to hear about them.
In Empire City, just before the band is about to go on stage, Sadie spots a lady in the crowd. She gets irritated, thinking it’s her mom who dressed up in some weird costume to sneak in and watch their show. Despite her irritation, she absolutely kills it in their performance of the new song “G-G-G-Ghost.” After the big show, the dressed up lady comes up to meet the band. It wasn’t Sadie’s mom after all; it was Sunshine Justice, the owner of the venue.
On the way home, Sadie admits to Steven that she had went all out on stage because she thought Barb was in the audience. She says that she wanted her mom to be there and see her perform. Steven says she could always invite Barb to their next show, which prompts Sadie to ask if they could book one right in Beach City.
“The Big Show” is particularly interesting to me because I didn’t expect it to go the direction it did. When the episode summary first came out, I thought it would be how the band’s sudden success would make them realize that fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But then, Steven Universe has always been a show that subverts expectations.
I love the fact that “The Big Show” revisits the story thread about Sadie and Barb’s relationship that we first saw in “Lion 3: Straight to Video” and again in “Sadie’s Song”. When Sadie’s issues were blown out in the open, it must have been a particularly hard blow on Barb, who only thought she was being supportive. But she learned from it, and while she continues to be as supportive as she can be, she now also tries to give Sadie the space she needs. Sadie, on the other hand, has grown enough to be able to tell her mom off when she’s being too much, but has come to a point where she’s pushing Barb away. It took some insight from an outside perspective (Greg) for her to realize what she had and how she really felt in all of this.
Sure, Barb isn’t a perfect mom, but it’s clear that her heart is in the right place and she loves her daughter very much. Right now, they’re both readjusting to each other after what happened in “Sadie’s Song”, still trying to figure out how to go from there and move forward. I’m sure that now that they have started to communicate with each other better, things will work out.
“Mystery Girl” from “Last One Out of Beach City” can be spotted in the crowd before Sadie Killer and the Suspects go on stage.
Airam has read and studied a lot of manga and graphic novels to earn their Bachelors degree in Library and Information Science from UP Diliman. They’re currently working on increasing queer representation in the Philippines’s comics scene.
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