Steven Universe 5×16: Letters to Lars
In “Letters to Lars”, our intrepid space captain receives a status update on what’s been happening at home base while he journeys through the stars.
While it’s commonplace for elements of the Steven Universe fandom to complain that boardie episodes ‘don’t matter’, “Letters to Lars” stands as a testament to how untrue that is. Steven has always needed both Gem and human influences to make him a fully-rounded individual. Now we see Beach City growing along with him.
While Lars has been in space, his hometown has changed rapidly. The Big Donut is empty, Sadie Killer and the Suspects are climbing the charts, Peedee has his own tater tot stand, and somehow, Ronaldo has been put in charge of a telescopic space look-out.
Incidentally, I wonder when we’ll get back to the plot thread of Ronaldo and Lars’ childhood friendship? Nonetheless, it was pretty cathartic to see the egotistical Ronaldo’s frustration that Lars gets to go on a hero’s journey, not him.
The emergency planning scene was one of the best in “Letters to Lars”, for a great balance of characterization, humor, and plot development. It’s great to know Mayor Nanefua is developing an evacuation system and raid shelters (though I hope someone knows what ‘non perishable foods’ are). It was really cute to see humans and the Crystal Gems working together to figure things out for once.
Plus, Pearl with her first ever cellular phone. Too adorable.
What is, hands down, the funniest part of the entire episode is the Improv Show. Jamie’s apparently begun weekly performances and the attendees are only ever Steven and Pearl. They’re there to support their friends, especially Peridot and Amethyst. That’s equally as heartwarming as knowing Ame is still supporting Peri in trying new things and recovering from her breakup.
Honestly, the jokes at this point write themselves. It would be redundant to list them all, but Pearl suggesting ‘Steven’ every time and the group’s preference of shape-shifting over mime are probably the best.
Side note: I am very, very happy that Rebecca Sugar’s throwaway mention that Greg and Garnet play tennis on weekends made it into the show.
Throughout all of the shenanigans, two things have been lurking in the background. 1) The Big Donut’s apparent ghost of a manager doesn’t know how to put up job listings. 2) Bill Dewey is a mess without a job.
Well, he was always was one, but he was a mess who defined himself by his career. It’s of course Steven who has idea to fix both problems by getting Bill working at the Big Donut (kudos to those who called it!). No doubt a position with much lower stakes, where he never has to make a decision bigger than naming fried dough after himself, will be much more fulfilling for him.
It is really sweet to see that Lars now has a donut after him, considering his love of baking. It was also great to see the Barrigas get teary eyed to see it. That said… I hope they get to send some letters to their son.
The end reveal that Steven’s been literally narrating his “Letters to Lars” the whole time is honestly perfect. It’s so sweet, and just an encapsulation of the adorably absurd friendship these two have developed. Now let’s get Lars introduced to Peridot, stat.
Author: Laura B
Lover of fantasy and science fiction, fascinated in how they impact the real world. Professional writer and science communicator.
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