Steven Universe, from Adventure Time writer-artist Rebecca Sugar, is a coming-of-age story told from the perspective of Steven, the youngest member of a team of magical Guardians of the Universe.
Runtime: 15 minutes
Steven Universe - Jail Break (Steven Universe) - Netflix
“Jail Break” is the fifty-second and final episode of the first season of American animated television series Steven Universe, which premiered on March 12, 2015 on Cartoon Network. The episode was written and storyboarded by Joe Johnston, Jeff Liu, and series creator Rebecca Sugar. The episode acts as a continuation of the arc started in the previous episode, “The Return”, and the two aired alongside each other as a two-part special. Both episodes were watched by 1.697 million viewers. The episode covers Steven's attempt to save the Gems from the captivity of Peridot and Jasper, two Homeworld Gems leading a scouting mission on Earth. The episode reveals that Garnet is a fusion, and introduces the characters Ruby and Sapphire, Garnet's component Gems. The romantic relationship between Ruby and Sapphire has been interpreted one of the ways in which Steven Universe provides LGBT representation.
Steven Universe - Themes - Netflix
The episode has been cited as an important example of LGBT representation in children's media because of the relationship between Ruby and Sapphire. Writer Joe Johnston clarified that the two were, in fact, romantically involved and Jones-Quartey specified that their relationship could be considered lesbian. An Autostraddle article compares their relationship and fusion to a marriage, where “two parts [make] one whole”. The relationship was also compared to similar lesbian relationships in other animated series, such as Adventure Time and The Legend of Korra. The episode also explores the power of “partnership, love, and community over power-based hierarchy”, according to Vrai Kaiser, writing for The Mary Sue. This is represented in the fight between Jasper and Garnet, which is also a performance by voice actor Estelle of the song “Stronger Than You”. In the scene, Garnet represents love—specifically, between two gay non-binary individuals—which creates her “emotional balance” and strength. Eric Thurm elaborates on this point, noting that Jasper's quote, “Fusion is just a cheap tactic to make weak Gems stronger”, can be interpreted as a criticism of emotional relationships. This makes the physical fight abstractly represent “a contest between Jasper's lone-wolf warrior ideology and Garnet's harmony between two people”. According to Thurm, Garnet's victory supports the “thesis statement” of the series, which is that “loving relationships are the most important thing in life”. The episode acts as a turning point for the show because of how Steven's relationship with the Gems changes. According to Sugar, what interviewer Lan Pitts calls “a more serious tone” in episodes following “Jail Break” stems from the fact that Steven has become a more “equal” and capable member of the Crystal Gems. Sugar states that after this point, it almost “becomes another show”.
Steven Universe - References - Netflix