“Together Breakfast” opens with my perfect Sunday morning: Epic sunrise view over the ocean, in a beach cabin, and the dude I live with wants to make me breakfast… BECAUSE I’M A BADASS SPACE ALIEN BABE WITH CRYSTAL GEM POWERS OUT DOING ADVENTURING SHIT AND OBVS I NEED WAFFLES WHEN I GET HOME. Steven Universe gets me.
Steven makes a pretty standard plate of waffles to start. But he’s still alone, and much like the dude I live with, if you leave him home alone, he gets bored and crazy. So, he adds some microwaved popcorn. The visual storytelling here reminds us that Steven is still just a kid. He can’t really cook or operate the stove by himself, but he’s desperate to please his family. This tells me, “Get ready for the feels, audience, because we got you.”
I’ve been realizing that a lot of the shows I love have an underlying layer of extreme sadness. Almost every episode of Adventure Time has a character or subplot that is about being lonely. In a world with instant connections possible via the internet, we’re more isolated than ever. When was the last time you talked on the phone? And before cell phones, I’m sure we complained about not seeing our friends in person to chat. In the future, we’ll complain about, “Dude, when was the last time you actually texted words to someone?” Because by then we’ll just be sending memes or gifs that represent kinda what we wanted to say, but not really, because the comedy is covering the crushing hopelessness and despondency.
Whipped cream will soothe the sting of abandonment, right? I often fill the void with food.
Luckily, Garnet comes home before Steven can add something else to his together breakfast plate. But, she’s got Gem biz in the temple. I literally lol’d when she takes Steven’s phone and he laments, “No, my apps!” Unfortunately for Steven, he can’t follow her because the temple door is only activated by gems. He still can’t control his gem, so he can’t access the temple. And that’s where Amethyst and Pearl are hanging out, too. Steven follows the gems into the temple with his perfect, together breakfast.
“I can’t let this become together brunch!”
But the temple is dangerous, yo! The spirit creature Garnet was chasing takes over together breakfast and everyone has to destroy the literal manifestation of Steven’s dream breakfast. Steven steps up to help save the day and everyone decides to order pizza. LIVE THE DREAM, STEVEN.
It’s funny that breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, because I hate getting up in the morning. You have to stop sleeping, get out of bed… The whole thing is just messy and unpleasant. Breakfast on the other hand, is awesome. It’s the best way to start the day. You know what the song says: there’s so much stuff to do today so we should start it right, I need to get some nourishment or else I’ll start to cry.
Well, it’s a bright, sunny morning and Steven decides to make breakfast for the Gems and for himself. He makes pancakes in the only way he knows – which seems to be to grill them in the toaster, and leaves a mess behind, like any well-meaning kid trying to prepare a meal. He tries to wait for the Gems but they don’t show, so Steven is free to keep trying to pass the time with a few additions to the breakfast, namely popcorn, whipped cream, and a strawberry.
But the Gems are still a no-show. It’s easy to grasp the loneliness and boredom that Steven feels at that moment. In between the cooking bits there’s no music, almost not a sound beside Steven’s own voice, and the only person he gets to talk to is his own breakfast. Having spent my childhood around busy people, with no sibling my age to have fun with, I just want to give him a big bear hug. But wait! Garnet warps back into the house. Unfortunately, she is just on her way to the Temple to burn some alien Picasso piece. Amethyst soon makes her entrance as well, to annoy Steven with her water gun, and Pearl only appears out of the temple to lecture Amethyst before disappearing again. Oh, Steven is not going to just watch them pass by anymore. He spent time making breakfast for all of them and he wants those pancakes secured in empty stomachs!
This is Steven’s very first visit to the temple, but he spends most of it running around trying to keep the Together Breakfast whole. Pearl’s room, Amethyst’s room, the maze of tunnels, waterfalls, and floating platforms, the Crystal Heart, everything passes in a blur with Steven’s desperate attempts to bring his family together to eat. It all culminates with a frantic battle against a spirit that takes over breakfast, a fight that wouldn’t be too out of place in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. While beating the monster, Steven realizes that being obsessed with something, even a good thing, can have pretty nasty consequences. Including not wanting breakfast anymore. But hey, there will always be pizza.