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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A slight Steven Universe is still a tasty slice (of dream pizza)

Illustration for article titled A slight Steven Universe is still a tasty slice (of dream pizza)
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Another Pizza family episode! “Kiki’s Pizza Delivery Service” suffers a bit in comparison to “Restaurant Wars” (and, honestly, to its namesake, because Kiki’s Delivery Service is great). In fact, yesterday’s episode might actually have better character material for Kiki around the margins, in the moments she blushes at her fake relationship with Ronaldo. Still, “Kiki’s Pizza Delivery Service” is a fun dream episode, and gives storyboarders Jeff Liu and Colin Howard, a character designer for the show, the opportunity to draw a lot of giant monster pizzas.

We kick off the episode with Kiki coming to deliver Steven a pizza, only to find the temple decked out with candles and flower petals. But Steven doesn’t have a date, he’s just taking a little time to himself (even if he does invite Kiki to join his “me time”). This sequence is great, not only because weirdly flirtatious Steven is one of the best Stevens, but because when Kiki wonders how Sour Cream’s mixtapes could have sent the Pizzamobile to the shop, Steven responds, “Well, his drops are pretty dirty.” After a quick cut to Steven passed out on the couch, covered in pizza, we get into the bulk of the episode: Kiki dream sequences.


There are some really nice moments in this part of the episode, which finds Steven repeatedly projecting himself into Kiki’s dreams and fighting off the pizza monster that keeps waking her up. In particular, the design of the pizza hands reminded me a bit of the fusion experiments, and I’m never going to say no to an opportunity to do a lot of pizza cutter/rocket/grater visual gags, complete with Steven one-liners about cutting the cheese. But a lot of it is stuff we’ve seen in Steven’s dreams before, like flying away on Dogcopter (complete with rocket). Consistency is cool, but without tweaking the nature of what dreams are like in Steven Universe, at some point you start to hit a point of diminishing returns.

At first, Steven is afraid he’s done something wrong by going into Kiki’s dream. Instead, she needs his help, because she’s run ragged and exhausted from doing all of the pizza deliveries herself, on foot. The process takes its toll on Steven, who eventually tells her he can’t keep helping out. Kiki understands, but is incapable of applying that same logic to her twin Jenny, who keeps asking her to cover so she can go to concerts and stuff, until she and Steven dive deep into the maw of the pizza monster and discover an extremely teenaged Jenny asking Kiki for favors.

It’s obvious that Kiki is having the dream because she’s anxious about Jenny, which makes the endpoint of the episode a bit of a slog. The resolution is clean, as always—Jenny is relatively good-natured about the whole thing, and gives Kiki the day off to go running for herself—but it’s also clear and predictable enough to deny “Kiki’s Pizza Delivery Service” any of the complexity we might expect from some similar, but only deceptively simple episodes of Steven Universe. At least there’s some affirmation of Kiki and Jenny’s dynamic, which will hopefully get complicated a bit in the future. Also, the ending shot of Kiki running, which clearly evokes “Alone Together” in its beauty and clear focus on Kiki enjoying an activity that she gets to control, and that has no functional purpose other than her own happiness. More of that Kiki, please.

Stray observations:

  • “That’s not a pun, but I forgive you.” The ultimate burn.
  • A cheese rave in the pizza cave sounds amazing.
  • $40… is kind of a lot for a show! Were The Philosophy Majors in town?
  • Reagan Gomez is good as Kiki in this episode, but she’s great as Jenny, eliciting the best laugh of the episode with her pizza groan.
  • It’s probably a good thing that this episode doesn’t make too much of an effort to actively quote from Kiki’s Delivery Service, but damn Crewniverse, you got my hopes up.

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