Steven Universe Analysis: Letters To Lars

There was a lot to unpack in this episode, where do I even begin? “Letters to Lars” is, as one might expect, about Lars reading a letter from Steven that catches him up on everything that has been going on in Beach City while he’s making his way back to Earth on the Sun Destroyer.

There were a lot of layers to the things going on in town, the most present being that Bill Dewey is trying to find a place to fit in now that he is no longer Mayor. Dewey is present in nearly every event that Steven’s letter describes, and in each instance, he tries and fails to contribute. He tries to help with the town meeting where Nanafua and members of the community are making emergency plans for any future Gem-related events, but his ideas are rejected. He tries to help with his son’s band, but just ends up messing things up. He tries his hand at Jamie’s Beach City improv troupe, but, once again, he fails.

All these feelings of failure and being forgotten culminate when he learns that Peedee repurposed his Mayor truck for a tater tot food truck business, and Dewey tells Steven that he feels like the town has outgrown him, which builds a powerful theme in the episode. Dewey might not have been the best mayor and his ideas might have been outdated, but he is still a person, a person who wants to belong, wants to feel helpful and contribute in a way that is important, no matter how small. He eventually finds this purpose at The Big Donut, which had been left closed without anyone to work there. But now that Dewey is working there, people can finally get their coffee and donuts like the used to, something that the town apparently needed.

Though Dewey was a heavy focus of “Letters to Lars,” there were some other important themes and elements present in the episode. The aforementioned town meeting holds a lot of importance, since it makes the town of Beach City a dynamic character. This is not some villain-of-the-week superhero cartoon city, where everything goes back to normal after half the town is destroyed, no, they are planning and preparing for another Gem-related incident, something that is as bleak as it is compelling. Compelling, that is, to see the world of the show grow, change, and adapt to all the things that have happened.

Other small updates are that Pearl has a cellphone – which, if you’re as obsessed with this show as I am, you know is a big deal, since it means she can finally call the Mystery Girl from “Last One Out of Beach City” – Renaldo is jealous that Lars is in space instead of him (which results in one of the funniest breakdowns his character has had, huge nerd that he is) and Greg is trying out “rich guy sports,” and Dewey named one of The Big Donut’s donuts after Lars. All the news from home inspires Lars to help his crew make it all the way to Earth.

This episode did a lot with a little amount of time, setting up some interesting, and perhaps dark, things to come. So, keep an eye out in May for a half-hour special of Steven Universe, only on Cartoon Network.

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