Flood Order

An alternative viewing order for new Steven Universe viewers.

Spoilers for all of Season 1 of Steven Universe are present below.


Many of you are likely already familiar with the Star Wars Saga’s Machete Order. It’s a famous fan-made viewing order that goes IV, V, II, III, VI, for the purpose of creating better narrative pacing whilst retaining all important plot twists. @briknerd, astralFitz, and Kat Suricata would like to introduce a joint-effort project for Steven Universe in the same vein: Flood Order. It’s a means to get a new fan into the show in the most efficient way possible.

Why?

As we got into Steven Universe ourselves, and tried to introduce it to others, a common theme presented itself: it’s really hard to get someone to sit past the first half of the first season, when it seems like nothing more than yet another Monster Of The Week show with an annoying tagalong kid. We each experienced this on our first watch-throughs, and only pressed on under the assumption that the size of its fandom meant it had to get better. It does, of course, but for a lot of people, “just sit through twenty-six episodes and you’ll understand!” has proven a hard obstruction to vault. Even the show’s creators have stated they consider Ocean Gem season one’s “true” start.

And it’s easy to see why: the introduction of Lapis, introduction of gray morality, Steven’s first true display of competence/fixing a problem he wasn’t responsible for to begin with, the expansion of the show’s setting to space, and rapid-fire development of everyone in the main cast all serve to create one hell of a mystery. It’s when the show truly begins to grow into itself. In short, if one can make it to Mirror Gem/Ocean Gem, then one is very likely to become as much a fan of the show as we are.

One problem: twenty-six eleven-minute episodes take up almost five hours. That’s a lot to ask someone to swallow.

We can do it better. We can do it in only a little over an hour and a half, the same level of commitment as asking someone to watch a movie with you.

Flood Order, Submitted For Your Approval

The first phase of Flood Order consists of just ten episodes, in the following order:

  1. Cheeseburger Backpack
  2. Laser Light Cannon
  3. Bubble Buddies
  4. Steven’s Lion
  5. Giant Woman
  6. Steven the Sword Fighter
  7. Lion 2: The Movie
  8. An Indirect Kiss
  9. Mirror Gem
  10. Ocean Gem

This order defers sixteen episodes, more than half of them, in a mad dash to Lapis. Its purpose, simply stated, is to get a new fan interested in Steven Universe in as little time as possible, and with causing as few impediments to enjoyment as possible.

It:

Put simply: it serves to set up the rest of the show and turn a new viewer into a fan in as painless, quick, and intriguing a way as possible. But what do we do with the rest of the episodes, then?

Sorting The Deferred Episodes

So, we’ve deferred sixteen episodes. We need to do something with them.

This is the second phase of Flood Order. We make two lists, as such:

Pacing Episodes

Cut Episodes

Every single episode in the Pacing list has character development and/or plot points that come up later, and will be placed in-between Ocean Gem and Lion 3: Straight To Video (where Flood Order stops changing the show entirely) as thematically appropriate.

Every single episode in the Cut list is… well, cut. None of them have anything of particular relevance to the show’s future episodes. Some of you may be crying heresy at this, but there’s better reasoning than you might think behind the move, including:

Keep in mind that we aren’t saying that they’re not worth watching… but we’ll come back to that.

Integrating The Pacing Episodes

Phase three? Distributing the Pacing episodes in-between Ocean Gem and Lion 3: Straight To Video without ruffling any of canon’s feathers, while keeping the flow of the show acceptable. There are a few points to consider (some episodes need to remain where they are; House Guest can only work directly following Ocean Gem, for example) to make that work. This is the final result.

  1. Ocean Gem
  2. House Guest
  3. Rose’s Room
  4. Monster Buddies
  5. Coach Steven
  6. Lars and the Cool Kids
  7. Joking Victim
  8. Space Race
  9. Secret Team
  10. Garnet’s Universe
  11. Tiger Millionaire
  12. Island Adventure
  13. Keep Beach City Weird!
  14. Fusion Cuisine
  15. Watermelon Steven
  16. Lion 3: Straight to Video

From there, the series continues in Crewniverse-intended order as per usual. No significant details emerge that cause any continuity errors. Steven has only one irritating moment in the Pacing episodes, endearing him to the viewer far more rapidly. The emotional pacing follows a steady pattern with breathing room allocated, preventing burnout. The filler that’s present is downplayed by being cushioned with long stretches of deep character development. The show, at the end, retains every detail necessary for full enjoyment and understanding. And it’s far easier to get someone into.

If you notice a significant issue with Flood Order, it almost certainly falls into one of the two lists below.

Things That Appear To Be Problems, But Aren’t

This does not, of course, make this order perfect.

Things That Appear To Be Problems, And Are

There are a few genuine issues with Flood Order, much as we have tried to minimize them.

In Summary

Give it a shot, if you remain skeptical. Watch those ten episodes in order, doing your best to do so with “fresh eyes”. It works better than you might be thinking. If you agree, and you have friends who have remained resistant to recruitment that may instead be swayed by “feature-length movie with spin-off TV show”… it may just end up helping you find one more friend to fan-out with.