“Tiger Philanthropist” is a weird one, in that it’s a direct sequel to “Tiger Millionaire”—an episode that everyone seems to adore yet leaves me cold outside some early character stuff for Amethyst. This one is basically the same episode, but With Meaning, and everybody hates it.
The idea here is, well, yet another part of Steven’s life is falling apart. Yet another relationship is sort of collapsing, another piece of what he considered stable just isn’t there anymore. As has been happening all season. It’s yet another window into his inability to cope.
I know many of the random characters who show up around town are based on production team members, but I wonder about Fanny Pack Grandpa down there in the corner. I mused about him elsewhere, but he’s in the show as early as “Bubble Buddies” and as late as “Change Your Mind.”
Part of the subtext of this episode is basically, yeah, the show has moved on now. The daft little things that used to merit whole episodes in the early seasons, they seem inconsequential compared to what’s been happening—yet for exactly that reason, Steven still clings to them.
He’s still a kid. He shouldn’t be dealing with the shit he’s going through. All he wants is to hang onto these little things to give him joy and a sense of purpose and normality. It’s not just that he’s growing up, losing innocence. It’s that, he wants things to still matter.
He feels like everything is slipping through his fingers and leaving him behind, grasping at air. Barely acknowledging him. Everyone’s moving on. This is going to continue for some while to come. It’s going to get really bad at the start of the next season.
The specific way that Amethyst gives up their shared thing, without consulting him, just typifies this. Just moments before he was soaking in the escapism of their little role play routine, forgetting all the garbage that’s been going on. Then she just quit on him, like that.
“What a sad and anticlimactic end to one of the greatest tag-team careers to ever grace the squared circle.”
“Ahhh! Got my Saturday nights back!” To do what, exactly, Amethyst? What defines Saturday for you? How do you even know what day it is?
And then we get into all this messiness, complicating Steven’s own ambivalence with his outsized sense of responsibility. This is just one little thing, that maybe he can kind of control, that maybe he can keep from going completely to shit and ruining things for everyone else?
He’s just, so desperate to make this work. To save this one dumb little thing, to make a few people happy. He does a face turn and just starts giving things away. Which only further irritates Lars (at least, and as proxy for the rest of Tiger Millionaire’s fans).
“It’s like… the sequel no one asked for.”
“What?! It’s the sequel YOU asked for!”
“You want him to lose, and… keep his money, right?” “No, I don’t want him to *lose*. It’s just…” “What do you want him to do?! Just tell me!”
“I don’t know! I don’t even know what I want for breakfast half the time!”
And, you know what Tiger Philanthropist does, right? He just… gives up. He doesn’t care anymore. He gives away the title belt to whoever can reach it first. Amethyst leaps in at the last minute to give some emotional closure, but. Yeah.
How can this be happening?! It was just getting good! You can’t quit now! Tiger!”
(Cue increasingly ominous music.)
The warnings are there in every episode, man.