They sure took their time telling us how old Steven was: thirteen for most of the series, until he turned fourteen in Steven’s Birthday. Perhaps they wanted us to be as surprised as Connie was. The only surprise worth noting, however, is how dapper Steven can be (he and Connie are perfect friends).
This was Steven’s first proper use of shapeshifting, we think. Amethyst seemed to recognize it as normal shapeshifting, rather than a whimsically fluctuating age. Assuming it was, in fact, normal shape changing, we’re definitely looking forward to him moving closer to mastery of that power in the future. (Whatever he did, maybe he can use it to get his first beard hair back from Mabel.)
While the episode raised the concern that Steven might be stuck as a child forever, that beard hair was apparently used to indicate that he can, in fact, still grow. The Crystal Gems certainly recognized (and remarked upon) his growth over the past year—as a member of the team, no doubt. He’s much more mature than he was at the beginning of the series, and can handle himself around danger now.
You know how we mentioned the perfect friendship between Connie and Steven, though? While it was so perfectly illustrated by their totally spontaneous greeting where they managed to be perfectly in sync with one another despite how off the wall the whole thing was (they managed to say “clink” at the same time, for crying out loud), they both found ways to step up their game later in the episode. Steven, picking up on Connie’s clear initial concerns, worried that him staying physically young would be bad for Connie; after the crisis happened though, Connie came through for Steven—when it came down to it, her friendship with Steven was too important to let even a magical mishap get in the way. It’s really quite sweet.
Not all of the attention was on Steven and Connie this episode though: Steven’s Birthday gave a good peek at Amethyst’s and Pearl’s improved relationship, with them happily dancing together (in a style that seems to have enough energy for Amethyst and decorum for Pearl). Of course later, in Log Date 7 15 2, we’ll see Amethyst and Pearl easily fusing to form Opal. Hold on to that hopal, everybody, that we’ll be seeing more Opal this season!