This Steven Universe Future review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Future Episode 12
“Bismuth Casual” is the opposite side of the coin from the previous episode of Steven Universe Future, “In Dreams.” In that episode Steven was wrestling with the fear that people wouldn’t want to be around him if he couldn’t provide something for him. This was demonstrated in his attempt at making a new version of Camp Pining Hearts for Peridot. He feared if he couldn’t do it she wouldn’t want to be around him.
In this episode, Steven deals with the fear that people won’t want to be around him if he needs something from them. Throughout the episode he wants to be around Connie. He wants to spend time with her, along with Pearl and Bismuth (more on them later). However the moment he feels as though his presence is inconveniencing Connie he completely shuts down. He doesn’t ask for her help with skating, clearly (to him) she wants him to be great at it. He doesn’t accept her offer to go have tater tots with him, clearly (to him) she really doesn’t want to be doing that. He can’t even take her words at face value because he’s so caught up in his own trauma.
Trauma affects you in ways you’d never imagine. It’s not always big flashbacks or gripping your head in pain like they do in the movies. Sometimes it’s just a quiet yet overriding sense of fear. It’s fight or flight in the most benign situations. Steven is afraid he’ll lose his friend if he asks for something. Why though? He’s best friends with Connie, he should know better than that!
That’s what trauma does to you. It warps your brain. Those coping mechanisms I’ve mentioned in previous reviews come out in ways that can protect you but they can also keep you isolated. In Steven’s case he’s not worried about himself, he’s worried about how others will react to him. He doesn’t know how to ask for help. His worst fear in that moment is Connie abandoning him simply for asking her to spend some time out of the roller rink. Of course she wouldn’t but trauma makes that fear so much bigger.
That’s what Steven is wrestling with right now. It’s not as big as last episode with its heart wrenching dream sequences, but it demonstrates once again how committed this series is to exploring the after effects of everything that happened in the original series. It’s why this is Steven Universe Future and not Steven Universe. Its goal is to take the time to show Steven wrestling with what appears to be a simple situation and it executes it to the same high standard this show is known for.
Also, PEARL AND BISMUTH. From the opening moments of this episode I got the big queer energy off them and wow. The pairing you never knew you wanted but can’t live without, am I right? I’m glad the show is taking the time, with Peridot last episode and Bismuth here, to check in on its supporting cast and show how things are going for them. It’s wonderful to see Bismuth form a deep bond with Pearl but still struggle with making other friends. Pearl’s super cool older friends, I must point out. It makes sense Pearl would find people, more or less, her own age to hang out with. Pearl has truly taken up her role as Bird Mom well and maybe she’ll get a mom of her own soon!
It’s just so wonderful to see Bismuth but especially Pearl be so happy. Even with Steven’s world crumbling around him, the show doesn’t allow itself to be consumed in darkness. We may be getting to an episode that allows itself to be that way but for now it’s striking that magnificent balance.