This Steven Universe review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Future Episode 15
“I spent so long trying to figure out whether or not I was mom. Now that I actually know I’m me, it’s like I have no idea who that is.”
Steven is in crisis in the newest Steven Universe Future. He’s not in physical danger from a threat from space or an evil Gem coming out of the Earth; he’s up against the greatest threat he’s ever faced.
Himself. A person he doesn’t know.
For so long Steven thought he had it all figured out and that included his problems. He believed his biggest issue was dealing with his, as he once called them, “complicated” feelings about his mom but now that we’re well past that? Steven isn’t sure who he is. He doesn’t know what he wants or desires. He has no direction and no place. He’s spent so long being what others needed and helping them he never took much time to help himself.
So that should mean Greg would be coming in for the rescue here, right? At first it seems that way, with a great little montage that brings back “Dear Old Dad” from early season one. Back then a little road trip was enough to fix anything. Now though Steven isn’t so easily amused and he isn’t able to shove his emotions down. Which makes the big moment of this episode hurt him all the more.
It turns out that Greg’s relationship with his own parents wasn’t too great. He felt stifled by them, locked into always doing the same thing. To Greg this was torture but Steven is completely enamored with the idea of any kind of structure. Normalcy, school, graduation, family. These are all things Steven had. While Greg hated the idea of meatloaf every week Steven would gladly have taken it over his fingers turning into cats.
Steven is able to keep all these feelings inside until Greg tries to show Steven his favorite song, the one that made him pick the name Greg Universe. For Greg this was a huge moment, a defining point in his life that set him down the path of a rock star. For Steven? It’s nothing. The song does nothing for him and that’s the core of the episode.
Greg means well. He’s not trying to be awful to Steven, he genuinely wants to give him advice he thinks will work… but Steven isn’t Greg. One person’s life advice doesn’t always work for the other. It’s not what Steven needs to hear and it pushes him past his limits. Where before he may have kept it inside, Steven unleashes his fury on Greg. He can’t believe Greg ran away from all this. Can’t believe he never let Steven have this. Steven hates he never got to go to school or the doctor. He even gives his dad the ultimate insult, “you’re just like mom!”
As painful as this was to watch, this is exactly what Steven needed. He needed to let loose his anger. He needed to finally let himself get angry about something. He was always so happy before and just letting this little bit of anger out will most likely prove helpful in the long run, even if he’s still angry with his dad by the end of the episode.
Steven isn’t just being pushed to the breaking point with these past few episodes, he’s well past it and is just sinking deeper into the worst kind of darkness a person can face. He has to look his problems in the eye but doing that hurts because he’ll have to finally acknowledge just how bad parts of his life have been. That’s hard. That’s scary… but he’ll have to do it to survive.
This episode may not have felt as strong as the last few but I predict it’ll hold up to repeated viewings once the rest of the season has aired. This is just one link in the chain of Steven hitting rock bottom. Lest you think this outing is only good as set-up we did get some great confirmations about Greg’s life and even a peek into what childhood was like for Steven. He lived in Greg’s van for a while. No wonder he ended up with the Gems. It paints a picture of Steven and Greg’s relationship we’d only gotten hints of before now and it will color re-watching the earlier episodes.
Many will think less of Greg with this episode and while that’s understandable, both he and Steven went through their own trials that did a number on them. You can try to compare them both or say who had it worse but that isn’t the point. One person’s trauma, small or large, can impact everyone in their life. For Greg he subjected his son to a life of what he considered “freedom” but for Steven that was a life without direction or purpose. When he lacked that he desperately looked for any he could find and he ended up taking on everyone else’s purpose. As Steven once sang:
“I will fight to be everything that everybody wants me to be when I’m grown.”
This episode finally connects the final piece of why Steven is the way he is, even if he doesn’t realize it yet. He won’t be able to get better until he can accept that and so much else. Get ready people, we’re in for some big emotions.