This STEVEN UNIVERSE review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Future Episodes 17, 18, 19, and 20
It’s often so much simpler than we think. Steven Universe Future fans like to read into every detail. The opening theme alone had fans scrambling to work up predictions the moment it was released. The show has obviously had a lot of its deeper symbolism and clues pay off in the long run but sometimes it’s not that complicated. That opening had a Pink White Diamond and that sent everyone into a frenzy… but it was just White Diamond taking on Steven’s personality for a short time. It was simple (for Steven Universe anyway.)
I bring all that up because after getting done with this four parter I felt a little empty. While I enjoyed Steven Universe’s final outing I still wondered to myself, “is that all?” After weeks of theorizing what was going to happen to Steven and hoping it would be some huge and deep exploration of his trauma… he just needed a hug? That can’t be it, right! We couldn’t have waited this long for everything to be resolved by a hug!
Then I thought about it… and it’s all so simple. I was reading so deeply into the show and, to be honest, projecting onto it. I think we’ve all done it with Steven Universe at one point or another. We see ourselves in these characters. We imagine they’re going through the same things we are. I related a lot to Steven dealing with trauma, especially in these last ten episodes, so when it was all solved with a hug I wanted it to be so much more! I wanted Steven to go to therapy on screen and talk this all out and go through a dark night of the soul and slowly build himself back up… But then I’d just want Steven to do what I did.
Instead the episode is simply that Steven felt like a monster (and turned into one) because he had problems. He always saw himself as the helper, the guy who fixes other peoples issues, but he could never see himself as the person who needs help. As everyone rallies to him, begging him to let them help he pushes it all aside. He says it’s all fine… but it’s not and he finally cracks. He turns into the monster he thinks he is.
We always knew Steven’s emotions affected his powers and this is the ultimate form of his negative emotions. A giant monster. The Gem’s all rally again but begin to blame themselves for how they let Steven down… but Connie quickly puts a stop to it. She delivers a powerhouse speech that not only marks the ultimate climax of the finale but of the whole season.
“Yes, you hurt him but this isn’t the time to make it all about you. That is not helping. Maybe Steven would care how sad you are because he always puts everyone else’s feelings first. But he can’t do that for you because he needs us this time. We all had Steven when we needed him but the only person who never had Steven is Steven. He’s always been there for us so… how can we be there for him now?”
Steven needs everyone to be there for him like he’s been there for them. He needs the unconditional love he’s shown reflected back at him. He needs to know it’s okay to feel these things… and that everyone won’t collapse if he shows any negative emotions. He needs to learn it’s okay to accept support… even if he doesn’t know how.
Before this speech Steven was doing everything he could to shove his pain down but nothing worked. Even hurting the person who was seemingly the cause of all his problems, White Diamond, did nothing. He only hurt himself in the process, which proves there is some deepness in this episode if you’re looking for it.
After the speech everyone gets together and gives Steven a giant hug (literally in Garnet’s case.) They thank him for doing everything he did and that they’ll be there for him. They’re showing him all the love for everything he’s done… and that’s what finally helps Steven heal. Yes, I’d love to have seen Steven go through the therapy that the episode confirms happened but honestly this is enough.
Steven was able to address the main issue in his life. He was able to admit to himself he needed help and accepted it. That was the first step towards, as he once told Spinel, making a change.
In the final episode Steven leaves Beach City, which is the best move for him. The fact he’s giving himself the space he needs to be on his own? To not be serving anyone else needs? That’s huge and a bold statement for him. It’ll be scary I’m sure but he’ll make it through. It’ll give him time to figure himself out and he was able to do it because of he let his family and friends support him.
And that’s all I needed from this show. Steven letting his guard down and accepting help. While we as fans always want the show to have more depth I had to remind myself that this is still aimed at kids. Just having that big emotional revelation will help so many more kids than we can even imagine. That alone makes this episode a winner in my book and a fitting send off to the legacy of Steven Universe.
Plus, Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl all sing Cookie Cat! The show has come full circle! THEY EVEN EXPLAINED “HE LEFT HIS FAMILY BEHIND!”
I’ll miss Steven Universe for everything it gave us. The engrossing story, the queer representation, the songs, the characters, Sneople, everything. It was truly a gift for the audience and one that will be revisited many times in the future and is already undergoing new analyses now that it’s finished. In all of that I hope everyone reading this will take the time to send a thanks to anyone and everyone involved with this show. The writers, actors, artists, editors, marketing, everyone! Everyone who helped bring this show to us and make it so special.
Rebecca Sugar especially deserves a gigantic round of applause. Thank you for everything. You’ve made the world a better place thanks to the story of Steven and how he not only learned to accept help from others but also believe he was allowed to have it.