This Steven Universe Future review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Future Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4 Review
Steven Universe always finds a way to give you what you never knew you needed. At the end of Steven Universe: The Movie it felt like we had come to a fairly satisfactory ending. Steven realized that all his problems wouldn’t be solved and he’d be ready every day to deal with them. It was a bold and sincere proclamation… but as Steven Universe Future shows? It’s a lot easier to say than to do.
In the past few years Steven has been helping other Gems acclimate to living on Earth. It’s a worthwhile task that he and Amethyst are doing splendid at… but it’s not right for him. As episode 2 demonstrates, just because you CAN do a job doesn’t mean it’s the one you should be doing. When Steven tries to put the other Gems on different assignments? It’s really him dealing with his own discomfort in his work, even if he doesn’t realize it.
He goes out to find Jasper because, deep down, he doesn’t know what to do if he’s not helping people and Jasper is a problem that may never be solved. He gets annoyed about her but what would he do without her? Steven needs problems to solve, even if he indirectly creates them.
It’s easy to think Steven had wrapped everything up in the film but it’s clear this show has a lot more to say about his biggest issue. His mom. Steven may have accepted what she did… but that wasn’t enough. He can’t just put her away, like he does with her painting in the third episode. He has to confront it head on and that means Steven has to get angry.
At first he recoils from this. He doesn’t want that. He’s Steven, he’s a kind boy who at the start of the series seemingly activated his shield by rapping about Cookie Cat. He doesn’t want to feel negative emotions. More importantly, he doesn’t want to keep thinking about his mom. Why would he? He’s just spent five seasons and a movie dealing with her. Can’t it just be over?
It’s never over, especially when there’s more to learn. Steven Universe Future is committed to seeing this emotional journey of Steven through and I applaud them for it. Just accepting his mom and learning to process his emotions about her was an incredible arc but this is taking it to a place I never thought was possible. Steven has to deal with his rage. He has to let it out. It’s physically manifesting in this pink aura that also gives him more offensive powers. He can’t escape it.
Maybe he never processed it, not correctly. Shoving your feelings down and just going, “yep, they’re solved” is not a long-term solution. It’s sticking a piece of tape over your check engine light. Eventually the car is going to break down and Steven is heading for that right now.
The breaking point was the Rose Quartz. The reaction’s, not just from Steven, were priceless. Greg’s especially was killer, the way they animate him just turning around and nopeing the hell outta there. It makes Steven face his tendency to act like everything is fine. He can’t do that when his problem is not just staring into his face but staring at him with the face of the one who’s causing all his pain. It’s powerful and even if he’s able to reconcile with these Rose Quartz, the floodgate is now open.
Then… ‘Volleyball.’ The clear standout of the first four episodes, this episode has already hotly divided fans within moments of it airing. Is Rose Quartz a monster? Should Steven even consider forgiving her? Did she really meant to hurt Volleyball Pearl? Does it matter? Does her trying to make up for it matter? That’s a topic for a much more in-depth article but we need to focus on Steven here for the moment. What does this mean for him? We see his anger at learning yet another horrific thing about his mom.
Will this force him to finally make a decision about her? Is he going to see her as “bad” now instead of, as he once said, “complicated?” What about his own feelings? He can’t shove them down anymore. He has to deal with them. This all too big. He can’t avoid this. Volleyball Pearl is staring him in the face with it. The other Rose’s are around. He can’t shove it away. He can’t just have a quick song about it. Steven is going to need to let his rage out… but how will he do it? I can’t wait to find out.
Steven Universe Future continues the extraordinary run of the series without faltering. Its commitment to the emotional journey of Steven is paying off in ways fans could have never imagined and it’s not going to be an easy watch. These are going to be tough episodes for Steven and the viewers but given the series’ track record we have no doubt they’ll be able to pull it off.
These episodes even retroactively make the finale of season five work! There I wondered why they just forgave the Diamonds and Jasper. Now it seems that was the point. Steven was so quick to forgive he never really processed what he did. Maybe, in finally confronting his anger towards his mom, he’ll realize he hasn’t confronted his feelings about a lot of things. Pulling out that one giant piece in his mind about his mom will make everything else come crumbling down.
Eat a Cookie Cat, Steven. You’re gonna need it.