This Steven Universe review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Season 5 Episode 14
It took me until now to realize that a huge element of Steven Universe is family. Think about it. Many of the human characters especially are dealing with how they feel about their parents or siblings. Steven, Lars, Buck, Sour Cream, Kiki, Jenny, and especially Sadie. It helps to tie their stories into Steven’s on a thematic level.
Last episode we had all these revelations about Steven’s mom and then we go right to Sadie finally moving forward with hers. This could be a sign of the show moving in a new direction or perhaps even wrapping up certain plots. The characters are resolving the main conflicts with their parents so they can move on to bigger challenges in their lives.
Sadie is finally ready to let her mom into her life on her terms just as Steven is finally getting over the angst of his mom. Now Sadie can focus on her own dreams and Steven can focus on saving the Earth with a clear mind. It’s representative of what many of us have to go through as we get older. We deal with the sins of our parents in order to move forward as adults.
The strength of Steven Universe is how these arcs and themes aren’t readily apparent. The long game of this show can sometimes be frustrating but when it leads to pay off like this it’s all worth it. Steven Universe may get a lot of attention for its queer elements but episodes like this also deserve praise for taking complex emotional struggles and boiling them down to incredibly relatable stories.
“The Big Show” also switches things up a bit to help with the time lapse of events. Rather than just having a normal episode we get to see it all through Steven’s eyes (or camera, as it may be.) This is a great work around to the series’ very strict rule of always keeping Steven as the POV character. He’s still very much that here but by seeing through his eyes we can give more focus to Sadie’s story.
I’m glad the show made it clear Sadie needed that space from her mom before letting her back in. It would have been too easy for her to just accept her smothering ways but instead she learns to appreciate what Barb is trying to do even if she’s going about it the wrong way.
Family isn’t perfect. Rose wasn’t. Greg’s parents weren’t. Kiki and Jenny have their issues. However the more we come to understand why they do what they do the more we can accept them. That doesn’t mean you have to let everyone in, look at Jasper and Amethyst, but you can start to dismantle those defenses you’ve been carrying with you.
Like Sadie, you can decide to let these people into your life once you’ve discovered what you want as a person and what makes you happy.
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Sadie Killer and the Suspects EP when? Follow him on Twitter!