This Steven Universe review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Season 5 Episode 20
I’ve had a lot of positive things to say about Steven Universe in the past. There have been episodes that are genuinely some of the best television out there. “Sadie’s Song”, “Mr. Greg”, “Alone at Sea”, “Mindful Education”, “Last One Out of Beach City”, and “Raising the Barn” are all episodes that could rightfully be called some of the best outings of the series. They all tackled hard topics in different ways (not all sad!) that left me stunned.
No other show I’ve seen has this kind of layered attention to their characters emotions. To their fears. Their traumas. Their hopes. Their dreams.
And I never expected the series’ best outing to date to come from Amethyst. I truly adore all the Steven Universe characters but I never quite clicked with her. Maybe it’s her jokey attitude to everything or the series not giving her quite as much attention. She’s still great but in a series filled with so many strong characters you end up leaving a few amazing ones out of your favorites.
No more with Amethyst. She’s WAY up there now and it all snuck up on me so fast. I expected this to just be about Amethyst avoiding the pain of it all but the episode actually flips those expectations a few times. First it’s that she’s just avoiding it with jokes. Then it’s that she simply doesn’t feel like she needs to deal with because it’s not on her.
That was a great reaction and I would have been totally fine if they stuck with. This isn’t her problem. Yeah she has a reaction but it’s not as deep or intense as Ruby, Sapphire, or Pearl. She loved Rose sure but she never had the bond Garnet and Pearl did. If the episode had been about how she DIDN’T have a big deep emotional reaction that would have been valid.
But no, the episode flips it all again and you really learn why Amethyst has been acting so weird the whole episode. She doesn’t want to put her emotions on Steven. She doesn’t want to burden him with her baggage while he’s got so much going on. She also doesn’t want to live in the past.
Amethyst has done more work than most of the team to confront her upbringing. She visited where she was born, fought Jasper, and even met The Famethyst. She’s got some stuff to work through but she knows she can handle it on her own now.
Some may point out she could have just told Steven that but that’s not how Amethyst works. She keeps it inside because she doesn’t want to hurt anyone. She keeps it inside because that’s comfortable for her and that’s presented as a perfectly great thing to do.
It’s not an edgelordy thing of “I’ll feel nothing so I can take on others pain” shtick (wow, MASSIVE flashback to my high school anime club days). It’s just that Steven needs more help now and she does a great job of drawing some of his feelings out of him.
Steven often acts like everything is fine and throws on a smile but he’s got a lot going on inside. As much he pleads for Amethyst to open up he needs to do the same. In a moment that really hammers home how important the whole “was Rose bad” argument is to this new batch of episodes he plainly states,
“I can see how she was good. And bad. And bad and good.”
He then deflects it away to worrying about how Garnet took it but this is important. Steven is coming closer and closer to realizing that there is no absolute good or bad. His mom wasn’t perfect but no one is. She did bad things and they shouldn’t just be swept under the rug. She did good things and those shouldn’t be discounted just because of the bad things.
Steven, and Steven Universe, are dealing with the kind of weighty emotional issues that keep philosophers up at night. The sorts of questions that fuel therapy sessions for years (not that I’d know anything about that). Unlike many shows that seem fairly content just asking the questions, Steven Universe is giving us answers.
Simply? People are complicated, everyone can have a different reaction to them, and they’re all valid. It sounds simple to say but much harder to accept, especially with people who’ve had such a huge impact on your life (both positive and negative).
Steven Universe has secretly been a therapy session for its character and the audience this whole time!
This was the best episode so far and I can only hope I’ll quickly have a new favorite tomorrow. I can see we might be getting a trio of episodes focusing on the original three Gem moms and their reactions to the Pink Diamond reveal so it’s reasonable to assume Ruby (and Sapphire, probably) will get more time to shine.
Also, Pearl’s line where she cried, “it can’t be over!” Could this be a bit of foreshadowing to the series ending soon? We’ve got three more episodes to find out.