This Steven Universe review contains spoilers.
Steven Universe Season 4 Episode 10
No matter how many Steven Universe episodes I watch, I’m constantly amazed how they fit so much emotional story telling into such a short span of time. Even if the lesson of the episode is fairly simple, growing and changing is difficult to accept, it’s portrayed with such care and nuance. It also helps the show has so much back story at this point to draw on.
The series delves back into flashback territory but this time to a time period we’ve barely touched on, Steven as a baby. Just having a regular baby would be tough, but Greg doesn’t have any clue what Steven needs as a half human half gem. His song, “I Could Never Be Ready” perfectly illustrates his struggle with fatherhood, single fatherhood especially. It’s a shame I don’t see more love for Greg from Steven Universe fans because this guy is a trooper. Is he perfect? No, not at all but even with all the insanity that comes from raising a half alien baby after his wife died, he’s going a pretty damn good job. From what we can tell Rose has only been gone a few months at this point and he’s surprisingly holding it together, unlike the other Crystal Gems.
When Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl come to meet baby Steven bearing gifts (the three not so wise Gems?) they prove they’re less equipped to deal with a baby than Greg. Gifting Steven a razor, adult diapers, and a dictionary, they’re flummoxed by the concept of a baby. Pearl is of course bitter as all hell to Greg, still nowhere close to being over Rose. All the Gems get an unexpected reminder of her when Steven’s gem glows and they all assume it’s Rose.
They freak out. Rose must be trapped in this baby! It must be a fusion of some kind. While Greg has apparently accepted Rose’s death, the Gems don’t have such a concept. All they know is being shattered and from what we can tell that never happened to Rose. She just… disappeared. They’re so desperate for that guiding light to be back in their lives that they kidnap Steven.
A lot of the humor in this episode is derived from the Gems not understanding how babies work and if that was all there was, this episode would be just fine. The episode takes it takes one step further, as the Gems would rather desperately scramble for any possibility of Rose still being alive then simply accepting her death. Pearl, of course, has the most trouble with this and it’s implied she’s ready to rip the gem out of Steven to get her back.
Even if Rose’s whole goal was for the gems to have free will and break out of their societal constraints, it’s the toughest for Pearl. Her whole existence was to serve others and with the love of her life gone, so is her purpose. It’s only when Garnet tells her their new purpose is to help Steven is when Pearl is able to gain some level of comfort.
This puts a whole new spin on Pearl’s dedication to Steven. While we had assumed it was out of loyalty and love for Rose, one could now interpret it to be her life dedication. That even if she’s directly serving Steven as she did the Diamonds, she still needs to swear her alligance to someone so why not Rose’s son?
All of the Gems refuse change and it’s the inferior human, Greg, who helps them through it. That humans grow and change and that’s okay. As Steven grows up and as we’ve seen in the series proper, it’s only by observing him that the Gems ultimately move beyond Rose and start to define who they are outside of her.
As happy as I’m sure Steven is to be that catalyst of change, it does wear thin for him at times. As he states in the shows full opening theme, “I will fight to be everything that everybody wants me to be when I’m grown.” His whole purpose in life is to be like Rose but if the Gems are growing out of their need for her influence in their life, where will that leave Steven?
For any other show I’d think I was reading too deep into it, but for a series like Steven Universe? This could potentially be foreshadowing for things to come.
While the series should never become too reliant on flashbacks, it’s always nice when we get one. Seeing how the Gems used to be just magnifies the impact Steven has had on their lives. Plus we get a lot of great physical comedy from the little baby Steven and we got to briefly see Ruby and Sapphire again. All in all a solid episode, exactly what you’d expect from Steven Universe.
Shamus Kelley is a pet for your tummy. Follow him on Twitter!