'Steven Universe Future' Offered A Double Feature Of Fusion Shenanigans This Week
The latest double-feature episodes ofSteven Universe Futurereturn to idyllic shenanigans. After the last intense episode, "Volleyball", which spilled some discomforting revelations about Rose Quartz, two low-stakes breezer episodes are refreshing and bring us back to the old season one days of the original Steven Universe. Fusion-lovers like me especially perked up.
"Bluebird"brings back a lingering plot thread andsuggests some long-term consequential elements: Steven using his new near-invulnerable Pink powers and reaffirming he still has Gem enemies.
Steven (Zach Callison) welcomes a new Gem arrival, Bluebird Azurite (Larissa Gallagher). But he puts together immediately that said fusion-Gem is the fusion of Aquamarie (Della Saba) and Eyeball-Ruby (Charlyne Yi, doing cutsy gruffness), two former enemies. But Bluebird's excessive and misplaced gestures to Steven and his friends seem non-malicious.
Despite his protests, the Crystal Gems (Estelle, Michaela Dietz, Deedee Magno) remind him he's out to reform all Gems and maybe Bluebird did change for the better. They're not necessarily in the wrong to encourage Steven. After all, he has been consistent with his values in reforming "problematic" Gems like the tyrannical Diamonds, even ones that directly pummeled him. But it does feel like the Crystal Gems mount pressure on him to forgo his discomfort, even as Greg (Tom Scharpling) assures him it's fine if Steven keeps his distance and the Crystal Gems promise they would apprehend Bluebird if she reverts to her evildoing.
It seems to go in a direction where the lesson would be Steven's discomfort has to be respected, that even genuinely reformed beings shouldn't impose on the space of their former victims. But the lesson doesn't quite go there. Sure enough, Bluebird picks the most vulnerable being, Steven's human father, to hold as hostage.
Steven unleashes his new nigh-invincible Pink powers to apprehend them. He eventually plays couple's counselor—does he do fusion counseling at Little Homeworld?—and suggests they should fuse over mutuality, not hatred of him. Well, they are mutual in their hated of him and they will come back for vengeance.
The obvious outcome, likely done to file a long-term conflict for future episodes, is funny but doesn't all stick the landing dramatically since it goes off its suggested direction. Premise-wise, it doesn't feel as fresh as it should, considering Steven already learned that some Gems, like Jasper, just aren't into positive and productive change—or the change he deems ideal. And if it's meant to be a longer arc, nor does it feel like it hits enough to complement this arc.
Steven receives a lesson that isn't bad to stick to his reform-all principles while accepting that some Gems will still hate him. But considering the Crystal Gems pressured him into letting go of reasonable skepticism over their faux-reforming, the Crystal Gem sure owed Steven an apology.
"A Very Special Episode"is as 80s-didactic as it sounds. It sets out to teach young viewers that time management is key—or really, its scenario is a welcomed excuse to deliver the biggest laughs ofSteven Universe Futureso far.
Considering their exciting few-second appearance in the finale ofSteven Universe, it's natural that the pun-spewing Rainbow Quartz 2.0 (Alastair James) and the sunnily preaching Sunstone (Shoniqua Shandai) are warring for screen-time for one episode.
Steven has overbooked his schedule, trying to be in two places at once. First, he must babysit the creepiest human kid, Onion, with Pearl in their Rainbow Quartz 2.0 fusion form and perform their Mary Poppins magical music number where they animate Onion's action figure, disconcerting dolls, and... Onion's creepy voodoo-like makeshift doll of Steven.
But Steven also must assist Garnet with new Gems safety seminars in their Sunstone fusion. But, oh no, the unsettling Onion is causing trouble for Pearl so Steven must dash back to her. But Steven also has to run back to Garnet's session. You get the gist. It accumulates into insanity—and Callison's most priceless psychotic vocal performance–when Steven decides to just put Onion in Garnet's safety session. Things go wrong and it somehow leads to the new Gems falling off a cliff.
Just when you think you might find the escalating goofiness and Steven's frazzled scheduling contrived, it's all just an elaborate PSA production by Sunstone, churning in every lesson it can: don't pull a Steven and manage your time wisely, it's okay to say "no" to assisting your friends, cross the street safely, and don't jump off the cliff unless you're a trained professional.
- Was Amethyst the camera person in "A Very Special Episode"? That would explain most of her absence until she randomly pops up.
- It has been two years and it feels like Onion stayed the same size and never aged.
"And cut!" Steven said and I stopped the recording on his camera. He was recording a commercial for Little Homeschool and I was helping him out along with Larimar, Peridot, and a Quartz gem. I then picked up the camera.
"Thanks for helping update our commercial, guys." Steven said.
"I'm an actor." Larimar said.
"Holly and I will get home and do some editing." Steven said as I packed the camera into his hot dog bag.
"Steven, you smell good." Peridot said, giving a thumbs up.
"Uh, what?" Steven asked.
"It's written on your back." Peridot said, point to Steven's back.
"Huh?" I looked and taped to Steven's back was a paper that says 'tell me I smell good.'
"You obviously wrote this yourself." Peridot said, taking it off his back.
"No, I didn't. Holly?" Steven asked, looking at me.
"Hey, don't look at me, I'm taking a break from pranks." I said.
Steven slurps on his juice box but almost spit it out.
"Bleh! Tomato soup?" Steven said, looking at his box and it was a tomato soup box.
"I thought you loved tomato soup." Peridot said.
"Yeah, but...where'd my juice go?" Steven asked and he started to walk to his car. A toilet paper roll rolled past us.
"Huh?" I exclaimed.
"Oh no! The Dondai's been, um...kind of covered in toilet paper?" Steven said as he saw a neatly stacked tower of toilet paper on his car.
We then heard someone laughing.
"Hey! Whoever you are that's 'pranking me,' you've got a really weird idea what a prank is." Steven yelled.
I just sighed and went over to his car. I took the toilet paper off his car.
"At least we won't have to get more toilet paper." I said.
We then got into his car and we drove to his house. He then parked and we got out.
"Huh? Woah, another welcome party. A new gem must have arrived." Steven said when he looked up and saw a bunch of decorations on his house.
"I remember my welcome party here." I said, walking over to his side and Steven smiled.
"Yeah, everyone was shocked that you were a human hybrid like me." Steven said.
"Yeah, you were the most surprised." I said, ruffling his hair and he chuckled.
We then went inside and everyone was there.
"Yo, dudes, come over and introduce yourselves." Amethyst said. Steven and I walked over to her.
"Welcome to Earth! My name's-"
"Well, well, well, if it ain't the old gem savior himself, Steven Universe!" The gem said, turning around to meet us.
It had two gems so it must have been a fusion. One of it's gems was a ruby gem as one of the fusion's eyes and there was another gem under it that looked like a tear, must be from an aquamarine gem. She had a little suit and tie on that was blue and red, she had water wings coming out of her back, and she had four legs!
Steven gasped at the sight of the fusion's gems.
"Bluebird Azurite, at your service! All right, give us a hug then!" Bluebird said and hugged Steven but Steven didn't hug back. Bluebird noticed me and gasped.
It's mostly hijinks this week on Steven Universe Future
In the beginning, Steven Universe was silly and sweet; then life happened and things got a bit less silly, but the sweetness was still there. Now, in Steven Universe Future, it seems like the silly is trying to creep back in, even as everything has changed. Steven doesn’t react to hijinks the same way anymore. He’s older and dealing with complicated emotions, personified by his head glowing pink whenever he gets angry or too stressed out. It’s almost like Rose is trying to find her way out of him every time he relives his trauma from Homeworld.
In “Bluebird” (C+),two of Steven’s Homeworld enemies, Eyeball and Aquamarine, appear as a suspicious fusion named Bluebird who says she wants to join Little Homeschool. Steven is suspicious, but the Crystal Gems urge him to be patient and remember that all Gems deserve the space to change. Steven is usually able to befriend everyone, regardless of how much they hated him before. These abilities were just recently put to the test in the movie, where he was able to help Spinel find happiness. So, it feels a little redundant to have a similar story here. We know that it is possible for Gems to hate Steven already, and there’s nothing particularly interesting about Bluebird’s mostly cute attempts at revenge. She switches his juice with tomato soup. She gives him plates of food that she knows he won’t like. She even draws on his face while he’s sleeping.
The episode gets much better at the end when Steven’s suspicions are confirmed and he has to rush to save Greg. The best thing about “Bluebird” is how much it focuses on Greg. As the cast steadily increased from the first season, there has been less and less space for Greg, but when he gets screentime it’s easy to remember why he’s still around. He also gets the best lines of the episode: “I love how you believe in everyone. You stuck to your principles and I’m proud of you.” From the looks of things, it was something Steven really needed to hear.
"A Very Special Episode"
“A Very Special Episode” (B)
As we get further into Steven’s journey as a teenager, I keep thinking back to what it looked like for Finn to grow up on Adventure Time. Finn’s teenhood was explored through him growing apart from Jake, being a bad boyfriend, and becoming disillusioned with his ability to save everyone at all times. Finn went from the Optimistic Boy Hero to the Jaded Boy Hero, with so much catastrophe to fix that he rarely had time to do the kind of quiet growing up that would have been easier for him. In some ways, Steven had an easier time simply by virtue of the fact that he’s always had loving parents, with Rose Quartz being the only big question mark in his life. And because his life has always been full of love, it’s hard for him to accept that love is the solution to every problem.
In “A Very Special Episode,” Steven is overwhelmed, partially because of his hero complex but also because he’s taken on too much responsibility and doesn’t know how to let go of it. He and Pearl have fused to become Rainbow Quartz 2.0 and they’ve been tasked to look after Onion. But Onion is more of a handful than usual and when a pair of new Gems need a safety lesson, Steven finds himself having to run back and forth between jobs. What follows is a classic sitcom trope: Steven tries to be in two places at once. He also keeps fusing. When he’s with Onion he becomes Rainbow Quartz 2.0, and when he’s with the other Gems he and Garnet fuse to make Sunstone. This is the first episode in a while where we get to see some of the rarer fusions, and I can’t help but wonder if the show will let us see Sugilite one more time before the story ends for good. Nicki Minaj, if you’re reading this, please do more voice acting!
British actor Alaister James (Game of Thrones) is so much fun as Rainbow Quartz 2.0, singing to Onion in a sweet, whimsical style straight from an early Julie Andrews movie. He also has a magic umbrella that makes Onion’s toys put themselves away. On the other side of things, Sunstone—who’s voiced by actress and singer Shoniqua Shandai—has a voice and design reminiscent of corny ’90s cartoons, with red visor sunglasses straight out of Rocket Power. Sunstone is essentially a “totally radical” update to Smokey the Bear in this episode, explaining to cautious Gems with useful, easy-to-learn facts.
Overwhelmed by the pressure of handling both situations, Steven starts to crack. In every scene he gets more tired, until he becomes manic, talking to himself over and over. Eventually, the two Gems find themselves in trouble, which is extreme enough for Steven to realize that his multitasking isn’t going to work anymore. In the end, Steven uses his experience to teach a lesson about time management. But, seeing as how this season is going, this won’t be the last time Steven has to learn something the hard way. Steven Universe Future is moving towards a big growing moment for Steven, and I can’t wait to find out what it is.
- Amethyst, Pearl, and Garnet are incredibly funny in this episode. Estelle especially has amazing comic timing as Garnet.
- “I just miss ya man! I haven’t seen you in like 11 minutes!” is the fourth-wall-breaking I live for.
- Where has Connie been? 6 episodes in, and still no Connie!
- R.I.P. to Greg’s flowing mane. It was definitely time, but parting is such sweet sorrow. Kind of surprising there wasn’t a eulogy for it or at least a song.
Steven, Universally — Future, Episode 5: Bluebird
Future, Episode 5: Bluebird
“Everyone can change, but not everyone wants to.”
I’ve always found it strange that despite there being many types of blue birds, the word “bluebird” refers to one specific type of thrush. I had a fascination with language quirks from a young age that eventually prompted me to major in linguistics, and one of the earliest instances was my childhood annoyance with how dumb and arbitrary “bluebird” and “blackbird” were as names. (The fact that my name is Jay and a frequent nickname growing up was “Jaybird” has nothing to do with the chip on my shoulder about bluebirds getting all the glory over the far superior blue jay, shut up.)
After I watched Bluebird, I looked up bluebird azurite (the mineral) because its name seemed just as arbitrary: azurite is blue, to the point where the word just means “blue,” so why distinguish a blue variety? And why name it after a C-tier thrush? It all comes down to the coloring, because unlike the vastly superior blue jay, which is mostly blue with simple additions of black and white, the pathetic bluebird has so much red that it barely lives up to its own stupid name. So when blue azurite and red cuprite blend together, bluebird azurite is the result.
Which is clever enough on its own for our blue and red villains’ fused name, especially considering azurite and cuprite are both toxic. However, there’s another notable toxic mineral that worms its way into the story: Bluebird Azurite is our second named fusion born from spite instead of love, but lest we forget that Jasper is the secret main character of the Steven Universe Future, azurite is more commonly associated with malachite.
When I first watched Bluebird, it was my least favorite episode since Onion Gang. With more context of where the show was going…well, that’s still true, but I don’t quite hate it anymore. There were two major issues that sink my enjoyment of the episode, but it turns out one of them was on purpose.
The conflict is set up efficiently, at least. After making a promo for Little Homeschool with Peridot, an embodiment of Steven’s ability to turn enemies into friends, he returns home to a welcoming party scored by Haven’t You Noticed That I’m a Star?, a song from an episode about the perils of selfishness and the importance of thinking about others. So in a bubble, it makes sense that we’d get an episode about Steven looking past what he wants for himself and helping an enemy reform.
But outside of that bubble, it’s impossible to ignore that the message of Change Your Mind, the very last lesson we see Steven learn before the time jump, is that while it’s good to help others, it isn’t his job to martyr himself for the chance to help someone who has hurt him in the past and has no desire to stop. Eyeball wanted to carve out his gem with a blunt shiv, and Aquamarine kidnapped him by threatening to straight-up murder his friends, and this is the perfect opportunity to use the tools he learned from his clash with White Diamond and make a healthy choice. Instead, urged on by the Crystal Gems, he doesn’t backpedal so much as slide all the way down the mountain he just climbed, forgetting what the entire original series was building up to.
And yeah, it’s the Crystal Gems that bug me the most here, because they go far beyond enabling Steven’s self-destructive behavior: they encourage him to put others first to a degree that almost feels like gaslighting, going out of their way to make Bluebird fit in without caring at all about how it might affect Steven. When he’s looking for their help, they throw his goal of helping others at his face without context and don’t give him an inch of flexibility despite his clear distress. Only Greg tells him what he needs to hear, that it’s okay to have boundaries with people who’ve hurt you, but his lone voice is overruled, and by the end of the episode he’s the only person who’s punished for it.
This was the major issue that got resolved as I saw the rest of Future, because while it’s frustrating as all hell that the Crystal Gems wrong Steven like this, his family’s failure to help him in the way he needs is a critical aspect of the epilogue. The Crystal Gems want him to put others first because that’s their understanding of what makes him happy, and moreover it’s the reason they have gotten to grow; they’re so used to who he was in the original series that they’re slow to accept that he needs to change as much as they did. Rose Quartz has always stood out by being the only Gem that isn’t stubborn as a rock by default, and while the Crystal Gems have evolved over the course of the show, it can still be hard for them to get unstuck from their preconceptions.
Greg is the voice of sanity here, but this scene (our second of three in Future that focuses on Steven turning on his bath’s faucet) is a compelling encapsulation of how he and the Crystal Gems’ parenting styles both help and harm Steven. The Gems are pushing him towards more responsibility than he should bear, because at their worst they unfairly slot him into the role his mother left behind, but at their best this manifests as trusting him and treating him as an equal. Greg is pushing for what’s best for Steven, because at his best he believes in the pursuit of happiness and doing right by his son, but at his worst (as we’ll see in Mr. Universe) it’s meant doing the opposite of the Gems and giving him almost no structure that would allow him to relate to his fellow humans.
So I’m not mad at this part of Bluebird anymore. It sucks, but it’s supposed to suck, and it sucks in a way that’s realistic for the characters involved. If the rest of the episode was good, it might’ve staged a comeback to become one of the classics. Unfortunately…
Bluebird is a thoroughly unpleasant experience, and while some of it is on purpose (I just went over the Crystal Gems’ issues, and Bluebird herself is the villain so it makes sense that she’s miserable), the structural issues we got in Guidance are even worse here. This is a five minute plot at best stretched into eleven: Steven distrusts Bluebird but gives it a shot, she seems fine at first but betrays him, he learns a lesson, the end. But the “she seems fine at first” part of the story is pulled as far as it can go and then half a mile further to fill four interminable scenes that repeat the same joke four times: “Oh no, Azurite looks bad! Joke’s on Steven, she’s good!”
I will grant that Amethyst’s scene, while ridiculous for her character, scores points for being so broad that it mixes things up. But we know exactly where these scenes are going after the first gag, and instead of just getting to the point we have to sit through repetition after repetition after repetition. There’s an art to repeating a gag over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again to the point where it stops being funny then starts being funny again, but that’s not how Bluebird works. It doesn’t give us an absurd amount of fake out jokes, so we only get to the part where it stops being funny and sit in it for a minute or so. Rarely does a Steven Universe episode have pacing that inspires me to say “Get on with it!” aloud, but Bluebird finds a way.
And again, this whole episode feels like gaslighting for Steven in a way that just makes me uncomfortable. Bluebird’s pranks may be small, but he doesn’t deserve this shit and I’m too busy wanting him to catch a break to laugh. The reason Bugs Bunny works as a cartoon trickster is that he never starts a fight: Bugs messing with Elmer Fudd for trying to hunt him is funny, but Bugs messing with Elmer Fudd when he’s just trying to be a good friend would be miserable. So Bluebird never seems genuine despite four full scenes hinging on getting us to believe she might be genuine, ruining what little use those scenes had in moving the plot forward. It all feels so perfunctory and hollow until we finally reach the third act.
The heightened tone bleeds into the big fight, which turns the melodramatic “reveal” that Aquamarine and Eyeball are our villains into a genuine laugh. Greg ends up having to save himself by chopping off the hair we saw him lovingly brush at the beginning of the bathroom intervention, and while his reaction is melodramatic, we’ve known him long enough to make this genuinely affecting. Zach Callison delivers an intentionally melodramatic line (“Father, go inside”) as he prepares to fight, but the fight itself is genuinely thrilling. Everything that works about this last sequence hinges on a sense of sincerity sneaking into an episode full of absurdity.
But then the artifice comes right back, as Alexandrite forms to crush Bluebird back into her two parts and they rocket off agai(iiiiiiiiii)n. We’ve seen Alexandrite fight Aquamarine before, and the latter’s magic wand held the giant to a standstill, so it’s ridiculous to imagine Bluebird as some sort of minor threat; I get the message that toxic fusions are weaker than the sum of their parts, but even when she splits back into those parts, Aquamarine just flies away rather than use her overpowered weapon. And while it’s not the fault of the episode, the fact that we get no follow-up from Aquamarine and Eyeball mutes their Team Rocket-style threat as they fly away. They give off serious recurring villain vibes, but nope, this is it for them.
While our short episode count is a culprit, there’s still so much potential for these two that never gets explored in part because their only episode wastes so much of its time. I love that we pair up two Gems that miss the way Homeworld used to be and don’t know how to handle its change, given we focus so hard on Gems who’ve benefited from that change. Even if they remained belligerent and haughty, that dynamic could fuel such a better plot than this in terms of breaking down the consequences of Steven’s actions: in the past two years of reformation, how did he handle holdouts to the old way like this troubled pair? Their behavior here suggests that it slipped his mind, but zeroing in on this aspect of Aquamarine and Eyeball could’ve been a terrific way to show us the futility of destroying himself to make everyone else happy.
At least we get some focus on Greg in exchange. In classic form, he outright tells us the story’s lesson, but cushions it by saying how proud he is of Steven for trying anyway, which is sweet of him but normalizes the Crystal Gems’ insistence that he keep up the brutal pace Steven sets for himself. Still, Greg foreshadows the aftermath of his son’s breakdown as well, realizing that the healthiest choice he can make for his beloved hair is letting it go free.
It’s honestly an understatement to say that not everyone wants to change. A lot of people want change itself to happen, but many of them aren’t that interested in changing themselves to do so (see: broken New Year’s resolutions, the existence of lotteries, human stubbornness in general). Bluebird and Steven have this at least in common, and while we never see what becomes of our villain, it’s good to lay out this groundwork: for Steven to finally make a change, he needs to want to.
We’re the one, we’re the ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!
It’s not fair to condemn an episode for what it wasn’t trying to do, so no points off for not diving deeper into Aquamarine and Eyeball. And it’s not fair to condemn an episode for making the characters difficult in an intentional way that pays off big time, so no points off for the Crystal Gems’ bad advice. But given how weak I find the episode even with these caveats, that’s just about the only thing keeping this out of my bottom-of-the-barrel No Thanks category.
Steven Universe: The Movie (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)
- Steven and the Stevens
- Hit the Diamond
- Mirror Gem
- Lion 3: Straight to Video
- Alone Together
- Jungle Moon
- Last One Out of Beach City
- The Return
- The Answer
- Mindful Education
- Sworn to the Sword
- Rose’s Scabbard
- A Single Pale Rose
- Change Your Mind (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)
- Mr. Greg
- Coach Steven
- Lars of the Stars
- Giant Woman
- Beach City Drift
- Winter Forecast
- Back to the Kindergarten
- Steven’s Dream
- Kevin Party
- When It Rains
- The Good Lars
Y’all, It’s Complicated
6. Horror Club
5. Fusion Cuisine
4. House Guest
3. Onion Gang
2. Sadie’s Song
1. Island Adventure
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Six Months Later
“Here we are in the future.”
As I promised myself long ago, and wrote about a year and a half ago, I’ve marked the end of Steven, Universally with my fifth tattoo. It’s an edited version of a gorgeous minimalist crest designed by SekultSiul (took a surprisingly lengthy web search to find something I wanted), and I’m rull pumped for it to heal over.
Today marks six months since I wrapped this project up, and in that time I got engaged to my favorite person and moved to a new city after nearly a decade in New York. In all the hubbub it’s frankly been wonderful to have time away from writing every week; analyzing my favorite cartoon never felt like a burden, but as life gets busier it does feel freeing to have one less meal on my plate. As such, while there’s always a chance for another blog down the line (for instance, I have some thoughts about Korra through the lens of policing), for now I’m happy to focus on settling into this new stage in my life.
In its entirety, Steven, Universally is a touch over 350,000 words, which means I’ve written more about Steven Universe than Tolstoy wrote about Anna Karenina. Between this blog and Going Over the Garden Wall achieving what I wanted to achieve, I’m content with the decision to let this chapter close, but I’ll always be grateful for the support I got from y’all as I tackled this endeavor. Thanks so much, and merry reading!
Future, Episode 20: The Future
Time is an illusion that helps things make sense
So we’re always living in the present tense
It seems unforgiving when a good thing ends
But you and I will always be back then.
“It’s not serious, but could be trouble if left unchecked.”
Future, Episode 19: I Am My Monster
“The only person who’s never had Steven is Steven.”
Steven Universe began with a sweet, simple theme song focusing on our young hero’s innocence, and gained a more confident update after he got some experience under his belt. Steven Universe Future mixes things up by adapting Happily Ever After from the movie into a theme song, and while this new opening mostly revels in the same joy as its predecessors, it replaces the line “nothing to fear, no one to fight” with an uncomfortable lyrical gap as we see what Steven has to fear and fight.
Most of these obstacles were familiar from the start: Jasper is a given, Bluebird heavily resembles Aquamarine, we’ve got a new plant version of Steven up front, two lapis lazulis up high, and a screaming pink version of White Diamond between them. Mysterious, sure, but easy enough to figure out by look alone. The only new face is the final boss, lurking behind and above everyone else, casting an ominous glare in the same way Yellow Diamond once did when she was the scariest threat Steven could think of.
It’s a given that Steven Universe is the protagonist of the series, movie, and epilogue that bear his name. But it turns out he’s only the hero of the first two.
Future, Episode 17: Homeworld Bound
“I don’t want to feel better, I want to be better!”
For all his shortcomings when it comes to putting everybody else first, Steven at the very least knows to maintain a healthy distance from the Diamonds. Steven Universe: The Movie begins with him fleeing Homeworld with such desperation that he’d rather face his family’s hard reset and a global threat by himself than call the Diamonds for backup, so the only way to realistically have him seek them out would be circumstances that felt even more dire than the end of the world. And sure enough, that’s what Steven Universe Future spends its first sixteen episodes building up to.
Homeworld Bound begins right where we left off, meaning we have our second episode in a row that sets the stage with the Big Three Crystal Gems. As in Fragments, Steven walks right past his family’s concerns and puts up a literal wall to keep them away, but this time any frustration they have has ceded to pure concern over his well-being. Jasper now lurks among them as a living reminder of his darkest moment, and while nobody he leaves behind is happy about it, she takes it the hardest; she’s had more than enough rejection in the past few years. Steven isn’t happy about it either, but now that absolutely every other option that he can think of has been exhausted, he grits his teeth and warps to a broken world to see if he can stomach his last resort.
Future, Episode 16: Fragments
There are three core episodes of Steven Universe that center around the idea of being Strong, highlighted by each of the Big Three Crystal Gems singing about it. In Coach Steven and Strong in the Real Way, Pearl lays out the thesis that inner strength is what matters most. In Jailbreak and Stronger Than You, Garnet solidifies that thesis and focuses on the importance of healthy relationships to enhance inner strength. And in Cry for Help and Tower of Mistakes, Amethyst points out that while Pearl and Garnet are right, the work itself can be grueling: there are no shortcuts to building inner strength and healthy relationships.
Steven internalizes these lessons at the time, but as his life unravels, so does his understanding of them. So at what he thinks is his lowest point, he turns to someone that disregards inner strength for physical strength, that was defeated by partners working as one and repeatedly failed to emulate their success, that only values hard work when it allows her to hurt people more efficiently. And when she preaches about power for the umpteenth time, he drinks up her barbaric perspective like it’s the most delicious poison in the world.
For Jasper, strength is always comparative. Being strong isn’t as important as being the strongest, so we always hear her bragging about being stronger than everyone around her; that’s what adds the extra kick in Garnet’s Stronger Than You. Despite being defined by her misguided sense of strength throughout the series, Jasper only ever says the actual word “Strong,” without affixes, once. And because brutal eloquence is her secret weapon, once is all she needs to deal a life-changing blow.
“Are you afraid to be strong?”
Future, Episode 15: Mr. Universe
“Don’t you know the Universe is looking, too?”
My dad was born in New Jersey in the mid-fifties and raised not too far away in Pennsylvania, so there are few artists that move him like Bruce Springsteen.
When I was thirteen or fourteen, Dad and I were driving somewhere, half-talking and half-listening to the Boss. Longtime readers may recall that both of my parents are pastors, and Dad was in full form preaching the Gospel of Bruce, but when he mentioned how well Springsteen captures the yearning of youth, I just sorta shrugged. With the tact of a literal middle schooler, I helpfully pointed out that while my dad remembered Springsteen as a young man, from my perspective he’d always been middle aged.
The car didn’t screech to a halt, and Dad didn’t get defensive or stern. He wasn’t even disappointed that I didn’t grasp what he saw in his favorite musician. But I’ll never forget the way his face shifted as the weight of our age gap sunk in; somewhere down the line, he’d gotten older than he thought he was.
Future, Episode 13: Together Forever
Sorry, weird typo, what I meant to write was UGGGGGGH.
I never actually watched Together Forever until I had to for this post. I’d watched most of it, and I’d listened to the whole thing, but I was physically unable to keep my eyes on the screen until I forced myself to do it, because, if you’ll allow me, UGGGGGGGH.
Future, Episode 12: Bismuth Casual
“I’ve kinda missed out on a lot of human stuff.”
After eleven episodes of buildup, our next eleven minutes can’t wait a single second longer for Connie.
She’s the biggest missing piece of Future up to this point, only seen in glimpses and heard in references. And she’s not even a main character in the movie, meaning we’ve barely seen her at all since the time skip. That said, we can gather a lot from what little we’ve gotten from her: she’s bolder about her crush on Steven, she’s interested in normal human activities like space camp without losing her grip on that space sword, and now she’s busy busy busy planning for her future. In short, she’s everything Steven could be if he had his life together, but because he wasn’t raised in a stable home and was burdened from a young age with an impossible legacy, that just isn’t in the cards for him. It isn’t that she’s run out of problems, but she’s figured out how to keep it together.
And sure enough, she bursts into Bismuth Casual singing along with Emily King, who’s been serenading the closing credits and will give us the final song of the series. Connie is the human half that’s eluded Steven throughout the epilogue, and while it’s great to see her, sudden exposure to this vital part of his life is bound to be messy.
Future, Episode 11: In Dreams
“Camp Pining Hearts helped me escape when everything around me was in chaos.”
Meta commentary requires a deft touch unless you want a story that’s overly cutesy or self-congratulatory, and while Steven Universe doesn’t always get it right as far as I’m concerned (see: Say Uncle and Know Your Fusion), it’s never gotten it wrong when an in-universe television show is involved, and it’s never gotten it wrong with Peridot.
I say “meta commentary” and not “meta humor” because In Dreams, on top of being our last Peridot episode, is our last horror episode. And while there are jokes galore courtesy of the Crystal Gems’ favorite gremlin, what could’ve been a broad episode about fanfiction is reshaped by the very thing the story is about: the fact that Steven Universe Future is about what happens after the escapism of Steven Universe, when the fantasy of being a galactic hero cedes to the reality that Steven has a lot more life to live and a newsstand’s worth of issues to sort out.
This isn’t just an episode about why this series can’t be Steven Universe anymore, but why the series is ending: ongoing shows require constant conflict to fuel each episode’s plot, and Steven has adjusted his worldview to fit into a world driven by conflict to the point where he has no idea how to just exist with people anymore. In Dreams mourns the end of simpler times, but readies both its characters and its audience for what can come next.
Universe bluebird steven
Meet Bluebird | Steven Universe Future | Cartoon Network
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Steven questions the motives of a mysterious fusion that suddenly shows up at his house.
About Steven Universe:
Introducing the Crystal Gems! Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl and Steven. Steven might not know how to use the magical powers that come out of his bellybutton, but that doesnt stop him from joining the Gems on their magical adventures!
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Steven Universe Future, About Bluebird Azurite
Steven Universe Future, Lets talk about this ugly brat
Bluebird Azurite, do not like. This fusion is ugly, puny and obnoxious. Aparently Aquamarine and the one eyed ruby, called "eyeball" found each other and cooked up a scheme to get revenge on Steven by pretending to be someone new and being obnoxious to him under the guise of a new gem not understanding human customs.
The problem is everyone already figured out who they were the second they showed up, and all their attempts to "ruin" steven's life fall really short because they dont understand human customs.
They unfuse but have trouble fusing again, for being out of synch, which i still dont understand that--if there was to be a harmony and in synch rhythem between the jems in order to fuse, then how the hell did Jasper and Lapis manage to fuse? I really wish Rebecca Sugar thought out the details BEFORE putting those episodes into production, because i agree with the critics, that Steven Universe was not well put together and this created lots of holes and questions and inconsistencies, such as needing to do a fusion dance to fuse--Ruby and Aquamarine don't do any fusion dances but still manage to fuse, so then....fusion dances are just bullcrap and aren't really needed then...? Uh, Anyway...Steven is living under this mantra that all gems are invited to explore and change things about themselves and discover a new way of life--so of course he cant kick Bluebird out even though he knew who they were and what they were up to, and its kind of stupid that his gem friends, Pearl, Amethyst, and Garnet have been sooooo protective of Steven but now they were like "Whatever she's harmless" and didnt take his concerns into consideration until after they catch her trying to beat on Steven. Brilliant. I love you Garnet, but it baffles me that there are times when you can be just as stupid as the other two.
On the bright side, we get to see Alexandrite again, and we get to see her squash this little creep. The downside, not only did they skip the dance that they supposedly need to fuse so we dont get the pleasure of seeing this fusion dance, but Alexandrite's inclusion was way too brief that it literally only lasted a few seconds.
The way Ruby and Aquamarine introduce themselves and bumble about and the way the even leave the scene after their defeat, flying off into the sky until they become a shinning glimer of light, seems like their referencing--or ripping off--the Team Rocket characters from pokemon. Hm. Except team rocket does it better, because at least they manage to actually fool people with their disguises many disguises. And why did they need to introduce themselves anyway? Steven already knows them and they know that.
I love how Greg sums up the ending by saying "Everyone can change, but not everyone wants to." That reminds me of a few certain someones here on DA. But it's true, people dont always want to change even when it's in their own interest, hint hint.
Anyway, I guess that means these two morons are going to come back eventually. But the most prominant thought i had about this episode is how freakin' ugly and obnoxious Bluebird Azurite is. Im sure plenty of peeps are gonna be like "hey, I like that little blue dummy--she cute." That's good and fine, nothing wrong with that, but me personally, I don't like bluebird and I don't understand how sitting or lying on her back works for her, I mean shes got four legs so does she have two butts? Or do the extra legs just come out of one pelvic area? And why is she so puny? Sapphire and Ruby are both small but their fusion form of Garnet is really tall, so why are these two still really small in even fusion form?
Hey, wait a minute--if these two are attacking Steven who is accepted by the Diamonds, does that mean they are rogue gems now? Man, they really gotta hate Steven to risk angering the diamonds....unless they are trying to be sneaky about it. But i dont see how, whats to stop anyone from telling the diamonds that their steven is being harrassed by these two? Or is this one of those things we're supposed to ignore?
Hm--well thats it for now, except to include that I love when the other Jasper characters are included. I should make a journal for them too. I would have rather have seen more of them and less of bluebird in this episode.
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The real meat of the episode focused on the new fusion of Bluebird that finally addressed something of a complaint many had towards the series. As much as Steven Universe is all about love being the answer and Steven trying to be friends with everyone, there’s still a nagging sense that it’s all a bit… simple. Obviously what Steven and the Crystal Gems is incredibly taxing but the end result just being everyone is mostly friends? That’s fairly unrealistic.
Sure, Jasper is still sort of an enemy and Steven doesn’t want to hang out with the Diamonds or Spinel but those are a little things. Minor annoyances. Even Jasper seems to at least have a begrudging respect for Steven at this point. So the fact that Aquamarine and Eyeball Ruby just flat out hate him? It’s an acknowledgement, one that show takes it time to make explicit, that not everyone wants to change. Not everyone is down for learning to love and be friends.
read more: Steven Universe: Should Steven Forgive Rose?
Some just want to be fueled by their hatred and never let it go. It’s, not surprisingly for those living in our world today, comfortable. Change is hard. Staying the same and having an easy to hate enemy is much easier and safer.
Letting Aquamarine and Eyeball Ruby get away further showed that no matter how hard you try there will always be someone out there who won’t like you. You can the nicest person in the universe and someone will just want to claw your eyes out. You just can’t help it. Being kind, as Steven is, means you eventually have to do something about those who are hurting others. Most in this universe seem willing to change after awhile but now knowing there are at least a few who won’t? It makes Steven Universe more emotionally grounded. It’s still an ideal world (it’d have to be for the Diamonds to get such an easy pass from Steven) but it at least acknowledges there are some problems you can’t solve and a few people who will never change.
That alone makes this episode worth it… but Greg losing his hair just made it even better. Fair thee well, old friend.