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” (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.