Cartoon Network up and released the first of the final four episodes of Steven Universe Future on Monday and I didn’t find out about this until today… which is annoying. However, I went ahead and gave “Homeworld Bound” a look and found it, much like the last few episodes of Future, dark and fascinating.
Steven has been developing new and frightening powers lately and his emotions are starting to run unchecked. Worst of all, the Gems, his usual base of support, have been abscent as they have shifted their efforts to helping other Gems settle on Earth, and Steven has lost faith in the support of his father after learning that his dad gave up the simple, normal life that Steven secretly craved. Worst still, Steven has sought the help of his former arch-enemy, Jasper, who has given him the worst advise possible: Give in to the anger and the power and let it change who you are.
Jasper’s advice was, of course, incredibly selfish because she never cared to help Steven, she just wanted a rematch to prove that she is the strongest of the two and Steven responded by shattering her… basically, the Gem version of getting killed to death.
Don’t worry. She got better.
The damage is done, though. Steven doesn’t know what to do with himself and he’s afraid he’s going to hurt someone… you know… again.
Steven runs away to the Gem Homeworld where he hopes to find help from the Diamonds themselves, now reformed and trying to undo all of the damage they have done over their multi-millennia reign.
What we get is another rabbit hole filled with more imagery and symbolism regarding how trauma is dealt with and shows just how much care has gone into this finale arch.
Yellow Diamond, when we first met her, could use her powers to destroy the physical forms of Gems who displeased her. Now, she uses her powers to put those Gems she destroyed back together by manipulating their physical forms. Yellow is genuinely trying to fix the trauma she caused by changing appearance, like how someone escaping a toxic relationship or an abuser will often cut their hair and get a new outfit.
Blue Diamond has figured out how to turn her emotional manipulation powers that she used to make people feel her pain and grief into a power to make people feel happy all the time. Along with the white puffy clouds, it’s not hard to see that Blue represents substance abuse, something that people who have been through trauma often turn to.
Finally, White Diamond… Once she could use her powers to control the bodies of other Gems and now, she uses them to allow Gems to control her and speak to themselves. This leads to perhaps the darkest Steven Universe moment of all time as Steven, controlling White Diamond’s body, purposely tries to shatter his former tormentor. Steven has become the abuser because it makes him feel in control.
Now, you could say that Steven was trying to kill White Diamond and that is certainly an interpretation, but when you look at White Diamond’s power and realize that Steven was actually in control of both bodies, the scene becomes more chilling in my estimation… White Diamond’s scene represented self-harm. Everything from cutting to suicide.
All coping mechanisms and none of them work… as a matter of fact, they all seem to drive Steven deeper into darkness.
The only bright light comes from an offhand comment made by Spinel, the adversary from Steven Universe: The Movie who tells Steven that his words, “You can make a change” saved her. Steven retorts, “Don’t give me my own advice,” but perhaps Spinel was correct and this was more than just a reskin of the famous Pagliacci joke from Watchmen.
Doctor, I’m so depressed.
You should go find a boy named Steven Universe. He can fix you right up!
But Doctor, I am Steven Universe!
Maybe Spinel was saying that no one can help Steven but Steven himself.
I’m floored that this series has gone this dark. A few years ago, I was wondering if the Diamonds could ever be redeemed. Now, I’m wondering if Steven can.