In the sixth episode of the third season of Steven Universe, Steven discovers a new power. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of anxiety.
Y’all, it’s just so refreshing to me that this show fills me with such joy when I watch it. And it’s fitting that an episode about Steven’s new power is about this exact same emotion: happiness. What is this show? How is it allowed to exist? OKAY, I’m being dramatic, but even with shows I have fallen in love with before, I don’t know that it’s translated to this specific kind of enjoyment.
Obviously, the whole Garnet fusion thing is a huge part of that. I am biased, and I don’t care. I SHALL BE GAY, AND IT SHALL BE GLORIOUS. But I had some time to think about this episode (I watched it on New Years’ Eve just prior to friends coming over, and am now writing the review for it on January 1). Over the course of these reviews, I have been thrilled to talk about all sorts of complications around emotional vulnerability, relationships, and politics, and it all centers on an animated show that tells stories in eleven minutes. I admit that when I started doing Steven Universe, I was really nervous that all my reviews would be a few hundred words and that’s it. How was I gonna provide the same output of critical analysis on something that was about a fourth of the length of what I usually cover? (Which I shouldn’t really have worried about, since I’ve done anime before and been fine. Plus, perpetual over thinker here.)
And then I thought about how many times this show has allowed me to refer to things I just simply don’t get to talk about regularly. There’s a point in “Steven Floats,” while Steven is still plunging to Earth in an absurdly slow manner, where he begins to imagine what will happen to him in the wake of the activation of this new power. It starts off innocently enough; the first fresh donut will go to someone else, Lars will embezzle one, Mayor Dewey will solve world hunger, and Steven will definitely die tragically, his bones plummeting to Earth. It’s a ridiculous sequence, and yet, in that moment, I could easily identify something I have a hard time explaining to others: an anxiety cycle. There’s a sequence in the opening of my book that I read on tour last year that involves an anxiety attack, and it’s there specifically because I wanted to represent this in a character. So, many of you heard me talk about it, and one of the ways anxiety manifests in me is that, no matter how benign a thought starts in my head, it usually ends with, “And then everyone hates me and throws me into the sun and then I’m dead.”
Now, I’m not saying that the writers specifically designed that sequence for this purpose. It’s just fun and rewarding to be able to have the inspiration to do so. Anxiety is a part of “Steven Floats,” though it’s meant to reflect Steven’s odd predicament. His joy over fresh donuts from Sadie unlocks his ability to float, something that comes from his mother. (Which makes me wonder if he’ll have multiple powers from her besides the ones we’ve seen!!! MORE PLEASE.) Unfortunately, the whole floating thing doesn’t come with instructions, so when Steven jumps high enough to pass by an airplane, he doesn’t know how to control his descent. I’m a huge fan of how much emotion plays into this because DUH I LOVE EMOTIONS AND YOUNG BOYS ALLOWED TO BE EMOTIONAL. (Remember, I basically am the Crying Breakfast Friends personified.) And Steven starts off this episode so happy and thrilled to be home in Beach City after the very intense events at the start of this season.
He goes from excitement to joy to confusion to terror to dejected resignation all over the course of like… eight minutes. IF THAT. It’s all presented believably (as believable as it is that someone can defy gravity through their emotional output), but it’s also a way for the show to demonstrate the love and support that Steven has from his friends. Because y’all, the Crystal Gems stay up with Steven all night to assist him with his descent and to talk with him. It’s a way to provide him comfort! And I love how Steven phrases it: no matter how badly he might mess up, his friends are still there for him. I LOVE THEMES OF FRIENDSHIP. The joy his friends bring him is what helps him land (somewhat) safely, and that’s a beautiful thing.
STEVEN CAN FLOAT, THIS IS AMAZING.
The video for “Steven Floats” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– I am now on Patreon! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards. I POST A LOT OF CUTE PHOTOS, OKAY. Think of it like a private Tumblr blog that only SPECIAL PEOPLE get to read.
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