In the twelfth episode of the fourth season of Steven Universe, the rescue mission begins. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.
Well, that was an intense eleven minutes. I’m guessing that I’m in the midst of an arc of sorts, and as I approach the point where I catch up with all of you, I’m nervous. This is a dark episode, one that openly address the cruelty of Homeworld while also putting Steven in a deeply disturbing experience. Like, there were moments in this where I started wondering how the hell this was a show that children watched because it’s so horrifying.
Let’s start with the Zoo because WHAT IN GOD’S NAME IS WRONG WITH THIS SHOW. In hindsight, it’s not actually that surprising; the Gems of Homeworld have always viewed humans as anything but creatures deserving respect and autonomy. If they were willing to kill all humans ever, then it’s not exactly out of the realm of possibility that they would create a zoo, a menagerie of humanity. I also think this makes an important point, though: despite how sad it was to watch Blue Diamond mourn Pink Diamond, she is still the woooorrssst. No amount of sadness negates the fact that she kidnapped a human who was nice to her so that she could store him in a zoo that her dead friend (more than friend???) created. Pink Diamond was in charge of the pillaging and destruction of Earth! SHE MADE A ZOO OF HUMANS, I CAN’T FEEL SORRY FOR HER, NOT POSSIBLE.
Plus, just look at how much this devastates Steven. Prior to this, the worst that Greg went through was a broken leg. Otherwise, he’s largely been on the sidelines, at least in the sense that Steven and the Gems have kept them out of the struggles that have come prior to this. Now, however, Steven’s involvement in this struggle with Homeworld has claimed Greg as a victim, and he beats himself up over it. HE IS SO SAD AND GUILTY AND SCARED. Don’t hurt my Steven, I swear. It’s why he is so desperate to get aboard the Ruby ship, despite planning… well, none of it.
Seriously, he doesn’t plan anything, and I think the Gems got so swept up in his energy that they didn’t bother planning anything either. It shows throughout “Adventures in Light Distortion,” too! No one really knows how to operate the ship. The sequence where Steven tries to help the Gems adjust to hyper speed travel is really funny until it’s NOT FUNNY AT ALL. (A wonderful summary of the whole show, y’all!) Watching them fiddle with controls was entertaining on one level, but the tone became increasingly frantic as Steven struggled to do anything to fix this. This all results in one of the most distressing sequences on the show, wherein Steven cries and begs for his father as the Crystal Gems appear to be poofed behind him. I recognize that he rushed into this, but all I could think during that segment was how utterly careless Blue Diamond was. If Greg really is in the Zoo that we see in the final image of “Adventures in Light Distortion,” then what she did harmed Steven more than anything else we’ve seen up to this point. Like, Y’ALL. STEVEN WAS SO UPSET AND IT MADE ME VERY STRESSED OUT.
And for a show that puts emotions at the forefront of its storytelling, I thought it was bold to make this episode about how our emotions can sometimes cause us to act before thinking. I wouldn’t say that Steven overreacted here; his dad was kidnapped and brought across light years’ worth of space. HIS REACTION IS PERFECTLY FINE. But he didn’t take a moment to let the immediacy of his emotions wash over him so that he could plan his flight better. The easiest solution? He should have let Peridot explain the controls better and change the settings so that none of this would have happened.
Anyway, THEY’RE AT THE ZOO, I’M SCARED.
The video for “Adventures in Light Distortion” can be downloaded here for $0.99.