In the second episode of Steven Universe Future, Steven mistakenly causes chaos when he takes over a project that Amethyst started. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe Future.
Trigger Warning: For a brief discussion of trauma and PTSD.
Oh, I can already see the potential this new show has. THERE IS SO MUCH TO EXPLORE!
Amethyst later spells it out, but the whole point of “Guidance” is that after years and years of uncertainty, after all that time spent in an identity crisis, Amethyst finally knows who she is. She escaped both the literal and metaphorical terror of Homeworld, and with Steven and the Crystal Gems at her side, she came into her own. Thus, it’s entirely perfect that her purpose in Little Homeworld reflects that. Who is better qualified to help gems adjust to life on Earth AND determine their purpose than someone who did just that?
As I said in the previous review, Steven often has a problem seeing the forest for the trees, and here’s a great example. If he’d just stopped and examined what Amethyst was doing, he would have remembered what made her uniquely qualified to do this. Instead, he takes it upon himself to help other gems.
Except… did these other gems even need Steven’s help to begin with?
There are four gems we’ve seen in smaller capacities (except maybe Nephrite, who had entire episodes devoted to the Centi character) at the center of this episode: Larimar, Snowflake Obsidian, and Bixbite. Each of them had a very specific position within the Homeworld hierarchy, and Amethyst consults each of them one-on-one to see if there’s a job or role on Earth that will allow them to explore something new.
I think it’s vital to note that one word in particular is used to describe these positions: comfort. Look, it’s understandable that Steven would see “comfort” as a negative state or term. Has he ever been comfortable in the past six years or so? Even though there’s certainly been joy and silliness on the show, there’s also been a whole lot of conflict. Much of it is background noise, too, at least until we get to latter episodes. He’s always had this casual cloud of stress hanging over him. He was forced to change and live in the uncomfortable at a young age. He grew up incredibly fast. Which isn’t always a good thing?
So when Steven sees each of these gems doing something that directly corresponded to their duties on Homeworld, he doesn’t see this as a means for them to adjust slowly and carefully. It’s a flaw. A defect. It is something to be fixed. I must also point out the other major flaw in Steven’s thinking, one Amethyst directly calls out later: Steven doesn’t ask any of these gems what they want. That’s what Amethyst did! Rather, Steven assumes that the gems aren’t growing because they’re not out of their comfort zones. He calls their new positions “on-the-nose.” And yes, they all were. Larimar and Snowflake operated a snow-cone stand; Bixbite worked in Fish Stew Pizza; and Nephrite flew Any’d plane to draw things in the sky.
Steven unfortunately falls into a very common line of thinking: That unless things are hard and challenging and uncomfortable, we don’t grow. There ARE contexts in which that does work, but maybe a bunch of traumatized gems who likely have PTSD and were recently awakened after being shattered for THOUSANDS OF YEARS might not be the people to try this theory out on!!! Like, I can’t ignore that here. Also, I imagine that all four of these gems WERE uncomfortable! They just weren’t showing it!
Thus, Steven causes a mess. The Rubies are forced to stop being bodyguards to Mayor Nanefua so they can… hand out flowers? Zebra Jasper is chucking pizzas like they’re footballs. (Which makes for a hilarious visual, as multiple members of Beach City are knocked down by flying pizzas in the background.) Larimar isn’t properly taught to stop the rollercoaster, which makes it go faster. And poor Snowflake Obsidian, who voiced fear of flying BUT STEVEN CHOSE TO IGNORE THAT. It’s chaos!!!
You know, I had a theory that maybe stress is what induces Steven’s new power, but… he’s been stressed before? It doesn’t make sense. Here, as Steven and Amethyst, in the Smoky Quartz fusion, attempt to save everyone on the rollercoaster, Steven’s new power activates. What is so fascinating about it is that it manifests completely different as it did in “Little Homeschool.” Here, Steven is able to run with super speed AND slow down time. What the hell??? Where did this come from? Smoky Quartz manages to save the day (but not the roller coaster), and Steven gracefully apologizes. Larimar also discovers something new about herself, too! So there are very positive things that come from what happened, not just Steven’s awareness of how his thinking hurt others.
I can’t stop thinking about Amethyst’s question, though, and now I’m wondering if that’s the point of this new show. What IS Steven’s future? At some point, he won’t have gems to save, right? He’s going to have to move on from that impulse. But what does that mean? What or who does he become? He’s still so young, and msot of his life has been defined by him being someone forced into a war. Who do you become after all that?
The video for “Guidance” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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