In the seventh episode of Steven Universe Future, a heavy snowfall in Beach City derails Steven’s day. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe Future.
Wow, I really feel called out by this episode. As I said at the end of the accompanying video, the timing of it feels so on-the-nose that it’s almost eerie. We just had a couple snow days in a row here in New York City. (Relative to when I am writing this, not when it’s live on the site.) So much snow dropped on the city that I believe I have only seen more snow once, and it was two MONTHS worth of it in Colorado. I only experienced one Snow Day as a kid during my brief stint in Boise, Idaho, and I only really have vague memories of it. So, I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten the full Snow Day thing!
So now I’m wondering if, the next time there is one, I should force myself to really have a Snow Day.
Though that’s not quite the point of this episode. It is part of the narrative, but there’s a whole separate perspective that’s unfolding alongside the commentary on Steven’s work-life balance. There are bits and pieces of it strewn over “Snow Day.” The Crystal Gems repeatedly make reference to or bring out things Steven did when he was younger. His favorite breakfast; his favorite games; his favorite movies. I misinterpreted what this was doing, though, because I could see way too much of myself in Steven’s schedule.
For what it’s worth, though, I was also trying to see this in the context of recent episodes, especially since this came after “A Very Special Episode.” Steven is still a teenager, and he is TERRIBLY overworked. His first response to a snow storm that has shut down Beach City is to… do work. He doesn’t even consider taking a day off, even though most of the city will have to.
However, there’s a balance struck here between responsibility and joy. I can now see why Steven was so terribly irritated by Amethyst, Garnet, and Pearl, even though their intent was pure. They see how overworked he is. How tired he is. They miss him because even thought they all live in the same house, even though they all teach at Little Homeschool, their time with Steven has become limited. And on top of it all, they just want to have the kind of fun they used to.
In general, that’s not a harmful thing to want. But each of these acts is a thorn in Steven’s side. Is this all his friends view him as? Do they see him merely as the silly, carefree kid he used to be years and years ago? Steven wanted acknowledgment here: Did his friends actually realize that he was no longer the same person anymore, and did they recognize the ways in which he’d grown into a young adult? Because it IS very true that he’s not the same person anymore! I mean, just the fact that Steven sat down with a pack of Post-its so he could ORGANIZE A SCHOOL’S SCHEDULE was evidence alone that he was someone new. His priorities and desires have changed. His likes and dislikes have changed with time, too!
Well, not entirely. I loved the Super Smash Bros. animation style for the game of Steven Tag (which I feel we haven’t seen in AGES on the show) that plays out over most of the episode. Obviously, the writers were going for contrast and absurdity. As Steven tries to be increasingly responsible, Amethyst and Garnet (and later Pearl) all get more ridiculous in their efforts to force Steven to play a game with him. This also includes Pearl SHAPESHIFTING for the first time in… shit. Hundreds of years? Thousands???? Holy shit, she ACTUALLY DID IT. Not only that, but each of the shape-shifted gems forms Steven versions of their fusions. Sugilite! Opal! Sardonyx! Alexandrite! ALL IN THE SAME EPISODE.
Emotionally, the conclusion to all this was deeply satisfying. Steven finally got to express what was bothering him the entire time, and his friends tearfully apologize when they realize their intent was absolutely not matching the impact of their actions. At the same time: Steven realizes IT IS OKAY to put aside your duties and responsibilities and have fun! Especially on a day like a Snow Day, when so many others are taking time off, too. Like the previous episode, I believe this is another bit of the ongoing arc of Steven’s characterization in the aftermath of the Gem War. He is someone who had to grow up early anyway, but now he’s choosing to do it in new ways. I’m glad that he finally got to tell his friends that he WANTS to be this responsible. It’s a wonderful development for him.
BUT ALSO STEVEN TAG. Oh god, I loved it so much! Even on a meta level, it was nice to have an episode with a lot more silliness than some of the others. Even serious narratives can take breaks, so to speak.
The video for “Snow Day” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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