In the twenty-fifth and final episode of the third season of Steven Universe, Steven learns the truth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.Â
“Bubbled” is an eerie and odd episode by itself, made even stranger by its placement at the end of season three. There’s one real fight here, but it’s intimate. Close. Eerie. In a number of ways, it’s an ambiguous story, too, one that takes place in a silent and careless expanse. The indifference of space is all around these two, and it highlights their struggle. What exactly are Steven and Eyeball fighting about? Does it matter anymore now that they’re floating through space with no promise to get home?
I know those are heavy questions to ask, but this episode felt more philosophical than visceral. The images provided to us by “Bubbled” are haunting; so much of the show is grounded on Earth that images of galaxies, asteroids, and swirling star systems feels surreal. Thus, the action doesn’t feel grounded in the usual conflicts. It’s a lonelier episode that’s focused entirely on two characters who barely exchanged any meaningful sentences prior to this decision. Yet thought his, Steven is challenged. His normal optimism and empathy doesn’t seem to work on Eyeball at all. And to be fair to her, she has no reason to trust Steven. He’s fooled her (with the Crystal Gems’s help) multiple times at this point, so why would she believe that he’s harmless? That he’s Rose Quartz’s son? That he possess the powers of Rose?
Of course, I was still worried that Steven didn’t realize what he was walking into. He was so desperate to prove who he was because… well, to him, Rose Quartz is an answer unto itself. Just the invocation of her name summons peace. Understanding. Love. It’s precisely how he’s always viewed her. So, by convincing Eyeball of the truth, maybe he could change her mind and get to see him not as an enemy, but an ally. Unfortunately, Steven misjudged the entire situation. He’s not equipped to be cynical, to assume the worst of others, to believe that people are constant contradictions. And life is full of that! We all contradict our own beliefs and personalities. And it’s not that Steven isn’t smart or mature enough to understand that; Rose Quartz was put on a pedestal a long, long time ago, and he believed what he was told.
If anything, this episode is about the importance of the truth. And the truth is that Rose Quartz really did shatter Pink Diamond. That further complicates “Bismuth,” doesn’t it? How could Rose have punished Bismuth for wanting to do the exact thing she did? And did this happen before or after Bismuth got bubbled for 5,300 years? Either way, Steven loses a part of his innocence in this episode. He loses it when he hears the truth of his mother, and he loses it when he flings Eyeball into space in order to defend himself. “Bubbled” feels like a fitting, if unnerving, end to season three because it’s about the world becoming harder to quantify or categorize. This is the world Steven has to live in now.
And what of the Rubies? Are they all gone? Still on Earth? Will Eyeball die in space? I don’t know, and these loose ends feel more creepy than anything else. Again, that’s exacerbated by the animation; there’s a darkness to “Bubbled” that the other episodes don’t have. Is it a sign of what’s to come? With Jasper gone, is there another Big Bad looming around the corner?
Well, I’m certainly excited for season 4.
The video for “Bubbled” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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