'Steven Universe Future' Review: A Messy And Beautiful Tale Of Trauma, Healing, And Survival

Here we are in the future. Rebecca Sugar's Steven Universe is back, not with a new season, but an epilogue limited series, Steven Universe Future, set two years after the first series. The half-Gem, half-human boy Steven Universe (Zach Callison) has defended his beloved Earth while being raised lovingly by his three Gem guardians, Garnet (Estelle), Pearl (Deedee Magno Hall), and Amethyst (Michaela Dietz). He has finally established peace across the stars and reformed the three other Diamond Authorities, who can essentially be considered his Gem aunts, into disbanding their tyrannical and colonizing ways to improve Gem life on the Gem Homeworld and Earth for "Era 3." Last we left off in The Steven Universe Movie, Steven realizes he still got a lot of Gem work to do, despite the relative peace on Earth since his complicated Gem mother, Rose Quartz, left plenty of centuries-old loose ends he is still cleaning up. And he creates new messes as well.The first four episodes of Future intensely explores the idyllic and intense aftermath.

"Little Homeschool"

A homeschool is built so newly uncorrupted Gems can integrate into human society. They got art, meditation, pamphlets in English and Gem languages.  Amethyst advises him that he shouldn't worry about healing everyone. But Steven sets out to recruit the isolated Jasper (Kimberly Brooks), who doesn't accept him as her Pink Diamond or as any legitimate Gem leader. They end up locked in a spar that unleashes Steven's mysterious power, a frightening potential echoed back in "Change Your Mind" finale.


Amethyst has founded a mentorship program and employed each Gem to respective jobs around Beach City. The ice Gem carves snow cones. The flight-Nephrite makes skywriting. The Rubies, traditionally guardians of powerful Gems, serve as Beach City's mayoral bodyguards. Steven gets discomforted by their choice of familiarity. He positions them in different tasks so they could get out of their comfort zones, but chaos ensues. Steven learns that it's okay for adjusting people to stick to their comfort zones – and trust in Amethyst charge.

 "Rose Bud" 

"Rose Bud" is the most awkwardly hilarious of the four episodes. The Human-Zoo, the Gem zoo where humans were kept in controlled captivity, pays a visit to Earth. But Steven faces the unexpected cringe: The unbubbled trio of Rose Quartz Gems (Kimberly Brooks), well-meaning and acting like the late Rose Quartz, and their presence triggers natural discomfort among the Crystal Gems. By the end, Steven and the Quartzes reach a commonality and find spiritual siblinghood with them.

Comedic Gold of the Day: "I'm dead! I'm dying! I am dead Rose Quartz!"


Steven is relishing being a healer. Just apply his magic spit and wal-lah. Then the Pink Pearl, who survived being mind-controlled by White Diamond for millenniums, asks Steven to cure an extraordinary Gem ailment. Her Gem is not cracked, but her physical form bears a visible scar, her cracked eye. As the audience and Steven assumed, White Diamond cracked her eye. But a nasty truth unravels before Steven: Pink Diamond was the one who cracked her eye.Shocked, Steven tries to keep this revelation from Pearl when she assists them and takes them to a special repair center for Pearls. Pink Pearl, later given the name Volleyball, dwells on keepsakes, revises and romanticizes the events in her mind to avoid the gravity of what Pink Diamond has done to her. As someone hurt by Rose Quartz/Pink Diamond herself, Pearl dances around the revelation then callously denies Volleyball's testimony, knowing more mellow and trying Rose than Volleyball has experienced.As the ordeals of Steven, Pearl, and Volleyball become tangled, it becomes clearer that trauma and healing come in different shapes in different souls, manifesting in the ugliest of ways (Pearl's initial victim-blaming denial) or being molded into empowerment and solidarity (Pearl coming around to validate Volleyball's pain and assuring her that it's okay to still hurt).

Final Thoughts

Sugar and her team are the greatest visual maximalists in animation, pushing imageries to their most emotional and thematic extremes—particularly through the inventiveness of the flexible Fusion metaphor—and unraveling difficult revelations about surviving trauma.Steven faces the reoccurring lesson of "biting more than you can chew." Steven wants to heal everyone, anything, but falls short, and even unleashes destruction at times. As Future moves forward, Steven will contend with his own management of the new world order he has created, and his mother's past will continue to haunt his future. Then there's the matter of Steven's newest Gem power that manifests through his rage and insecurities.Steven Universe Future is on a roll in delivering hard and relevant messages about victimhood and survivorhood solidarity. There are kids and adults alike who need someone to tell them "I'm sorry for not believing you."