Steven Universe Recap: Future Vision

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There is only one true subject for children's art, and that is growing up. For the past few years, the innovative, creative juggernaut Adventure Time has ruled the landscape in that department, but recently, a little show called Steven Universe about a little boy who lives with three amazing, powerful alien women called the Crystal Gems, has made strides towards joining it, and last night's episode pushed it even further. "Future Vision" focuses on, you guessed it, the future, and how pondering its unknowable possibilities can aid or destroy us. It's a well-worn subject, but filtered through the show's unique, quirky, and refreshingly sweet vision, it becomes compelling and fresh.

The central player in this episode (Besides Steven) is Garnet, a character of infinite contradictions. Stoic, yet playful; aloof, yet warm; alien, yet understanding. She is a character shrouded in mystery, and in this episode, a little bit of that mystery is stripped away, as it is revealed that Garnet can see possible immediate futures before they happen, though she cannot know for sure which one will occur. For the purposes of relating to reality, this roughly translates to an adult's ability to consider the future at all, and to guess at the probable outcome of a given situation. To Steven, our hero, this concept is new, and while at first he thinks it's cool, it eventually terrifies him, causing him to constantly worry about all the ways he could suddenly be injured or killed without warning.

Steven is a much younger, more childlike character than Adventure Time's Finn, and is usually just along for the ride in adventure situations. This makes him a very vulnerable, though incredibly likeable character, and the show is shaping up to be the chronicle of his childhood, charting this singular, half-gem half-human being's progression from a naive little boy to a presumably legendary adult. This episode gives him his most adult moment yet; when he finds himself sitting on the roof in a thunderstorm, just desperately wanting to know what Garnet was warning him about when she said "Don't go on the roof," wanting to call out that unfathomable future, and meet it head-on.

But we can't do that. The future is always out of our grasp, and Steven realizes this as Garnet talks him down. His eyes are wide in a moment of clarity, and he asks himself "What am I doing?" It's a question that should be familiar to all of us, from when we catch ourselves trying to live in the future, when we know full well how impossible that is. The episode opens with Steven boxing up some of his old toys, having decided to consciously do some growing up. But the real growing up comes, unbidden, in moments like that, when we are suddenly made clearly aware of our own limitations, and we accept them. Garnet is an adult, probably the most adult character in the show, so she has accepted that even her further sight isn't perfect. What seems like a super-power to Steven is really just a heightened sense of probability, which is all any of us can hope for.

And it's why Garnet chose to tell Steven about her sorta-sixth-sense in the first place: she thought it would bring them closer together, though she knew there was a chance it would trouble him as much as it turned out to. The show is primarily about Steven slowly (Slowly) maturing, but it's also about Garnet and the other two gems, Pearl and Amethyst, learning to care for a human child. One of the most striking moments from the previous episode was Amethyst suddenly outright saying "We're bad at this". The gems are powerful cosmic deities, but they aren't totally sure what Steven is, not only because a hybrid like Steven has never existed before, but because they have little to no prior experience with children at all. They, too, are worried about the future, and what will happen to Steven, who is such a wild card for them and the universe as a whole.

But, like Steven, they don't let it get to them. They know that constantly panicking helps nothing (Though Pearl still has a way to go), and in their unorthodox, roundabout way, they have passed on that lesson to Steven, and to any children who happen to be watching the show. I, like the gems and Steven, have no idea what will happen to these characters, but watching that future unfold is so fun, and so rewarding, that it's more than worth it to stick around to find out.

Final rating: Very Good/Mind-Blowingly Amazing.

Tim Foley's picture

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