Steven Universe: The Movie
September 3, 2019 1:51 AM - Season 5, Episode 29 - Subscribe

Two years after reconciling with the Diamonds and securing the Earth's right to exist, Steven is now seen as an equal member of the Diamond Authority, but he just wants to live his life on Earth with his friends, both in Beach City and the new Gem settlement of Little Homeworld. But another threat to the planet from his mother's past arrives, a gem named Spinel, who comes with a grudge to settle and a terrible weapon....

With the probability that there is going to eventually be a Season 6, I've numbered the movie as Season 5, Episode 29.
posted by JHarris (69 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
IS THERE ANY WAY TO WATCH THIS IN THE UK YET?
posted by kyrademon at 4:50 AM on September 3


Initial thoughts:

This was...this was good. Not spectacular. I like that they picked up tidily from the end of the last season and just ran with it.

I really didn't think we'd find new ways that Pinkie was a selfish shit but here we are.

That van got around. I bet Pearl and Peridot teamed up to do something Space Age to the suspension.

WHAT WAS IN THE GODDAMN CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEST?

WHERE'S JAAAAAAAAAAAASPER??

YOU CAN'T IGNORE THE UNIVERSE. Probably a good thing Connie was at space camp for that bit.

Garnet full on gets the best songs.
posted by Jilder at 5:23 AM on September 3


FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF
posted by sugar and confetti at 5:40 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


oh god Spinel was TOO REAL

I have been there toooooo many times and hell I'm probably in the middle of one of those RIGHT NOW
posted by divabat at 5:44 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


also HOLY SHIT the Diamonds' whole "come live with us so we can suffocate you with our loooooooooove" is EXACTLY my parents

to the point of them wanting to come over and live with me because OUR CHILLDDDREEENNNNNN

steven's face when they do that song a second time is A MOOD
posted by divabat at 6:01 AM on September 3 [8 favorites]


Yeah, Spinel was a great tragic character. Between her learning that she can one day love again, the diamonds' suffocating motherly affection, each of the characters needing to remember who they really are to access their potential, and lots of other little things, this movie is the (culturally) gayest thing SU has ever done. It was great.

I was impressed that they managed to do another big story about Steven changing the day through love but in a way that still felt fresh and new. And it was an honest-to-fusion musical!
posted by sugar and confetti at 6:06 AM on September 3 [9 favorites]


When we began to learn Spinel's origin story, by the way, I immediately theorized Pink would have her own pearl offered to her on the occasion of her first colony: Pink Pearl. And Spinel would end up cracking that Pearl out of rage and jealousy.
posted by sugar and confetti at 6:09 AM on September 3


Steven has a neck!

I liked how just meeting mindwiped!Spinel told us 90% of what happened between Spinel and Pink, but then that extra 10% (and Pink being extra dickish) is worth the reveal. I was wondering if they were going to leave one of the original crystal gems essentially mindwiped - and Steven was going to have to learn that lesson.

And that Universe fusion! That certainly was a thing. When Opal shows up it became so obvious how much that was an Aimee Mann song.

I would have liked more time with Lapis and Peridot, but I did like Lapis, Peridot, and Bismuth conversation reaction to Spinel suddenly being on Steven's side ("That was quick").
posted by dinty_moore at 7:02 AM on September 3 [7 favorites]


I struggle a little with the on-a-dime turnaround (though I know Much Time has passed), but despite myself I really do love White Diamond as Embarrassingly Overzealous PFLAG Mom.
posted by sugar and confetti at 7:51 AM on September 3 [12 favorites]


https://twitter.com/Mr_Encyclopedia/status/1168704361377259520?s=20

The best thing Pink Diamond ever did was disappear.

I liked how the movie was a microcosm of the series. We get to see how each of the Crystal Gems (including Steven) got to grow and change over time.

Spinel was a great villain with a legitimate grievance. I wish her arc had been more about acknowledging that she had been hurt but using that pain to justify hurting others wasn't healthy. Instead it boiled down to "Yeah Pink was a shitty friend, maybe your next friend will be better." The turnaround from waiting patiently for all eternity to intense hatred once she found out Pink would never come back would have facilitated that too, like she didn't think anything out past "Hurt Pink's son."
I understand that Fusion =/= Sex but Steg was still a little weird. I do like the seeming canon that when Steven fuses with a human the result has superhuman charisma. It makes sense when you think of it as the force of personality of two people combined into one person. I also liked the glimpse of the ultimate rockstar hidden within Greg. I just wish it didn't involve a father and son sharing the same body.

The rejuvenator was very cool too, and there's even a plausible reason why it doesn't seem to be a commonly used tool against gems that go off their assigned path. It doesn't seem terribly difficult to restore the gems after they've been wiped, and the way Sapphire and Ruby reformed into Garnet basically on their own shows it doesn't do anything about any inbuilt predilections gems might have.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:04 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


I really didn't think we'd find new ways that Pinkie was a selfish shit but here we are.

I mean maybe but

Spinel is a terrifying rage monster even when she's mindwiped. People like that are pretty hard to be honest with, even when you're not as avoidant and self-centered as Pink is.

I thought it was convenient that she could go and be happily suffocated by the Diamonds but at least they were all consenting.

I like that the Megaverse's song was about being independent.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:33 PM on September 3 [6 favorites]


Yes, that ending felt like the blackest of black humor — terribly obsessive and stunted people consenting to live together in a feedback loop of anxious affection.

I’m sympathetic to Pink in her decision about Spinel, honestly. It wasn’t the right thing to do, but as a person who’s terrified of confrontation and not being loved (and used to be way worse about acknowledging and countering this tendency in myself), I’ve also chosen to lie to and placate few frightening, obsessive, childish people in my time. I didn’t acknowledge to myself that I was lying; maybe Pink did, maybe not. Maybe she always vaguely planned to come back for her. I really love how the show explores the fallout from a person like this, and the complex gesture of leaving Steven to handle her guilt and shame, while also accepting that she wasn’t capable of becoming the great person she wanted to be, but correctly hoping her child could. Still way too much to put on a child.

Also, the bit where Steven and his dad are Ted Leo and then Opal is Aimee Mann, and they do a song as the Both, was grown in a lab to delight me specifically.
posted by thesmallmachine at 12:56 PM on September 3 [10 favorites]


Yes, that ending felt like the blackest of black humor — terribly obsessive and stunted people consenting to live together in a feedback loop of anxious affection.

Well it's not like that decision is going to come back to bite everybody in oh, 5,000 years or so...
posted by happyroach at 1:55 PM on September 3 [5 favorites]


I really loved this despite being in the UK and having to blag it via live 1/4 screen, image-flipped YouTube streams. Piracy makes me want to buy. All awesome songs are on Spotify right now.

Really enjoyed it, so many unexpected fanservicey moments even as it tried to recapitulate the series-so-far for new viewers (jumping on point, right?). The character humour and songs are what really made it for me. The way the Diamonds' Disney song was reprised and reversed was brilliant. The moments like Um Greg's Pearl and Ronaldo's self-frustrating lockscreen and reversing the Ruby-saves-Sapphire and Steg Multiverse and I could go on forever and still miss stuff. I need to watch it properly again and again. Can't wait till it goes on sale UK-side.

Writing-wise, I do think that Spinel is path-not-taken version of Pink's First Pearl which didn't make the previous series, but in any case her early C20/Cuphead/Animaniacs animation worked really well as her own thing. Spinel's VA (Sarah Stiles?) was excellent, very Amethyst-y in her regressed state yet absolutely heart-breaking in her songs.

Great to hear Blue finally sing (Comby notwithstanding), but still want to hear her (Lisa Hannigan) give it some solo one day although the story's moved on now. Inversely, Opal singing was amazing but I still wish she'd had a word or two to say while Aimee Mann was available. A word or two is practically Opal's thing!

Never happy, yet ever a fan! 100% rewatchable again and again.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 6:18 PM on September 3 [4 favorites]


It's interesting the read some of you get off of Spinel, I don't think terrifying rage monster is part of her nature. The Rejuvenator doesn't seem to actually reset a gem as much as paper over their character development, a change that can be undone without too much difficulty. I believe the one moment she got scary when Steven tried to leave her behind was a glimpse of her traumatized self, not some hint that she's frightening and obsessive deep down. Don't forget that she willingly stood in one spot for thousands of years because the only person she cared about asked her to. She didn't flip her shit until she found out for sure that Pink was never coming back.

If anything, Pink's failing was not establishing boundaries with Spinel. It's not Spinel's fault for being a childish companion, it was literally her job. Maybe doing anything other than ghosting Spinel was more emotional labor than Pink was prepared to deal with, but literally anything would have been better than leaving her to stand in one spot for eternity. Shit, shattering her would have been more of a kindness than that, or poofing and bubbling her, which wasn't an unheard-of technique to Homeworld. Rose had thousands of years to think of a way to get back to her and just... didn't. I'm not eager to let her off the hook for that just because Spinel was annoying.

Hey I just thought of something: what the FUCK would happen if you hit a corrupted gem with a Rejuvenator? I doubt it would fix the gem like it's supposed to, but what would it do? I like to think the gem would be OK for a minute or so, then go though the horrifying experience of corrupting into a monster again.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:28 PM on September 3 [8 favorites]


I saw a tumblr post earlier today that made a really, really good point: every time one of Pink's mistakes has come back to bite her, it's because she assumed that she mattered less to someone than she actually did.

She didn't think the Diamonds would grieve her enough to attack Earth in retaliation for her shattering. She didn't think Pearl would have so much trouble moving on. And I doubt she thought Spinel would actually wait for her all that time.
posted by nonasuch at 10:01 PM on September 3 [24 favorites]


I believe the one moment she got scary when Steven tried to leave her behind was a glimpse of her traumatized self, not some hint that she's frightening and obsessive deep down.

We can't assume this from what we're shown on the show--both readings seem equally valid, at least. Until they're healed by the Power of Singing, we don't get glimpses of anyone else's later "character development." Only this. We are shown Pink's ambivalence toward her in flashbacks, repeatedly--her cringing discomfort. Also, it's not being left behind that breaks her. It's hearing the truth, that Pink has another life. Her first song is all about Pink's "other friends."

Everything in the show points to unhealthy obsession and rage.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:56 AM on September 4 [3 favorites]


One thing I'd critique about the show's themes broadly is the idea that you should continue to try to get through to people who are trying to actively harm you (and everyone you love/all life on earth). Steven's behavior was a little scary and irresponsible here, as he kept pressing forward and putting himself in the path of active physical harm--and also putting all of earth in the path of harm, such as when he tried to move her injector. I was glad that there was his line in the song about how he couldn't change her, and that she could only choose to change herself. But, while I get that this is a kid's show and that of course the power of love and talking it out will always come through, as a queer person who has had to go no contact with a family member who was physically abusive, the finale and movie have been hard to watch. The meta message is that anyone can be fixed with sufficient talking, that so long as you have a Christ-like sense of martyrdom then risking yourself and your own well-being is what will work, in the end.

I find that theme . . . overly generous, in terms of what I know about human psychology and abuse (and Spinel's behavior is abusive here, 100%). I suppose I'm more of a Pink than a Steven.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:05 AM on September 4 [5 favorites]


I believe the one moment she got scary when Steven tried to leave her behind was a glimpse of her traumatized self, not some hint that she's frightening and obsessive deep down.

We can't assume this from what we're shown on the show--both readings seem equally valid, at least. Until they're healed by the Power of Singing, we don't get glimpses of anyone else's later "character development." Only this.


In Spinel's case, I disagree. She runs away crying from the concert and when Steven asks her what's wrong, she says all these old feelings and memories were rushing back to her (culminating in her song in the abandoned garden, which ends with her reforming into her old self). Her reaction at the concert is pretty clearly written to be a result of old, barely-understood feelings coming to the surface from her baggage with Pink.

It's also interesting to see what each of the characters acts like when they're reverted to "factory settings." We know that gems are made with specific purposes in mind. Pearl is very clearly made to serve and is ready to do so immediately. Ruby and Sapphire are similarly intended for purposes which they set about fulfilling immediately. Amethysts are optimized for fighting and not thinking or existing for themselves, as we can see from Amethyst's condition upon waking. And Spinel--she's meant for playing and loving.

It's interesting to see the reactions to Pink's abandonment from Spinel on here because I read it entirely differently. Spinel is literally made to love and play. That is her intended purpose. It's what she knows. More than any other gem in SU, she reads as a child to me. A loving, playful child--who, yes, sometimes has tantrums or feels jealous or selfish. But an emotionally dependent, loyal, trusting, and loving being. This is who Pink abandoned for 6000 as a "game" because... she grew tired of her? She thought she'd get in the way? That is absolutely fucking monstrous and it baffles me that it would be seen otherwise.
posted by sugar and confetti at 6:49 AM on September 4 [8 favorites]


Pink's actions were monstrous - she treated Spinel as nothing, there's no question about that. But we also see Steven struggle to know what to do with wiped!Spinel, and see her get in the way - she refuses to be left behind for a second, and she desperately wants to join in but can't seem to figure out what's going on. And yes, it's child-like, it's something that's understandable in children, but it's also incredibly emotionally unhealthy for both parties if you can never grow out of it (and, like, kids also need to give mom a break sometimes and should have more than one emotional connection in their lives). I was afraid for Connie for the entire first part of the episode.

I mean, at least she has three diamonds to fixate on now. Maybe that's better.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:14 AM on September 4 [4 favorites]


It's fitting that the diamonds should be responsible for her anyway; Spinel was presumably given by them to Pink so she'd have someone to play with that was a little more her speed. And from the perspective of the Great Diamond Authority, other gems are there to be used and then tossed aside when no longer needed or wanted. The entire idea of "gifting" someone a pearl or spinel is horrible to begin with, and hopefully that's a breach that the diamonds can begin to repair.
posted by sugar and confetti at 7:22 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


(also, the soundtrack is on spotify) Individual songs can be found on youtube pretty easily.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:29 AM on September 4


woo, still Having Thoughts.

Steg was funny but kind of yikes to me. It was never a thing I wanted so it felt like someone else's fanservice.

Spinel needs to be smothered in love, the Diamonds need to smother, but yeah, I hope all four of them eventually grow out of that stage. Spinel is also kind of badass with her powers and really can do a lot more than just be cute and bouncy. It would be cool if she got to eventually.

Still feel cheated re: Pearl(s):

1. Why did she come out all four colors; is that the default?
2. There are clearly several stages (including one with short hair/flared pants!) that we see only in silhouette. When did THOSE happen?
3. So if Cracked White Pearl was formerly Pink Pearl, and our Pearl is just a Default Pearl...who was White's original Pearl? Did she not have one? My headcanon was always that Our Pearl was originally White's Pearl, and got swapped to be Pink's at some point. But apparently she was just a Factory Pearl all along.
4. Speaking of, how is Cracked White Pearl doing; is she a Healed Pink Pearl? What's she up to?


Re Amethyst:
1. In Pearl's flashback, we see Amethyst soldiers come out able to speak (instead of just mimic). Why did Amethyst come out so regressed?

Reset Garnet was pretty cute and I love her.

I could have done with more Other Gem action (Sapphire, Peri, Bismuth).
posted by emjaybee at 9:48 AM on September 4


I think Steven's last name hearkens more to Universalist theology than to the cosmos. Everyone is saved, everyone has inherent worth no matter how badly they act. It's a great message, even if it's hard to apply to people like Trump and other abusive, violent people.

After the wrap-up of the main gem plot, and this movie, the show feels really over. I guess Rebecca Sugar has hinted there is more to come and it sounds like the Crewniverse is still working on ... something. Personally I'm hoping for a new show where Peridot is the star. I just can't get enough of her, you clods!
posted by rikschell at 12:30 PM on September 4 [1 favorite]


I've always been a Pink Diamond apologist. It's not that she hadn't done terrible things, but that she was in a position where she had no way to learn otherwise for thousands of years; gems are not known for their changing natures outside of places like Earth. She was, after all, a Diamond, and we see what the others are capable of. Spinel was made to be her best friend, because gem culture thought nothing of creating a new person to fill a role and then given to her along with all the responsibility. And the show plays around with expectations in gem culture a bit; as Mr.Encyclopedia says, it's possible that P.D. thought that Spinel was autonomous enough not to wait there for thousands of years, effectively in exile, when a working warp pad was right there in front of her.

I wonder if, ultimately, this all has to do with the backstory of Pink Pearl (the original one). We've been given hints that she was Pink Diamond's playmate, associate, confidant and partner-in-mischief, and that she was taken away from P.D. as a punishment. We don't know what the fallout from that was, but it may have been great and irrevocable enough (resulting in that crack in her *body*) enough that the other Diamonds backtracked hurriedly, giving her both Spinel and our Pearl, probably Pearl first and, when her subservience wasn't want P.D. needed, Spinel.

There are a ton of great little details in this episode! I haven't done a geeklist for a Steven Universe episode for a long time. Instead of presenting it in-line this time, I'm just going to link to the (continuing) list of things I've noticed about this episode, here. (Current length, around five pages!)
posted by JHarris at 12:56 PM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Re: Amethyst- she's came out late and half-baked. I'm assuming that meant she initially was cognitively impaired, and didn't know how to act as a "normal Amethyst".

Also, just as the Prince Super Bowl show made me realize the symbolism of the guitar neck for male rock and roll stars, Steg Universe has caused me to realize that the guitars also tend to be placed so they emphasize the, um, "package".

I think the story was well-told as a movie, since it movingly portrayed the arc of interpersonal relationships. Wiped!/Young! Spinel reminds me of every young child with the endless "look at me me! play with me!" and although it can be fun, it gets old if there is no growth. Pink was cruel, but it is really hard (and my worst nightmare) to have someone hanging off you 24/7 and not being able to get through that you can't take it any more. (this is why I am in not young child care) And Steven was trying to put some boundaries with the diamonds, but I think he has some more growth in him, and foisting Spinel on them was only a temporary measure to keep everyone happy.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 2:19 PM on September 4 [1 favorite]


Steg Multiverse for sure has two dicks.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:38 PM on September 4 [6 favorites]


Also my working theory for if someone identifies more with Pink or Spinel is if they're an older sibling or a younger sibling.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:41 PM on September 4 [1 favorite]


Also my working theory for if someone identifies more with Pink or Spinel is if they're an older sibling or a younger sibling.

Lol, I'm younger.

The story reminded me a lot of the movie AI, actually. In a lot of ways. Spinel acts as programmed, but that programming can feel particularly suffocating for the object of the adoration.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:16 PM on September 4


We watched the movie with the kids in the room - 6 year old Mugface and 2 year old Ms Potato, the latter of whom has never seen SU (HIATUS HAS ROBBED MY DAUGHTER) and immediately screamed "AGAIN!" at the conclusion, so we've been introducing her to the less combat oriented SU episodes. This means we've rewatched all the Greg/Rose episodes, and Jesus those two must have been at it like rabbits. There's a subtext there that's basically invisible to kids but yeah. Steg is like, optimum Hot Rockstar and there's no way he's not dual wielding down there.

Still feel cheated re: Pearl(s):

Oboi I get to overthink! Thanks emjaybee!

1. Why did she come out all four colors; is that the default?

There's be theorizing that she was a gift to Pinkie from the other three gems, as Peridot mentions she's "a fancy one" in Back to the Barn. I don't think you can take Pearl's appearance as default, I imagine she was custom built to be a Diamond's handbag.

2. There are clearly several stages (including one with short hair/flared pants!) that we see only in silhouette. When did THOSE happen?
Oh that's easy. That's Pilot Pearl, her design from the pilot episode. It was shown in her other two regenerations - the one from Steven the Swordfighter and the finale. You can see all her past incarnations here.

3. So if Cracked White Pearl was formerly Pink Pearl, and our Pearl is just a Default Pearl...who was White's original Pearl? Did she not have one? My headcanon was always that Our Pearl was originally White's Pearl, and got swapped to be Pink's at some point. But apparently she was just a Factory Pearl all along.
Not factory default. Fancy. There's never been any confirmation that White Pearl used to be Pink Pearl. From what our Pearl says she was made for Pink. Couple of places but the one that sticks for me is what she says after A Single Pale Rose - that she was made to make her happy, and she never could.

4. Speaking of, how is Cracked White Pearl doing; is she a Healed Pink Pearl? What's she up to?

I'd love to know that too. Yellow and Blue Pearls seem to have continued on in their roles, I wonder where White Pearl is.


Re Amethyst:
1. In Pearl's flashback, we see Amethyst soldiers come out able to speak (instead of just mimic). Why did Amethyst come out so regressed?


I too figure it's because she's nominally "defective". Takes her a while to load properly. Bismuth calls her "Deep Cut" in her special, and a deep cut stone is one that is deceptive - it seems smaller, but it has a lot more colour and richness because the stone is cut to be deeper in the body rather than wide across the top. There's a school of thought that says her flexibilty - her greater ability to adapt to Earth norms, and to shapeshift, even things like her eating - is in and of itself an advantage, and I don't consider her to be defective personally. She's just deep cut.
posted by Jilder at 10:32 PM on September 4 [6 favorites]


There's never been any confirmation that White Pearl used to be Pink Pearl.

It's pretty clear; the pink pearl in the flashback looks exactly the same except for color, and even more telling, also has her pearl on her belly. Just as BD and YD's pearls have their gems in the same places as their owners.

Which is why I thought our Pearl must have been White's; she has hers in her forehead.

Maybe Our Pearl was originally all white but got Factory Reset (but not made pink) before being given to PD.
posted by emjaybee at 9:50 AM on September 5 [2 favorites]


I was a little disappointed with the ending. Their "solution" was to take the toxically codependent people and shove them at each other. That's a "get them off our back" solution, not a sustainable solution that's good for everyone. Spinel needs to find out who she is on her own, and the diamonds need to appropriately process their grief over Pink. Getting them in a toxic relationship with each other is not the kind of solution I expect from Steven Universe.

Also, I could use more Connie.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 10:12 AM on September 5 [4 favorites]


Given how long it took Pearl and Lapis to grow (and the fact that they were both allowed to backslide, especially Lapis), it would have felt really awkward for Spinel to be okay after an hour and a half, too. I don't know if we're supposed to think that the Spinel and Diamond pairing is supposed to be a HEA, but if there is another season, maybe we'll revisit.

I was disappointed too, but I'm not sure what a better solution would be.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:22 AM on September 5 [1 favorite]


Maybe it would've been more satisfying if it'd been presented as "this isn't a solution, but this gets everyone off our backs while we work on something."

Like, they're essentially bubbling Spinel and the Diamonds. Just, without the bubble.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 10:29 AM on September 5 [1 favorite]


I'm sure we've not heard the last of the problems between Spinel and the Diamonds. Pink Diamond may have been bad, but by all accounts she's the best of the four of them, the only one not to engage in casual shattering or body takeovers. Maybe they'll find ways to grow out of their dependency, by themselves?

On my rewatch to make the geeklist (I linked it above some way), my favorite moment is the revelation that Yellow and Blue Pearl appear to have set up a Gempire TV network! Their faces are its logo! That's what Yellow Pearl meant when she said to White Diamond "Your time is up anyway," apparently the Diamond address was what they had put in that timeslot. (That she wasn't immediately shattered for the temerity of saying that speaks volumes about W.D.'s efforts to change.)
posted by JHarris at 10:52 AM on September 5 [5 favorites]


Did anyone else notice that the Diamond Authority 'logo' at the end of the storybook opening had Pink at the top and White at the bottom, instead of the (normal) reverse?

I... did not like Spinel's animation. It felt way more frenetic than anything else we've seen in the show.
posted by hanov3r at 10:08 AM on September 6 [1 favorite]


JHarris, re: your geeklist, I just found this:
(Oct. 10, 2014) Ocean City’s homeowners insurance costs are 43 percent more expensive than the state average, according to a recent study conducted by Value Penguin, a personal finance research company.

Maryland is the 20th cheapest area for homeowners insurance in the United States. At the same time, Ocean City homeowners pay an average of $1,766 per year and are number one in the state for highest homeowners insurance.
posted by hanov3r at 10:10 AM on September 6 [1 favorite]


And to think I almost believed that sign, "Ocean City: Now no longer on fire!"
posted by JHarris at 1:25 PM on September 6 [2 favorites]


On Spinel's animation, first, the movie seems like it had a much higher budget than an episode of the show would have had. Spinel's hyper-kineticness wouldn't have been as possible before. There are previous attempts at that kind of thing, especially in Season 1, like when Steven's body turned into a writhing mass of cats (which worked well) and when Amethyst's gem got cracked and she started degrading (which didn't work as well).

Most gems are made for utilitarian purposes. Spinel's the only gem we've seen that's supposed to be friendly, which might be a bit why she's kind of over-the-top?
Peridot #1: "Hey Peri XJ-3M, what's a 'best friend?'"
Peridot #2: "Hm. Funny? Wants to play? Rubbery? Made of balloons?"
Peridot #1: "Why not? We can use all this stretchy bouncy gem juice we've been saving up without a use. Can you imagine what a warrior gem made of this stuff would be like?"
Peridot #2: "Yeah, pretty weak I'm sure. Dump in the whole bin, it's been sitting here for ages."
posted by JHarris at 1:39 PM on September 6 [3 favorites]


I've been thinking about it, and the problem with Spinel is she is very childlike, intentionally, and the way you deal with childlike behavior is setting boundaries. Think about it, she was perfectly happy to stand completely still for Pink once she was asked to, I'm sure she could have been a valuable asset for Pink if she had just taken the time to work with her as a person rather than discard her the moment her existence didn't fit with Pink's perception of herself.

I really wish the movie had taken the time to have a scene of Steven saying "Please don't do that" to some behavior of Spinel's and Spinel immediately obeying, because that's really what makes Spinel tick. She's supposed to be the Ultimate Friend and do whatever she can to make her subject happy. I can see how finding out your subject tricked you, abandoned you, and found happiness with someone else could sting. It's one of the most basic forms of interpersonal trauma there is, and she was completely defenseless against it. Abandonment is the big sore spot in her psyche and Steven just pushes it over and over again, much to his detriment.

I can't see Spinel's actions as abusive, even the actions she takes to hurt Steven. Those aren't the actions of an abusive person, they're the actions of someone who was hurt and doesn't know how to deal with the pain. I certainly don't see reset Spinel's actions as abusive, any more than a puppy's actions are abusive. She literally doesn't know any better.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:53 PM on September 6 [4 favorites]


I can't see Spinel's actions as abusive, even the actions she takes to hurt Steven. Those aren't the actions of an abusive person, they're the actions of someone who was hurt and doesn't know how to deal with the pain. I certainly don't see reset Spinel's actions as abusive, any more than a puppy's actions are abusive. She literally doesn't know any better.

See, I think this is the fundamental problem with the show's theme of healing villains over and over again.

Many abusers act abusive because of pain and interpersonal trauma. Someone who declares that they're going to destroy you and everyone you love, who hurts you physically over and over again, and who deliberately sets out to destroy an entire planet--that's abusive. In a very literal sense.

I believe that Rebecca Sugar believes it to be possible to talk people through that kind of trauma and that, with proper boundaries, people who are harming you because they are in pain will become cherished friends. But that's not at all my experience with actual life and the abusers in it.

I think it's important to note, too, that Pink Diamond is also the result of an upbringing filled with abuse and neglect.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:22 AM on September 7 [5 favorites]


I can't see Spinel's actions as abusive, even the actions she takes to hurt Steven. Those aren't the actions of an abusive person, they're the actions of someone who was hurt and doesn't know how to deal with the pain. I certainly don't see reset Spinel's actions as abusive, any more than a puppy's actions are abusive. She literally doesn't know any better.

Someone can definitely be abusive or manipulative without thinking that they are abusive or manipulative, and dysfunctional relationship structures can be in response to past abusive relationships, but they're still dysfunctional as fuck. People who lash out because they don't know how to deal with their own pain are abusive, and it's not on anyone else but that person to learn how to deal with being hurt without lashing out. If we're lucky, we learn this as kids. If we're not, we've got to learn it as adults.

I do think that it's possible to break out of these patterns of abuse, and Steven Universe isn't perfect about that, but it does at least try to emphasize that it's the abuser's job to change - it's not going to be a straight line, and it's not going to be simple. The song "Change Your Mind" made me fucking bawl because it was such a simple way of saying 'hey, you come back when you're ready - I'll be fine without you until then' and it's such a simple, powerful idea. They've done a better job showing what it's like to recover from abuse - Lapis' push-pull (and her own self-destructive and abusive tendencies that emerged because of the abuse), and even Garnet's reaction to Pearl manipulating her into a fusion. And yeah, Steven is quick to forgive people who have hurt him, because of course he is - he's Steven. I do agree with PhoBWanKenobi that it feels like it is less of a special superpower Steven has and more like that's the sort of thing we all should be expected to do.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:42 PM on September 8 [3 favorites]


I believe that Rebecca Sugar believes it to be possible to talk people through that kind of trauma and that, with proper boundaries, people who are harming you because they are in pain will become cherished friends. But that's not at all my experience with actual life and the abusers in it.

It's probably fortunate indeed then, that animation has decades worth of serious where the bad guys' evil is inherent and unredeemable. As counterpoint for realism may I suggest GI Joe, Transformers, Thundercats, He-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman the Brave and Bold, GoBots, M.A.S.K., Thunderbirds, The Amazing Spiderman, Battle of the Planets and all the other shows where the notion of talking to the villains doesn't even enter the picture.
posted by happyroach at 7:30 PM on September 8 [3 favorites]


It's probably fortunate indeed then, that animation has decades worth of serious where the bad guys' evil is inherent and unredeemable.

Aw. C'mon.

I'm currently watching someone I care about negotiate what will likely end with going no contact with an abusive parent. And, like, it's going much the same way that the process has with multiple other friends, including myself--which is that the abused child finally gets therapeutic help, and the therapist validates the idea of the abuse, and says something like, "well, I can't tell you not to see them, but meet on neutral ground, with an exit strategy, being clear about your boundaries, know they don't see you as a person" etc. etc. But. You know. From what I've seen in my own life, and with others--it doesn't work. It probably won't work. Christ, I hope for my friend that it might--you want to be wrong about these things--but it eventually gets to the point where the abused person finally realizes it really is impossible to change them and that they can't deal with a certain type of treatment anymore. It's a process that takes months or years, to finally break things off from someone who is intent on hurting you.

I wish there were a little bit of that in Steven Universe. The realism of it, and the tragedy. And that might seem like a tall order for a kid's show but this is also a kids show that talks realistically about identity and panic attacks and co-dependence. I bought the end of the White Diamond arc as, if nothing else, wish fulfillment for a family member who doesn't accept you. But at this point, with Spinel, I'm starting to just think that Rebecca Sugar and the writing staff just really think that this is how it works, and that hurts, because, like, there reaches a point when you have to just stop talking and start to value self-preservation, before the other person can do serious damage to you. The metamessage with art like this is that if we really kept exposing ourselves to harm we could change them, or convince them to change. That we should keep on doing that. That we just haven't tried hard enough. That we just need one more beat, one more change, and tomorrow, they'll suddenly have a change of heart and treat us better.

I wish that were the world. But it's not the world I know.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:37 PM on September 8 [6 favorites]


Goddamn the music in this movie SLAPS.
posted by sugar and confetti at 6:19 AM on September 9 [5 favorites]


So, there are signs that All Is Not Quite Well with the Diamonds accepting Steven as Steven - after two years Steven is still reminding people as a matter of course that he isn't Pink Diamond, and the reaction the Diamonds have to Steven leaving sounds a lot like they thought they were bargaining - if they changed, they'd get to have their old relationship back (which they would have realized isn't possible if they'd really internalized that Steven isn't Pink). I think that in a sixth season, there's still room to explore those impacts.

I don't know, there are people who do manage to have better relationships with their parents after a horrible coming out experience, but it's messy and I think the most difficult part of having this being shown on television is ideally their journey should be happening without Steven having to be bothered with it, but Steven is the main character in the show.

It's also why I would like to revisit Jasper in this new context - as Jasper is one of the last really unredeemed villains, and if we're talking about how so many abusive relationships can't be salvaged, Lapis and Jasper are a pretty good candidates for two people who should be kept far away from each other, even after healing. There's also the way that Greg is quietly estranged from his family, maybe that could be revisited.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:03 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I think the most difficult part of having this being shown on television is ideally their journey should be happening without Steven having to be bothered with it

The thing that gives them room to move here is that these are new relationships to Steven - there's a lot of baggage attached to his gem, but him? Steven Quartz Demayo Universe? He only met White Diamond in the tail end of that arc in Season Five. He can afford to be unbothered, because he's got no more vested interest in the Diamonds than he does anyone else. It's just that he's who he is, and he does want everyone to get along and be friends.

And for me, this is kind of what helps me get past Steven's dogged persistence that you should confront abusive people and let them redeem themselves after lots of heartfelt words and maybe a song or two. He's not been abused by the Diamonds - Pink was. He didn't fight a war, Rose did. He's got no framework for what actual abuse and suffering is about. He's got TVs most supportive dad, a trio of caregivers who would literally do anything for him. All his formative relationships are open and positive. He's never even had to deal with a death because his caregivers are literal immortals. He believes you can talk through it because you know, it's worked his whole life. Even after Spinel beat seven shades of shit out of him it just turned out she needed someone to love and once that was worked out he could just float on. His optimism is realistic and grounded in experience.

So I guess I want to see Jasper go "unredeemed" because of this. I want him to have someone who has a real grievance, who genuinely doesn't give a shit about peace and love on the Planet Earth and who can't be brought round with three songs and a deep hug. I want her to get to keep her hatred of the gem that broke her world - even if it's not in the way she thought it was. Let her have that, and let Steven come up against someone he can charm into compliance.
posted by Jilder at 7:22 AM on September 9 [5 favorites]


I find it a little bit funny that on Metafilter I have seen people complain about the new She-Ra because the show dares to posit that it's necessary to fight evil and people complain about Steven Universe because it posits that it's always possible to resolve differences with evil without fighting.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:09 PM on September 9 [4 favorites]


people complain about Steven Universe because it posits that it's always possible to resolve differences with evil without fighting

It's not the "without fighting" part that gets me (because I think fighting the kind of abuse we see in Spinel or White Diamond's cases is generally impossible, and we just gotta do what we can to keep ourselves safe), it's the "resolve differences with evil" part. But I'm, like, all in on Popper's paradox of tolerance.

I agree that I hope Jasper goes "unredeemed."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:11 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Was Spinel really that wrong though when she accused Steven of only befriending her to fix the Injector? I never got an indication that he cared about her otherwise and indeed in the later half of the movie I was thinking "you're not that different from your mum Steven".
posted by divabat at 3:46 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


We're talking about a kid who cries for snakes because they don't have any arms, diva. I think he probably did care about her to the same degree he does all the other gems his mother has harmed and who come gunning for revenge. He tried to save Eyeball despite Eyeball trying to drag him into space, he kept at it with Peridot for like, a whole season, again, despite her attempts to kill him *and* his family, Lapis broke his dad's leg, there's a lot of moments when he could be bitter but he generally isn't. And then there's Jasper.

Like, this kid is a whole roll of second chance tickets.
posted by Jilder at 8:06 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


Like, this kid is a whole roll of second chance tickets.

mumble mumble Kevin mumble
posted by JHarris at 11:30 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


An interview with Rebecca Sugar about the movie, touching on Spinel and Steg (among other things).
posted by dinty_moore at 8:03 AM on September 10


I loved the music. I'm still listening to the Spotify album on repeat.
posted by numaner at 12:58 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Was Spinel really that wrong though when she accused Steven of only befriending her to fix the Injector? I never got an indication that he cared about her otherwise and indeed in the later half of the movie I was thinking "you're not that different from your mum Steven".

On the other hand... that's a shitton of emotional labor to do under, what, a 48-hour deadline? His first priority should be to save everyone. It's just hard to perform emotional first aid and save the world on your first vacation in a few years, and not be kinda grumpy about it. Steven just happens to be uniquely situated, as rose quartz heir, to do it for... everyone his mom effed over.

Can we get Peridot to develop some Gem meds for Spinel? Homegirl also needs therapy, but... I'd love to see some Steven Universe take-your-meds positivity. The Rejuvenator tweaked a bit to help with mood regulation, maybe. I guess I'm just very concerned that they whisked her away to Homeworld with some very codependent diamonds. I would love to see a "correspondence with Spinel" arc where she leaves video messages for Steven about her therapy and her progress with meds. And you see Yellow and Blue's feet in the background and they're having a tiff about something goofy.

(Yellow's "does your planet always smell this bad" line was choice)

Also my working theory for if someone identifies more with Pink or Spinel is if they're an older sibling or a younger sibling.

Middle siblings identify with Lapis -- mostly over it but here for some snark.
posted by snerson at 2:05 PM on September 10 [4 favorites]


I would have loved an ending where Spinel gets taken in by a group of Little Homeworld gems, maybe ones that enjoy trying out human games, rather than going off with the Diamonds. I think spending time with groups of peers would be better for her than going into isolation with the Diamonds.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:40 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Actually, if they give Pink's old room to Spinel, I bet she'd get along famously with the Pebbles.
posted by sugar and confetti at 4:12 PM on September 10 [3 favorites]


Hah, Kevin. He full on wound up taking relationship advice from Kevin. Don't tell me that's not a second chance ticket right there.
posted by Jilder at 8:37 PM on September 10


THE PEBBLES. Oh man, Spinel+Pebbles is a fanfic that almost writes itself.
posted by JHarris at 6:05 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]


EVERYBODY HEY EVERYBODY YOU'VE GOT TO SEE THIS:

Pearl Eye for the Beach City Guy
posted by JHarris at 4:48 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


Also, in the we-check-the-SU-subreddit-so-you-don't-have-to department, we have news that The Steven Universe movie was Cartoon Network's best ratings in two years!

I've been thinking... we know that Steven Universe is going to continue, that's been made quite clear, but they haven't announced a Season 6 yet. Maybe that's because it's not going to be a straight continuation, but sequel series?

Maybe something focusing on Lars the baker/space pirate? Maybe Yellow and Blue Pearl's TV station, or Little Homeworld, or even just Beach City stuff? That way we wouldn't have to follow Steven's viewpoint everywhere, but he could still show up sometimes? I know these are fairly silly ideas, but the Steven Universe universe has gotten very large, and the show was already struggling to use all its story ideas within the confines of its episodes. Lars of the Stars could have carried a whole show on its own, but ultimately it got, what, five episodes?
posted by JHarris at 6:26 PM on September 14 [6 favorites]


Don't know who's still reading this, it'd be nice to use it as a general Steven Universe thread until the show (in whatever form) picks up again.

Can we play the game where we speculate where the show will go from here? Steven Universe has so many story opportunities that have been overlooked or bypassed or they just didn't have time for. Like that treasure chest in Lion's mane that was suddenly open in the movie. WHAT WAS IN IT the fanbase has speculated about it for over four seasons!

Another thing: the show has repeatedly shown us that gems and organic life have weird influences upon each other. We've seen gem-influenced animals that don't poof: the fish around Mask Island, the lizards Lion catches, the Crystal Shrimp (possibly) around the Lunar Sea Spire. Are these the result of more Rose Quartz accidents, like with Lion, or did they just spontaneously occur? Also, corrupted gems seem capable of producing autonomous "young," such as with the gemless Centipeedles in the first episode, or the drill parasites, that poof individually. That might be an abandoned plotline, or it might hint at some deeper connection the Crewniverse has left unexplored at the moment. I wonder if this means that Beach City citizens might end up a bit gem-touched over time, or the gems of Little Homeworld might change to become more human-ish?

Related to that, and Mask Island too, there's the Watermelon Stevens. First Steven accidentally created them; then he showed them how to band together to face an outside threat (Malachite); then he inadvertently showed them how to travel by boat. What bizarre end will that particular subplot reach?

The Diamonds currently dote on Steven like they did Pink Diamond. They still don't seem to have processed that Pink Diamond became Rose Quartz, a formidable warrior in her own right. They might be in for a surprise if an outside threat appears, and Steven turns out to be capable of defending himself, and even others. That'd be fun to see. I wonder if there might be an external threat to the gems that turns up over time? I've seen it mentioned that humans were the first outside higher life forms that the Gempire encountered; are there others out there?

The show seems to like to preserve its elephants-in-the-room as long as possible. It wasn't until nearly the end of Season 3 that we first heard about Pink Diamond, and it was only a few episodes from the end that we heard about White Diamond. What other holes in the show's lore have we skipped around? One thing that seems, to me, to fit the bill is the ravaged state of Homeworld. What happened there? Is it just the end result of millennia of gem production, or did Something Happen?

The Ziggurrat(?) mural, that Season One foreshadowing, infamously was never paid off on. We still don't know what the gem Rose was facing there was! Also, there's the moss in Lars and the Cool Kids and the gem flowers they produced (which turned up in one later episode); the Desert Glass; the Armor of the Fallen and the giant penny in Rose's Armory; where'd Rose get the Laser Light Cannon and Quartizine Trio from? The Lunar Sea Spire seems to have had some weird extra significance, if it could have been restored with a statue instead of constructed by gems like Bismuth. What about the Crystal Heart, where did the extra dimensional spaces come from, how did Pink create a pocket dimension, blah blah etc etc....

Oh, and of course: ONION WTF
posted by JHarris at 4:11 AM on September 15 [4 favorites]


If the Diamonds are anything like my parents, who often seem like they can't conceive of me being older than 6 years old (White Diamond in particular is eerily like my mother down to the "I'm gonna come over randomly to live with you but I'll also judge where you live"), they probably will never truly understand that Steven is his own person. They will claim to adore him, but they adore the idea of him, which is a pre-rebellion Pink Diamond.
posted by divabat at 2:38 AM on September 16 [3 favorites]


Also, Onion could have dwarfism.
posted by divabat at 2:39 AM on September 16


? I've seen it mentioned that humans were the first outside higher life forms that the Gempire encountered; are there others out there?

There must be, otherwise why would the Gempire need armies at all? Who was Yellow conquering?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:10 AM on September 28 [1 favorite]


The gem empire has encountered other life forms; witness the glo-worm from Steven's Pink Diamond flashback at the beginning of Change Your Mind, and the creatures on the Jungle Moon. What they haven't encountered, I hear, is intelligent life, like humans. Armies would be needed to handle dangerous wildlife, and potentially the threat of finding belligerent intelligent life, which they might theorize must exist somewhere.
Also, there is reason to believe there are other gem rebels out there somewhere. The ship that Lars and the off-colors stole was guarded; you don't guard things if you're not worried about them being stolen, but they managed to get through, probably, because Lars doesn't have a gem so their scanners wouldn't work on him. The robonoids that chased Steven and Lars on Homeworld only seemed capable of detecting gems, and they appear to have a court system for some offenses such as High Gemicide.
The prospect of disobedient gems must have come up before, that's probably what the armies are for. And keeping colonies in line must have been less important once they were all freed and left to become autonomous, for Yellow felt safe in disbanding her armies once that was done.
posted by JHarris at 4:07 PM on September 30


My pet theory has always been that the Gems are a living weapon created by a long-dead race for a long-dead war, designed to replicate itself and spread from world to world eradicating all resistance. Over the eons they've forgotten their origins and developed a society of their own. Ideally, I'd have it that their creators aren't dead after all, and occasionally demand tribute from them.

Also, Steven Universe Future, y'all!
Jasper! Something that looks like an evil (pink?) White Diamond! THE FINAL SEASON! Closure!
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:22 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Noooooo I don't want it to end.
posted by JHarris at 3:04 PM on October 4




« Older Movie: Face/Off...   |  Podcast: My Brother, My Brothe... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments

poster