Steven Universe: Little Graduation
December 28, 2019 10:43 PM - Season 6, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Little Homeschool produces its first graduating class, including the Off-Colors, and Lars and them are going back into space, leaving Steven with mixed feelings about the end of Lars and Sadie's relationship.
posted by JHarris (9 comments total)
I really, really like that they're letting Sadie and Lars be people and move on. It's pretty rare for folks to be with the same person they met so young their whole lives. I like Shep and I like Space Lars, though I am sad to see the back of Sadie Killer. That was fun and I related as someone who's done too much time in customer service.

And I am very glad that this *does* seem to be about Steven dealing with his own issues. I can totally appreciate that whole burden of his life starting to make the cracks show. He can't deal with things changing without them changing because of him. He likes to be in control or at least involved. I mean he was raised as a Special Child so I'm not surprised he feels like the centre of the, well, Universe, and that's going to be hard to move past.

Amethyst's question in Little Homeworld - "what do you want to do?" is really poignant. He only knows what he wants other people to do. He's not great at focusing on himself.
posted by Jilder at 5:28 AM on December 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

One, I love Sadie's new partner, who is explicitly non-binary in a way few other shows are brave enough to do. They also play an important role in solving Steven's crisis

Ever since Lars went to space and Sadie got into doing shows it was clear they weren't going to end up together. I'm glad Lars and the Off-colors are going back into space, that seems like a better destiny for them than retiring to make pastries.

I hope Steven figures out what he wants to do with his life. Epic heroes rarely deal well with what comes after the quest is over. Maybe Steven needs to leave too, or at least take up Greg's offer to pay for his college.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:10 AM on December 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

One unsettling thing about these episodes is how they're taking character arcs from before in directions we didn't expect.

Like, Sadie Killer and the Suspects. Sadie had an arc that started with working at a convenience store, went through her getting over mothering and dependence issues (protecting Lars in Island Adventure, her problems with her own mother), then learning to come out of her shell, joining with the other cool kids, going on tour, reaching a place of comfort with Lars, and then the original series ended, in way that suggested this is where she's going like a ton of other shows do when they basically end saying: and they lived happily ever after (which is right there in Steven Universe: The Movie and the new opening)....

...and then it decided no, that's not what a conclusion means, it doesn't have to go in that direction forever, the characters can decide things for themselves. I think the show is playing with the idea of what a story ending is. Steven Universe was made to be a kind of show where some elements came together in a way that suggested a natural focus, like the Aristotelian climax of basically the entire history of drama, and it did--that focus turned out to be the revelation of the history and identity of Pink Diamond, which set up the resolution where many other elements of the story that hinged on that reveal were tied up. But we're also left with a ton of other things, all the human side stories that didn't tie into that, that have been rolling, apart from that primary story thread, since the beginning, and which like real life doesn't tie easily into a three act structure.

What might also be relevant is his own gem nature. Gems live basically forever, but humans are moving and changing all the time. Remember that Steven, for nearly his whole life, grew up assuming his role was to be one of these four protectors of Earth. The Crystal Gems! Basically set up to defeat monsters from their temple base like the other gems had for literally thousands of years. Now it turns out he doesn't have to do that. He's been given a life outside of superheroing! That's a good thing!

And of course Steven may still be feeling residual abandonment issues concerning his mother, which may also play a role in his difficulties letting go. I wonder if they might figure out some way to confront that in the show, like, how much of Rose's memories does a simulacrum in her room have? Could he ask it questions, and it would answer them based on what it knows of her? I mean, in one way it wouldn't be true to Steven's development to suddenly be able to question some entity of his mother's who could provide him with solid answers, since people in the real world often end up losing loved ones without opportunity for closure. But on the other hand Steven is part gem, and things are weird with them.

It probably would be healthiest for Steven to go to college with Connie, really. The way the show's going, with a realist approach to Earth life, there's a good chance the two will grow apart if he doesn't. Fusing with someone is a weird kind of bond, and it would be sad to think of Stevonnie never existing again. One cool thing about Steven Universe's world is that Steven could move away without moving away. There's still warp pads all around the world, and now they could even construct a pad wherever he needs one.

If I were running the show, where I would go from here, would be for Steven to go to college with Connie, but after that probably going out into space and eventually taking up his role as a Diamond and helping Homeworld with its internal problems. If Steven does have basically an indefinite lifespan, I would think he would have to do that eventually. Connie might join him, and really if we're viewing what her character would want instead of a direction a story would push her into going, who wouldn't want to go into space, meeting weird people and seeing new planets? There's a lot of gem culture to explore and I'd think she'd want to investigate it.

I've heard it said that Rebecca Sugar has the backstory and "frontstory," to invent a term, of the show's universe, for thousands of years in both directions. So wherever Steven's going presumably will factor into that, but the staff seems to be clearly saying, everything else is up in the air. I wonder if she'll want to continue exploring the various past and future events in that timeline after Future ends?
posted by JHarris at 11:47 AM on December 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

One, I love Sadie's new partner, who is explicitly non-binary in a way few other shows are brave enough to do. They also play an important role in solving Steven's crisis

This!!! They were adorable, they were relevant to the story, they helped in a way that nobody else could. Also they played that funky... electric flute? Clarinet? thing? Thank you Crewniverse for that so good nb rep.
posted by snerson at 11:06 AM on December 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm thinking a bit more about Steven and his difficulties in letting go. If there's one skill gems will have to learn on Earth, it's that: living indefinitely means watching humans come and go and change. If Steven cannot learn this now, he's just going to have trouble later. And the fact that Steven turns pink when he has these strongly connects his troubles with his mother.

Anyway, both this episode and Prickly Pair are hard for me to watch. Steven has always tried to help everyone, but is now having troubles of his own. A lot of people, here and elsewhere, have said the kid needs therapy; maybe that's the direction the show is going?
posted by JHarris at 7:43 PM on December 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

ugh, the new band not having any of the pull of the old one is too real. pulls you into steven's character. bleak, y'all.

how has no one in the series noticed / commented on steven's 'going pink'? Connie was the only one on Earth who we know witnessed it--or would Greg or Pearl know or recognize the pinkness as a symptom of a Gem who's not about to allow change?
posted by eustatic at 9:54 PM on December 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Pretty much everyone ought to know about Steven's ability to go Super Salmon now, but I don't think anyone other than Volleyball and probably the other Diamonds grok the true nature of it. It's a deep well of extremely powerful abilities that Pink learned to intentionally avoid before our Pearl ever knew her.

I think it's pretty clear the Pink Steven that appeared when White pulled his gem out was a manifestation of that power, it used the yell and geometric shield that Steven's now utilized in Super Salmon mode.

Presumably a future episode will involve Steven going to the Diamonds to find out more about Pink's early life and these powers. Maybe that's where White Diamond will earn her spot on the Antagonist Board in the intro.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:15 PM on December 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also they played that funky... electric flute? Clarinet? thing?

Electronic Wind Instrument, or EWI ('ewee').

Basically, its to a clarinet what a keyboard is to a piano.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:23 PM on February 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Everyone here who's talking about Shep is saying how much they like them, but I feel like the character was designed to provoke irrational resentment. I mean, that's Shep's role in the story: to be irrationally resented by Steven as a disruptive force in his social sphere that takes things away from the comfortably familiar. And so they're a big amalgam of traits that people irrationally resent.

In other words, I see people reacting "Shep is awesome! Shep rocks a crop-top and uses gender-neutral pronouns and plays a cool keyboard wind instrument and all the other characters like them", and I can't help but wonder if the intended gut reaction was more like "Shep is terrible! Shep wears a crop-top and uses gender-neutral pronouns and plays a weird keyboard wind instrument and is just suddenly friends with everyone without earning it like some kind of Mary Sue"
posted by baf at 2:59 PM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

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