Steven Universe: Mindful Education
August 25, 2016 4:14 PM - Season 4, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Steven and Connie deal with some of the psychological effects of working with the Crystal Gems. Sequences done by guest animator Takafumi Hori!
posted by Small Dollar (28 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You're gonna carry that weight...

Not surprised Steven is having trouble. Kid's been through some real shit lately. It's never easy to get past traumatic experiences, but acknowledging the experience is the first step to getting better.
I'm still surprised Stevonnie the Badass has come out so quickly. I feel like the show is deliberately planning it's arc to end by the last episode currently ordered, which isn't too terribly far off. Steven Universe is a show meant to have a definitive ending, like Gravity Falls. I feel like the biggest missing piece is Homeworld, can there be an ending that doesn't dramatically alter Homeworld's situation? I guess it depends on the mysterious White Diamond.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:42 PM on August 25, 2016

Steven avoiding thinking about his emotions goes all the way back to Steven Floats and when he started to think about Rose.

Also, another song!
posted by cuscutis at 5:25 PM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I loved this. Such a good episode.

Is this the first time Stevonnie has used the first person?
posted by ocherdraco at 6:03 PM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

(I saw a comment elsewhere that it's not; Stevonnie has said "I " in several other episodes.)
posted by ocherdraco at 8:35 PM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Powerful episode and timely for me personally.
Garnet's sign was so cute, made cuter by how rarely Garnet seems to let anyone in like that. Yknow letting people in by sharing what they're excited about.
"Come at me, children!"
This is one of those episodes that transcends into actual art. The team understands something deep about human nature and uses what they have set up to express it.
posted by bleep at 9:48 PM on August 25, 2016 [7 favorites]

Loved the imagery of thoughts as butterflies. While not the focus of the episode, I feel like we got some lovely insight into Ruby and Sapphire's relationship as well. Ruby tends to fixate on one thing that MUST BE DESTROYED, Sapphire gets overwhelmed by all the myriad thoughts and cares of life. I have definitely experienced both of these mental states at various times in my life (usually while failing to fall asleep at 2am).
posted by rustcrumb at 8:59 AM on August 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

And Sapphire worries not just about the future in general, but about all possible futures.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:13 AM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I just wanted to emphasize that tiny bit of awesomeness.

1. Problem number one: Connie's training has made her into kind of a loaded weapon. This is not really gone into/resolved but that's still kind of heavy for a 13-year-old girl to handle.

2. Problem number 2-infinity: Steven dealing with fallout of Gem War, his mom's actions, his own actions to defend himself, rapid acquisition of new powers/abilities

It was definitely an episode I was glad to watch with my kid because that message is so important. He was actually very much in Steven's headspace re: guilt over Jasper, leaving me to take the Connie POV and point out that Jasper would not let him help her.

So important lessons learned:

It's ok to feel bad because bad things happened
It's ok to feel bad even when it wasn't your fault
It's ok to be upset when someone won't let you help them
It's ok to let those things go and forgive yourself

Not sure Steven has made it to that last one.
posted by emjaybee at 9:31 AM on August 26, 2016 [12 favorites]

This is one of my favorite episodes ever, and a good illustration of why Steven Universe is my favorite cartoon... well, ever. I'm not *quite* as fond of most of the competition because everything else I watch is deeply cynical: the core them of The Venture Brothers is failure, Rick Sanchez is like a (more) capricious Tenth Doctor, and so on.

Steven Universe is optimistic and upbeat while demonstrating that those values can be difficult, and understanding why better than most fiction I see. They understand how stressful it can be to see someone get hurt even if that person is your enemy, and they understand that all this stuff would be hard on a normal person, (as opposed to an alien super soldier), but they also take pains to show that working on it matters.

A show like Star Trek will talk a lot about how great humans are, but the Steven Universe people understand and talk about what that entails, and they can do it with song on their lips.

Anyway, yeah. Awesome episode. :)
posted by mordax at 9:43 AM on August 26, 2016 [18 favorites]

I really liked how Stevonnie looked when floating to the ground at the end of the episode. She looked like Snoopy dancing.
posted by painquale at 9:51 AM on August 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

Ultimately the question is will Steven follow in his mother's footprints or not? For a long time his only exposure to his mom was at the base of the pedestal the Crystal Gems (and Greg) put her on. He was driven to aspire to that ideal but now finds she has her flaws too. She refused to trust anyone completely, she was willing to kill for her cause, and did so at least once. So Steven has to decide does he accept his mother's actions or does he continue to aspire past them? Will he try to find a peaceful compromise with Homeworld or will he finish the rebellion his mother started? He's gonna keep facing hard choices, people he can't win over, people who will never stop trying to hurt him and the people he loves.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:57 AM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I really liked how Stevonnie looked when floating to the ground at the end of the episode. She looked like Snoopy dancing.

I got a distinct Yoshi vibe.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 10:17 AM on August 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

I really REALLY want an episode dealing with the fallout of Steven's recent mental powers/bad ideas - he broke Ronaldo and his girlfriend up, he seriously fucked with Lars, and I feel like those haven't been acknowledged yet. This would have been a good point to, and I'm starting to worry that that thread is getting dropped.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:34 AM on August 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

No worries about Jane (Ronaldo's girlfriend) per the KBCW blog.

The Lars thing was messed up. BUT when it happened to Jenny's dreams, Steven was very upset and apologized because of what happened with Lars. So I feel like he understands that. I'm not sure what other fallout would work as a story. Maybe a change in Lars' attitude, or even him leaving Beach City (sad as that would make Steven).
posted by emjaybee at 11:28 AM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Well, what I really want is a conversation *with the Gems* about these powers and their ethical use, because there's not a fourteen-year-old on the planet I'd trust with them unsupervised. And it's not clear that they even know about them yet.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:40 AM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

I didn't even notice until rewatching that Stevonnie saying "I'm here" to herself at the end comes from the song, because it seems like it has two different meanings.

We first hear it when, in the song, Ruby notices that Sapphire is fending off a swarm of butterflies by herself and comes over to reassure her: I'm here. Then we see Steven doing the same with Connie. So it basically means "Don't worry, you're not alone. I'm here to help." A fusion is a relationship.

But when Stevonnie says it to herself, it seems more like a mantra of mindfulness. "This is where I am, and I accept this." And that fits too.
posted by baf at 12:26 PM on August 26, 2016 [15 favorites]

It's cool that Stevonnie is developing an identity separate from Steven + Connie.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:39 PM on August 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

Well, what I really want is a conversation *with the Gems* about these powers and their ethical use, because there's not a fourteen-year-old on the planet I'd trust with them unsupervised. And it's not clear that they even know about them yet.

I assume that's coming, personally, because it needs to. (Any other show, I'd be worried, but I think us being uncomfortable with Steven's use of his powers is the point here, rather than an unintended issue.)
posted by mordax at 3:14 PM on August 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

I wasn't into the song, but this really was a good episode.

The "I'm here" at the end held so much meaning.
posted by Foosnark at 6:53 AM on August 28, 2016

this episode was tough to watch because as a pointy, there's shit like that flooding my head all the time. What a thing to put in a kids show, I wish my shows as a kid had more of this.
posted by rebent at 11:48 AM on August 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I can't imagine Connie's parents being super supportive of Connie's training after she used it to hurt a kid at school (regardless of intent). Kind of surprised, thinking about it, that Connie would be allowed to train on the same day as the incident, rather than being kept at home or otherwise dealing with consequences. Connie is still a kid, even if she can fuse, and it's odd that given her background she is dealing with this independently.

That said I really loved this episode. Both my 13-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter were very thoughtful about it. Garnet's song is their new favourite as well, and prompted me to actually play some of Estelle's non-SU music for them.
posted by tracicle at 1:27 PM on August 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

where can I buy Garnet's meditation tapes plz
posted by speicus at 1:38 AM on August 29, 2016 [8 favorites]

Maybe Connie's parents didn't find out about the incident. The kid seemed pretty chill about it at the end, and he saw how bad she felt about it when she ran away, so maybe he just reported "I didn't see my attacker", thinking
. o O (I'll talk with her about this later)
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 8:54 AM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Those Maheswarans are all about safety. I think her parents might appreciate that she's able to take care of herself even if she was accidentally overzealous in her skills.
posted by explosion at 1:48 PM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mumheswaran didn't appreciate Connie having a sword and tried to take it away from her. I actually recognize that family dynamic - you're obsessed about safety, so even any attempt at learning self-defence is "not okay" because "omg you might hurt yourself! or be killed! or worse! just stay home and avoid everything". (sigh, parents)
posted by divabat at 8:50 PM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I'd like a new Connie and Parents episode. One of the points of Nightmare Hospital was Connie's mom coming to terms with her daughter learning to fight, after which it seems her parents have warmed up to the idea. I'd like to see another episode like Fusion Cuisine where they interact with the CGs, to get a better feel for how her relationship with her parents has evolved.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:03 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I really want a guided meditation voiced by Estelle. I would pay monies.

The whole episode was lovely, I thought. So many sensitive things quietly handled in a beautiful way. I loved the song.
posted by angeline at 8:09 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

This was the first of a few episodes I saw for the first time tonight, and they helped me realize a cool and simple* storytelling trick - if our "baseline" understand of a character is that they're kind of a lovable dork, and you show us a convincing moment of them being a badass we'll cheer, obviously. Pearl gunning it from the cops in order to chase down Mystery Woman on their way to the rock show, for instance. But it also works in the opposite direction. We're so used to Garnet being the coolest cat in the galaxy that when she wants to show off her homemade sign, and explain it, it has a very similar effect.

*simple except for all the careful character work that has to come first, natch
posted by Navelgazer at 7:52 PM on August 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

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