The much-anticipated season five finale of Steven Universe aired on Monday, 21 January. The 45 minute episode, titled Change Your Mind, gave fans a lot of answers about the Gem Homeworld. It also highlighted the importance of chosen family.
Steven Universe is a children’s cartoon that has a lot of adult fans due to its themes of queer identity. It was created by bisexual and non-binary animator Rebecca Sugar. The show follows a group of genderless but female-presenting aliens called The Crystal Gems. They, along with half-human, half-Gem Steven, attempt to save Earth from the uncaring rulers of the Gem Homeworld.
On 25 January, Steven Universe was nominated for Outstanding Kids & Family Programming by the GLAAD Media Awards.
Note: Spoilers ahead for the Steven Universe season five finale
The season finale picks up with Steven and his human friend Connie in prison on the Gem Homeworld. The leaders, Blue Diamond, Yellow Diamond, and White Diamond are still convinced he is their lost sister, Pink Diamond. Pink Diamond transformed into Rose Quartz to break free of the tyrannical rule of Homeworld. Then, after falling in love with a human, she gave up her physical form to create Steven, leaving only her pink gem behind as his bellybutton.
While Blue and Yellow Diamond were eventually able to understand that Steven is not Pink Diamond, they had a hard time getting through to White Diamond — the most powerful Gem.
To White Diamond, all other Gems (not to mention ‘lower life forms’ like humans) are beneath her.
It takes Steven rescuing his family of rebels, and then fusing with them, to finally make it to White Diamond. Fusion is when Gems (and half-Gems like Steven) meld together to create a bigger, more powerful Gem.
Confronting White Diamond
Still, White remains unconvinced and removes Steven’s gem from his body, expecting it to be Pink Diamond. Much to her surprise, Steven’s pink gem takes the form of… Steven.
SU SPOILERS //
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‘Where’s Pink?’ White Diamond demands.
‘SHE’S GONE,’ the pink gem yells at her.
White finds that her powers can’t hurt the new pink Gem, who uses shields to protect Steven and his family.
It is here when White finally learns that she is not perfect, but that it’s okay to not be perfect. She, along with Yellow and Blue, visit Earth and learn more about humans as well as their failed Earth Gem colonies.
An aspect of this episode that struck a chord with many LGBTI fans is the concept of chosen family. Many LGBTI people often find that their biological families aren’t welcoming or accepting of their identities. This leads to them creating close bonds with other LGBTI people, who end up being referred to as their ‘chosen families.’ This can be seen in FX’s Pose, which depicts queer-focused Houses led by a ‘Mother’ who takes younger LGBTI kids under her wing by providing housing and guidance.
In Steven Universe, Pink Diamond wanted to break away from the repressive rules of her family on Homeworld. To do that, she became Rose Quartz and helped form her own family with other Gems that didn’t quite fit in by Homeworld standards.
‘Steven is able to recognize the cycle of abuse because of the joy and confidence nurtured from his family, the one Pink chose for him to be raised in,’ Taylor Henderson writes for Pride.com.
‘Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, and Greg might not have always understood what exactly Steven was, but they loved him enough to give him the space to figure it out for himself and to be whoever he wanted to be.’
‘Coming back to homeworld, Steven refuses to let himself be mistreated by his relatives because he knows what it means to be loved unconditionally,’ Henderson continues. ‘And because Blue and Yellow care about Pink/Steven’s happiness, they’re willing to open their hearts, listen, and ultimately change their minds about how their family has been run. But convincing White Diamond, the matriarch of the family, is a more impossible feat.’
‘But Steven is Steven, no more how desperately White wants him to be someone else, and the revelation that a gem she created has evolved into something wildly different than what she imagined her to be shakes White to her core.’
What’s next for Steven Universe?
While there is no official release date for the sixth season of the show, a Steven Universe movie is set to come out later this year.
Many believe that the remainder of Steven Universe will be quite different, now that the Homeworld arch is mainly resolved.
On a recent episode of the Steven Universe podcast, Sugar and former executive producer Ian Jones-Quartey confirmed that neither Change Your Mind nor the Steven Universe movie are the end of the series.
‘I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that this specific arc of Steven, “Change Your Mind” definitively makes a definitive statement on Steven and who he is and what he thinks he is. And how he feels about it,’ Jones-Quartey said. ‘And moving forward from now, it’s going to be different.’
‘Everything will be different,’ Sugar echoed.
‘I really hope that if you’re the kind of person who is waiting… that you don’t think of the break between “Change Your Mind” and what comes next, as like, you’re waiting for more of THIS show. Because this version of it is done. There’s going to be more, but it’s going to be different and it’s going to be something new,’Jones-Quartey continued.
‘There’s a lot more to do. But, we’re not coming back here, because Steven has really figured something out about himself. So this part of the story, you know, that’s it.’