Steven Universe 4×11 Review: “Steven’s Dream”

Steven's Dream

We’re back from hiatus with a brand new Stevenbomb, but don’t let the title fool you. “Steven’s Dream” is anything but a snoozefest.

One of the more common complaints in the early days of the show was that Steven never asked questions. It seemed no matter what monsters he fought, ancient ruins he explored or secrets he uncovered, he’d rarely ask for more information– something endlessly frustrating to those trying to piece together the world’s lore.

Steven’s silence stemmed from a number of sources; his age, his unique personality, the requirements of long-term story pacing… but also because, a lot of the time, when Steven does ask questions, the Gems refuse to answer them. “Steven’s Dream” is the episode where Steven finally hits his limit, and the way he blows up at Garnet and Pearl is both hugely uncomfortable and wonderfully cathartic.

Steven’s tantrum is not enough to convince even Garnet to spill the truth about the palanquin. She admits that she is scared, of what she will not say, but Steven refuses to heed her warning and goes to his father for help. Greg excels in his role of balancing parental figure here, and immediately agrees to take Steven to find answers. They enlist the help of Uncle Andy, who agrees that “family helps family find mysterious artifacts,” and flies them to Korea.

Before they seek out the palanquin, the Universes find a little time for fun, exploring the country where in the real world the show Steven Universe is animated. Besides a delightful and hilarious montage including a father-son fashion show, at one point Steven and Greg actually tour an animation studio, and there are character sheets of them on the walls! This show managed to break the fourth wall harder than Rose Quartz shattered Pink Diamond, and it was hilarious. But all fun things must come to an end. Steven knows they are getting close to where they want to be because the giant tears from his dreams once more start to slip down his face.

The tears of Blue Diamond.

This was the first time we truly see see Blue Diamond ‘in the flesh’ (in the light?)– not in a flashback or through another character’s interpretations– and it’s fascinating. She is a far cry from Yellow Diamond’s cold determination to see Earth perish, or even the brief glimpse we got of her in “The Answer.” She is so overcome with grief from Pink Diamond’s death 5,000 years ago that it literally overflows into Steven. She has enough empathy to understand that neither the Earth itself, nor its inhabitants, are to blame for that death, and to regret its supposed coming destruction by Cluster. She was able to connect, however briefly or superficially, with Greg.

However, we still need to remember the larger context. Blue Diamond may be sympathetic, but she’s still a villain. She’s still someone who tried to have Ruby executed for the ‘crime’ of fusing with Sapphire. She’s still someone who utilizes and upholds institutionalized slavery. She’s still someone who, despite feeling sorry for the Earth’s fate, doesn’t seem to be using any of her power to save it. She’s still someone who’s more than willing to kidnap and imprison someone “for their own good”, even when they fight and protest against it.

Garnet reaches Steven as Blue Diamond’s space ship warps into another dimension off the planet. She apologizes for her fear and her failure, and pledges that they are going to get Greg back.

Author: KK Bracken & Laura B


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