This is a stream of consciousness list of thoughts and feelings I have about the latest episode of Steven Universe, "Mindful Education."
I empathized a lot with Connie this episode, and then even more with Steven: being able to deal with the emotions connected with hurting other people is something I'm very bad at. Just dwelling on it, pushing it out of your mind, doesn't amount to doing anything about it.
This episode is so important, because being good doesn't entail being perfect, and to be as good as you can be, you have to be able to move past doing wrong and keep trying to do your best afterward.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the moral lessons of Steven Universe, how detailed, nuanced and subtle they are. This episode even had a solid dialectical format (which to be fair most things have because it's basically the broadest possible net to throw, but in this case I think it's useful to talk about it).
Thesis (via Connie): If you do something you feel guilt about, you have to resign yourself to being forever guilty.
Antithesis (via Steven, to Connie): If you do something you feel guilt about, you have to suppress it so you can keep feeling your non-guilt state.
Synthesis (via Garnet, to Stevonnie): If you do something you feel guilt about, you have to feel that guilt to heal from it, so you can return to feeling your non-guilt state.
I sincerely believe that the Crewniverse are trying to build a story that models goodness, and practical skills for being a good and emotionally healthy person. In the specific case, I think this is building the base components necessary for Steven to understand and forgive Rose Quartz (and himself) for shattering Pink Diamond.
I don't think Rose will turn out to be evil, because that's a cop-out that lacks emotional subtlety and I think emotional subtlety is what this show is all about. I also don't think it'll be revealed that Rose didn't really shatter Pink Diamond, for the same reasons.
I think that looking at the dilemma of "Rose is a good person" and "Rose shattered Pink Diamond" by saying one of those must negate the other misses the central theme of the show.
I have complicated thoughts about Rose, too, that I want to talk about some time soon: particularly about how she routinely discounts her own feelings as irrelevant in the face of other people's emotional experience, and about her as a well-meaning but emotionally unhealthy person.
And about the fact that everyone in the show is living with trauma, and that virtually every story arc is about healing from that trauma, and what that says for the realities of our world and the demands that entails for our lives.
And about the use of speculative elements to build estrangement from recognizable experiences, in order to help portray them from new angles.
Okay, I have a lot of thoughts about Steven Universe, and they may have to be longer-format than this.