'Steven Universe' Episode 'Storm In The Room' Recap: Steven Fights With Mom Issues, Mom Issues Kinda Win

10
  • Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Drama
2013-11-04
cover of steven universe #1 kaboom comics boom studios
The cover of Steven Universe #1, the new ongoing from Kaboom Comics. (c) Cartoon Network

Steven Universe returned from hiatus on Jan. 30 with a five-episode gut punch that tackled grief, loss and responsibility, featuring a duet between Patti LuPone and Deedee Magno-Hall as Yellow and Blue Diamonds, the #Famethyst, a human zoo and more Homeworld shenanigans than you can shake a stick at. Last week’s episode, “The New Crystal Gems,” gave us a little levity after all those feels. But the feels are back in tonight’s new Steven Universe episode, “Storm in the Room.”

“Storm in the Room” starts with Connie and Steven hanging out at the Temple alone. The Gems and Greg are off at the car wash, and Connie is waiting for her mom to pick her up. However, Dr. Maheswaran is running late and Connie can’t get in touch with her. Connie is sensitive to Steven’s latest adventures: all the stuff about Diamonds, his mom, and rescuing his Dad must be weighing on him. Steven laughs it off, but he doesn’t want to be alone, either.

A couple of party games later, Connie is notably impatient and worried. Steven offers her a ride home on Lion, but Connie doesn’t want her mom to come pick her up only to panic at the sight of an empty Temple. Connie gets even more anxious as they try to play Mad Libs. Finally, Dr. Maheswaran bursts through the door. Steven watches wide-eyed as Connie runs into her arms.

Connie heads home with her mother and Steven closes the door on the empty Temple. He looks up at the portrait of his mom silently, then stares at himself in the mirror, looking weary. He removes his earrings, showers, and makes a microwave meal, then parks himself on the couch to eat. But the portrait of Rose Quartz appears to be haunting him; he moves outside where it can’t watch him.

That’s when a downpour begins, startling him. He runs back inside, drenched, as the storm rages outside. Rose Quartz’s portrait looks down at him unchanging. “You know, sometimes I wonder if it’s even you up there, smiling all day and night. I want to know the real you, not the you everyone tells me about. I just want to know the truth,” Steven says quietly.

At this, his gem lights up and the door to his room opens. “I know nothing in here is real, but I want to see my mom,” he says nervously.

The room obediently summons a vision of Rose Quartz, her voice warm and loving as she greets him. They play video games together and even toss around a football. The room has Rose Quartz’s voice down pat, of course. At one point she speechifies about sports: “All sports are beautiful. Each sport is a unique experience. The adrenaline, the glory, the sheer feats of athleticism, each one so complicated and yet exactly the same.” Steven stares at her, starry-eyed.

Finally Steven sits down beside her and starts pouring his heart out about how she’s been on his mind, how he’s heard about how incredible she is his whole life, and how the portrait of her has served as both an inspiration and a reminder of everything he has to live up to. He admits he’s even thought about dying his hair pink. Rose Quartz tells him “It’s wonderful the way it is. Just like you.”

Steven curls up on his mother’s lap, flushed and teary-eyed. “I should have done this a long time ago,” he says thickly. But when he tries to take a commemorative selfie with her, neither Rose Quartz nor the soft pink room is there. It’s a cold, harsh reminder that everything in the room is fake. Rose Quartz is playing the role of the loving mother Steven desperately wants to meet. But loving and kind is not all she is.  

The room darkens as Steven brings up all of Rose’s secrets and mistakes: Bismuth, Pink Diamond, how Earth is in danger again now due to Rose’s antagonizing of Homeworld, how the Crystal Gems needed her and now she’s disappeared. He even accuses her of making him just so she wouldn’t have to deal with her mistakes. He calls her a liar: “I thought you never wanted to hurt anyone but you hurt everyone!”

Unexpectedly, Rose Quartz counters Steven’s attack: she says he knows that isn’t true. She wanted him to exist, and her words in the tape to him were not a lie. She hugs him as it starts to rain in the room, then vanishes. Steven admits that Rose didn’t want him to deal with her problems, but now he has to deal with what she left behind anyway.

He exits the room looking tired and lies on the couch, turning away from his forgotten meal on the table. That’s when the Gems and Greg burst through the door, full of light and life. Greg apologizes for getting a mushroom pizza instead of pepperoni, but Steven says it’s just perfect. End episode.

It’s no surprise that our boy Steven has a lot to deal with and the more he learns about Homeworld, the more complicated his relationship with his heritage, including his mother, grows. Rose Quartz has been mythologized by the people Steven most loves, who most loved her, to an extent impossible for Steven to live up to. As the Gems come to know Steven and appreciate him as his own unique individual, even Pearl is able to love Steven for who he is and not simply as an extension of Rose Quartz.

But settling the image of amazing, kind and loving Rose Quartz which Steven has grown up hearing about all his life with the image of someone who locked someone else away for even thinking about committing the same crime that she herself ultimately committed… Realizing that the weight of the world quite literally rests on the Gems’ shoulders, and how hard it is for them to continue on without Rose Quartz, and how much she is loved and missed by everyone, including Steven’s beloved dad… Realizing that he is the one who has inherited her problematic mantle even as he trembles under the might of the Homeworld Diamonds, the threat they represent, and the terrible solution his mom came up with….

It’s a lot. And it’s a good thing for the show to stop periodically and let Steven process these things and cope with them. Steven Universe ’s episodes about coping can be some of its most memorable. But this episode didn’t really come to a conclusion with regards to Steven’s feelings about Rose Quartz. In the end, his kind heart can’t cope with hating his mother, and he has to believe in the fact of her love for him and the benevolence of her wish for him to exist. He has to trust that it’s fact, not fiction, and use that love as a compass. It’ll be interesting to see if Steven is ever able to really unpack this with the Gems, with Greg, or even with anyone else from Homeworld.

On Feb. 24, we can look forward to another Ronaldo episode called “Rocknaldo” in which our favorite (groan) Beach City citizen hunts down more rock people in his hometown. Why must we pay for our rich post-hiatus arc in Ronaldo filler…? “Rocknaldo” will be followed on March 3 by “Tiger Philanthropist” in which Steven tries out pro wrestling… again. But a spoonful of levity should help the feels go down, right? Right??

P.S. I just realized that in “What’s The Use Of Feeling Blue,” Yellow Diamond says that Lapis Lazuli are for terraforming planets. Now Lapis’ extreme water powers make a lot of sense. I just realized that. Wonder if the other Diamonds have their own flavor of terraformer Gems?

Anyway, feel free to talk about Steven Universe episode “Storm in the Room” in our comments section below, and make sure to check back next Friday for another Steven Universe recap. (Ronaldo. Sigh. )

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