Watch Steven Universe Episode 'Mindful Education': A Dollop Of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps The Butterflies Go Down

10
  • Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Drama
2013-11-04
steven universe mindful education
Splash image for new Steven Universe episode "Mindful Education." (c) Cartoon Network

While the biggest Stevenbomb ever may be over, new Steven Universe episodes will continue to air once a week through into September. “The “Summer of Steven” began July 18, giving us time with Beach City citizenry before Jasper’s return and the introduction of Bismuth . “Steven’s Summer Adventures” rocked us in “Beta” and “Earthling” ( among others ), but ended on a loving note in “Know Your Fusion.”

Today's Steven Universe episode, "Mindful Education,” starts with a distant and distracted Connie heading over to the Temple for more swordfighting practice with Pearl. It turns out that Garnet will be sitting on today’s special session of training: fusion training. Garnet gleefully reveals her “fusion sign,” which cheers for Connie + Steven on one side and Stevonnie on the other.

The holo-Pearls fuse into a giant Pearl as Steven and Connie do their fusion dance and become Stevonnie. In the background, Garnet merrily switches her sign to the “Stevonnie” side. Stevonnie is initially excited to discover their floating powers, but as they launch towards Giant Pearl, an unfamiliar face flashes before them. Stevonnie shouts “I’m sorry!” and unfuses.

Connie runs to the back of the Training Grounds, and Steven follows her. She confesses to Steven that at school, her training instincts kicked in and she accidentally beat someone who bumped into her. Embarrassed, she ran away and has been torn up over the incident. Steven tries to comfort her, saying that sometimes you hurt people by accident and you have to try not to think about it.

Enter Garnet, who says, “Hold the phone. Now give the phone to me.” She tells them an imbalance can cause a fusion to fall apart. If one of them falls apart, so will their fusion. To find balance they must understand their feelings, and they must see their feelings clearly, without running from them. Garnet says she can show them, but first, she needs Stevonnie.

Stevonnie closes their eyes. “Here comes a thought,” says Garnet in darkness. A song begins: “Take a moment to think of just flexibility, love and trust.” We see Ruby and Sapphire each dealing with thoughts that hurt or embarrass them, symbolized by white butterflies. The white butterflies swarm Ruby and Sapphire so that the two Gems can’t even see each other. “Take a moment to ask yourself if this is how we fall apart. But it’s not. It’s okay,” goes the song.

Ruby is able to push away her butterfly and run into Sapphire’s swarm, breaking it up. The two are able to comfort one another. “I’m here, I’m here, I’m here,” the verse closes.

Connie sings the same song, and in one huge butterfly we see Connie’s incident at school. Garnet lovingly sings the chorus with Stevonnie, and we see Connie and Steven take deep breaths. When Connie cries, Steven reminds her that he’s there. “And it was just a thought, it’s okay.” Connie, Steven, Rubby and Sapphire all lie down and watch the white butterflies pass overhead without being swarmed by any of them.

The next day Connie feels much better. She spoke to Jeff (whose arm she broke!) and apologized to him. While Connie has moved past the incident that upset her, it’s Steven’s turn for a white butterfly of his own: he spots Rose’s sword poking out of Connie’s duffel bag, and his expression changes.

Now while in Stevonnie form, it’s Steven’s turn to experience imbalance: in his mind’s eye he sees Bismuth, who explodes into a swarm of butterflies. Stevonnie starts freaking out and Garnet reminds them to breathe as Pearl panics over what’s happening. Stevonnie sees a huge, monstrous, tragic Jasper approaching, then a huge angry Eyeball Ruby. Stevonnie tries to talk themself through the painful memories, telling themself it’s okay to think about them, but the swirling butterflies coalesce into a huge, stern image of Rose. Stevonnie takes a step backwards that sends them plummeting off the platform.

Steven and Connie unfuse. Steven cries that none of them would allow him to help them and it’s not okay. Connie tries to reassure him that it’s okay to think about things that feel bad, even though there’s nothing else he could have done; he has to be honest about how bad it feels, so he can move on. Steven tries, tears streaming from his eyes, and is able to fuse into Stevonnie again. Stevonnie’s newfound hovering ability saves them as they hover, breaking through a hurricane of butterflies to a peaceful green landscape.

Stevonnie laughs with relief and looks up at the sky: “I’m here.” End of episode.

A painful and hard-hitting episode for anyone who has ever struggled with depression or trauma, “Mindful Education” was clearly made with both love and experience behind it. Mindfulness is a common treatment in cognitive behavioral therapy, and this episode was a bite-sized dose of it for children who may not know how much they’ll need it in years to come. Connie has always worn her anxieties on her sleeve, but cheerful, bubbly Steven doesn’t let on to his thoughts so easily. Happily, the episode ends well - there’s no way it couldn’t with Garnet there, and no way the Steven Universe team would take it in any direction but the most therapeutic.

Studio Trigger’s Takafumi Hori was part of this episode’s team , lending special grace to the streams of bright butterflies and moments of high emotion during “Here Comes A Thought.” “Here Comes A Thought” is easily one of the best songs to come out of Steven Universe; Estelle is magical, and Garnet’s harmonies with Connie are sweet and uplifting.

A powerful, positive, painful episode, it’s no wonder Rebecca Sugar took to Tumblr to simply say , “Please, please tune in for this one.”

Make sure to check back with iDigitalTimes for upcoming news, analysis and hot takes as they happen, with new Steven Universe episode “Future Boy Zoltron” next Thursday at 7 PM.

 

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