“Change Your Mind” isn’t just the finale of Steven Universe’s fifth season. It’s the end of an era. With a new revelation nearly every second of the episode’s 45-minute runtime, Steven Universe can never go back to how it was before. Although what awaits for the future of the show is hazy, this finale ends with no question unanswered, and no roads unexplored.
Starting off in the cell where Steven (Zach Callison) and Connie (Grace Rolek) were at last episode, “Change Your Mind” starts with an argument between Blue Diamond (Lisa Hannigan) and Steven. Then Blue and Yellow Diamond (Patti LuPone) face off against each other. After that, Steven fuses for the first time with both Pearl (Deedee Magno) and Garnet (Estelle), and finally fuses with all three original members of the Crystal Gems to form Obsidian (Dee Bradley Baker). And that’s not to mention the new outfits for nearly every member of the team, including highly anticipated outfits for the newly reformed Lapis (Jennifer Paz) and Peridot (Shelby Rabara). There’s also a giant robot.
The first half of “Change Your Mind” is action-packed and filled to the brim with answers to fans’ pleas. Chances are, if fans have been wanting to see something in Steven Universe, they will finally see it in “Change Your Mind.”
But it isn’t until when the Crystal Gems finally reach White Diamond (Christine Ebersole) that things truly get serious.
White Diamond doesn’t throw a single punch or kick, but instead fights with her mind and words. After draining the color from Steven’s friends, new and old, and possessing them, White digs into Steven’s greatest insecurities, both about himself, his friends and about his past as Rose (Susan Egan) and Pink Diamond (Egan).
Steven perseveres, though. Following a traumatic series of events, Steven resolves his dedication to his friends, positivity in the face of danger, and most of all, accepting himself as his own person. “I’ve always been me,” Steven tells White Diamond. This pure love exposes White as imperfect, and she finally gives up, agreeing to help Steven.
And all is well. The Gems land back on Earth, reunite with friends and family of Beach City, and with the Diamonds’ combined power, begin to heal all of the corrupted gems, including Jasper (Kimberly Brooks). This is all set to two beautiful new renditions of songs from early in the show’s history: “Let Me Drive My Van Into Your Heart,” and the show’s theme song, “We Are The Crystal Gems.”
In the episode’s final scene, Steven and the Crystal Gems sit on the coast where the theme song takes place, and Steven sings the final song of the season: “Change Your Mind.”
“I don’t need you to respect me; I respect me,” Steven sings. “I don’t need you to love me; I love me. But I want you to know you could know me, if you change your mind...”
This is unmistakably a message straight from series creator Rebecca Sugar. Steven Universe has been rightly hailed as a haven for the LGBTQ community, and others who have been demonized or ostracized by society. Paralleling Steven’s message to the Diamonds, Rebecca makes one last plea to those who still won’t accept these people. Not all of them will listen. But maybe, in time, those of future generations will.
Steven Universe is not over, but what it was certainly is. It’s future is uncertain, and it’s hard to even imagine the show continuing from what was once intended to be the series’ definitive end. But even if by some disaster the show goes to crap after this, at least this era of the series ended with not with a bang — although there were plenty of those along the way — but with a song. A song of love.
Steven Universe: The Movie will air on Cartoon Network this fall.