After over six years, Steven Universe is truly over. But it was seen off with all the love and care anyone could ask for.

In the first of the evening’s four-episode finale, “Homeworld Bound,” Steven (Zach Callison) travels back to Homeworld, the home-planet of the gems and their three previously-ruling diamonds: Yellow (Patti Lupone), Blue (Lisa Hannigan) and White (Christine Ebersole). Before meeting each one to ask for help, Steven also runs into another friend, Spinel (Sarah Stiles), previously only seen in Steven Universe: The Movie.

As such, the episode acts as a fast-paced reunion, showing Steven and the audience what these characters have been up to since they last met. Spinel is as energetic as ever, literally bouncing off the walls as she shows Steven around the palace. There, they visit Yellow Diamond, who uses her powers to heal broken gems, and Blue Diamond, who has now developed the power to make others feel joy rather than sadness. To demonstrate, Blue sings a new song, aided by Hannigan’s beautiful vocals and a jazzy assortment of instruments.

Unable to get the help he needs from either diamond, Steven meets with White Diamond, previously the ultimate antagonist of the main show. Similar to how the other diamonds have reversed their powers, White can now allow others to take control of her, which Steven attempts after her suggestion that it could offer him a new perspective.

It does, but it’s not the one Steven wants. In a disturbing sequence, Steven’s anger directs back toward White Diamond for her past evil actions, and he barely stops himself from harming her.

It’s in this troubled mindset that “Everything’s Fine” begins back on earth, where the title couldn’t be further from the truth. Unable to find a cure to his emotions and powers spiraling out of control, Steven attempts to pretend everything is normal. The lightest of the four episodes, Steven goes around Little Homeworld, a village within Beach City where gems and humans live together, trying to help various citizens to only inadvertently cause chaos and destruction. 

The Crystal Gems, along with Connie (Grace Rolek) and Greg (Tom Scharpling), finally confront Steven, urging him to open up to them about what’s wrong. Breaking down, Steven pins all the blame on himself, calling himself a monster — before literally becoming one in the next episode, “I Am My Monster.”

Serving as the series’ climax, all of the Crystal Gems attempt to stop the corrupted Steven, who’s taken the form of a towering, kaiju-like beast, from harming anyone, while also trying not to harm Steven either. It’s a spectacle of incredible animation, music and acting, each character having their time to shine. 

For the first time in Steven Universe history, the show’s titular character isn’t able to help, leaving his friends and former foes to work together to help him. In the equally goofy and heartfelt end, they all embrace Steven and offer words of comfort, with Connie finally turning him back to his old self with a gentle kiss on the forehead.

In Steven Universe Future’s final episode, “The Future,” Steven prepares to travel across the country on his own, hoping to find himself along the way. Set a few months after his breakdown, the entire episode serves as one final, sentimental goodbye, as Steven revisits everyone one last time before setting out.

Coming full circle, the Crystal Gems perform the show’s first-ever song, “Cookie Cat,” showing just how far its characters have come since its debut in 2013. Although the animation quality may have improved, Steven Universe’s commitment to exploring and celebrating difference, growth, love and everything else that comes with being human has remained, seeing its cast through their darkest moments and greatest triumphs.

Steven Universe fans are spoiled. Not only did they get five excellent seasons with a killer finale, but they also got a full-length musical film and 20-episode sequel series. By all accounts, fans should have nothing to complain about.

And yet, watching Steven drive away from his hometown of Beach City is still painful. Children who started the show when it first aired are now entering young adulthood, as is this reviewer. As Steven drives off, it’s hard not to feel like fans are saying goodbye to that part of their childhood, too.

Despite the fantasy setting and goofy jokes, Steven Universe has championed the notion that nobody, young or adult, should be ashamed to be themselves. Creator Rebecca Sugar and the entire crew have pushed for the show to have representation from LGBTQ+ characters and difficult dialogues about mental health in a medium that has traditionally shied away from such topics.

Sugar has said that when making Steven Universe, she wanted to make the show she wished she could have as a kid who felt she didn’t belong. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Sugar and the whole “Crewniverse,” a new generation of kids has gotten to grow up with that show.

@JosephStanichar

js080117@ohio.edu