The show begins its musings on The Future, and Steven makes a mess of things (both recurring features of this season).
Amethyst is thriving in her new role at Little Homeschool and it is precious.
Amethyst: Wow, I am so proud! I almost feel bad eating it.
Steven: I didn’t know Bixbite wanted a career in the culinary arts.
Amethyst: Yeah, we talked a lot about her interests and experience, then I spoke to Kofi and set her up here.
Steven: This was your idea?
Amethyst: Yeah, and she’s just the beginning! I wanted to do something big for the school, so I’ve been pairing Gems up with human jobs – the results have been amazing! I call it the Gem-Human Excellence Mentorship, or GHEM.
She was clearly excited about the project and already placed quite a few other Gems in positions around town, but as Steven sees the roles they’re filling, he gets a little uncomfortable.
Steven: Um, Amethyst? Isn’t this all a little on-the-nose?
Amethyst: Oh, oh look! Snowflake Obsidian and little Larimar found some ice-related jobs on the boardwalk!
Steven: Hm…I don’t know about this.
Amethyst: About what?
Steven: Ice Gems doing ice stuff, pilot Gems doing pilot stuff, guard Gems doing guard stuff…isn’t that exactly what they were doing on Homeworld?
Amethyst: Uh, no.
Ruby: It’s just like we used to do on Homeworld! Thanks Amethyst!
Amethyst: These are the jobs they wanted.
Steven: Well, sure, they think they want this stuff, but it’s up to us to get them out of their comfort zones!
Steven, I know you mean well, but do you even know how condescending that sounds?
Steven: Bear with me for a sec. Hey guys! I was wondering what you two did on Homeworld.
Snowflake Obsidian: I dug ice trenches for their armies.
Larimar: I made ice sculptures for the Diamonds.
Steven: So, ice is kind of like your default mode.
Snowflake Obsidian: Yes.
Steven: Did you ever think of trying something else?
Then he proceeds to give them seemingly random jobs just to “get them out of their comfort zone”.
Yes, Amethyst clearly thinks this is all a terrible idea (I mean, he sets Snowflake up as a pilot without even asking if she has any experience flying anything, with his Uncle Andy in the backseat, no less!). But considering that Steven doesn’t even listen to Snowflake’s protestations about flying a plane, it doesn’t seem like she has much of a chance to change his mind.
Larimar: What is this wonderful noise?
Steven: Those are the joyful screams of people on a roller coaster.
Larimar: Human screams are my favorite of Earth’s delights. I want to hear the human screams forever.
Steven: Okay, that’s kind of troubling. But your heart’s in the right place!
Steven: See, Amethyst? With just a small tweak, your good idea is working even better!
Amethyst: I don’t know about this, man.
Initially, I wanted to say Steven’s making totally new mistakes…but it’s really more like he’s making the exact same mistakes, just with different kinds of consequences. Back in season 1, he was constantly messing things up by using magical items or powers in the name of helping a friend (without thinking through the consequences). Now, he’s using his political clout to change a well thought-out system in the name of helping the Gems (without thinking through the consequences).
Steven: Wow, sure feels great to help people! Can’t wait to see how everyone learns and grows outside their comfort zones…I guess my work here is done.
I must applaud them for their restraint in saving the early credits gag until now, because it is glorious.
Naturally, he goes running back to Amethyst for help.
Steven: Amethyst, I really need your help! Our brilliant plan is falling apart!
Amethyst: Why would you want my help? You haven’t liked any of my ideas today.
Steven: That’s not true! This Gem mentorship thing was a great idea!
Amethyst: It was a great idea when Gems were picking their own jobs. But you came in and told everyone what they can and can’t do! Even me!
Steven: I was wrong. I should’ve trusted you with your Gem mentorship program. I don’t know why I thought I could just take it over like that. I’m so sorry. […] Can you help me unhelp all the people I helped?
Yeah, she has a right to be upset, but at least she buries the hatchet as soon as he apologizes since, y’know, stuff is literally on fire.
So they form Smokey and proceed to start cleaning things up, one disaster at a time.
Smokey Quartz: Saving the universe took time! I don’t have any time! What do I do? I don’t know! Just give me a second…
Then, in the face of a runaway roller coaster, they unlock a new Quicksilver mode!
Except it’s pink, because with Steven, everything’s pink.
Smokey Quartz: Well, sometimes you save all the people, but the roller coaster still crashes into the ocean. And that’s okay.
I love this show.
Once they’ve put out all the fires, they finally get a chance to actually talk stuff over.
Steven: You know, you were really spot-on with everyone’s jobs.
Amethyst: Yeah, I know, dude! I mean, it’s not like I just guessed. I talked to everyone about what they wanted. Everyone here has kind of a weird history. I just thought they should be able to choose how they feel about it and choose their own future, y’know?
Steven: Yeah. I get it.
Amethyst: I feel like I finally figured out what I’m supposed to do. I spent so long not knowing who I was or what I was made for – I had to figure that out for myself. And now, I think I’m good at helping other Gems figure that out for themselves, too.
Amethyst: So what about you?
Steven: Uh, what about me?
Amethyst: Now that things are settling down a bit, what are you gonna do? Come on! Let’s talk about your future! The doctor is in, the first session is free.
Steven: I don’t know. I still want to help people, but maybe I’m losing my touch?
And this is the whole point to Steven Universe Future: Not to show the happily ever after, but to show that just because Steven has tons of power and privilege now doesn’t mean there’s a clear place for him. He’s way overpowered, but there’s no real threats to overcome, so how should he channel that? At the end of the day, he’s faced with the same questions about his identity and his future as any teenager.
Larimar: Hey, Steven, it’s me, little Larimar! I got you a surprise, can you guess what it is?
Steven: Uh, no.
Larimar: It’s a stuffed bear!
Steven: That’s so nice! But what’s the gift for?
Larimar: I just wanted to say thanks for the amusement park job. I’m not great at the roller coaster operation, you know, but I found I’m good at handing out prizes to children, and I love their laughter. It sounds just like screaming! I think the kids really like me, too. I’ve never been this happy.
Larimar is the best. And it goes to show that Steven’s idea certainly has merit, even if it won’t be helpful for everyone (and should definitely take things like technical skills and temperaments into account). That said, there’s a common thread between these first two episodes that’s a little worrisome – Steven walking in and trying to make someone or something better without even asking if his input is wanted. Also generally not listening to Amethyst who has a very sensible head on her shoulders now.
Until next time…