This Steven Universe Future article comprises spoilers. There may be additionally dialogue of bodily and psychological abuse.
Rose Quartz has been divisive amongst Steven Universe followers from the second we began studying extra about her backstory. Whereas initially idolized by Steven and the Crystal Gems, over the course of the collection we’ve discovered Rose has lied about her origin, pressured Pearl to maintain her secrets and techniques, locked Bismuth away, left Spinel on her personal (driving her mad with grief), and even gave up her type (i.e. died) with out taking accountability for or fixing the various points she has brought about.
A few of these actions have been justifiable to followers, or on the very least comprehensible. Spinel was left behind as a result of she was horribly clingy and wouldn’t depart Rose alone. It wasn’t proper, after all, however all of us have moments of friendship we’re not happy with that maybe contain ghosting somebody with out rationalization. Rose might have bubbled Bismuth, nevertheless it was due to the Breaking Level (though she ought to have defined to the opposite Crystal Gems why she did it). Regardless of mendacity about her origin, Rose did begin the revolt in opposition to residence world, one which in the end led to the relative peace we now have in Steven Universe Future.
Steven Universe’s collection arc has been Steven slowly discovering the secrets and techniques of his mother and attempting to course of them. At first, he simply wished to study all the things he might about her, however the extra he has found, the extra sophisticated Rose turned. Steven has discovered of each the great and unhealthy Rose has completed and has needed to study to reconcile the 2. Whereas the opposite Crystal Gems noticed Rose as a hero and mentor, Steven started to see her as the one that left him with all her tasks. The extra religion he put in attempting to rationalize her actions, the extra he was disillusioned when he discovered the precise reasoning behind them. At first, the struggle in opposition to the diamonds appeared completely justified… till he discovered she was simply attempting to get out of getting a troublesome dialog with them. The tip consequence was good however the cause it began, not a lot.
By the tip of season 5, he had appeared to return to a peace about it, even when that peace mainly equates to not occupied with it an excessive amount of. The Diamonds have been lastly keen to cease their conquests in order that meant he didn’t need to hold interrogating his personal emotions about Rose’s relationship with them. He discovered to like himself and that meant he needed to settle for his mother not directly too, since he carries her gem. Forgiving her was the one approach to be joyful, it appeared.
Then we come to “Volleyball”, which provides an excellent larger crime to Rose’s previous. We study that, earlier than our Pearl, Rose had one other Pearl that was named Volleyball by Steven. Volleyball has a crack in her eye that may’t be repaired by Steven’s magic spit. Determined to unravel this downside, Steven, Pearl, and Volleyball journey to a spot that was meant to heal Volleyball’s eye, however even that doesn’t work.
There, Volleyball reveals a narrative Pearl and Steven have by no means heard: As soon as, Rose was so mad about not getting her personal colony that it “set her off.” The change between Pearl and Volleyball says volumes.
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Pearl: “Set her off? What are you speaking about?”
Volleyball: “You bear in mind how she was together with her harmful powers, throwing tantrums left and proper, she had a scream that would crack the partitions. She didn’t imply to harm me. I simply occurred to be standing too near her that point.”
This can be a bombshell for Steven and his response is similar because the viewers’s: anger. How might Rose do one thing like this? She brought about everlasting bodily and psychological injury to Volleyball. The present doesn’t exit of its approach to excuse this. The truth is, Pearl tells Volleyball:
“I’m sorry for not believing you. It appears like I’m nonetheless making excuses for her.”
Volleyball tries to rationalize it with, “She didn’t imply to.”
Pearl counters, “However you have been damage, badly damage.”
This isn’t about rationalizing away Rose’s actions. The main target right here is on how Volleyball (and by extension Pearl) really feel about this. This was a sensible transfer by the inventive employees as a result of it contextualizes this clearly abusive conduct, meant or not, as inexcusable. I totally agree: what Rose did was horrific.
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So…ought to Steven forgive Rose? Should he wipe away any of the great emotions he has about her due to this? Is each good factor he’s discovered tainted by this data? Should he flip his again on her legacy? Should he destroy the portray of her he solely so lately put in Lion’s mane for protected retaining? Should he attempt to be understanding? Should he as an alternative concentrate on all the great she did after this horrific second?
These are… sophisticated questions to try to reply and everybody may have their very own opinions. With out query, Rose has completed unhealthy issues. The present has not made mild of it. It wouldn’t shock me if we uncovered extra unhealthy issues from Rose’s previous by the point Steven Universe Future is over.
However… Rose has tried to alter. The fused Pearl(s) says as a lot on the finish of the episode. The truth is, it appears as if this (apparently) unintended act of violence spurred a substantial amount of change in Rose. We have now to fill within the gaps for now, however Rose left Volleyball behind and acquired the Pearl we all know. She felt so horrific about what occurred, she determined to cover most of her different emotions. A crucial a part of the change between Pearl and Volleyball hints at this.
Pearl: “Pink didn’t have any harmful powers, she was a healer. She didn’t throw tantrums she saved her emotions secret.”
Volleyball: “The Pink I knew couldn’t hold a secret to avoid wasting her Gem.”
Pearl: “Are you kidding? If something she was too good at retaining secrets and techniques, even from me!”
Rose retreated from her emotions to keep away from hurting anybody else like she damage Volleyball. She knew she needed to change and he or she did her finest to take action, even when she has stumbled by way of that work. The knee-jerk response of utterly reducing off your feelings is comprehensible. Rose didn’t wish to damage anybody else, and he or she thought retaining individuals at arm’s size was one of the simplest ways to do this.
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Nonetheless, this distance brought about issues of a special type, as Pearl said. Rose was too good at retaining to herself, too good at not coping with points head on. As an alternative, she ran away from them. She ran from Volleyball, the diamonds, Bismuth, Spinel, even life itself in some methods. Rose was determined to make up for this authentic sin, and ended up hurting extra individuals within the course of.
So… ought to Steven forgive Rose?
There isn’t a clear-cut, easy-to-understand reply. It’s straightforward to say “after all” and be completed with it. She damage Volleyball. We will’t condone that. However what occurs if you wish to attempt to be higher? What occurs whenever you actually notice you’ve completed one thing horrific and wish to change? Are you simply written off as unhealthy eternally and by no means allowed an opportunity to attempt to be a greater particular person?
It’s an advanced reply. Clearly, Volleyball, if she so needs, ought to by no means need to take care of Rose once more. It’s not on her to forgive Rose or settle for her as a modified particular person. Similar for anybody else who was damage by her, together with Steven!
So… ought to Steven forgive Rose?
I’m going to exit on a limb and say that Rose… is flawed. She is a flawed particular person and each character on this present absolutely has sophisticated opinions of Rose based mostly on their differing experiences together with her. The nice occasions she has had with some characters doesn’t erase the unhealthy ones she has had with others… however does her attempting to alter mitigate these unhealthy issues? Is just her intention to get higher a magical cure-all for Steven’s ethical dilemma?
That is much more sophisticated as a result of we’ve been given little details about Rose all through the collection. Massive gaps are lacking and an enormous new one is what she did straight after hurting Volleyball. Maybe she pledged she wished to get higher… however what did she truly do to make that occur? You’ll be able to say you wish to be higher however there’s a restrict to that. Should you’re saying “I wish to be higher” however are nonetheless hurting others, then your intention solely means a lot. It’s place to begin, because it appears it was for Rose, however the intention isn’t motion. It isn’t making an actual change that features taking accountability to your actions and altering the impression you have got on the world.
Rose did some good issues, sure, however was it sufficient? Was it sufficient to show she was making an actual change? This, once more, is sophisticated. Do you simply must do X variety of good deeds so as to stability out Y variety of unhealthy actions? There’s no straightforward reply to that one, however an necessary ingredient that needs to be the beginning of any accountability?
Rose wanted to actually confront what she did as an alternative of operating away. She wanted to come clean with her actions and the way they harmed others. Because it appears proper now, she realized she did one thing flawed and ran away from it. She didn’t take duty, she didn’t think about how this damage Volleyball in the long term. She simply ran away. The identical factor she did with the diamonds, Spinel, and all the things else in her life.
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Steven is now confronted with an analogous situation. He needs to run away from all these horrible emotions. He doesn’t wish to hear anymore about all of the terrible issues his mom did… however he can’t run away from it. If he doesn’t, he might find yourself hurting individuals the identical method Rose did. The extra he runs away from it, the extra he buries it deep, the extra it’ll find yourself effervescent to the floor in destructure methods. We’ve seen this already in his battle with Jasper in ‘Little Homeschool’ and his damaging of the Reef. He was near hurting Pearl and Volleyball in the identical method Rose did.
However the essential factor for me is that Rose is sincerely attempting to alter. Each Rose and Steven might take a lesson from Pearl. When comforting Volleyball, Pearl admits that she’s by no means stopped hurting from what occurred and that’s what permits her to fuse with Volleyball. Pearl is ready to acknowledge and really feel these tough feelings. She doesn’t run away from them, like Rose did. Pearl learns to confront them head on, messy as it may be.
That’s what Rose ought to have completed. If she had let herself really feel her ache, she won’t have damage extra individuals because of it. Nonetheless, she was genuinely attempting. That alone means she is worthy of Steven’s forgiveness, if he’s keen to provide it.
That’s the final word reply to the query of this text. Solely he can resolve, simply as we as particular person viewers can resolve. There’s nobody reply. Nonetheless, with the hopeful message of Steven Universe it’s greater than probably it’ll select the trail of forgiveness.
Rose is unquestionably not an ideal particular person; the present has gone out of it methods throughout its total run to deal with that. She’s sophisticated and deeply flawed. That’s what makes her such an enchanting character for each the present and Steven to discover.
This type of ethical query is setting Steven up for an emotional journey that’s hardly ever seen in TV: that of studying to take care of a mom who’s neither a saint nor a full-on monster, however relatively one thing in-between. If the collection made Rose a remorseless monster, it could rob this story of a lot of its energy. By making Rose sophisticated, it higher displays actual life. Individuals are not as cut-and-dry as we generally need them to be. Not often can somebody match inside a easy dichotomy of fine and unhealthy. It’s extra of a spectrum—one which Rose falls extra on one facet. Even with a Gem in her abdomen, Rose is a deeply-flawed particular person. One that’s attempting her finest, even when she nonetheless makes errors alongside the way in which.
(It have to be reiterated as soon as once more that I’m not attempting to excuse Rose’s actions in opposition to Volleyball. These have been horrific and I hope we get to see extra of Volleyball attempting to heal herself, each bodily and mentally.)
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Shamus Kelley is a popular culture/tv author and official Energy Rangers skilled. Comply with him on Twitter! He additionally co-hosts a Robotech podcast, which covers the unique collection and the brand new comics. Give it a pay attention! Learn extra articles by him right here!
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