What Steven’s New Powers Mean for “Steven Universe: Future”

The first four episodes introduced three new powers that have big implications for the rest of the series.

Screenshot from: Steven Universe Future | Steven Universe | Cartoon Network /
Cartoon Network /

In the first four episodes of Steven Universe: Future, a ton has already happened.

Even though the premiere episodes were relatively relaxed—lots of emotional drama and growth, but no monsters or planet-threatening events—the series seems to be set up for some amazing developments. Just for a start, Pearl has a new bond with the permanently damaged Pink Pearl—they even fused!—Steven cemented his awkward-but-loving siblinghood with the Rose Quartzes, a tense armistice (with potential for collaboration) has been established with Jasper, and we saw further proof that onion is an immortal and indestructible being. Oh yeah, and Steven discovered three incredible new powers!

First, in "Little Homeschool" there was the defensive skin shield that spread around his entire body when he was battling Jasper. Defensive seems to be the operative word. He had gone to her intending to offer some help, but as soon as she got the chance to fight him, she used his concern for others—for baby birds in this case—to find an opening, then she got him pinned. At that point she renounced the idea that he could ever help her, saying "You think everyone needs help! But it's only you. No one is as pitiful as you." Ouch…

Understandably, this triggered something in Steven. With a look of rage on his face that we've never seen before, a pink layer of bubble spread across his skin, and he was suddenly able to fight back with a lot more power, and he actually won some grudging respect from Jasper—who nonetheless refuses to acknowledge him as an incarnation of her diamond. No one else has the venom for Steven that Jasper does, so it took a confrontation with her to bring out this defensive side of him, but once it was unlocked it revealed more power—not all of it good.

Next, in "Guidance," Steven's newfound power revealed a new ability for Smoky Quartz—his fusion with Amethyst—as well. With Steven's pushy plans for new immigrants from the Gem Homeworld going awry, a rollercoaster is about to go flying off the tracks, and he and Amethyst fuse to try to save it. Smoky Quartz realizes they're not going to make it on time and starts freaking out—and maybe getting a little defensive?—when the same pink skin shield spreads around them, but with a new development. They are suddenly moving so fast that time seems to stand still, and they are able to save everyone on the roller coaster—except onion, who is immortal and indestructible.

Finally, in "Volleyball," Steven has opened a clinic for treating damaged gems, and there seem to be a whole lot of them—maybe they're getting damaged on purpose? His healing spit is doing its work until Pink Pearl comes in with her cracked face. His healing powers can't fix this damage, because it isn't a reflection of any damage to her gem—it's something deeper. Pearl suggests taking Pink Pearl to The Reef—a facility that can purportedly fix any Pearl.

When even the Reef can't fix her, and Steven is confronted by the fact that his mother's violent temper is responsible for this deeper, psychological damage, he again becomes defensive. The shield skin forms, and then he demonstrates exactly what one of his mother's temper tantrums would have looked like. He lets out a shout that becomes a shockwave and destroys the reef, setting off a series of events that the three just barely survive.

It remains to be seen how Steven will gain control of his new, temperamental powers. They will likely cause a lot more problems before he fully learns to use them. Or perhaps—like his mother—he will learn to tamp down his defensive impulse. Whatever the case, it seems certain that, along with these major new powers, we can expect some major new problems in the next three weeks.


How to Watch and What to Expect for the "Steven Universe: Future" Premiere

With four brand new episodes premiering Saturday at 8:00, you'd better make sure you're ready

Screenshot via Cartoon Network Asia /

It's finally here!

After the announcement, the trailer, and all the teaser art, the anticipation was killing us. But now December 7th is upon us, and the premier of the first four full episodes of Steven Universe: Future is about to deliver some sweet escape from dull dark reality with a glimpse into Beach City and a new era of peace and liberation, thanks to Steven and the Crystal Gems. What new enemies will arise to threaten this hard-won stability, and what lessons will Steven have to learn to take them on? Also, did they ever bring back Cookie Cat? Because Lion Lickers just aren't cutting it.

Steven Universe - Toon Tunes: Cookie Cat

All these questions and more are finally about to be answered…for those of us who have cable. Unfortunately for the millennial cable cutters who make up a big portion of the Steven Universe fanbase, until next spring rolls around, there isn't really a great way to stream Cartoon Network content. You could always find a source to pirate the episodes, but apart from the legal issues, you'll have to find a way to sleep at night while knowing that you stole the hard creative work of Rebecca Sugar and all their collaborators.

If you have it in your budget, and know you're going to watch these episodes over and over, Amazon already has a "season pass" available. If you don't, then you might want to find a friend with cable, and just watch it with them. And if you're reading this with 8:00 PM approaching, and you're scrambling for an option, there are a number of Live TV services with Cartoon Network access that offer free trial periods. Just don't blame me if you forget to cancel…

If you aren't convinced, and think you might still wait for who knows how long to watch these episodes when they finally come to Hulu or Netflix, here are the episode descriptions for Saturday's premiere, along with a first look clip of Steven being a sort of social worker for a restored Jasper, just to whet your appetite:

"Little Homeschool"

Welcome to Little Homeschool, a place on earth where Gems from all over the universe can come learn how to live together peacefully! But there's one Gem who refuses to attend.


Amethyst has been helping Little Homeschool Gems find jobs on the boardwalk, but Steven isn't sure about her approach.

"Rose Buds"

Steven gets a surprise visit from some old friends, and an even more surprising introduction to some new ones.


Steven is determined to help Pink Diamond's original Pearl heal the scar on her face.


What We Know About "Steven Universe: Future" So Far

The Latest Sneak Peak Gave Us a Ton To Think About, But Not a Lot of Answers

Cartoon Network

Fans of Steven Universe were no doubt delighted by the news at this year's Comic Con that Rebecca Sugar's iconic world would be continuing with an epilogue called Steven Universe: Future.

But until now, that title and a little bit of teasing artwork was all the news we'd received about the upcoming limited series. Today, finally, we got our first sneak peak at Future, and it really is looking bright.

It's been nearly a year now since the fifth and final standard season of Steven Universe concluded with the apparent achievement of universal everlasting peace. Having recovered their lost, beloved Pink Diamond in the form of a small, half-human boy, the Diamonds' whole worldview was shaken. The framework of unquestioned superiority that had guided their rule was suddenly invalidated. They dissolved their society's rigid hierarchy and acknowledged the value of organic life. War and conquest are off the table, and gem technology will bring a new Utopian era to earth. Huzzah! Every problem is fixed and all the characters can now live in peace and love and freedom into eternity.

For a show with a well-earned reputation for tackling the complexity and nuance of interpersonal drama, it seemed a bit strange for events to be wrapped up so tidily. It's a sentiment that was perfectly captured in September by the song "Happily Ever After," that played in the first moments of Steven Universe: The Movie. "Here we are in the future, and it's bright. Nothing to fear, no one to fight." But no sooner was this sense of a happy ending established than Spinel was introduced and new drama ensued, showing the way for the franchise to grow moving forward. There are loose ends galore, and in the upcoming limited series Steven Universe: Future Steven will have the work of handling those, but also, "as he runs out of other people's problems to solve, he'll finally have to face his own."

steven universe future threatsCartoon Network

That leaves a lot of room for Steven's romantic life, his questions of identity, and his private ambitions to be explored—not to mention his own messy history with the tribe of Watermelon Stevens, etc. It's not yet clear which of his personal problems will come into focus in Future, but we do have clues about some of the other problems he'll be facing.

Let's start with the frame of a generally better life in Beach City and the rest of the universe, with gems finding new ways to live, be free, and have fun on earth—yoga and art and new fusions galore. "Happily Ever After" echoes throughout the snippets of Future we've received so far, but the new sneak peak emphasizes Steven's misplaced optimism in believing that "soon, we'll all be able to put the past behind us." Dissolving the old hierarchy does not erase history. There are ancient grievances that we've never even heard of—as with Spinel, abandoned in Pink's garden—and there are grievances from within the show's established canon that may not be so easily forgotten. Enter Jasper.

jasperCartoon Network

Jasper is a toxic gem. Abusive and domineering, she has internalized the hierarchy of gem society to such a degree that she can't conceive of personal value or identity in any other terms. Fusions are beneath her, imperfect gems are beneath her, biological creatures are far beneath her, and Rose Quartz—who upset the natural order and remade herself into a half-biological creature—is absolute scum. For Jasper, it's not such an easy thing to let go of those ideas on the basis that this scum, this fundamental enemy of her values, is now being held up as Pink Diamond—Jasper's lost matriarch. And now the fact that her gem is corrupted is likely to only exacerbate her resentment. Her manic laughter rings out in the new video, along with the defiant declaration "You are not my diamond!"

pearlsCartoon Network

Jasper will clearly represent a significant threat in Future, but she's not the only character fans are buzzing about. Perhaps even more interesting is the mystery of the damaged Pink Pearl. She was previously taken from Pink Diamond—before our familiar Pearl replaced her—and has since served under White Diamond. She has large fractures of unknown origin covering half her face, and in the sneak peak, we catch a glimpse of those fractures spreading across her face. No doubt the drama of her past and the question of how she will be incorporated into the new world will be another focus of Future.

Beyond that, there are still a lot of questions to be answered, but it's exciting to see so many new and wild fusions, and gem technology transforming life on earth—for the better this time. The release date hasn't been specified beyond the vague promise that it's "coming soon." Hopefully a date will be forthcoming, because "soon" can't come soon enough!


Twitter has been abuzz today about which cartoon theme song is best.

This is no doubt a ploy by Disney to get everyone nostalgic enough to sign up for Disney+, and everyone has been predictably biased to focus on the shows that they loved when they were kids. But as someone who grew up in the 1990s—the true golden age of Saturday Morning TV—I felt the need to step in and provide the objective analysis the topic required. Without further ado, here is the definitive list of the greatest cartoon theme songs of all time. Don't even try to argue.

11.Batman: The Animated Series

This one has the distinct advantage of being composed by legendary film composer Danny Elfman, and borrows heavily from his work on Tim Burton's Batman, for which he won a Grammy. The dark, orchestral intensity sets the tone for one of the most serious and intense children's cartoons of all time.


Life is like a hurricane. If you don't already have the words "here in, Duckburg" playing in your head, you are a broken soul. Hughie Dewey and Louie, along with their uncle Scrooge, were the definition of cartoon adventure in the early 1990s, but the simple, catchy lyrics of the theme song are truly what keeps this show alive in our hearts. It's the reason I can't hear the word racecars without immediately thinking of lasers and "aeroplanes."

9.Darkwing Duck

Synthesizing the previous two entries with a duck-themed slapstick parody of the Batman universe, we have Darkwing Duck. While the content of the show was less memorable than Ducktales, the driving bassline and the high-energy vocals of the extremely 90s theme song are somehow timeless. The refrain of "When there's trouble, you call DW," and Darkwing's interlude, "Let's get dangerous," will live forever in my memory.


Arthur was always kind of boring compared to other cartoons, yet I watched it a lot as a kid, because it was boring in the same way a big comfy sweater is boring on a cold day. It's a show full of sweetness and optimism, and never has a theme song so perfectly captured the hopeful and positive message of a show better than Ziggy Marley's "Believe in Yourself." You know you want to sing along to this one.

7.Gravity Falls

Gravity Falls taps into the weirdness and mystery of childhood to deliver one of the best cartoons of the past decade. And the instrumental theme song somehow manages to be eerie, mysterious, and madcap all at once, in a way that only the supernatural adventures of Dipper, Mabel, and Gruncle Stan could live up to. The snappy, fast-paced percussion combine with the playful penny whistle to instantly put me in a good mood.

6.Teen Titans

Teen Titan's Go! has gotten a lot of love and a lot of hate in recent years, the latter coming mostly from fans of the show's 2003 predecessor. Whatever you think of the two shows, there's no denying that the original show's high-energy Japanese surf rock theme song by Puffy Ami Yumi absolutely slaps. It's worthy of a listen even if you don't care about the show.

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