Rebecca Sugar on Healing Trauma
After saving the Earth a number of occasions, studying the reality about his mom’s previous, and bringing peace to the Gem homeworld, Steven Universe is lastly being pressured to confront the sorts of non-public demons that he’s by no means actually had the time to previously. The expertise is proving to be probably the most tough problem he’s ever confronted and io9 not too long ago had an opportunity to talk to creator Rebecca Sugar about it.
After years of following the opposite Crystal Gems’ leads when coping with existential threats, Steven’s come into his personal as each a chief and instructor. However as issues have settled down on Earth, it’s grow to be more and more clear that for all the invention and self-actualization he’s achieved alongside Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl, Steven nonetheless doesn’t have probably the most stable understanding of who he’s as a person.
Steven Universe Future has been heavily telegraphing Steven’s internal struggle pretty much from the jump, but the gravity of the situation really came to a head in “Together Forever” and “Growing Pains,” two episodes that encapsulate experiences Sugar went through and wanted to use to shape Steven’s story. When I spoke with the series creator recently by phone, she explained how the rash decisions Steven’s made lately and his newly manifested powers are intertwined and reflective of the kinds of trauma that linger with people. Healing from that trauma, Sugar explained, is an ongoing process that takes time and openness, something that Steven himself still has to learn.
io9: We have talk about “Together Forever” and Steven proposing to Connie. I don’t think the proposal will come as a huge shock to people?
Rebecca Sugar: [laughing] I mean, he loves weddings.
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io9: They’re very on-brand for him. But I do think that Ruby and Sapphire’s enthusiasm for the proposal was genuinely surprising. I wanted to talk to you about the thought process behind having the two of them being so gung-ho in their own ways but also having Garnet then acknowledge after the fact that the two halves of her are…extra when it comes to love. Talk to me about your thought process in deconstructing a marriage proposal and having it go wildly awry.
Sugar: Yes! Well, that was all character-based. In the room, we really had to sit down and say, “Well, what? What does Steven want for his future?” It was a bit of a puzzle as much for us as it is for him as a character, but in the end, we all thought, well, he’s gonna want to get married. That would definitely be his dream—he loves weddings and he loves love.
But also, we were just looking at the state he was in, and we knew that with Connie having so much figured out and with Steven not really spending that time to figure out what he wants, that disappearing into their relationship would be really appealing to Steven. A lot of his behavior in Future is not unlike his mother’s behavior before him.
Ruby encouraging Steven to propose to Connie.
Image: Cartoon Network
io9: He’s like Pink that way.
Sugar: He is, but again, he’s being himself. Garnet is fairly pragmatic as a character, but Ruby and Sapphire individually—Ruby is extremely impulsive and very, very excitable. The idea was that Ruby would really not have the kind of perspective that would allow her to know why Connie wouldn’t want to necessarily immediately say yes, because Ruby’s a complete romantic. Hopelessly so. Sapphire, on the other hand, she used to be a fatalist, and while she’s able to see the future, she can only see a single path, and it’s a future where she does nothing. The important thing to understand about Ruby and Sapphire is actually reflected in how Garnet’s powers work.
Sapphire’s future vision works because she’s completely passive, and while Ruby can’t see the future, she’s extremely spontaneous, and that spontaneity and impulsivity alter the tracks of her life all the time. Garnet’s future vision shows multiple paths and they’re paths where she’s being proactive. Even if Sapphire can see a single track where something happens that she can’t control, she knows because of her relationship with Ruby that that’s not necessarily true. She could see a future where whatever it is goes wrong, but her experience with Ruby has told her that love alters fate.
To Sapphire, it doesn’t matter if Garnet as a person is an impossibility. Experience has shown her that love changes fate, and she thinks that Steven’s proposal can work. Ruby, not being able to see any future at all individually, thinks that anything is possible if she rushes into it with enthusiasm because it’s been true for her, so she’s just excited at the idea of Steven doing the same thing. When the two of them come together as Garnet, she’s able to see multiple possibilities that are being shaped by her actions, but this is getting so technical I don’t know if it’s helpful—
io9: No, no, no, as you’re saying all of this all this, I literally have two follow-up questions that are very specific and power-based, and I wasn’t actually sure that I wanted to ask them, but now, I definitely do.
Sugar: OK! What are you wondering?
io9: So, I’m curious as to what the pink glow is exactly. Because it’s not…it’s his Pinkness is coming out, but then you also have…is it density? Is it weight? There’s that scene in “Together Forever” where he’s devastated and he just crashes into the sand, and you see that “oomf” fall, which we’ve seen at other points to the series. What is that?
Sugar: Oh, sure. Well, we say it very specifically in “Growing Pains” that what he’s experiencing is the Gem equivalent of cortisol. At this point, Steven’s been in so many life-threatening situations that his gem is responding as if his life is in danger.
io9: Right, right, right, right.
Sugar: It’s making him stronger. It’s making [him] faster. It’s making him heavier. It’s making him whatever he needs to be to get out of a life-threatening situation. The problem is that he’s not in a life-threatening situation, but his body has learned to react that way. His gem has learned to react that way so that is what’s happening when he is turning pink, that reaction is his life-saving instinct.
Steven stress eating an engagement cake as Garnet tries not to emphasize how wild his proposal was.
Image: Cartoon Network