With the reactions post-Storm in the Room, I feel that Steven doesn’t get enough credit. Going to Rose’s Room, searching for answers, and comfort even though he didn’t know that yet, Steven wasn’t setting out to create a perfect mother or project himself the ideal version of Rose. He starts, the moment he enters the room, by saying he knew it wasn’t real.
Everything Steven did with Cloud Rose, everything that happened between them, were reasonable assumptions we could make of Rose. And this is because the Rose we saw was from Steven’s expectations of what she would be like. And Steven was wary about idealising Rose the way the Crystal Gems did. He says this explicitly several times. Also, Steven’s view of Rose was tempered early on by Greg’s stories of her.
So the Rose we see isn’t a sad Steven’s attempt at finding the perfect mother figure. Steven’s attempt at a reasonable and believable portrayal of Rose deserves to be acknowledged. Had it not been the case, the Rose we saw could not have evoked the feelings she did. It’s because of the depth Steven introduced to her from all his memories of her that it was made possible.
And what I want to talk about in this post, is how the images of Rose reflect which narratives he’s channeling as he tries to piece together, quite literally, the image of Rose.
The first appearance of Cloud Rose shows her with messy hair, parts of it stick up and around her. Her facial expressions are often wiggly, for lack of better word, and she shows her thighs a lot more than in the succeeding scenes, either in cross-sitting or running.
This Rose is goofy and funny and casual. And it’s the Rose whom Greg’s stories have constructed in Steven’s memories.
The same scenes we see Rose hitch up her dress in the same way (such as when she’s reading books with Greg on the bed) or similarly goofy, like stopping a ferris wheel with her bare hands, she’s with Greg.
Even the line Steven takes from her video in Lion 3: Straight to Video, about “every X being unique and beautiful” is shot in Greg’s presence. Without realising it, Steven is remembering this image of Rose.
And she cares about Steven. She engages in his interests. It’s not so far a stretch because some episodes back, Bismuth was willing to do the same thing. Rose was a fun person. There’s a running joke that she would have loved cheesy and corny jokes. She probably told a few in her day.
She probably wasn’t always as poised as presented in her portrait. Greg remembers the Rose he changed, when she was starting to understand human beings in earnest and come to terms with how they could exist with gems on the same level.
Rose at that point still didn’t want to talk about her past, and Greg never made her. So Greg and Rose made new memories and didn’t dwell on the old. And those memories were filled with fun and laughter and love.
The moment sobers when it is Rose not Steven, who gestures the latter to sit down and stare at the expanse of clouds.
And we should know that what we’re about to see means something has changed. The first hint is that Rose’s body language changes. She sits perfectly straight, even though she’s cross-sitting the way she was earlier. And we don’t see her legs anymore. Her hair neatens and her expression calms.
What’s more, her hands assume the position Garnet did in Here Comes A Thought in Mindful Education. And that emphasises the kind of role Rose plays in this moment. Steven felt Rose taught Garnet how to manage her feelings, because it was a motherly thing to do. In a very Steven Universe fashion, the music changes from the bright xylophone to a quiet piano music, which is the mark of another Crystal Gem, Pearl.
And when we go back to the senior Crystal Gems and their image of Rose, it is exactly the way she’s presented.
Cloud Rose is a huge presence, with Steven a small child by her side. She speaks deliberately, every word is one of wisdom. She is magnanimous and comforting at the same time.
She tells him, “But we’ve been together the entire time.” And it brings back the idea of how our parents are always with us, and a part of us, because one way or another they’ve left a mark on us.
At the same time though, the similarities of the scenes between this moment and the one at Rose’s Fountain in An Indirect Kiss, lead to the same end.
Rose is viewed as a godly icon, very distant from Steven. She’s not sitting beside him, playing with him, kneeling on the ground anymore. He looks up to her, and he can’t reach her.
In both times, he realises she’s not really there. That he talked to the statue of Rose in the fountain, confided his deepest insecurities about how he didn’t know how to feel about her when everyone else did, parallels the empty image on his phone.
And it segues into the next scene perfectly.
Because Steven doesn’t know how to feel about Rose. Now, he’s more certain than ever that he doesn’t even know who she is. The Rose we see at the end has a blank face, because Steven can’t project anything on it. He’s thinking of Pink Diamond’s shattering, Bismuth, and the Rebellion, and all the people hurt by them.
When he sees Rose, he can no longer see himself, which is why her eyes, one of the facial features most like Steven’s, (next to his nose) are nowhere to be seen.
And this Rose is distant, because there’s no mitigating narrative linking him to her. In the other scenes, the room remained the same, because these stories he was told of Rose and who she was firmly rooted the first two Roses as part of the real Rose’s identity.
This Rose is foreign, because nowhere in those narratives did Steven think it possible to for her to do the things he learned she did.
And in that moment he begins to doubt.
Because he can no longer see the image of his mother, he doesn’t know where he himself stands. A huge part of his identity is being Rose’s son. What happens when the “Rose” part becomes fuzzy, blurry, and unintelligible?
What happens to the Steven?
Notice that this Rose is silent. She offers no response to the accusations Steven hurls at her, about all the people she hurt and her act of leaving them all behind.
At this point, we see the part of Steven that understands Rose is gone. That he’s never going to get these answers and there won’t be an explanation coming from her.
There are some things he’ll never get to hear about, some memories he’ll never know, some experiences he’ll never share with her.
And it’s sad and disheartening and lonely. In losing his idea of Rose, Steven loses a part of his identity. Such that he felt it would be better if he denounced Rose, cutting off the part of himself he didn’t want to think about: That he was created just to fix her mistakes.
It’s then that we see Rose’s face for the first time since we’ve entered the paradigm of Rose-through-Steven’s eyes. Not Greg’s, not the Crystal Gem’s. Because these new things he’s learned about Rose are things the others would never have known without him. How else would they have heard the Diamond’s song of mourning? How would they have known Bismuth was there all along?
And the things Rose said in the tape were meant for Steven, in a space only Steven could find.
The Rose speaking to Steven at the end is the Rose who’s already spoken to Steven directly before, through the tape.
A lot of negative reaction has been given to this moment, because it feels as though the tape absolves Rose of everything she’s done. It doesn’t and I don’t feel that was the point.
The point of her saying that, was to reaffirm Steven’s belief in Steven. To show that it wasn’t about Rose anymore, that Steven’s birth wasn’t about Rose but about him.
And it’s striking that’s the only time we see her face again. Because immediately after, Steven hugs her, and her face is obscured.
That’s Steven’s recognition that he’s never going to hear any other words straight from his mother for him. He understands and he realises that nonetheless, Rose is exerting a presence in his life. He really is always with her and never alone.
The past few episodes and everything leading up to them were about Steven’s realising his mother was still an individual, one who could made mistakes and rash, selfish decisions.
He was afraid that upon realising his mother could be a selfish individual, could do huge selfish things that affected thousands of lives, he feared the act of his birth, the most personal thing about him, was meant to serve her self-interests alone too. He needed a concrete and tangible answer, which was what prompted him to go to the room.
At the end of the episode, he didn’t think that anymore. He knows he has a lot of work ahead in figuring out Rose’s place in his life, but the lingering doubt of the very foundation of his existence is gone.
And because of that, he finally feels comfortable letting her go.
☆Summary: Like a constellation hung from the skies above, he who had once illuminated the lackluster night sky of the bustling city appeared to you like a meteor shower raining upon the pitch black horizon, And just as quick and abrupt as the celestial display had graced its way through the lonely skies above, he left just as suddenly as it had arrived. But you should’ve expected this ill-fated story, a waitress struggling to get by had never been fitting of an heir-to-be CEO. What was written in the stars was written into history, and history is an irrevocable phenomenon that cannot be reversed.
Do you ever think about how wild the public perception of victuuri must be??
Like ok. Characters first.
Victor Nikiforov, who is considered to be this flirty playboy. He’s the perfect skater; elegant, refined, amazing jumps, spins, step sequences. He has it all, and he’s won it all. I bet you everybody thought Victor and Chris were fuckin or something b/c they’re obviously friends and you know what the media is like.
Victor is such a private person; he’s really skilled in telling you everything while saying nothing. He’s got incredible press skills. I bet the media must be starving for another side of Victor–his love life most specifically. The playboy thing is most likely an exaggeration tabloids put together, and it sorta just caught on. All these reports of Victor being seen with so and so must mean he’s seeing them, right?
Victor has been called selfish before. It’s probably a very common belief that he’s quiet and serious and really only cares about himself and the ice. This cannot be further from the truth, but it’s how people see him. An immaculate god.
Then, Yuuri Katsuki. He’s sort of reclusive and doesn’t interact much. There’s not much on any of his social media accounts; the opposite of Victor. While Victor delivers constant content, Yuuri hides away. He avoids people, doesn’t really interact with fans, and seemingly snubs other competitors.
People think he’s arrogant. Yuuri looks away from others like they’re not worth his time, which is totally uncalled for considering he can’t land his jumps, right? Yuuri’s spins and footwork are amazing, but he always falters technically. He gets a lot of flack from the press and the public for this; they say he’s mentally weak, he’s a mediocre skater at best, he should just stop trying. At times, Yuuri even believes them.
The beloved, sexy ice god versus the shy, weak underdog.
sooooo what I’m about to say next probably counts as SU Critical, but I’ve been thinking about it too much to not say these two things:
1. Y’all complaining about “fillers” need to take a seat and watch some earlier episodes again. This show is not nor has it ever been a plot-centric show: it is a character-centric show. Now you are aloud to dislike episodes - that’s okay! But some of y’all who don’t know much about stories or plots or writing need to shhhhhhhhh.
2. Though I have noticed a change in art. Now this is not anything negative to more recent episodes, because I know that art is hard! And I appreciate every person who has made an episode of Steven Universe.
I’ve just noticed when I rewatch old episodes, more time was put into having the art tell the story, too.
Just, for example, I watched Indirect Kiss last night. We got some detailed drawings that worked for comedy as well as story. For instance:
But It also used art to slow down the story and really connect with the characters:
Remember when Steven talked about his complicated feelings for his mother? Or when, after the water came, he imagined the stature reaching down to him?
Do you remember how quiet this scene was? How the wind blew their clothes? How Steven’s hand pulled at his jeans?
That’s what I feel like the newer episodes are missing - the extra touch that uses art to further the emotions of a scene.
But I’ve gotten the impression that those who have noticed the same things I have are thinking the reason for this is laziness - which I believe to be greatly incorrect, and, honestly, a horrible assumption. I know I’m not an artist - but I am a writer - and I can assure you, those who create art take it seriously.
So then, what is it? My guess should be a little concerning. Remember how it takes almost a year to make one Steven Universe episode? You can see that in episodes like Indirect Kiss, can’t you?
I think, ahem, production is being forced to produce episodes quicker or funding is less or different than it once was.
I guess I have no proof other than deduction. And I don’t really know what to do this info. But I thought I’d say it, maybe get a conversation going.
I still love this show, and I will forever love this show and support it. But supporting it also means pointing out what has made the show great - its art.