While I’m still mad Netflix decided to split S2 into two shorter seasons instead of one 13-episode season, I have to say that S3 of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power delivers, and almost three weeks after watching it, I’m STILL trying to recover from the emotional blows. It was brilliantly done in almost every way, and the fact that we don’t have an air date for S4 yet has me ANTSY.
Give me the goods, Netflix, I’m begging you.
Anyway, some degree of spoilers ahead for S3 as I get into just why it was so devastatingly fantastic this season!
First of all, if you’re thinking of watching S3, it wouldn’t hurt to rewatch S2. They’re part of the same 13 episode arc, and given that Netflix now splits seasons in half in order to get people to subscribe for longer, storytelling cohesiveness be damned, it’s a little irritating that it’s two seasons instead of one. Not that that’s the crew’s fault so much as it is Netflix and the joys of capitalism. 😑
That detail aside, S3 packs a PUNCH as it dives deeper into the legacy of She-Ra that Mara left behind for Adora, along with Hordak’s history, Catra’s own unsteady emotional state, Entrapta’s position in the Horde, Glimmer’s family, and more. There’s also new characters to meet, namely Huntara (who was totally flirting with that bartender woman, just saying), and a whole universe beyond Etheria that we’re bound to see more of eventually.
While we didn’t get as much focus on Bow and Glimmer this season, it was because we got into the really heavy details of legacy and expectation on Adora’s side as it becomes clear she was never going to be given a choice in her destiny. With every episode this season, Adora’s understanding of her role is rocked further and further, and while she never wavers in the love she has for her friends, she gets some new insights into the responsibilities that come with being She-Ra that make me just want to hug her and tell her it’s going to be okay (even though it probably isn’t).
Most importantly, though, she finally takes a step forward in her relationship with Catra, and it broke my heart.
Up until this season, pay attention to the fights between Adora and Catra. Catra never seems to hold back, and she enjoys antagonizing Adora, outmaneuvering her wherever she can. And in return, Adora keeps trying to save her. She keeps begging Catra to turn her back on the Horde and join the Rebellion so they can be on the same side again. She thinks it’s possible to protect Catra from herself, and from Hordak, and from the abuse she suffered from Shadowweaver’s manipulative ways.
And this season is the straw that broke the camel’s back, because Adora finally knows it’s not her responsibility to save Catra. That Catra won’t be saved unless she wants to make that change.
It took one fight scene to absolutely crush my heart in the best way. A single punch, thrown AT LAST with no reservations, and I’m just crumbling.
But even worse, we get to see Catra at her lowest. She’s shouldering the blame for Shadowweaver’s abuse even though she’s not to blame at all for the way she was treated, and even worse, it’s pretty clear she would rather die than give up her quest to have power over those who’ve wronged her. Catra would explicitly rather that the world ended in a violent burst than allow Adora to help her reach a better place. Frankly, she’s suicidal in that she’s not outright seeking death, but if it comes, she’ll take it over trying to pursue change for a healthier, happier existence.
Put another tally on the chart that’s counting the number of times something broke my heart this season.
Of course, I want to believe this is setting her up for a recovery arc, because we see how much Scorpia cares for Catra, and how much Adora does, even though she’s finally accepted that she doesn’t have the power to change Catra’s mind. Catra is going to have to earn redemption, and she’ll have to face the things she’s done that are wrong, but given how nuanced things have felt, I suspect it’s going to be a powerful blend of recognizing that being a victim of abuse is the abuser’s fault, not the victim’s, and of taking responsibility for those actions that have still hurt others even if they felt like coping at the time. I so badly want Catra to get a happy ending, to get some kind of peace, because she doesn’t know anything but the quest for power and revenge, and she needs something else in her life, namely love and friendship that other characters are trying to offer, that she keeps turning down.
Beyond this complicated, emotional interplay between Catra and Adora, there’s also a few threads that are starting to line up for later plots. We finally get a glimpse of Hordak’s backstory, for one, and it reveals why he wants Entrapta’s help to build a portal. Even more important, it sets up the major threat for the show, the one that’s likely to emerge as the ultimate antagonist that the finale will focus on defeating.
We can also add a tally to the chart for shows I get invested in that suddenly have a component centered on intergalactic war. This is a highly specific category, and has more titles in it than I’d like to admit. Not sure how that happened.
Anyway, we ALSO get the terrifying element of Glimmer and Shadowweaver cooperating, plus a loss that’s going to leave Glimmer extra vulnerable to Shadowweaver’s manipulation and emotional abuse. I’m worried about Glimmer in the seasons going forward because of this, and suspect this arrangement is going to get far worse before it ever gets better.
That said, while Glimmer has had a major loss at the season’s end, I think it’s possible she might end up with a surprise reunion. Two episodes of S3 center on an alternate reality that’s just a little too perfect, a reality that’s crumbling the longer it’s in effect, and in this reality, her father is alive. Now, in previous seasons, we’ve heard Micah died for the Rebellion, and we’ve all accepted that.
The catch? As characters start to remember the true reality, rather than this crumbling paradise, Micah tries to tell Angella something as she flies away. He looks as if he’s thinking very, very hard, and then he shouts, “Angella, I’m not—”
I’d say that sentence got cut off right before he could tell her he’s not dead. And if Micah’s alive, I wonder where he could be, what he could be doing, and how his return to Glimmer’s life will turn everything upside down, especially given his innate talent with magic. It’s possible I’m wrong, but somehow, I doubt it. Cutting him off felt too deliberate and ominous, and I can’t help but feel there’s significance to that.
In short, S3 of She-Ra and the Princess of Power came right for all of my heart strings, and I’m thrilled with how it played out. I have my fingers crossed that S4 will return to the 13 episode format so that I don’t have to rewatch S4 to connect all the threads of S5 because it was split into six and seven episodes, and I hope it drops this winter at the earliest.
In the meantime, though, be sure to go watch She-Ra if you can! Though four 13 episode arcs have been planned, suggesting the show has been greenlit for that much content, Netflix technically hasn’t renewed the show for S4 yet, and we all know how horribly Netflix tends to treat diverse shows when it can just purchase the rights to Friends for another year.
And if you’ve already watched it, why not watch it again? I’d say it’s absolutely worth it, and maybe a second watch will reveal more than the first watch alone could… 👀