Review: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power - Season 4

Just when you think a show has nowhere left to go, it throws you a curveball. I was prepared to have lots of fun this week with The Little Mermaid Live! but not for the emotional roller coaster that the new season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power took me on. The DreamWorks reboot was right on trend with the latest theme of betrayal that has affected every cartoon starring a princess this year. I hate to pick favorites, but She-Ra outdid every other princess series so far on the betrayal scale. That's not to say that Adora's broken relationship with Glimmer was quite as heartbreaking as Rapunzel and Cassandra, but doubt and deceit prevailed everywhere throughout Etheria as new and old characters abounded with malicious intent. Unlike the disappointing second season, which was mostly filler, season 4 of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power was packed with so much plot and character-driven drama that I don't even know where to begin. The only way I can think of to describe it is "mind-blowing."


A lot of She-Ra's fourth season focused on Glimmer and her ascension to the throne. In fact, I would even say she was more of the protagonist this season than Adora. Glimmer is a perfect example of my recent analysis on how modern princesses are less free-spirited and happy than their "outdated" counterparts. Glimmer used to be a perfect mix of naivete, joy, and scrappiness. As a result of the the third season's sudden and unexpected climax, she underwent a massive physical and emotional transformation from a rebellious daughter to the relentless queen of Bright Moon. This regime change affected her in the worst way possible. She transitioned from good princess to evil queen before our very eyes. Of course, she had some help along the way from the new villain Double Trouble, who I would argue is even more evil than Hordak or Catra, which they proved by manipulating both of them in addition to the princesses. Glimmer's decisions were ultimately motivated her her jealousy of Adora for getting so much praise and attention as She-Ra. In that way, Glimmer's character arc in season 4 mirrored Catra's from season 3, who had the exact same motivation for her actions. 


There was plenty of action going on with the Horde this season as well. Catra and Double Trouble continued to manipulate Hordak by taking advantage of his lingering feelings toward Entrapta. It's laughable that Hordak is the leader of the Horde in this version of the show when women are clearly the ones in power. The series poked fun at this in the episode "Boys' Night Out" in which the three male members of the rebellion--Bow, Sea Hawk, and Swift Wind--took on the traditional "Damsel in Distress" role as they waited to be rescued by the girls. Double Trouble demonstrated the power of femininity when they took on the most pink and feminine guise they could come up with in order to spy on the princesses. Flutterina demonstrates that even the most feminine and innocuous persona can still play a vital role in dangerous missions by averting suspicion. In contrast, Scorpia, a character who looks intimidating but has the personality of a classic princess, finally got her moment to shine this season when she gave up on her abusive relationship with Catra and decided to team up with the Princess Rebellion. Scorpia is the perfect example of how you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

The plot twists in this season were a lot to handle. Sometimes it felt forced as it made you question the very nature of the show and what it means to be She-Ra. I loved the flashbacks that allowed us to know Mara, Adora's predecessor a little better, but when it came right down to it, I found She-Ra's ultimate purpose a bit confusing. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power started with Adora fighting for the evil Horde and turning good when she became She-Ra. Yet, it turns out that She-Ra's true purpose isn't so good after all, so why would becoming She-Ra have required her to switch sides in the first place? It gets a little muddled if you think about it too hard, kind of like the new Maleficent sequel. Both stories use so much time and energy in their attempts to blur the lines between good and evil that the characters' intentions don't always match up with their actions. I understand the message about how everyone makes mistakes and that people do bad things with good intentions, but it still leaves you scratching your head in the end about who you should be rooting for.

The fourth season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is definitely the strongest one yet. It was full of twists, turns, and surprises that make you question everything you think you know about the show. Many of the characters came full-circle with their story arcs, including people we never wanted to change like Glimmer and ones we were waiting patiently for like Scorpia and Entrapta. It furthered the series' not-so-secret agenda of empowering girls by showing them that they can be strong like warriors or find strength in their femininity. I don't think there's a single episode I would cut from this season. Every second of it keeps you on the edge of your seat from the heart-breaking opening to suspenseful ending. If this keeps up, season 5 is going to be a real whopper of a season.

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