Review: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power - Season 2

Oh, She-Ra, She-Ra, She-Ra, why must you let me down? There were only seven episodes this season. For comparison's sake, that's actually shorter than the runtime of the new Avengers: Endgame movie. Noelle Stevenson could have taken advantage of that to turn the season into an extended movie with an ongoing story arc. Instead, it followed in the footsteps of its predecessor by releasing five irrelevant filler episodes and two character-driven backstory episodes before ending with a cliffhanger that was almost--but not quite--as frustrating as the ending of the Tangled finale. I should have predicted something like this from the mediocre trailer they released, but I was hoping they were just trying to keep the plot under wraps to avoid spoilers. It was particularly disappointing after the incredibly strong first season the show delivered only six months ago.

While the first season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power excelled at character growth, these episodes only showed the secondary characters from the Princess Alliance in two episodes. The rest focused solely on the core trio of Adora, Glimmer, and Bow, as well as spending ample time in the Fright Zone with the Horde. Swift Wind, Adora's horse/flying unicorn got some more attention this season, but I would have preferred if he hadn't. For a goofy sidekick, he is way more irritating than he is funny. Once again, Spinerella and Netossa only got about five seconds of screen time, but there was plenty of queer visibility without them thanks to Scorpia's blatant crush on Catra and Bow's unconventional parental units. In fact, this series contained enough LGBT visibility to make up for the cancelation of the Xena: Warrior Princess reboot that would have explored Xena's relationship with Gabrielle with more openness than the original. She-Ra has built a world where women, especially princesses, are warriors by default, and it is considered uncommon, though not unheard of, for men to fight as well. In essence, we have reached a complete reversal of the damsel in distress era of princesses that has gradually phased out over the past few decades.

Friendship is definitely more of a focus in this show than romantic love. The season premiere reveals Frosta's struggle as a young monarch who doesn't know how to make friends as she attempts to become closer with Glimmer. The scene was well-written, but it never came up again, probably due to Frosta only showing up in one other episode. That episode, "Roll With It," was not meant to be taken seriously in terms of story or character development, but it contained the most talked about scene of the season in which Bow uses a tabletop gaming setup to plan the princesses' next attack on the Horde. Each princess reveals a fantasy version of how she views their group, complete with different art and dialogue styles. Bow's fantasy team-up, which was previewed at Wondercon, portrays the colorful cast of characters in their costumes from the original 1985 series, She-Ra: Princess of Power. This was a charming homage, complete with nostalgic theme music and bad puns. It was particularly timely after the recent passing of series co-creator Larry DiTillio. Another fun portion of this episode is when Mermista envisions herself as "Sea-Ra," poking fun at the original He-Man intro as well as She-Ra's transformation sequence. This was the only memorable scene that Mermista had this season since we never see her again, despite being referenced later by Sea Hawk.

The final two episodes of the show reveal the backstories of Shadow Weaver and Bow, respectively. I wish the entire season had been like this, giving us more time to focus on the rest of the cast. Yes, we did find out how the group reacted to Entrapta's betrayal earlier in the season, but nothing really came of it besides seeing her get closer with Hordak. We still know very little about Hordak's plan to open portals to other worlds or where Entrapta's loyalties lie. Shadow Weaver's past as Light Spinner is very revealing because she looked and acted so different in that role. We see how her lust for power corrupted her when turned evil and joined the Horde. Her relationship in the flashbacks with Glimmer's late father, Micah, also revealed that she had once been a caring mentor and had a very different maternal relationship with children than the abusive way she raised Catra after turning into Shadow Weaver. These flashbacks show us that just one bad decision can alter a person's entire future. The same applies to Bow, who would have had an entirely different life if he had followed in the footsteps of his two dads, who were revealed in the final episode of the season. We learn that the person we know him as now--a warrior in the Princess Alliance--was entirely of his own choosing and not something that his family approved of, further pushing the progressive dichotomy between men and women in this world.

I enjoyed all the revelations that came up in the final two episodes of this season, but the other five were extremely lacking. With only seven episodes to pound through, I was expecting something much stronger than what I got. I would have loved to see the other five episodes reveal backstories for Adora, Glimmer, Mermista, Frosta, or even Entrapta. Instead, the season strung us along a path that built up to a cliffhanger and then abruptly ended when things finally started to get interesting. Perhaps they were anticipating a full thirteen episode release that got cut down to seven so they couldn't show us all the episodes they wanted to. Whatever the reason is, I would recommend skipping this season for now and waiting until more episodes come out. Based on the way it ended, it seems like it could be building up to something great. We're just not quite there yet.


Anonymous said…
Check this out, it's a video from Clownfish TV that talks about season 2 of She-Ra

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