Review: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power - Season 3

I have some good news and some bad news about the third season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Remember how I said this would only be six episodes long if it got split from the first half of the second season? It turns out that it was. That's the bad news. The good news is that this season is everything that season 2 was not. There is no filler or cheap laughs. The season is an action-packed rush of story and character development, even if that means sacrificing screen time for many of the lesser princesses. Every episode is filled with raw emotion and suspense that had me on the edge of my seat until the very end. If you were disappointed with the last set of episodes, this one will restore your faith in the series tenfold.

The third season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power revolves around Hordak's latest scheme to open a portal that would let countless Horde soldiers into Etheria to commence their wicked takeover. However, things don't go quite as planned when both Adora and Entrapta learn that the portal is dangerously unstable and that opening it would pose an apocalyptic threat to all parties involved. This compels us to care about every character in Etheria no matter what side she is on. Even though the Princess Alliance is generally good and the Horde is generally evil, the good guys don't always make the right decisions, and the bad guys don't always make the wrong ones. On that note, this season made me ship Hordak and Entrapta hard. They are absolutely perfect for each other, and I hope Entrapta stays with the Horde now just so she can be with Hordak even though I intially wanted her to go back to the other princesses after what happened during the first season.

This season reveals a little more about She-Ra's backstory through Mara, the last girl to transform into She-Ra before Adora found the sword. Adora learns that she was born in another world and came to the Horde through a portal--the very same portal that Mara sealed to save Etheria. We don't learn what the name of that world was, however, which opens the possibility that Adora still might be He-Man's twin sister from Eternia, and the writers just don't want to state it explicitly. We also see more of Madame Razz and her absent-minded ramblings that cryptically help Adora. A major theme among these six episodes is that history repeats itself. There's the obvious example of Adora needing to seal the portal and save everyone the same way that Mara did before her, but there are also more betrayals from characters that have a history of struggling to choose sides and as well as an explanation of why Hordak is so angry all the time.

Without a doubt, the biggest player in She-Ra's third season was actually Catra, not Adora. Catra makes it very clear that she knows how to wield power and will not let anything get between her and what she wants. Not even Scorpia's undying adoration for her can save Catra from her own inner demons. We saw the seeds of Catra's jealousy from the very beginning when Shadow Weaver made it clear that she would always choose Adora over her. In the new season, that jealousy takes an ugly turn that transforms Catra into an unstoppable super-villain that exceeds even the likes of Hordak's treachery. She is so fully consumed by jealousy that she refuses to consider the long-term consequences of her actions as long as they hurt Adora in the short-term. I'd like to say she's beyond the point of redemption, but this season has had so many twists and turns in terms of which characters are on which side that we should never take anything at face value.

I wish these episodes had been released at the same time as the second season because they redeemed all of its episodic nonsense and fluff. For the first time since the show premiered, I'm getting a real feel for what the writers wanted to do with it, which is something different from its predecessor in the '80s. Instead of being a black and white superhero show about good vs. evil, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is a story about people who each struggle with their own inner demons and need to make decisions based on what they feel works best for their current situation. Sometimes those decisions mean helping the ones they hate. Other times, it means putting everyone they know in danger in exchange for a brief sense of euphoria. No matter what happens, we can empathize with their intent, and that's what makes the writing behind this show so brilliant.


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