She-Ra and the Princesses of Power hit lightning from the beginning, instantly aware of its narrative structure and where it wanted to go. With a firm goal in mind, it set out to establish the world of Etheria and its characters, culminating into a satisfying conclusion that laid out the groundwork for future seasons. As I stated in my previous She-Ra review, the show demonstrates that a battle between Good vs. Evil need not fall into strict binary setbacks with its cast. No one person is defined by how Pure and Good or Evil and Twisted they are; every one from Adora and her friends to twisted Horde member Catra carries baggage and motivations for their actions. Season Two continued with the pattern, adding more mystery to the pile, specifically on Adora’s origins and her destiny as She-Ra. Many of these are now being brought to light in the latest season of the show and boy, is it a doozy.
The Horde’s plan to open a portal to the universe is fast approaching. Adora and her friends must find a way to stop Hordak before his army successfully take over the world. Deciding the previous She-Ra, Mara, might be the key to getting the answers she needs, Adora and her friends travel to the Crimson Waste to find a solution.
She-Ra’s theme has always revolved around characters trying to live up to or restricted by expectations forced unto them by their predecessor, usually people who are often in a position of power. For example, Glimmer is at her wit’s end whenever her mother restricts her determination to go out and stop the Horde instead of waiting by the sideline until danger arrives. Adora has to live up to the moniker of She-Ra, but is stressed over duties and a fear of failure that the previous She-Ra, Mara, supposedly underwent. Now these characters are approaching a breaking point where the pressure to live up to or get out of their role can make or break themselves and the world around them.
Catra remains the forefront of this cycle and season three continues to examine why someone of obvious talent and ambition wants so badly to be approved by the Horde army when she is worth far more. She’s the complicated tapestry that weaves the central narrative this season and her decisions carries interesting consequences. Equally as heartbreaking is her friendship with Scorpia which is expanding into something genuine, but not without a few cracks. Scorpia (always the show’s MVP) has been a bit of a pushover in spite of or because of her affections, so it’s nice to see her offering second opinions this time around. The show understands that you can be kind, but not naive. It says plenty that I’m invested in their relationship and all the foibles that come with it.
The theme surprisingly extends to, of all people, Hordak himself. Without spoiling, it examines and answers why he’s been holed up in his lab for most of his days, letting his army do all the grunt work while he contents to himself in a corner. What I liked is that it provides justification to the old plot convenience of the antagonist passively staying off to the side when they could logically pop in and shoot the hero. It offers a new window into his life, humanizing him in the process and amusingly, giving him a couple of vulnerable moments that’s unexpectedly heartwarming. Again, this ties into She-Ra’s contextualization of its characters, a consistency that I’m pleased to see even with the Big Bad of the show.
She-Ra’s third season revs up the intensity and never lets go. Season one’s finale served as a beginning brought by strong friendship and renewed hope, but season three can afford to risk more and by the end, the training wheels come off. There are bittersweet moments our heroes can’t get back and bigger threats they may not be prepared for.
With only six episodes under its belt, season three feels like a miniseries, but it just means not a single episode feels wasteful. Should it get renewed for season four, I, for one, can’t wait to see where the plot will take Adora and her friends next.