We’re breaking down the highlights and lowlights of season five, from She-Ra’s new outfit to the best (and worse) parts of that major series reveal. Your mileage may vary of course! Feel free to share with us your favorite aspects of the season in the comments.
To loosely quote Willis in The Digimon Movie, “she’s got pants now.”
There was no question that at some point, Adora was going to figure out how to transform into She-Ra again even though she chose to destroy the Sword of Protection in the last season’s final moments. It was always a bit unclear as to how Adora’s magic functioned compared to Etheria’s other princesses, who were all brought up fundamentally understanding how their powers were manifestations of the energies coursing through the planet. Corny as “the magic was in you all along” is, it’s very much the case with Adora. She was only able to tap into the—for lack of a better term—She-Ra Force in a moment where she was profoundly in touch with her emotional truth, the truth, in this case, being her deep love for Catra.
When Hordak first appeared in She-Ra season one, it’s like the world (of Etheria) stopped. Little did we know there was an even more terrifying threat on the horizon. Behold Horde Prime, the self-proclaimed ruler of the universe who’d spent thousands of years conquering the galaxy with his quasi-religion that, not-so-coincidentally, centered around him. The character (and all of his clones) was voiced by Hordak actor Keston John, who knocked it out of the park with his versatility and finesse.
Horde Prime was the perfect villain for the final season because he had everything to gain and nothing to prove. He knew exactly how to push people’s buttons to get them under his control. It’s why he’d already taken over most of the universe. He had moments of rage, sure—but it wasn’t like Hordak, whose weakness was his volatility. Through it all, Horde Prime was calm and collected—even kind at times, though always for his own malicious reasons. It wasn’t until the final moments that we saw Horde Prime at his most raw, but by then he was too drunk on the Kool-Aid to possibly let go.
Entrapta’s She-Ra journey was perhaps one of the most nerve-wracking to watch outside of Catra’s arc. She went from a tech-obsessed princess living quite happily with her robotic creations to finding the ins and outs of human friendships quite difficult to navigate, and she had a tough time adjusting. But before she even got a chance to really settle into the princess crew, she became a captive of the Horde and her need for discovery took over the forefront of her mind.
While she played a big hand in some of the Horde-led destruction on Etheria, Entrapta never stopped caring about her friends or trying to make new ones in the most unlikely of places. And it was one of those friendships that helped win the day in the end. While Hordak was newly re-assimilated into Horde Prime’s fold, some of his individuality was left and it was the connection he made with Entrapta that renewed him. She may have a unique perspective on the world that not everyone understands, but Entrapta’s scientific work was absolutely key to the princesses overcoming their most fearsome enemy—as was the devotion to her friends that drove her to some of her best discoveries.
Adora gained a new determination (and costume) midway through the season that culminated in one really cool battle. As Horde Prime’s fleet nipped at the heels of the battered ship She-Ra and her friends were attempting to return home in, she took her new fierceness and kicked the ever-loving crap out of them. In space.
We’d been “in space” on the show previously, of course, but this dramatic scene brought out She-Ra’s inner Captain Marvel and gave us what was probably the show’s best action set piece to date. Hopping from one ship to the next, one asteroid to the next, one...magic disc to the next, She-Ra used her powers to great effect. Her friends watched in awe, but it gave Entrapa time to free Catra from Horde Prime’s control and brought everyone closer together just in time for the big fight.
For most of the series, Netossa and Spinnerella were little more than background characters. They were part of the Rebellion, sure, but they didn’t do much to help out. Most of the time they were onscreen was spent poking fun at them for one reason or another (usually in how they weren’t valuable parts of the team). They were also the first openly gay couple portrayed on the show, something that drew criticism over the fact that it was limited to hugs and the few times Spinnerella called Netossa “darling.”
In the final season, that all changed. Netossa and Spinnerella were brought to the forefront as part of the story’s main plot. Spinnerella was one of the first people Horde Prime chipped, and she weaved her way through the entire Rebellion—nabbing most of its members, including King Micah. The only reason she was discovered before she could complete her dastardly plan was Netossa, who noticed that Spinnerella was calling her “beloved” instead of “darling.” That’s right: One of the show’s initial shortfalls ended up being a pivotal moment in the final string of episodes.
After that jaw-dropping reveal in “The Perils of Peekablu,” we saw Netossa and Spinnerella rise up and become leaders in their respective groups. Spinnerella’s powers were shown at their windiest—and they were super duper windy—and Netossa strategically led the rebels in trying to get her and the others back. The time was long overdue to give these characters a chance to shine. While it would’ve been nicer to see them strut their stuff earlier in the show, it was still great to see Netossa and Spinny finally get their due.
Though so much of this season revolved around people’s relationships as they were developing in real, present time, this season of She-Ra illustrated how one of the most significant connections Adora’s had always came by way of Mara, despite the fact that the two never quite actually had a chance to meet. Much as Mara serves a very specific kind of narrative purpose within the show itself, she represents—hear us out—the spirit of She-Ra that everyone who loves the series in all of its incarnations has felt. In a very literal sense, she is the old She-Ra, reimagined to be sure, but a representation of that which came before and is now being passed to a younger generation.
Forgiveness as a superpower is very much en vogue in the queer, epic animation space, to the point that one could easily feel as if there wasn’t really all that much more to be done with it. Out of all of She-Ra’s complicated relationships, Shadow Weaver’s dynamic with Catra and Adora has been fascinating to watch because it’s always been implied that, as messed up as Shadow Weaver is, she’s the closest thing to a mother that either of them ever had. After spending years emotionally torturing Adora and Catra, Shadow Weaver understood that the only way she could ever truly show them she cared was by putting her life on the line and using all of her magical prowess to make sure that her daughters had a fighting chance to live.
Where shows like Steven Universe have grounded moments like this in explicit forgiveness, She-Ra instead leads with the idea that sometimes you can’t expect for forgiveness from the people that you’ve wronged. Shadow Weaver knew that, ultimately, she was never going to be able to atone for what she did to Catra and Adora, but she also understood that they were willing to forgive her, albeit in a way that neither of them could ever express fully. They all knew and understood one another, which is why in the end, their goodbyes were bittersweet in a devastating way.
It took five seasons, but Catra finally came home. This season focused on having the villain realize who she was meant to be, a process that took a very long time. She and Adora spent most of the series on opposite sides of a brutal war, trying to figure out their own identities while struggling to understand what exactly they meant to each other. Navigating a friendship through those kinds of trials would be complicated enough. But what if it was something else?
Over the course of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, a fandom emerged that yearned for Catra and Adora to come together as “Catadora.” It seemed supported in the source material, with Catra and Adora constantly playing a game of cat and mouse. But given the tendency of shows and films to fall short of canonizing LGBTQ relationships, it seemed like a pipe dream. In the final season, it finally happened. With gusto. Not only did Adora and Catra confess their feelings for each other in the series finale, “Heart Part Two,” but their love literally saved the universe. It was a beautiful moment that canonized one of the most-sought after ships in modern fandom.
This is one of those situations where the criticism comes from a place of understanding that’s shot through with a fair amount of saltiness. Though She-Ra finally did the damn thing and gave Adora and Catra the space to admit that they were both full on in love (in a romantic sense) with one another, the show took its sweet time to get there. The story could have done with just a few more moments in which Catra and Adora’s love was allowed to breathe and exist front and center to emphasize they were each other’s people and their romance was always going to be a part of She-Ra’s narrative endgame.
Call it a blessing and a curse. The final season had so much to get through that, at times, it felt like some things were rushed. Several emotional arcs were either dropped or resolved too quickly. For instance, the conflict between Adora and Glimmer, which carried much of season four, wasn’t addressed. And the final meeting between Catra and Scorpia, which followed Scorpia’s powerful decision to leave her and join the princesses in season four, was way too short to do that arc justice.
There were also issues with some characters getting left out of the action. A few of the princesses, like Perfuma and Mermista, didn’t get as much time onscreen as we would’ve liked. Other characters—namely Kyle, Lonnie, and Rogelio, as well as Huntara and Madame Razz—were glossed over completely. And I know that King Micah spent most of the season under Horde Prime’s control, but we barely got to see him and Glimmer bonding after all that’s happened.
Let’s start with the unicorn in the room: Technically there was a future sequence. During Adora’s journey to destroy the Heart of Etheria, she had a vision of a bright future where she and Catra were together, along with Bow and Glimmer, and everyone was happy. It was a tender scene and definitely made our eyes well up, but there were two problems with it. The first is that, while it was nice, it wasn’t real. You can’t call it an epilogue because it was a reflection of Adora’s hopes and dreams, not reality. It’s why the vision starts with her looking at her own reflection in the waterfall. As Horde Prime puts it, it’s a “beautiful wish,” not a sign of things to come.
The second problem is, well, that’s all we got. Half a minute of four characters laughing and talking about grooming habits. We don’t get to see anything about how the larger world is faring after the Heart was destroyed. In a recent interview with io9, showrunner Noelle Stevenson said she purposefully chose not to include an epilogue so fans could envision their own endings. It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s also a little disappointing. We’ve spent five seasons with their vision of She-Ra’s story and world. We don’t need to fill in those blanks ourselves, we want the people who brought She-Ra to life to show us where they’re headed. That’s the story we signed up for.
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