The Curious Case of Entrapta on She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Entrapta’s formal wear.
Entrapta’s formal wear.
Image: DreamWorks (Netflix)

The characters on Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power are like an onion: They’ve got layers. The villains are sympathetic, the heroes make awful choices. And then there’s Entrapta, who might well be one of the most Chaotic Neutral characters we’ve ever seen on modern television.

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Illustration for article titled The Curious Case of Entrapta on iShe-Ra and the Princesses of Power/i

I’ve binged through She-Ra and the Princesses of Power twice since it debuted on Netflix earlier this month, and I’m officially in love. There are plenty of things to enjoy about the series: Catra and Adora’s complex relationship, Glimmer’s passionate need to prove herself, even Sea Hawk’s addiction to arson. But the character I’m most fascinated with is the one who’s most fascinated with, well, everything. That would be Entrapta.

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The first appearance of Entrapta on the original She-Ra.
The first appearance of Entrapta on the original She-Ra.
Image: Filmation

In the original She-Ra series, Entrapta was your stereotypical Hordak minion. Appearing in four episodes—only two of which actually had her speak—Entrapta was a Horde technician who made traps, tanks, and other things that never really worked in the long run. She had long hair and not a lot of personality. Later versions of She-Ra broadened her out a bit, though pretty inconsistently. Surprisingly, Entrapta’s most in-depth origin story came from her Motu Classics action figure, describing her into Es’Tra Vesselak, an illegitimate heiress of Bright Moon who joined Hordak and took on the name Entrapta because of her trap-making skills.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power’s Entrapta is a massive departure from the original. Voiced by Christine Woods (The Walking Dead), Entrapta is a mad scientist and princess who joins Glimmer’s rebellion, only to later defect to the Horde and help them almost destroy the planet. You might think it’s a classic “hero-turns-evil” situation, like Anakin Skywalker or Polaris on The Gifted. But Entrapta is a case all her own. Not only is it unclear whether she knows she’s defected, she doesn’t actually seem to care which side she’s on.

Entrapta’s love of information overshadows her concern for people.
Entrapta’s love of information overshadows her concern for people.
Image: DreamWorks (Netflix)
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Let’s get one thing straight: Entrapta is not a bad person. She only cares about the pursuit of knowledge, to the point where the people around her are only worth the data they provide. She’s constantly undergoing dangerous experiments, taking notes, and making hypotheses based on the results. She’ll do anything to figure things out—even if it means offering to cut open Adora’s body to find out how She-Ra got infected with a virus Entrapta helped spread in the first place.

We’re first introduced to the character in the sixth episode of the series, “System Failure.” Adora, Glimmer, and Bow are in the middle of their quest to reunite the princesses, and want to recruit Entrapta because of her technical prowess. They arrive at her castle, a giant maze only Entrapta can navigate, filled with deadly traps (I don’t think she made the traps to protect herself from her enemies. I think she just wanted to see if they would work). She has a few servants, but mostly associates with her robotic creations. At one point, I even spotted a portrait of a young version of Entrapta with two robots dressed like humans. I wondered if those served as her parents, helping her shape her view of the world. Hard to say at this time—but like Entrapta, I’m curious.

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The portrait of young Entrapta with what could be her robotic parental figures.
The portrait of young Entrapta with what could be her robotic parental figures.
Image: DreamWorks (Netflix)

Unfortunately, all is not quiet at the mad scientist’s castle. While conducting an experiment on a First One’s technology crystal, Entrapta released a deadly virus that infected her robots.

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Much of the episode is your typical “haunted house” scenario, with our heroes struggling to navigate Entrapta’s maze, defeat the robots, and stop the crystal from doing more damage. That is, with one exception: Entrapta. She’s unconcerned about the danger she and the others are in, choosing to spend her time recording notes about what she sees as just another part of her ongoing experiment. For example, as they’re being chased down by a cleaning robot, Entrapta can’t help but exclaim how cute it is because she thinks it’s trying to communicate. And yeah, she totally wanted to dissect a person.

After witnessing Entrapta’s peak moment of moral ambiguity at the end of the episode, when she chose to try her experiment on the crystal again, we see her eventually defect to the Horde. Entrapta was unintentionally left behind in the Fright Zone when the princesses believed she had been killed. She was promptly captured by Catra and Scorpia—or, kinda-sorta captured, as Entrapta makes it clear she’s only staying in her chains out of courtesy. Catra quickly sees Entrapta’s value and seeks to recruit her. First, Catra appeals to her emotional side, suggesting that Entrapta should be sad that the princesses “abandoned” her (a nod to Catra’s own insecurity). But that doesn’t work. Because Entrapta doesn’t care.

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Really, all Catra had to do was provide a listening ear, point Entrapta at some shiny things, and give her free reign to do whatever she wanted. With the restraints off, literally and figuratively, Entrapta immediately figures out how to hack the planet and is immediately like “Fuck, let’s do it!” She ignores all the signs that Catra wants to use her technology to murder millions of people, most likely because she doesn’t care. She’s Jurassic Park’s John Hammond with pigtails—so preoccupied with whether or not she could, she doesn’t stop to think if she should.

Like, does Entrapta even realize she’s working for a demon dude?
Like, does Entrapta even realize she’s working for a demon dude?
Image: DreamWorks (Netflix)
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I love everything about this character. She’s adorable, she’s frustrating, and she’s so naive it’s dangerous. I love the idea of having a villain who’s so disconnected from the world’s problems that she doesn’t even know she’s a villain. Not only does it make for a true morally grey character, something we don’t see enough in media, but it also opens the door for a lot of growth. She might be happy now, a kid in a technological candy store, but it’s not going to last. Entrapta’s eventually going to see her experiments for what they really are: Not just hypothetical ideas, but real things that affect real people.


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Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.

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DISCUSSION

turbotastic
Turbotastic

First, Catra appeals to her emotional side, suggesting that Entrapta should be sad that the princesses “abandoned” her (a nod to Catra’s own insecurity). But that doesn’t work. Because Entrapta doesn’t care.

Oh, she definitely cares, in her own detached way. After Catra tells her this, Entrapta goes back to recording her log (ignoring the fact that she’s in the middle of a conversation) but stops when she notes that it’s been 47 hours since the princesses left her. “That’s...that’s too many hours,” she says. “They really aren’t coming back for me.”

That alone is not enough to bring Entrapta over to the Horde, but it provides the moment of vulnerability which Catra uses to turn her with the promise of cool new technology. It’s a great moment because it implies that Entrapta’s detachment may be part of a vicious cycle: her focus on machines and analysis makes it hard for her to connect with others, and that lack of connections makes her lonely, which she deals with by focusing even more on machines, which distances her from others even more.

So of course she’d find solace in a group that doesn’t make her choose between being a tech nerd and having friends* And the Princesses, despite not being part of an evil dictatorship, never really offered her that. Entrapta is my favorite part of the show because while she’s a goofy mad scientist type, all her choices actually feel very real and human. I love her and can’t wait to see what happens when the princesses find out she’s been alive this whole time.

*(Okay, maybe Catra is using Entrapta but she’s got a true friend in Scorpia, because she’s a friend to everyone. That girl is so good at friendship she was probably a pony in her past life. Noelle Stevenson, please be nice to Scorpia, she is a caring soul and it’s not her fault that most of her coworkers are evil.)