It’s been a hot few months, so it must be time for a new season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. It feels weird that I’ve become as obsessed about this show as I’ve had, but ever since the series debuted last November on Netflix, it’s done nothing but earn my respect and attention. This should be the textbook definition on how to handle a franchise that gets rebooted/reimagined for modern audiences.
Because of that, I’ve been super critical of the previous seasons, always thinking that it was just inches away from being something truly spectacular. Sometimes it’s due to the lackluster animation, other times it’s because of the lack of forward momentum for the show, but there was always just something missing with She-Ra that stopped me from giving it my universal seal of approval. While Season 3 still has flaws, though different flaws from previous seasons, this is the strongest the show has ever been without a doubt.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (Season 3)
Showrunner: Noelle Stevenson
Release: August 2, 2019
Following the Season 2 finale, Shadow Weaver (Lorraine Toussaint) has escaped from the Evil Horde and has gone off to the Princess Rebellion for unknown reasons. Because of this failure, Catra (AJ Michalka) is given a suicide mission by Hordak (Keston John) to go to the Crimson Wastes, a desolated valley where no living being can survive, to collect parts for a portal that will summon the remainder of his army to take over Etheria. Meanwhile, Adora (Aimee Carrero) is still struggling with her identity and trying to discover who she really is and goes off on a quest to find the remains of the previous She-Ra Mara, who’s crashed ship just so happens to also be in the Crimson Wastes, to find some clues about her true origins.
For a season that only consists of six episodes, a lot happens in the third season. With barely any filler, each episode serves to build on just how important each faction’s quests are in the Crimson Wastes, ultimately leading to a battle that feels much larger than any other fight in the show to this point. Previous seasons fleshed out the world to some capacity, but not to the extent that Season 3 does. For the first time, it feels like we’ve discovered what the show’s endgame is and where it will eventually take us, making it clear that we’re far from finished with She-Ra’s adventures.
Getting back to the main plot, the season is divided into two distinct halves, the first being focused on the Crimson Wastes while the second half on the battle against the Evil Horde. While I may have praised that there’s no filler whatseover in this season, the flip side is that there’s a lot of rushed moments in Season 3, with characters tripping over each other to speak and deliver important dialogue. The worst offender comes from the second episode “Huntara,” with a jumbled ending that just throws as many twists as possible without giving the viewer an opportunity to breathe.
Speaking of, one of the big additions to Season 3 was the new character Huntara, played by Geena Davis. Yes, Oscar winning Geena Davis is here, and she hardly does a thing. She’s featured in all of two episodes, and then is never spoken of again. She’s a phenomenal actress here, giving some solid line deliveries, but her character is nothing more than a glorified sidekick that has no importance outside of the Crimson Wastes. Maybe in future seasons she’ll be utilized better, but not so much in her debut.
If Season 3 is the finale to Act 1 of the series, then the characters were certainly pushed to their breaking points. Most of the side characters took a backseat to the main movers and shakers, with the main villain Hordak being explored in much more detail and even getting a relationship of sorts with scientist extraordinaire Entrapta (Christine Woods). Up until this point, while Hordak has been efficient, he’s been in the shadows for too long, losing his prominence compared to the other villains, but Season 3 made sure that we remembered that he’s the big bad for a reason (for now…).
Catra is still the best part about this entire show, with the season going to incredible lengths to paint a picture of just how much her character has changed over the course of the series. The two-part finale is predicated on showing a perfect world for each of the characters, with Catra being a happy, pleasant, and well natured friend. It’s sweet, until you realize that a few episodes before she essentially had a death wish and was going to go full Final Fantasy and destroy the entire world because of how much she’s betrayed and tossed aside by everyone, giving us some great imagery in the final episode and her confrontation with Adora. Make no mistake, there are long lasting ramifications in this season that will be felt for the rest of the show. Important moments actually happen here, with the weight of each moment being given the time it deserves to sink in.
The animation continues to be middle of the road quality, but Season 3 is able to still produce some impressive work nonetheless. Whether it’s from a sequence showing Hordak’s origins or a cataclysmic event that could doom all of Etheria, Season 3 put the focus on major set-pieces instead of individual character work, which was for the better. I’ve accepted that the animation is probably never going to get better, so it’s smart for the Noelle Stevenson to instead create sequences that show magic and technology being utilized in new and creative ways.
It lasted only two hours and definitely felt rushed at times, but the laser focus of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power’s Season 3 paid off very well. It felt like what I was watching actually mattered and the characters still are the best best of the show, though now Shadow Weaver and Hordak are on my extensive list of characters I actually care about. I don’t know how long it will be until the inevitable Season 4, but unlike the wait between Season 2 and 3, I’m actually excited about what could come next.