After the world-tilting events that concluded season four, Etheria’s princesses suffer from an amusing descent into partially contained chaos. As she punches out her feelings, Adora (Aimee Carrero), sans She-Ra, has worked herself into delusional exhaustion; and that, coupled with the boundless enthusiasm of the princesses, lends itself to a charming dynamic. Despite their messiness, they’ve constructed a fairly effective rebellion in the face of Horde Prime’s (Keston John) reign – until they decide to split themselves up and embark on various missions to rescue Glimmer (Karen Fukuhara) and Catra (AJ Michalka), protect Etheria’s uninvolved residents, and construct viable defensive and offensive strategies.
With Glimmer in Horde Prime’s hands, leadership falls mostly upon Adora. Despite her natural suitability for the job, she is consumed and drained by her desperation to see things through — to protect her friends at any cost. Bow (Marcus Scribner) has dedicated himself to looking after Adora, which is decidedly difficult, as she has always been unbelievably headstrong. Micah (Daniel Dae Kim) is helpful, but nervous; Shadowweaver (Lorraine Toussaint) is as cryptic as she has always been; Scorpia (Lauren Ash) attaches herself and all of her fragile trust to Perfuma, which is the literal embodiment of friendship (Genesis Rodriquez); and Mermista (Vella Lovell) and Frosta (Merit Leighton) shield themselves with their snappiness, but allow quiet affection. The alliance itself is cohesive and brimming with conviction, but even with their magic, they are lacking in numbers. Horde Prime’s technology is quick to conquer and quicker to destroy, rendering brute force an ineffective strategy.
This season reaches into an emotional reserve that went untouched throughout the first four. Old relationships, even those once left decrepit, are now full of new and profound abstractions, and the new relationships are lovable and deeply refreshing as previously detached characters find themselves exploring the bounds of their emotional capabilities. Those who thrive upon their own kindness find themselves smothered in darkness — their weaknesses are explored and played upon, whilst their strengths are torn apart, then mended. Adora reels at the loss of She-Ra, with none of that magic at her fingertips anymore. Her determination to be a protector is hampered by the loss of such endless endurance and physical power. In the custody of Horde Prime, Glimmer spirals into helplessness, and Catra’s barriers are stripped down by her loneliness (she frequents Glimmer’s cell under the pretense of monitoring the princess, but they mostly just chat). For Catradora fans, this final season is, quite frankly, iconic. Their relationship has always been at the show’s core, but this season dedicates itself to them in a greater magnitude — there is a lot of healing on both sides, kindling a restoration of their trust and love for each other.
Season five’s narrative is a whole lot more intricate than previous seasons, and it unfolds with well-written ease. She-Ra and The Princesses of Power has always been about morality, friendship, the complications of heroism, and the fragile lines between good and bad. The show manages to balance easy humor and sweetness with applicable, complex ethics while never giving way to naive righteousness. There is effortless palatability to the writing, but no immaturity. Characters are allowed to be gawky and inelegant – to be blamed and then forgiven. Their experiences, despite being so unlike those of our world, sustain relatability.
This show has always been spectacular and self-aware, only improving with every season. It’s a beautiful reimagining of old, well-loved characters that offers something honest and valuable to its audience. It’s a comforting and easy-to-love piece of media, and it is sad to see it end, but all good things must. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is, and has always been, magic.
The first 10 episodes of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power were provided for review.