She-Ra and the Princesses of Power stepped up its game in season four, giving us a story that was big, challenging, and tragic. The Netflix animated series isn’t afraid to take risks and bring its characters to their lowest points, just to see what they can do. There was a lot to celebrate this season, but there were also some things that could’ve been better...and a few we’re still undecided on.
Season four comes on the heels of Queen Angella’s disappearance after she sacrificed herself to close the portal and saved Adora and Etheria. Glimmer has been crowned queen and finds herself in charge of the rebellion and her new role makes her feel like an outsider. She’s no longer in the middle of the fight and at odds with Adora, who’s used to calling the shots. Meanwhile, Catra has discovered Hordak’s weakness and uses it to her advantage to take command of the Horde and crush the rebellion.
Here are the eight things we loved about season four of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, two things we weren’t huge fans of, and two that we still have mixed feelings for. Be sure to let us know your thoughts about the latest season in the comments.
Glimmer and Adora have always had a strained dynamic, but in season four everything took a turn for the worse. They spent most of the time butting heads and failing to come to an understanding about what was best for Etheria—something that will carry into the (yet-t0-be-announced) next season. This season isn’t about two friends fighting and then coming to an understanding in the final episode. By the end of the season, Glimmer and Adora aren’t really friends anyone.
Showrunner Noelle Stevenson told us at New York Comic Con that season four is really Glimmer’s story. And that’s true. Following the disappearance of her mother and having to rise up as queen, Glimmer struggles to establish herself as the new leader of the rebellion. It’s not always easy. Glimmer tries her hardest but does make some bad decisions (albeit for what she thinks are the right reasons) because she’s been forced into a position she wasn’t ready for.
This isn’t helped by the fact that Adora keeps steamrolling Glimmer—not only by insisting on protecting her from any harm, as part of her promise to Queen Angella but also because she’s used to calling the shots in their relationship. She’s She-Ra, the chosen one, the decision-maker. Glimmer’s new position changes that dynamic and Adora has a hard time coming to terms with that. Plus, there’s the hard and uncomfortable truth that, deep down, Glimmer blames Adora for the loss of her mother. No amount of singing can fix that.
Just a quick note that Glimmer’s new hairstyle is amazing, and if only we could all be so lucky to have volume like that.
We’ve spent so much time watching Scorpia play second fiddle to Catra and just taking abuse from someone that she so clearly loves. There was never any question whether Scorpia was going to end up parting ways with Catra, but what wasn’t clear was how she was going to come to the realization that she’s better off not living in the shadow of someone who doesn’t understand how compassionate and lowkey powerful she is.
There was always a very good chance that Scorpia’s self-discovery would come by the way of profound heartbreak, and season four delivered on that and then some. But along with Scorpia’s heartache came her realization that she was every bit the princess that Adora, Glimmer, and their friends are. Learning the truth about herself gave Scorpia the chance to fully embrace the whole of her magical abilities and become the kind of formidable presence that we’ve always implicitly known her to be.
There’s a certain kind of “of course” energy that comes with the way season four follows Catra’s gradual descent into both madness and loneliness. The part of her that hates Adora is obviously tied to the part of her that has a deep love for the show’s hero, but it’s not something she would ever admit to herself because doing so would require her to admit that she needs to be able to connect emotionally to other people. That’s not a truth that Catra’s in a position to fully embrace, and this season did an excellent job of illustrating how difficult an emotional place that reality put her in.
During the portal episode in season three, She-Ra fans were shocked when, as he was nearing oblivion, the alternate reality version of King Micah turned to Queen Angella and shouted: “Wait, I’m not—” This led to a series of fan theories about how King Micah, Glimmer’s father, wasn’t actually dead. And they were right!
In “Beast Island,” Adora, Bow, and Swift Wind came across the exiled king, who’d been surviving on insects and instinct for years. It was a welcome surprise that, in the end, wasn’t technically that surprising. It’s going to be interesting to see how King Micah’s return affects the kingdom, especially in regards to Glimmer’s role as queen. That reunion with Shadow Weaver is going to be...awkward.
“Things are getting dour. This drink is extra sour. Could be the rebellion’s... darkest hour!” Leave it to Sea Hawk to come up with sweetest, most-terrible plan to reunite his friends after a tragedy. In “Boys’ Night Out,” Sea Hawk convinces Bow and Swift Wind to go have fun at a tavern, engaging in a shanty about being friends with friends—which ends in a purposeful kidnapping that he thinks will inspire Mermista and her friends to come to his rescue.
Unfortunately, the kidnapping is real but thankfully, so is the friendship. Mermista and the others come to their aid, leading to an awesome rock remix of Sea Hawk’s jolly tune that shows off Vella Lovell’s pipes. However, the song takes a sad turn when we see how it fails to bring Adora and Glimmer back together...leaving them feeling even more isolated than before.
Though She-Ra has done a respectable job of giving basically all of its supporting characters well-considered interiority, this season really made sure we understood that both Perfuma and Mermista are people with a level of non-She-Ra-related complexity that demonstrated how powerful they both are.
Perfuma realizing she needed to reexamine her relationship with her powers was a moment of self-reflection that you don’t often see in shows like She-Ra. Perfuma’s always been more than her ability to control plant life, but that was something she needed to come to understand on her own, and it was great to see her realize that she’s more complicated than the people around her assume. Mermista’s arc bears a heavy degree of similarity to Perfuma’s in terms of her becoming a more fully-realized heroine, but the way that she ends up being one of the few people from her kingdom who survives the Horde’s attack gives her a newfound depth that’s great to see.
The way that She-Ra’s reimagined She-Ra as being a title rather than just one person’s identity is one of the more fascinating things about the series. While Adora is the She-Ra that we’ve all come to know and love, this season spent a significant amount of time making it clear that she wasn’t the first—she’s walking in the footsteps of people who came before her.
While the series could have easily glossed over Mara’s tenure as She-Ra, it instead delved into the tail end of her journey in a way that really made it easy to appreciate what kind of hero she was while she was alive. Though we don’t see much of her life, what we do see is the bond she had with Razz and the genuine love she had for Etheria in spite of the fact that her people sent her to the planet with the express mission of destroying it.
Ultimately, Mara’s story ended up being a tragic one, but the tragic-ness is something that factors into the way that Adora’s going to fulfill her destiny as the princess who’ll bring peace to Eternia. Mara understood she wasn’t fated to be the She-Ra who would bring an end to the intergalactic struggle, but she knew that She-Ra was. Her connecting with Adora by way of holographic voicemail was a beautiful way of illustrating that, despite all of her homeworld’s deception, she still believed in the kind of symbol She-Ra was meant to be.
Season four centered around the crumbling friendship between Adora and Glimmer, but sadly that meant Bow was under-served as a character. He didn’t have much growth this season, spending most of his time being sad that the Best Friends Squad was falling apart. And for all the time he spent with Adora, they didn’t really seem to do anything together...apart from talk about Glimmer. We would’ve liked to see their relationship fleshed out a bit, possibly finding things they have in common that they don’t share with anyone else. It makes sense that Glimmer and Adora’s problems would get to him, since he’s such a caring person, but it turned Bow into a character who existed to react to the others and we didn’t think that was fair.
You could have easily gotten the idea the Kyle and Rogelio (of the Horde) were something of an item from watching the way the characters interacted in the show’s background. But as the series brought the pair into the forefront this season, whatever romantic subtext there might have been ended up being erased in favor of something more platonic and less interesting. Kyle and Rogelio still care about one another, obviously, but this season really goes out of its way to telegraph that the two of them aren’t really romantically involved. It doesn’t diminish the show at all, but it oddly feels like its trying to downplay something that the fandom was clued into and very supportive of.
It might be that Double Trouble’s greatest performance is making us feel really divided about them. There were things we loved about this character, and other things we could not stand. They were sneaky, smart, and clever, and we adored the outfit. But the constant references to their “acting” quickly got on our nerves. We get it, shapeshifting is like theatre. You don’t need to tell us 30 times—especially if it’s always in pun form.
We also would’ve liked to see them in the action a bit more. We saw them fight Adora in their “audition” for Catra, but after that, there wasn’t really much for them to do other than sneak around and mug for the camera. We’re not saying they should be put in unnecessary danger—Double Trouble is a precious star child and we must protect them at all costs—but we would’ve liked more opportunities to see what exactly they were capable of.
The way that She-Ra’s finale literally pulls Etheria into a larger universe is great in terms of storytelling, but you can’t help but worry that the show’s wandering towards a version of itself that somehow tries to involve, well, He-Man. Obviously, there’s plenty more that She-Ra and the Princesses of Power can do on its own to keep this story moving forward, but now that the show’s established there are other planets out there, it feels as if Adora and co. might be in for existential changes that might make She-Ra feel like a different show.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is currently available on Netflix.
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