The fourth season of DreamWorks’ revamped She-Ra & the Princesses of Power has arrived! Wait, didn’t we just get the third season in August & the second in May? Netflix must be trying to set a record for the most seasons released for a single series in a year. If it gets the fifth out after the next solstice it’ll have She-Ra for all seasons! Read on for SPOILERS for the Honor of Grayskull! Feel free to skip the next two paragraphs though.
Netflix is committed to releasing its She-Ra & the Princesses of Power in half-season chunks & calling them full seasons. (It may even be quarter chunks since many cartoons are renewed in twenty-six episode intervals.) It’s amusing that after being a pioneer for giving viewers the option to watch an entire season at once instead of waiting, it’s now realizing that stretching the watching period out is better for staying in the public eye longer. (Other streaming services are all aboard the weekly episode train just like traditional television to keep subscribers around longer.) This strategy is frustrating to me as both a fan & a critic. The pacing on this cartoon is so fluid that I don’t mind marathonning them, unlike Netflix’s defunct Defenders series. (If I binge a show, is review a purge?) These shortened season could be released in movie format so they’d only need to play the into & credits once. Unlike most films, however, they don’t provide the same closure. Delayed gratification is frustrating in this instance. I’ve found the readership for the half-season reviews have decreased compared to the complete first season review. So does it make more sense to only write reviews for the odd-numbered seasons that complete arcs?
Wait, season four is thirteen episodes? Thanks for not announcing that just to make me waste two paragraphs complaining. At least it listened to my grievances. Now Netflix needs to save Lodge 49 next! (Its bridge to saving Cloak & Dagger has burnt.) Netflix also released the second season for The End of the F***ing World for counter-programming. As if I didn’t have enough of a backlog. (I thought DuckTales season three would begin in October & got mad when it didn’t happen.)
Glimmer is dealing with increased responsibilities as the new Queen of Brightmoon. She’s having trouble delegating combat duties & resents Adora usurping her leadership. This rift puts a strain on
Gold Arrow’s Bow’s optimism. Shadow Weaver is not your pal, Glimmer! In addition to her teleportation powers increasing, she’s becoming more cunning. Glimmer grows more ruthless without descending into villainy.
Catra lost the cool leather jacket, but gained one sleeve & a Veronica Lodge tactical cleavage window. She keeps Scarlet Witch’s missing headband. It looks like she’s been grooming her hair more too. Siting in Hordak’s chair is such a feline move. Catra gaslit Hordak into believing Enrapta betrayed him just like she tricked Entrapta earlier. She basically ends up running The Horde. Her actions at the end of last season wear upon her psyche & she ruins her relationship with Scorpia. In the end it’s made clear that she has big Barbara Kean energy. (Both seem to have borderline personality disorder. Is Stabby Babs also a Scorpio?)
Hamtastic Double Trouble is SNL’s Master Thespian crossed with Tumblr before it was under squeamish management. Their salamander redesign omits the original’s green head bucket, so that’s an upgrade! I was hoping Leech & Mantenna would be joining them, but no such luck. Kudos for casting the nonbinary Jacob Tobia in this nonbinary role. (On the other paw, the series’ only nonbinary representation is a duplicitous creature. You mileage on how progressive this is may vary.) Double Trouble spying on the Princess Alliance as
Fluttershy Flutterina is a great strategy. Catra has to pay them to be her friend unlike Scorpia, whom she recklessly pushes away. This living meme mocking Bow’s belly shirts is a highlight. The X-Men movies never gave Mystique material half as good.
Since Catradora are never getting back together, I was rooting for Catra & Scorpia to be the ultimate power couple. Alas, Catra proves unworthy of her. (Is anybody truly worthy of Scorpia?) The Fright Zone Princess is determined to rescue Entrapta from Beast Island with Emily. I like nearly all the series’ characters, but Scorpia remains THE BEST.
Scorpia refers to both Catra & Entrapta as “friend,” so that makes it more ambiguous as to whether we’re supposed to read it as short for girlfriend (Entrapta strikes me as asexual) or take it at face value there’s nothing romantic involved. The underrated Netossa only kisses Spinnerella on the forehead. Homosexual relationships are refreshingly accepted by both sides of the war (Scorpia has two mommies just as Bow has two daddies), so I’m filled with cognitive dissonance over how chaste these young adults are during wartime.
Why doesn’t Hordak just combine his advanced robot features into an unstoppable amalgamated model if he wants to win that bad? She-Ra can cut apart robots with energy from her sword without it even touching them. She can still cut through them normally so it’s not a a cartoon violence censorship issue. We see more of her bond with Swift Wind in addition to her expanding deus ex machina repertoire.
Detective Mermista practiced making accusations to lightning. (Etheria produces mermaid murder mysteries!) The noirish episode end with the revelation that Double Trouble was a diversion so the Horde could conquer her kingdom. Now that’s a mid-season cliffhanger! (I remain thankful that Netflix didn’t split it in half this time though.)
For such a tense season, it’s full of hilarious character beats. Perfuma is distraught Mermista was picked for flower arrangements at Glimmer’s coronation. She also can’t do cacti. Rogelio needs subtitles like Brightmoon needs a dungeon. Does General Scar-Nose have a real name?
There’s sort of a musical episode. It could’ve used more songs, but any time Sea Hawk dances on tables is delightful. His dumb plan both backfires & works. Mermista sings an anti-shanty, which is fun for everyone that misses Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
We finally get that flashback episode set 1,000 years in the past. Madame Razz is unstuck in time like Billy Pilgrim. The First Ones are Eternians who made She-Ra’s sword to harness Etheria’s magic. It’s keen how they took a Mara from the most obscure & unloved iteration He-Man, & turned her into a heroic figure.
Beast Island’s killer monkey Pookas are a nice change of pace from the typical giant invertebrates. It turns out the presumed dead King Micah was living there for years as an Indigo Tribe cosplayer. Entrapta is delighted to have been banished there since it’s full of First Ones’ tech. So Catra did her a favor? She made herself an autonomous gorilla-mech (just like The 100 season six failed to deliver)! When the depression vines get her, she’s freed by her excitement to fly in Mara’s spaceship.
Glimmer using Double Trouble as a triple agent to pit Hordak against Catra was a great strategy. She wisely pulls it off without telling
Lady Orko Shadow Weaver. This provides an opportunity for Scorpia to finally be united with her Black Garnet birthright. I was ecstatic she officially became a Princess of Power! The only flaw in this plan is that it fulfills Light Hope’s.
The foreshadowing that Light Hope is up to no good came to fruition. Her prime directive is to balance the Princess Runestones to activate The Heart of Etheria. This only affects Glimmer, Mermista, Perfuma,
Ice-Toph Frosta, Scorpia, & She-Ra. Don’t Entrapta, Spinnerella, Netossa, Peekablue, & Sweet Bee (Will we ever see the last two?) also have Runestones that empower them? If not, what’s their deals? After teleporting Etheria out of Despondos, Adora breaks the Sword of Honor rather than become a weapon of planetary destruction. This also erases Light Hope, who felt kinda bad abut how things ended with Mara.
Horde Prime is an asymmetrical four-eyes. For being a failed clone, Hordak is handsomer & gave himself a spiffier name. Despite being foreshadowed throughout the season including the new opening sequence, he doesn’t introduce himself until the finale. Hordak was so close to victory when his “big brother”mindwipes him. Catra always lands on her feet, so she wins Horde Prime’s favor by offering him Glimmer.
three four ends on an epic cliffhanger. Horde Prime is ready to finish what Hordak started. Adora broke her Sword of Protection, so it’s unclear if she’ll be able to access her She-Ra powers. With so many Horde defectors, it seems like it’ll be essentially everyone against Horde Prime. (Does that mean we won’t meet the rest of the force captains from the original series?) Etheria may now be in the same galaxy of Eternia for potential Masters of the Universe crossovers. (Grizzlor vs. Beast Man to decide who’s the furriest one of all!) Otherwise referencing Eternia & moving the planet is pointless.
Noelle Stevenson’s She-Ra & the Princesses of Power is a rare show that gets better each (non-halved) season. (Hopefully the Disney-Fox merger doesn’t doom the cinematic adaptation of Nimona like it did Mouse Guard.) This season burnt everything to the ground, & I can’t wait to see what happens next! Why won’t they just let Catra be happy? It’s a good thing this isn’t live action or Netflix would probably cancel it at this point. (The North remembers Santa Clarita Diet!)