She-Ra and the Princesses of Power may have the same spirit of fun and adventure in its second season, but there’s less emphasis on the bigger events that literally shook the world of Etheria. More emphasis on character isn’t a bad thing, but when your sophomore outing is about half the size of your first (clocking in at seven episodes rather than thirteen), your show can’t help but pack less of a punch, even if your lead is more of a skilled fighter this time around.
Adora (Aimee Carrero), who has fully embraced her alter ego She-Ra, is spending more and more time training and learning this time around, while her friends continue to fight the Horde and its creations. Just because they’ve been defeated doesn’t mean they’ve given up trying to conquer Etheria. Now the Horde has an even bigger asset on their side: Entrapta (Christine Wooods), who is still the most fascinating character in the series. Having her on their side allowed them to hack the planet and possibly do even more.
Unlike other characters, who are motivated by ambition, revenge, or friendship gone wrong, Entrapta isn’t evil, but nor is she good. Rather, she embodies Chaotic Neutral. She has always been someone who was fully invested in science, with little regard for people, or how her science could harm or help them. Entrapta follows her interests and since the Horde is most invested in those interests, with all the toys she could desire at her disposal, she chooses to remain with them, even once her old friends, who thought she had perished, become aware she’s alive and try to rescue her. After all, assisting Hordak himself with his plans also allows her to tap into forces which extend far beyond Etheria to other worlds.
In this regard, Entrapta is also the only character who undergoes something of a major development. While there are big reveals and some slight revelations, too much change would undermine the relationships that have become the show’s foundation. So yes, the Catra/She-Ra ship is still going strong, with Catra (AJ Michalka) continuing to get under She-Ra’s skin. Catra herself also has a lot on her plate, trying to keep her new high position with Hordak, prove her loyalty, and take over Shadow Weaver’s (Lorraine Toussaint) duties.
Shadow Weaver’s story is where the show most misses the mark, as the expansion of her backstory does her few favors. Or rather, none at all. Her past as Light Spinner had been mentioned, but its expansion transforms what could’ve been an interesting backstory into another cautionary tale about ambitious women. Shadow Weaver started down her dark path by tapping into forbidden power, but she was also a woman who wasn’t born or destined to power like so many of the other characters. She was as uninterested in staying in the place designated for her as she was sitting back and letting the princesses do the work they’ve traditionally done. When a male character tells her, “Be satisfied with what you have Light Spinner. Some power is not meant for you,” it’s the kind of wrongheaded messaging She-Ra has spent so much time countering.
At least there are some more overt tributes to the show’s previous incarnation, such as a battle planning session that eventually becomes a tabletop game, complete with hilarious 80s style incarnations of many of the show’s main characters (including several versions of Catra), and some Cowboy Bebop style animation. It’s the kind of moment where audiences can just enjoy these now established characters bouncing off each other and learning to work together, while also giving others, like Bow (Marcus Scribner), more of a background, such as not one, but two dads that he’s been lying to.
But even the show’s most postive attributes feel incomplete, mostly because She-Ra still has the same brisk pace sans the time to fully become its own self-contained story. This finale at least takes a very different track than the first, with far more personal, but no less suspenseful, stakes. It’s just that it’s more suited to a mid-season cliffhanger than an ultimate one. While it’s good to leave your audience hungry for more, they should be hungry for the right thing.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.