Tower Talks || She-Ra and the Princesses of Power S5

Tower Talks banner depicting a yellow tower with a blue door and red pennant on top

It’s been about four months since the final season of She-Ra aired.

And somehow, in that four months, I still can’t find allllll the words I want to describe how much it meant to me? I had a sense from the start that She-Ra would fill a void in my heart where I hadn’t had a good cartoon in a while, but it truly went above and beyond all expectations. Even now, I’m sappy and sentimental about the direction it ultimately took because who knew they could pull it off?

Naturally, given the amount of time since S5 released, this post will NOT be spoiler free!

She-Ra Season Five Promo Poster

We’ll start with THE ship, since I know that’s the big takeaway a lot of folks have.

Four months ago, Catradora became canon. Catra and Adora kissed on screen. They said they loved each other. They saved the universe by owning up to their feelings and taking a step forward together.

Excuse me for a minute while I lie down. The idea of a sapphic couple getting a full friends to enemies to friends to lovers arc in a children’s cartoon is blowing me away and I’m gonna need some recovery time. Yes, even four months out, I need some recovery time.

Truly, I’ve never felt this vindicated before. I know a lot of folks like to say that Korrasami walked so Catradora could run, but I was around when Korrasami became canon, and to this day, I’m still deeply disappointed in it. In one part because I preferred the sheer potential of Korra/Opal, in another part because Book Four of LoK tore about the headstrong protagonist I adored, and in a third part because I felt like Asami was about as exciting as a piece of wet cardboard.

And let’s not even get to the way they tiptoed around Korrasami (okay, we can blame Nickelodeon for a good chunk of that) and then Bryan Konietzko accused the fanbase of wearing “heterolenses” if they hadn’t seen it coming (thanks, Bryan, for talking down to a fanbase full of queer folks disappointed in your storytelling approach). So, needless to say, a fully developed sapphic ship reaching a state of indisputable canon, with supportive, welcoming creators?

I’m pretty much in heaven.

This really is a dream come true for the tiny baby high school queer girl I used to be, and still a dream for the non-binary sapphic-adjacent (look, I’m still working on it) queer that I am today. It’s positive and hopeful and fully developed. Pinch me. I must be dreaming.

And that’s before even talking about the other ships!

In S5, Spinerella and Netossa are explicitly referred to as each other’s WIVES, in case you were trying to corner them into gals being pals. Meanwhile, it’s heavily hinted that Scorpia and Perfuma are in love, while Glimmer and Bow have such a strong and wonderful arc, and Seahawk and Mermista make me all kinds of soft on the insides.

Am I a fan of Entrapta and Hordak? No. I’ll admit I’m leaving that one off my list because it unsettles me more than it gives me the warm fuzzies. I can get behind them becoming science pals, but a romantic arc between them just…doesn’t do it for me. 🤷

ANYHOW, I’m amazed at the sheer number of relationships included, and while they don’t receive equal screen time, it’s still easy to get a sense of how full they are or could be. This show is absolutely brimming with the power of love and patience and trust, to the point that it saves the universe from near-certain destruction. It’s the kind of optimistic, hopeful media I love to consume, the kind that makes me think something better could be ahead.

But She-Ra isn’t just about romantic love, not by any means!

For one, it’s about platonic love. It has been since the Best Friends Squad formed. And I’d be remiss not to mention Entrapta, Emily, Scorpia, and Catra, odd bunch that they make. These friendships are the cornerstones of She-Ra, and they keep pushing one another forward time after time. Or, sometimes they pull each other back. A good friend knows when to stop you, after all.

Plus, we get to see new friendships forming! Scorpia, of course, is a friendship machine (I love her interactions with the other princesses), and it’s cute seeing Frosta finding her place. The stars of the new friendship show in my book, though, are Catra and Melog. Who could have guessed I’d have a soft spot for the magic space cat that makes steadfast friends with the troubled cat-girl?

(If you’re raising your hand right now because you could have guessed, hush. I know I’m predictable as hell. Shhhhh.)

Catra and Melog sitting togeter in a tree

But of equal interest are two more things: self-love and selfish love. The latter we see in Shadow Weaver’s scenes, and I’m deeply impressed by the way the writers were able to convey that she was absolutely in the wrong in regards to how she treated Catra and Adora, but still made her set in her beliefs. Her final scene in particular shows how her selfish, self-serving love gave way to one good act, while still highlighting her efforts over the girls’. She’s not a good person, but she’s a great character.

Where self-love is concerned, though, Adora gets one scene that nearly brought me to tears. In it, Mara, the previous She-Ra, tells her “You’re worth more than what you can give to other people. You deserve love, too.”

I’m not sure I’ve got the emotional capacity to dig into that right now, but Adora needed to hear it in order to press forward. And maybe I did too, for my own reasons. 🥺

The delights and the devil both lie in the details, too

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is a details powerhouse. Lots of little things come together at last, and if you look carefully, you can catch glimpses of future points of interest. For instance, the Grayskull Adora has been fighting in the name of all this time? That’s the squadron Mara formed way back when to defend Etheria. All along, Adora has fought in Mara’s name.

Possibly the best examples of strong detail usage, though, come from the title cards, Scorpia, and a new character lovingly known as Wrong Hordak.

Really, the title cards are my favorite example of little details popping. With each episode, the images change to reflect the state of things. It only adds to the tension as you need the finale, and the inclusion or removal of certain characters episode by episode had me on the edge of my seat. My sister and I kept trading theories about what it meant for the plot going forward, and it felt so good to engage in that with someone!

Meanwhile, Scorpia’s first and last lines in the series are all about how she’s a hugger, and let me tell you: this scorpion princess is too good for this world. She’s such a giant sweetheart, and I love that her heart’s in the right place essentially all the time. Without fail, she’s a bright spot in dark times! Plus, she gets an outstanding scene with Perfuma roughly midseason. 👀

On the other hand, I had two major problems with the season. Not major enough to interfere with my enjoyment, but certainly not just petty. For one, I felt that Catra’s redemption arc was a bit rushed. Don’t get me wrong: I love her and it delights me to no end that she did get a redemption arc. Not to mention she got out from Shadow Weaver’s thumb and the associated abuse through the Horde. But the Rebellion seems to accept her so easily, in a way she hasn’t quite worked for, given the things she’s done. Sure, she has Adora’s ready endorsement at this point, but it felt like her redemption should have begun half a season sooner at least, just to spool out more naturally and effectively.

And secondly, I wish Double Trouble saw more time in the spotlight. They didn’t really feature too much in S5, which was a shame after their outstanding scenes earlier in the series. I really loved their self-serving ways, and would have adored the chance to see them pick a side at last, to stand by a cause even when the chips are down. Instead, they faded into the background cast, and I missed their clever energy quite a bit.

 

Basically, if you take away anything from this post, it’s that my heart is full of rainbows, and I think this show came close to sticking a perfect landing. A couple issues set aside, it really is a powerhouse of a show, and I hope with all my heart that it sets a precedent for better and better queer characters in animation, especially in children’s shows or family-friendly shows. 🌈

Leave a Reply