Two years, five seasons and a lot of ADVENTURE later, and Netflix’s grand reimagining of She-Ra has come to an end. What began with a bold new take on an animated series from another era, quickly snowballed into a saga of high stakes on and off the battlefield with each new season. And here we are, with 13 final episodes and all hope seemingly being lost after the revelations of season 4.
She-Ra’s sword of protection is broken thanks to an act of self-sacrifice, Hordak’s menace has given way to the infinitely more powerful threat that is Horde Prime and there’s not enough room in the galaxy for turbulent emotions from the cast who can’t even figure out how to process this new status quo, let alone survive long enough to see tomorrow.
There’s a lot of grief, action and questions going on in She-Ra’s final season, but it handles all of this with grace and charm, while also emphasising new emotional elements within its fifth season arc. At its core, She-Ra is a show that proudly wears its strongest themes on its sleeve: Redemption and compassion. This is an adventure where there is no black or white center of morality, but a rainbow of grey that shows just how powerful forgiveness can be.
The one exception to this rule may be Horde Prime himself, less a villain and more a force of nature whose thousands of years of existence have transformed him into a self-styled messiah who seeks to bring nothing more than his “light” to the furthest reaches of reality. Surrounded by a literal cult of personality, Horde Prime’s threat is one of an unstoppable armada that knows no limit, churning out battle-bots and clones in endless numbers while the Princess Alliance works through their own issues by fighting back against the unending cannon fodder.
And oh what therapeutic action there is! She-Ra has never shied away from blending cathartic group therapy with robot-pummelling blockbuster moments, and there’s plenty of that on offer here. Almost every character gets their moment to shine, from series favourites Seahawk and Mermista, to lesser-used heroes such as Perfuma, Spinnerella and Netossa, the latter two having a second chance at relevance that results in easily one of the most emotional punches to the gut in the entire series.
And that right there, is where She-Ra cements its legacy as the benchmark for what a revival of a classic series should be. Sometimes overt, sometimes subtle, it’s those various emotions which pushes and pulls the entire legend of She-Ra into brave new directions. From Adora’s struggle to accept that her alter-ego is no longer a part of her to Catra’s turbulent personality that is the result of a painful past, this is an emotional ride that wants you to realise that its characters are more than just their powers and actions.
Heroes and villains, shockingly fragile and possibly open to even the greatest change when they hit their lowest point, She-Ra goes a step further and asks not only who these characters truly are, but who they want to be. Outside of inherited legacies and baggage, who is Adora really? A warrior, a weapon or the sum total of everything that she has been through so far?
It’s a question that is asked and answered, sometimes through subtle visual cues or rip-roaring moments of intensity where She-Ra’s greatest strengths are put on display. Praise has to be given not only to showrunner Noelle Stevenson and her writing team for making every big emotional pay-off feel earned along the way, but to the technical side of She-Ra for delivering an adventure that never ceases to look amazing while composer Sunna Wehrmeijer’s score easily balances heavy blockbuster action with intimate sounds that won’t leave a single dry eye in the house by the time the end credits roll.
Last Updated: May 18, 2020