Just five months after the first season hit Netflix, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power returns for season two on Friday, April 26. This season features seven brand-new episodes that feel as fresh and exciting as the first 13, though the shortened season does have its shortcomings (no pun intended). She-Ra season two feels more like the back-half of the first season than its own story arc, which makes it feel somewhat rushed, even as it does spend significantly more time developing the characters and their relationships.
That’s not to say there isn’t a thru-plot, because there is; there’s also some long-awaited pay-off. At the She-Ra panel at NYCC 2018, some spoilers flew that were supposedly for season one; however, those things didn’t come to pass in the 13 episodes released last November. They do, however, make an appearance in these new episodes, albeit in totally unexpected ways. These characters went on significant, life-changing journeys in season one. Their stories pick up right where they left off after the battle of Bright Moon, which means we continue to see them grow.
The characters have more backbone now, but they also have more to lose, which certainly increases the stakes.
The Princess Alliance is still strong in these episodes, which is a relief. Seeing these young characters come together and enhance each other’s powers is chills-inducing, especially when they’re able to set aside their differences to win the fight. Season two shows them strengthening their bonds and pushing harder than ever to win the war, which of course is complicated by characters like Entrapta; her friends think she’s dead, but she’s in fact making tech for the Horde. Yikes!
Season two also seriously amps up the queer content. Adora’s obsession with Catra hasn’t lessened, nor has Catra’s obsession with Adora; meanwhile, the queer subtext of their relationship has gotten so intense that any mention of their friendship is drenched in double meaning. In fact, Scorpia even has to reckon with her jealousy of Adora when it ruins her attempts to solidify her relationship with Catra. It seems unlikely that any of the core characters will ever be made canonically queer, since She-Ra is a licensed property, but if we all cross our fingers, maybe it will happen someday.
Of course, Catra and Adora make up the emotional core of the show, but Bow, Glimmer and even Swift Wind occupy huge roles in Adora’s life, too. This season, we see Glimmer leaning even more into her magic and we learn new things about Bow, which flesh out his character really beautifully. The characters’ relationships shift and change as their bonds tighten and bend. As the audience learns new things, so do the characters. This creates a unique ebb-and-flow of tension, especially between the Alliance and the Horde.
Season two goes some unexpected places. There are bigger laughs, more tears and wildly creative battle scenes. By the end of episode seven — which, just a warning, ends on a terrifying cliffhanger — the future is uncertain but these kids’ love for each other is as strong as anything. The petty drama of season one is no more, which is perhaps the most marked difference between the seasons; it’s a welcome change.
As mentioned above, there are some pacing issues with season two. She-Ra season one seemed to stretch past its natural conclusion in order to end on a big battle, which, in retrospect, feels like it would have fit better in this new mini-arc presented to us in She-Ra season two. The thing is, if She-Ra were a network show, it would have seen a mid-season break and then finished with 20-22 episodes. Since it’s not, both seasons suffer, especially because season two doesn’t really stand well on its own.
On the one hand, it would make sense for She-Ra‘s sophomore season to heavily rely on the first season to make sense. On the other, the lack of unique plot in these episodes makes it very much feel like season 1b. Ultimately, I think I’m OK with that. The revelations made in these episodes are great, the acting is stellar and the writing continues to delight. Thus, my only real complaint is that there are only seven episodes. I want more of this show, immediately, because it’s just that good.
If you’re not watching She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, you’re missing out. Be sure to catch up before it returns to Netflix on Friday, April 26.
Samantha Puc is an essayist and culture critic whose work has been featured on Bitch Media, The Mary Sue, Bustle, and elsewhere. She mostly writes intersectional pop culture analysis with a particular focus on representation of LGBTQ and fat characters in fiction. Samantha is the managing editor at The Beat, as well as the co-creator and editor-in-chief of Fatventure Mag, an outdoors zine for fat creators who are into being active, but not into toxic weight-loss culture. She lives in Montana with her partner and cats.