I was too young to watch the original He-Man or any of its spin-offs, including She-Ra. However, I love cartoons (especially those on Netflix), so when I saw She-Ra and the Princesses of Power on the list last year, I was, in a word, intrigued. I watched the first season and was completely impressed by the world building, the ensemble cast, the pacing, and the overarching themes. While the show is still very much a show for children — the repeating She-Ra transformation and hand-waving of the wonkier parts of the politics of Etheria are examples — it held my interest with its surprisingly well-rounded characters as they navigate growing up in the middle of what’s basically an invasion.
Season 2 of She-Ra continues with much of the same qualities, though it’s half the length — 7 episodes instead of 13. Apparently, Netflix is splitting up seasons of new cartoons to give them a shorter release schedule,the article linked says that the creators have
four 13-episode arcs planned. which is fine — because the ending of Season 2 is pretty unsatisfactory, seeing as it ends in the middle of an arc.
Beware! Minor spoilers ahead.
In Season 2, the Princesses of Power are stuck defending their front from the evil Horde, while the Horde attempts an end-run around their defenses. Adora is also continuing in her training to become She-Ra while contending with semi-functional centuries-old Old Ones tech, as well as worrying about her best-friend-turned-arch-enemy Catra. Catra, for her part, is worried about staying on the good side of Hordak, as well as keeping the business end of the Horde afloat (which, of course, is harder than it looks — as a comedic scene illustrates). She also has complicated feelings for her abusive mother-figure, Shadow Weaver, who gets her own flashback episode in this season. The season is rounded out when we meet Bow’s parents, two Old Ones historians and both dads. I was really impressed to see this kind of representation in children’s TV, though of course She-Ra has a lot of other LGBTQ-coded characters and relationships too.
One thing I found myself continuously questioning was the larger picture: Who is Hordak? Is he a lone operator, or a low-level operative of a vast alien empire? (We get hints that he’s definitely an alien, and that he’s trying to phone home, but that’s all.) Where are all the other invading forces that Hordak must have come with? Why does he recruit (or kidnap and brainwash) Etherians? For that matter, who were the Old Ones? What happened to them? How are they related to the Horde, if at all?
Hopefully the answers to these questions and more will be answered in a future arc. I’m really drawn into this world but I want to know more about it.