Of all the promotional teases for the upcoming fifth and final season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, the most effective by far is a more melancholy and moody take on its instantly iconic theme song. “We must be strong and we must be brave,” it states in no uncertain terms. In previous seasons, this was an uplifting anthem of empowerment, but now, with Horde Prime’s arrival, it is a desperate call to arms. And the final season absolutely answers it.
The fifth and final season really serves as a culmination of everything that came before, and it helps that the previous season left so many characters and stories in pieces, because the first couple of episodes are spent picking them up and putting them back together again into a much stronger whole. It’s honestly a triumph that the show, which only has 13 episodes to finish out, manages to fit in so much intimacy and growth for nearly every character involved in it from Catra to Mermista to Entrapta and beyond.
If there’s one concern I have about the fifth and final season, and its regular focus on the huge variety of characters in the series, it’s that it all feels a bit rushed. Horde Prime’s introduction, attack on Etheria, and conclusion comes over the course of 13 episodes (10 of which I have seen) when the premise almost begs to be further explored. The main characters go to space! They meet other aliens! And that isn’t even touching on the fact that the war on Etheria itself comes across as relatively confined at points and completely widespread at others.
It’s a problem of scale, really. She-Ra has gone from trying to save specific villages or towns from local threats to taking on an empire that spans the stars with galactic repercussions. And while the show absolutely has spent the subsequent time to build up to this moment, the actual event it has been building up to largely plays out like a sprint of its own rather than the conclusion of a marathon.
Maybe the final three episodes resolve this issue in a natural manner, or maybe they don’t. Maybe they simply make the first 10 feel like less like they are crunched for time. Given where the 10th episode leaves off, however, it’s hard to imagine the last few aren’t also stuffed to the brim. It’s both a blessing and a curse, really, as the show tries to wrap up so many dangling threads all at once.
Despite all of this, Horde Prime truly does come across as a genuine threat in ways that neither Hordak nor Catra achieved before. In the past, the various successes of the antagonists have felt almost accidental, stumbled into haphazardly, and somehow unintentional. Yes, both of them managed to take bites out of She-Ra and company, but Horde Prime isn’t concerned with bites; Horde Prime’s here for a meal. He is menacing and insidious in a way no character has been before, and chews the scenery every moment he’s featured in glorious fashion.
It is genuinely difficult to not to enjoy everything presented in this season. You want action? It’s got it. You want devastating emotional revelations? Yup, those are there in spades. In fact, one simple two-word line reading alone will likely break your heart. I know it broke mine.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power has been a delight to watch from start to finish, and while this season itself earns perhaps the lowest marks of them all for me, that floor is still higher than the ceiling of many other shows, animated or otherwise. I’m going to miss this version of Adora, Glimmer, Bow, and all the rest. And yes, even Catra. Maybe especially Catra.0comments
Rating: 4 out of 5
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season Five is set to launch on Netflix this Friday, May 15th. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the animated series right here.