She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is officially completed at Netflix after five seasons. Earlier this month, the series concluded with a bang as the Best Friends Squad took on Horde Prime and his interstellar empire while making new allies and friends out of former enemies, and ComicBook.com had the opportunity to speak with the creator and showrunner Noelle Stevenson all about it.
If, for whatever reason, you have yet to see the final season, be warned: no spoilers are out of bounds beyond this point. Stevenson addresses the biggest moments of the season in addition to talking about its themes and arcs more generally. We have previously published excerpts from this same interview about the final season's biggest moment as well as a very specific Shadow Weaver scene, but this is the full thing in its entirety.
If you do not want to be spoiled, now is the time to bail, but if you have ever wanted to hear Stevenson's thoughts on, say, Korrasami or whether Sam and Frodo should have kissed in The Lord of the Rings, you are in the right place. Stevenson also answers whether she would be up for returning to these characters in the future, so be sure to keep reading to check out our full interview with the creator and showrunner!
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 5, as noted above, is now available to stream on Netflix, which means that the whole thing is right there and available to watch. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the latest and greatest animated She-Ra series right here.
What do you think of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 5? Let us know in the comments, or hit me up directly on Twitter at @rollinbishop to talk all things animation!
ComicBook.com: Catradora. Did not see it coming. Did not expect that.
Noelle Stevenson: [laughs] Surprise.
You know, in hindsight? Yes. Sure. It's all there. It builds up perfectly fine, but I have to ask, was Catradora always the endgame here?
For me when it came to what I wanted from this show, yes. It's more complicated because, of course, this was not a pitch that I could come into the initial development of this show with, because it's out there. It's a risk. And this is a legacy character who's been around for 35 years, a lot of people have a strong connection to her, and it makes people scared to give her a plot like this. But it was what I wanted for the show. So it was a little bit more trying to lay the groundwork and build this relationship up in a way that the characters are growing separately in a way that their arcs can come back together and complement each other. But also trying to make sure that, if we couldn't be textual about this, if we couldn't make it really clear that their relationship was romantic, or have that big moment between them where it's really clear what's going on, are people going to feel cheated? Are they going to feel really disappointed? Are they going to feel betrayed?
And not over-promising something that we weren't sure if we'd be able to do. But it was always something that I was really passionate about. And if you go back and watch, especially the episodes that I wrote, that's the through-line. The through-line is always about these two characters and the ways that their relationship breaks and comes back together. And as far as I'm concerned, that's what kind of defines the arc of the entire show. And so getting to actually make this relationship canonical, having this romantic moment be the climax of the show. It's, I think, what the show has been about this whole time.
And it's about these two characters who were broken in so many ways and went off on their own paths. They had to go far apart before they could ever come back together. And then just really seeing them heal and grow, and grow together. And the ways that they end up being really good for each other and bringing out good things in each other. And it's a story about redemption. It's a story about forgiveness. It's a story about growth and growing up. And as far as I'm concerned, it was always the ending that the show needed.
ON TAKING THE NEXT STEP FOR ROMANCE
There have been some comparisons before folks, obviously, saw the season to the Korrasami ending of Legend of Korra, and people were reading into reviews and thinking all sorts of stuff, but it's interesting to hear that not wanting to cheat the fans or wanting to make sure that this was a genuine sort of thing was from your side.
I need to make that statement clear, which is that part of the journey of developing this relationship was not being sure for a while if it would be able to be canonized in the show. But entering into the writing in Season 5, we got the OK. We got the go-ahead. And so several... I would say like about a season and a half back, we knew that this is where we were going. So it's not like in Season 5 at all there was ever any ambiguity of where it was going.
And I think that, you know, Korrasami was huge when it happened and it's allowed us to take the stuff that we've been able to take, but I wanted this relationship to be a major part of the show and something that was... Everybody, everybody who makes cartoons, everybody who makes any kind of media has people who tell them, "We need to get the approval of the people over us in order to tell these stories." And it's been very difficult in the past to do that in a very overt way. And people have been doing their best for a long time.
Every step that we take. And every time we get to push this a little bit farther, it means the next person after us can go a little farther. So, you know, Legend of Korra was huge at the time. And I think that it did give us a platform to be able to start at a little bit farther than we would have been able to otherwise. But it's really just, I wanted this to be the arc of the show. I wanted this to be a really, really central and key relationship that defined what the show is about. And having these two people come back together is essentially just like the... It's summing up the themes of the show and the arc of the show and the characters' arc. So I don't think that… if anyone was worried that it wasn't going to go as far as they hoped it would. I think that that has been proven wrong, because I do think that it's very clear. It's very central, and it's very overt, and I'm very happy with that.
ON THE REACTIONS TO THE FINAL SEASON
And how do you feel about the response to the show so far? The fifth season here?
Oh, it's been amazing. It's, again, it feels very vulnerable to put something like this out there and to invest in a relationship that is something that is so personal and kind of hoping that this is more than just -- it's not a ship. The idea that shipping, especially when it comes to relationships between queer characters, that it's only ever about fandom or about shipping, I don't agree with that. I think that queer relationships can be, and queer romance plots, can be something that are in our stories and it can actually be the story. It can be actually the story that we're telling.
It was sort of facetious, I guess, but at a certain point in the writer's room, it was like, you know that moment when you're watching Lord of the Rings and Sam and Frodo are up on that volcano and for a second, you're like, "Are they going to kiss? Is this going to happen? That's crazy. That wouldn't happen, right?" And then it doesn't happen, but, for a second, you're like, "What would it be like if they did? What if this got to be a romance? What if that was just OK? What if we could even think about the possibility of something like that?"
And it's something, I think, that a lot of people are going to have to get used to, because they're not used to looking for things like that. But honestly, the reaction that we've gotten is, people have picked up on the groundwork that we've laid down. They followed us to this conclusion and found it satisfying outside of just, “my ship is canon.” This is the story. This has always been the story. And I just feel really grateful to see the reaction and to see everyone responding to it so positively.
ON SHADOW WEAVER AND THE WORK OF REDEMPTION
Now, I have to say, how dare you for making me care about Shadow Weaver, and crying at that scene. How far in advance did you know that this sort of redemption arc was going to play out for Shadow Weaver? Or at the very least, a sacrificial one?
I think that Shadow Weaver’s sacrifice is a little bit less about her character getting redeemed, because I think that's another message of this season, especially, is that redemption is not just one good act and dying. And forgiveness is not a given. It is something that you have to work for. I mean, we see Catra learned that lesson as she makes the grand sacrifice, and then she's rescued, and she has to actually face the people that she hurt and actually work to fix the relationship that she ruined. And then we see Shadow Weaver make that decision as well, but she does choose sort of a selfish way out, of being like, "I will do this one good act and then you'll have to forgive me."
But I think it's even less about her and more about the effects that it has on Catra and Adora, because she is someone who's loomed so large in their lives for so long and has harmed them in so many ways. And the question is, how could they possibly get closure? How could they possibly move past the effect that she's had on both of them? And so I think that giving them this moment... I think Catra, I don't know if she forgives Shadow Weaver, but the moment where Shadow Weaver tells her that she's proud of her is, I think, something she's really needed to hear.
So it is very affirming to her, even though it's, I think, a very conflicted moment for her where she's angry and she's not fully feeling like... I don't know that she's feeling forgiveness for Shadow Weaver. But I wanted to get into the complexity of... I think everyone has a relationship to an authority figure like this.
And the thing is that even once we move on and even once we're grown, they don't stop mattering to us as much as we wish they would. There are people who will always have power over us. And so it's just a very uncomfortable fact for a lot of people, a kind of growing past abuse. And so I think, honestly, at the end of the day, that scene ends up giving Catra and Adora that peace that they need to move past her and become their own people free of this shadow that she's cast across them for so many years.
And I think it's maybe one of the first not-wholly-selfish acts that she's ever done. Even though I think that she thinks she's a good person, all of her actions are selfish. And I think that she actually does confront the fact that she has been so harmful for so many people. And whether it's enough to undo all of the bad things that she's done in her life? I don't think so. It's much more complicated than that, but I do think that it is something that needed to happen for Catra and Adora to be able to heal.
ON POSSIBLY RETURNING TO SHE-RA IN THE FUTURE
Now, I could spend the next 40 minutes talking Bow and Glimmer, Netossa and Spinnerella, Hordak’s fight with Horde Prime. There's so much happening in the season, but at the end of it, it’s left with a pretty open-ended conclusion with the Best Friends Squad saying we're going to return magic to the galaxy, and obviously this has just concluded for you. My understanding is that there's no more She-Ra on the horizon, but given time, would you want to return to these characters or has that chapter closed for you?
I think that the show as we set out to make it has concluded, and I'm very satisfied with the conclusion. And I think what's great about an open ending like that is that the possibilities are limitless. We don't know exactly which path these characters are going to take, but I think for the first time they really get to choose what happens to them and where they're going to go. And I hope that everyone who watches the show and takes something away from it has their own idea of what that is. And there's a part of me that's like, I would love to see those interactions. I would love to see their road trip through space. I would love to see the characters being friends and just settling down in a world that, for the first time in centuries, is without war.
But sometimes I think that those things are stronger in our imaginations because when you say goodbye to characters that you love, they stay with you and they stay with you exactly the way that you experienced them at the time. And sometimes if you bring them back, if it's not the exact right thing, or it's not something that really props up the character arcs or introduces a new aspect that feels really necessary, it can feel a little less satisfying or it can feel like we're actually going back, sort of undoing that satisfying ending, especially if there's more conflict that's being introduced.
And that's not to say that there isn't a version of that story. I would definitely, if at any point I had the opportunity to return to this world. I love these characters so much that I would be very tempted to do so. It is just something that I would want to make sure that it does not compromise the integrity of the ending that we planned and that we built to. I think that because the theme of the show is about that choice and about the characters choosing their own paths, that open ending feels like it really ties into those themes. And so I guess in short, I'm open to it, but also somewhat hesitant as well.
ON WHAT'S NEXT FOR HER
What is next for you?
I have a few projects that are simmering right now. I think we will be able to announce something really soon. So stay tuned. I can't say anything more yet, but I should have news very soon.0comments
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.