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REVIEW: Catra fully embraces villainy in SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER Season 3

From the onset, Catra (AJ Michalka) and Adora (Aimee Carrero) have been at each other’s throats in Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Showrunner Noelle Stevenson is adamant that this friendship — which frequently feels like a prolonged break-up between childhood sweethearts — is the emotional core of the series. Nowhere is that more apparent than in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power season three, which debuts Friday, August 2.

This season is shorter than the previous two, with just six episodes, but it’s by far the most intense, especially in terms of pacing. In addition to introducing Huntara (Geena Davis) and finally venturing into the Crimson Waste, we learn significant new information about Adora, her past, and the legend of She-Ra. On the flipside, we learn more about Lord Hordak’s (Keston John) origins, as well as what the future could look like if the Horde wins — or if it doesn’t.

Now that the groundwork has been laid across the first 20 episodes of the series, She-Ra season three is able to dig its teeth into the meat of the ongoing plot, establish stronger character ties, and deepen motivations. Season three barrels toward the point of no return and then crashes straight through it. Everything is different in this season and it’s clear, from the cliffhanger at the end of the season three finale, that Stevenson and her writers are just getting started.

It would be wrong to say that this season is darker than the previous two, because it isn’t  — not really. However, we do see Catra fully embrace her role as a villain in this season, which not only alters the fabric of the series (literally), but alters how she’s perceived by the people she relies on most, especially Scorpia (Lauren Ash). Once she enters the Crimson Waste, Catra sheds any inhibitions about conniving and manipulating her way to the top. It’s incredible to watch; the show may be named for She-Ra and the Princess Alliance, but this season, Catra steals the spotlight completely.

Ever since the pilot, she has reaffirmed the belief that the Horde is doing what’s right, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Now, that doesn’t seem to be of much concern to her at all. With Shadow Weaver (Lorraine Toussant) gone and Hordak enamored with Entrapta (Christine Woods), Catra has to go big or go home — and the latter is becoming more nebulous by the day. In the Crimson Waste, there’s no one to check her worst impulses except for Scorpia, who gives into what Catra wants more often than not.

Catra wants power. More than that, Catra wants to win – and she wants Adora to lose.

Catra
Netflix

This conflict is central to She-Ra and the Princesses of Power season three, even moreso than the first two seasons. While Adora seeks out information that will help her wield the Sword of Power more effectively, Catra seeks to undermine everything Adora does. And when the opportunity comes for Catra to change the course of the war, she takes it — even knowing that she might damn herself, her friends, the rest of the Horde, and the whole of Etheria.

As mentioned above, Etheria is changed forever as a result of what happens in season three. It’s not just Catra’s actions that change things; it’s everyone’s. Catra is just the first to tip the dominos, creating a chain reaction that not only shakes up the characters and their relationships, but also the structures that hold the story together.

Although She-Ra and the Princesses of Power season three has just six episodes, those episodes are jam-packed with new information that ties together continuing threads. This season also establishes a new status quo, which will force every character’s hand in one way or another.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power returns with six new episodes on Friday, August 2 on Netflix. In case you missed it, check out the season three trailer below.

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