WARNING: The following contains spoilers for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 3, streaming now on Netflix.
When She-Ra and the Princesses of Power was announced, fans were excited that Lord Hordak would be the main villain. The alien warlord was a staple of the old She-Ra lore, hellbent on taking Etheria for himself and making the Princess of Power suffer.
On the Netflix series, his purpose so far has been the same, but in the third season, showrunner Noelle Stevenson and her team make an intriguing change to Hordak's origin. And it's one which sets up an even more twisted showdown to come with the person revealed to be his boss, Hordak Prime.
In the old cartoon, while it was never confirmed, Hordak was hinted to be the brother of Hordak Prime, the leader of the intergalactic Horde army sweeping through and colonizing the galaxy. Hordak Prime was keen on ruling the cosmos at all costs and Hordak answered to him and him alone, shocking fans who always thought the latter was the big kahuna in charge.
Prime ran the show and as She-Ra & Co. would discover, Hordak was merely a pawn in his big endgame. In those days, Prime's son, Prince Zed, often referred to Hordak as "uncle" although we never found out the specifics of their relation. This series decides to add something more to the old depiction, however, when Princess Entrapta finally extracts the origin story from Hordak himself.
In their base, Entrapta finds a withering Hordak out of armor, looking like he's about to die. Curious as to what's killing her frail boss, the naive princess follows through on her obsession with science, figuring out his armor actually kept the villain alive. But to treat him, she needs the truth and so, he confesses he's actually a clone of Hordak Prime.
Sadly, after years of thinking he was a proper copy of his master, Hordak was found to be defective. Prime had several clones out there as his general, but this one was an abomination in his eyes, and he saw no choice but to discard it. This led to the clone getting trapped in a portal which then marooned him on Etheria.
He decided to form his own legion there and take the planet for himself, but while that hasn't happened yet, he does have a contingency in place. This ties into his overall ambition in the entire series of opening a portal, which would result in the Horde invading, gifting Etheria to Prime. This is Hordak's way of gaining favor in his "brother"'s eyes.
But Hordak knows that, as the engine pushing forward the evil army in the Fright Zone, not only is time running out for him due to waning health, but the resistance is growing stronger across all kingdoms thanks to She-Ra's resurgence and the Princess Alliance. Shades of Prime emerge, however, as Hordak has been cultivating his own clones, hoping to perfect a body. To his dismay, Entrapta admits it's a failed mission so far after she came across the stasis cells herself.
This ups the tempo with Hordak and moves his story away from being a one-dimensional carbon copy of old, as he actually evokes some sympathy from the audience. From a meteoric rise as a general to a rejected warrior, as he narrates the story we see him vulnerable and flustered for the first time.
We've never witnessed signs of defeat like this in him before, mentally and physically, and it's very emotive to watch his need for Prime's approval -- the ultimate reason why he entrusted Shadow Weaver, Catra, Adora and now, Entrapta, to help him win the war.
But what makes things further interesting is Hordak does have resentment towards Prime as well, secretly leaving the option open of overthrowing his progenitor open at some point. As the season ends, we actually witness Prime picking up on the whereabouts of his "little brother," indicating he's going to find him.
He has a condescending air to his words so there's also the chance Hordak might redeem himself and turn on his creator once they oppose each other. Only time will tell but for now, Hordak continues to hunt the rebellion down, not knowing Prime's looking to put him down for good.
Streaming now on Netflix, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power stars Aimee Carrero, Karen Fukuhara, AJ Michalka, Marcus Scribner, Reshma Shetty, Lorraine Toussaint, Keston John, Lauren Ash, Christine Woods, Genesis Rodriguez, Jordan Fisher, Vella Lovell, Merit Leighton, Sandra Oh and Krystal Joy Brown.