WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 2, arriving Friday on Netflix.
Even after a full season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, the world of Etheria is still full of mystery. We still don’t know that much about the First Ones, or why they put their advanced tech in the core of the planet. Nor doe we know what made the previous She-Ra of the past, Mara, fail in her duties to protect Etheria. What we do know, and what the first season has set up for the second, is that the heart of this show is in the friendships between the different characters.
Season 1 introduced us to Adora, the hero who quickly changes her alliance from the Horde to the Rebellion when she realizes the truth of what her former comrades are actually doing -- destroying villages in a grab for power. Of course, it's made easier for Adora to make this major life change and leave her former best friend Catra behind thanks to of Bow and Glimmer. Bow is so open and easy to talk to, while Glimmer has an infectious energy that makes you want to join whatever she’s doing. It doesn’t take long for them all to become close.
The three of them form a best friends squad that reminds us all of the best friends we had in our formative young adult years. Bow and Glimmer have been besties for seemingly forever, but that didn’t mean there weren’t hiccups in their relationship, which we saw in the Princess Prom episode in Season 1. And now that the friends have gathered new members into their Princess Alliance, Season 2 continues to explore how, as in real life, friendships aren’t always sunshine and rainbows.
It’s difficult for a group of disparate personalities to get things done and get along, as we’ve all learned from doing group projects in school or the workplace. This is the problem the Princess Alliance faces in the second season; the princesses have been assembled, but that’s only the beginning. Now, they have to work together.
In the first episode of the second season, Glimmer and Frosta (one of the new princesses) do not have a harmonious relationship. It’s easy for the viewer to recognize both of their positions; Glimmer wants to make sure the missions are successful, while Frosta wants to impress Glimmer and make friends. It’s a classic struggle for team balance, but it culminates in a mature conversation that’s surprising considering the age of the characters (Frosta is still a child) and the average age of the intended audience for this show.
This is indicative of what’s so special about this show: while it is a show for children, the themes and conversations the show can spark are universally appealing. This loving treatment of the characters who are allowed moments of vulnerability even extend to the “villains” of the show.
Later, Scorpia, a Horde Force Captain, bonds with a character from the Princess Alliance. Scorpia is defined by her loyalty, and this trait is what actually allows her to bond with a character from the other side of the war. She is frustrated with her inability to get Catra to open up, and the character she talks to understands exactly what she’s going through. While this friendship is unexpected, it shows that we all have more in common with one another than we think.
We also get closer to having a true friendship on the villain’s side. Though she'll never admit it, Catra is still recovering from losing her best friend Adora to the princesses. This, plus the mistreatment she got from Light Spinner growing up, has understandably made Catra hesitant to show any weakness, including talking about how she’s feeling. Scorpia tries to be there for her the best she can, even though Catra can’t reciprocate any warmth towards her. Little by little, Scorpia chips away at Catra’s emotional armor, an arc that's interesting to track through the second season.
Adora is haunted by thoughts of Catra at the beginning of Season 2. Adora’s personal mission is to train as hard as she can so that she can avoid the mistakes of Mara, the previous She-Ra. Comparison is a dangerous mindset, which is further complicated by Adora having difficulty letting go of Catra. As a result, Adora’s focus isn’t all there when she trains, leading to a comedic sequence involving her magic sword.
Adora’s problems don’t suddenly go away by the end of the season. We see her struggle with the pressure of being She-Ra, the savior throughout her arc, as she becomes fixated on being perfect, a struggle that’s particularly apt for our social media culture. Though we know perfection is impossible to achieve, the pressure to appear as such is still there. But while she may not fully succeed in her goal, we see Adora working on her issues, which is arguably more important than seeing every one of her problems resolved.
All in all, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 2 is more of what we loved from Season 1. There are more friendships formed leading to more vulnerability from the characters on either side. Now that the show has established a voice and vision for itself, it’s able to play even more with what we loved from the first season. Just wait till you see what Bow does with his mini figurines.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, starring 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, is now available on Netflix. Season 2 premieres on April 26.