WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the fourth season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, available now on Netflix.
One of the most intriguing plot threads in the new modern take on She-Ra is the question of Mara, the former woman to hold the title of She-Ra. Stories about her have been lingering over the entire series, with questions of her actions and fate being slowly revealed, bit by bit.
The newest season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power finally pulls the curtain all the way back -- making clear the truth behind Mara's fate, and what it means for Etheria and Adora going forward.
BEARER OF THE BLADE
Mara was the previous She-Ra from a thousand years in Etheria's past. She was sent directly by the First Ones to protect the world of Etheria. However, legends tell that Mara was incapable of standing up to the power of She-Ra. She even did something that sealed the planet in the parallel reality of Despondos, exiling it from the rest of the greater galaxy. Her shadow has hung over Adora for the entire series, as she's been terrified of repeating whatever mistakes Mara made and failing the world.
Slowly, a greater picture of Mara has been painted across the seasons: She was revealed to be little older than Adora, and shared her genuine care for the world around her. She was friends with the mysterious magic woman Madame Razz, who can't keep herself from alternating between the past and the present. It's through Razz that Mara learns about Adora. As Adora sought more answers about Mara, she came to see her not just as a warning of what could happen if she failed, but as someone else who understood the responsibility of being She-Ra.
THE FALL OF MARA
However, everything changes when Adora learns the truth behind Mara's final moments. Initially, Mara had believed the "Heart of Etheria" project was an attempt to use magic as an energy source. But then she learned that the First Ones were planning on draining the entirety of Etheria of its magic, storing it at the core, and then they would be able to use the world as a weapon to conquer the galaxy and "bring peace" to the universe. Horrified, Mara turned to Light Hope (whom she had a deep connection with) for help. But Light Hope had been reprogrammed to ensure her willingness to take part in the plan, despite the resistance of Mara. Mara ended up speaking to Razz and learning about Adora, before deciding on a desperate plan to stop the weapon.
To keep Etheria away from the ones who would use the world as a weapon, Mara embedded the She-Ra sword into the earth. Since She-Ra and the blade are the key to activating the power at the core of the world, this kept the weapon in stasis and from being used. Injured, Mara barely made it back to her ship and then, confronted by Light Hope, Mara was able to use the ship, as well as the outpouring energy from Etheria, to move the planet out of sync with the rest of the universe and into the pocket dimension of Despondos to protect the rest of creation from the weapon the First Ones had made out of Etheria.
In her final moments, Mara left a message for Adora that revealed the truth behind the heart and wished her luck in her battle to finish what Mara started -- stopping the Heart of Etheria from being used as a weapon.
WHAT THIS MEANS
These revelations radically alter the lore of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, upsetting the balance between what seemed to be good and evil. The First Ones have been held up as paragons of ancient times by the people of Etheria. The study of their works and machines has been a frequent topic in the world. They were thought of as brave and noble figures, but Season 4 hints that they were far more warlike than the original ideas about them had suggested.
It also means Adora is even more conflicted during the rest of the season, where the Heart of Etheria is treated as a potential tool by the Princess Rebellion to turn the tide of the war against the Horde. Despite her best efforts, Adora also fails to keep the Heart of Etheria from being utilized. Light Hope uses the power within the core to bring Etheria back to the main galaxy -- where the heart could be used as a weapon. In fact, Hordak Prime quickly arrives to claim the world as his own and to take the weapon for himself.
If Adora wants to honor the memory of Mara, she'll have to find a way to stop Hordak Prime and his armies without the Sword of She-Ra, as she had to shatter the weapon to seal the energies back away.
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, Krystal Joy Brown and Jacob Tobia.