REVIEW: ‘She-Ra and The Princesses of Power’ Season 5 is a Triumphant Masterpiece

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She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

She-Ra and The Princesses of Power, Noelle Stevenson‘s groundbreaking reboot of a classic series with Dreamworks Animation and Netflix, came to an immensely satisfying conclusion with its fifth season. As Adora, Glimmer, Bow, Catra, and their friends and allies face their final battle against Horde-Prime, mysteries are finally unveiled, all the character journeys come to full fruition, and emotional thrills will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. It’s not often that a series can stick the landing so well, and this exemplary series does so in its trademark fashion.

It’s a unique final season in that almost everything remains character-based and driven. Most final seasons tend to have their main characters in pursuit of a singular goal, and often at the expense of character development. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power‘s strength has always been the immense complexity of all its characters, hero, villain, and anti-hero alike. While there are mysteries revealed about the origins of Horde-Prime, the First Ones, and She-Ra, they’re not extraneous Wiki details. They relate firmly and refreshingly to the character journeys. There’s no deus ex machina.

The core relationship of the show has always been Adora (Aimee Carrero) and Catra (AJ Michalka). The longstanding dance of their complex, multifaceted, and deeply emotional relationship comes to amazing fruition this season. Both are on the completion of their journeys, questioning what it is they really want outside of fighting.

For our main hero, Adora, her journey is about increasing her self-reliance after her decision at the end of last season. It’s about becoming a hero beyond just She-Ra and setting an identity and destiny more fully for herself and her friends. For Catra, it’s about making the hard decisions about what she wants, now that she presumably has everything she worked for as a leader of the Horde. For her especially, her longstanding story is explored in tremendous detail. While all of the characters are very empathetic, Catra may be the most so. As such, she will have a legacy as a groundbreaking character in animation.

She-Ra and The Princesses of Power

The voicework by Carrero and Michalka is standout as always, letting you feel the full breadth of what their characters are going through. They’re emotional, heartbreaking, uplifting, and have lessons on relationships and self-worth to teach all of us. Nothing is simple with these two. Everything they’re feeling and say to each other feels so necessary and realistic. Without giving too much away, the relationship between Catra and Adora will leave viewers immensely satisfied.

Bow (Marcus Scribner) refreshingly gets to express more of his feelings of frustration, letting the audience see a deeper and more imperfect side of this consistently upbeat characters. He emerges even more in a leadership position, and we get to see the stress that this has on him. Scribner is fantastic in the role and has grown wonderfully as a voice actor.

Glimmer (Karen Fukuhara) also reaches the end of her journey in an immensely satisfying fashion. She becomes the leader she always wanted to be and finds the confidence she has always earned. Fukuhara has grown amazingly as a voice actress in this role, bringing another excellent protagonist to our screens. A surprisingly sweet and insightful dynamic develops between Glimmer and Catra, and bond specifically over their fondness for Adora. It’s Glimmer who gets Catra to reflect more on her actions, furthering their dynamic started at the end of the last season.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

There are even great stories for the princesses, giving them a core mission to develop their characters and relationship with each other. Particularly Perfuma (Genesis Rodriguez) and Netossa (Krystal Joy Brown) get excellent material as their characters are surprisingly developed far more than before. As Adora poignantly tells them at one point, “The Rebellion is in good hands.”

The pacing of this season is terrific. While it may initially feel slow to get to the final battle with Horde-Prime (Keston John), you increasingly realize that the episodes are building on each other to reach that crescendo of the last battle. While there are still great battles, the season balances them with interpersonal storylines that complete the arcs of virtually all the main characters. The season puts the 13-episode format to great use, giving all the characters time for development, quiet moments of reflection and calm, funny moments, action and adventure, and more as we get to the final conflict in the last 4 episodes. It comes together incredibly well and in a unique style of storytelling.

There is a beautiful anti-colonialist message at the core of this season, particularly as it relates to the motivations of Horde-Prime. He is everything an ultimate villain should be. Chillingly he aims to make everything and everyone he encounters like him. He is a narcissistic colonialist who wants to make what he takes over “pure.” He directly threatens the distinct individuality of Etheria and its denizens that we have come to know fondly throughout the seasons of this show. The show keenly reminds us to protect the inherent beauty of our world from destructive and selfish forces, especially in how it showcases the natural beauty of Etheria in a way it hadn’t before.

The queer representation goes a step further this season too, leading to another groundbreaking moment in children’s animation. While it shouldn’t have to be groundbreaking as openly queer characters should be the norm, it’s a moment that queer fans and advocates of representation have celebrated and will celebrate, and that is very much worth something. Noelle Stevenson and her team should be very proud of what they accomplished in children’s animation, which still overall has a long way to go.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power has been an emotional, exciting, and overall wonderful blast. I will miss this show dearly but am very happy that it has ended firmly on its own terms. Not many series are able to do that, and in doing so She-Ra and the Princesses of Power has retained immense integrity in its superb storytelling. With so much heart, insightful commentary, adventure, humor, and more, this series reaches some of the heights of Avatar: The Last Airbender and other greatest animated series of all time. Audiences may very well count it as one of them.

If you haven’t watched the series yet, please go watch all the seasons streaming exclusively on Netflix.


'She-Ra and The Princesses of Power' Season 5 is a Triumphant Masterpiece
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

She-Ra and The Princesses of Power, Noelle Stevenson‘s groundbreaking reboot of a classic series with Dreamworks Animation and Netflix, came to an immensely satisfying conclusion with its fifth season. As Adora, Glimmer, Bow, Catra, and their friends and allies face their final battle against Horde-Prime, mysteries are finally unveiled, all the character journeys come to full fruition and emotional thrills will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.