She Ra: Processing Season 4

Even though I have easy access to a Netflix account, it’s pretty rare that I find a show I can commit my attention to, much less succeed in binge-watching it.  But whether it be a desire for more complex narratives and relationships between fictional women or the appreciation the little girl in me has for colorful magical girl anime, She Ra is one rare exception. Others have written in-depth about She Ra, from its inclusivity to its important coming-of-age messages, so I’ll reflect on the latest season’s highlights

1. Double Trouble

Played by nonbinary author Jacob Tobias, this season introduced the show’s first nonbinary character. Their aim is to give a wonderful performance, carrying out their current objective with chaotic effectiveness. The friction they aggravated between Glimmer and Adora became so intense, that by episode 7, I found myself skipping to the end just to get that cathartic resolution. And for their final performance, they deliver a shattering but definitely due takedown of Catra’s character.

2. Kyle Redemption Arc!!!

For three whole seasons, my one frustration with She Ra was how Kyle’s every appearance was a joke about his suffering - yeesh, even Sea Hawk gets more dignity! But Episode 5 finally gave him some much-needed attention as a character, as well as a more intimate side of the trainees. 

Once he’s allowed to be a person rather than the butt of a joke, he does come off as somewhat immature and unlikable, like when he keeps bending the rules of his made-up game to avoid going outside. But he does perform a heroic sacrifice in the end, which finally teaches Leonie and Rogelio to appreciate him more. Overall, it was an important moment where the “expendable” minions choose each other over their devotion to an unloving overlord.

3. “Boy’s Night Out”

After a series of stressful, disastrous events, Episode 8 came as a morale-booster both for the audience and within the narrative itself. Small moments like the stock transformation at episode 8, Nermista’s rock remix, and the sea shanty in the end credits delivered the important reminder that this is a kid’s show you're watching. However, the episode was not a complete break from conflict, in particular, the fractured relationship between Glimmer and Adora. It ended on a sad note with Bow feeling even more isolated from Adora and Glimmer

4. Mara and Madame Razz 

Episode 9 follows Razz as she seemingly traverses time to put together the ingredients to make a pie, which results in some much-desired Mara screentime.

Razz’s pie-making could easily be interpreted as a method to process her trauma around losing Mara, an interesting contrast to Shadow Weaver’s garden as a visual reflection of her manipulation.  While Madame Razz comes off as senile to those who interact with her, her interactions with Adora and Mara through time indicate she is a seer who can no longer tell apart the past and the future; Adora is right to think that she knows more than she lets on.

After discovering the truth from Mara herself, Adora shifts from viewing Mara as an embodiment of failure to sympathizing with her struggle against fate; an apt bit of foreshadowing to this season’s ending message on destiny and the ability to choose.

5. Catra at her lowest point

I honestly had trouble writing anything concise about Catra. She’s one of the most complex characters I’ve ever encountered in a kid’s cartoon, and her attraction to other women, the relatable experience of abuse from a mother figure, and self-destructive behavior easily make her one of my favorites in the show.

While Catra’s new leadership position greatly reduced her action in the field, the show takes a closer look at her emotional deterioration, helping to set this season’s much darker tone. One of the dominoes to Catra’s downfall was when Scorpia left her. The previous season alluded to Catra hitting a low point in the Crimson Waste when Catra was sure she had truly lost everything in being sent there, only Scorpia WAS THERE to support her the entire way. But once Emily helps Scorpia get out of her state of denial, Scopria finally resolves to walk out on their non-reciprocal friendship.

 Catra first responds in denial, poignantly shown when she expects Scorpia to pick up her calls and even chats on as if she’d always be on the other side of the line. After finding her good-bye note, Catra lashes out and pushes away the remaining people in her life even more.

Double Trouble’s psychoanalysis was brutal, but it was exactly what Catra needed to hear. After inflicting so much damage and hurt on Etheria, being alone on Hordak’s ship - better yet, with another sensitive girl who needed to wake up and stop pushing her own friends away - could finally signal her chance at healing and redemption.