After a five month wait, we have descended once again into the protracted battle for Etheria.
At the end of the first season of the Dreamworks Animation-produced Netflix series She-Ra And The Princesses of Power, the Princess Alliance became a reality and dealt a crushing blow to Horde forces. However, that one victory in battle did not win the war. Adora (Aimee Carrero), the She-Ra, and her Princess friends must now rally the forces of the rebellion against a very present, very dangerous Hordak (Keston John) and his army. Catra (AJ Michalka), once a reluctant soldier and Adora's best friend, now leads the army fighting against the Princesses. In the season two premier "The Frozen Forest," the former friends, like the armies they lead, struggle to come to grips with the new realities of their positions.
She-Ra's first season ended on a bittersweet note: Adora earned a victory but suffered a permanent rift with her best friend. One of the excellent things about television is, viewers and showrunners now have the opportunity to explore the ramifications and complications from the previous season. The first episode of season two "The Frozen Forest" really delves into the emotional, logistical, and managerial challenges that now face Adora, Glimmer (Karen Fukuhara), Bow (Marcus Scribner), and even Catra.
Despite the fact that She-Ra is, at its core, an animated children's show, the writers have done an excellent job of consistently showing Adora and Catra suffering the consequences of their abusive and violent upbringing. In "The Frozen Forest," Adora is still coming to terms with the fact that someone who she once loved and shared everything with is now her enemy. This theme was a strong one in this first episode, and will likely continue throughout the season. I like that the writers didn't run away from the hard emotional work, and that being the She-Ra doesn't protect Adora from also being human.
The Princess Alliance has now combined forces and is working together. However, new generals Adora and Glimmer must deal with the fact that the Horde forces are more technologically advanced, greater in number, and have more experience working together. It is awesome to see the Princesses deal with the new realities of leadership. When the rebellion was just a small handful of freedom fighters, issues like division of labor, prioritization, and the allocation of limited resources wasn't something they had to worry about. Now with a fighting force of Princesses – all with unique special powers – the young women (and Bow) must tackle all of these questions.
You rarely get a chance to see the rocky transition from ragtag rebellion to organized fighting force depicted in movies or television series. The change usually just seems like an automatic evolution. It was great to see showrunner Noelle Stevenson mine that transition itself for stories.
Now lets talk about those Princesses…
In the Battle of Bright Moon, when all of the Princesses come together, they form a "by your powers combined" rainbow wave of positive magic that turns the tide of the battle. "The Frozen Forest" tackles the question "what comes next?" Mermista (Vella Lovell), Perfuma (Genesis Rodriguez), Spinnerella (Noelle Stevenson), Netossa (Krystal Joy Brown), Frosta (Merit Leighton), Bow, Glimmer, Casta (Sandra Oh), Angella (Reshma Shetty), and Adora all have very different powers and leadership styles. Until recently, Mermista, Perfuma, and Frosta have been isolated – running their own kingdoms as they fought for their own survival and that of their people. Spinnerella, Netossa, Glimmer, General (Grey Griffin), and Angella have been working together, but with an aim to protect from rather than defeat the Horde.
Still new to her powers and dealing with her own loss, Adora has the unenviable job of bringing all of these warriors together to work as a team. The process is rocky, especially for the younger and less experienced members of the team, with even Bow suffering moments of doubt. Once again, "The Frozen Forest" sucks in our attention with its depiction of the process of both friendship and leadership. It feels like you are watching the characters grow and develop in front of your eyes – something that is both entertaining and empowering.
Overall, the second season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is off to a great start. In fact, the second season is so good that my own kids refused to wait for me to write this before they watched episodes two and three.
I can think of no higher honor for an animated show.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 2 is available now on Netflix.