“She-Ra and the Princesses of Power” Season Two Is Even More Hopeful (and Gay)

The most surprising thing about She-Ra and the Princesses of Power‘s second season, which landed on Netflix Friday, is there’s less implicit queerness than season one. But also: There’s more explicit queerness than season one. Way more! Yes, Catra and Adora still have that more-than-best-friends-turned-enemies thing going on, but they confront each other mostly through bot cameras, imaginary fights, and passive aggressive messages from their friends (gay). However, this season Scorpia goes all in on her crush on Catra and Bow accidentally takes Adora and Glimmer home to meet his two dads. Plus everyone’s favorite princess power couple, Netossa and Spinnerella, are back kicking butt and holding hands and gazing lesbianly at each other.

“The Frozen Forest” picks up not long after “The Battle of Bright Moon.” Now that the princesses have formed their alliance and proven to themselves and each other how powerful they are as a team, they’re learning to use their powers together. The problem is they’re not making any progress. They’re pushing back the Horde’s bots and helping the forest heal each time, but the Horde has endless bots; he’s just keeping them busy. While the Princess Alliance (and Bow) are working out that conundrum, Adora is training with Light Hope, trying to master her sword — which keeps turning into useless things like a tea kettle — and her feelings for Catra. “Did you have to make her so mean?” Adora asks, deflated, after one particularly rough fight inside Light Hope’s matrix. Light Hope says the simulation is designed for total accuracy. (Which is also probably why when Catra springs on Adora, she grabs her hand and purrs, “Haaaay, Adora” before attacking her.)

Season one had the heavy task of introducing an entire cast of princesses (something the original ’80s series botched big time, as they aired episodes out of order or not at all to try to keep the cartoon aligned with Mattel’s action figure rollout) and setting up and paying off the conflict between the rebels and the Horde. It did both of those things brilliantly. What season one didn’t have to do — but did (also brilliantly) — was color in the humanity of the show’s villains. At the end of 13 episodes, we knew as much about what motivated (and devastated) Catra, Entrapta, and Scorpia as we did about the inner workings of She-Ra, Glimmer, and Bow. Season two expanded the mythology of Bright Moon a little, especially around the First Ones — but the main goal of these new episodes is to dig even deeper into everyone’s hopes and dreams and fears as they prepare for battle, and to explore She-Ra and Catra’s interpersonal dynamics with their friends who aren’t each other.

Catra continues to be heartbroken about Adora abandoning her; rather than dealing with that, though, she just doubles down on all her other intense emotions. She tries to win the approval of Hordak, to be recognized as the best and the favorite for once, but is thwarted by his connection with Entrapta over First Ones tech. She tries to outmaneuver Bright Moon but ends up falling victim to her abuse and evil machinations all over again. She tries to beat up Adora’s new friends, but — actually, yeah, she does a nice job beating up Adora’s new friends. They cannot outsmart her. While Catra’s brooding and pacing and hissing orders, Scorpia shoots her shot, repeatedly. She wants to be there for Catra, to be the person Catra can talk to about her feelings; she wants Catra to be impressed with her; she asks Catra out on a date — but Catra is too hung up on Adora to even really notice. This leads to one of the best bondings of the entire second season: Scorpia and Sea Hawk, forced to fight together against some First Ones bots, spend the entire episode bemoaning the fact that the girls they like don’t like them back enough.

One of the other best bondings is basically Bow’s coming out episode in “Ties That Bind” when he returns home to visit his two dads, and Adora and Glimmer accidentally ambush him there because they think he’s been kidnapped. Turns out Bo just didn’t want his dads to know he’s a master marksman and inventor in the rebel alliance. He has 12 brothers and all of them are in the family business — history and books — in some way or another, but George and Lance always believed their youngest son would take over their extensive library/museum. They blame the princesses for the fighting that ripped Bright Moon apart. And so Bow has been lying to them, telling them he’s in regular guy boarding school and definitely not a soldier in the rebellion. His lie unravels and when he finally confesses, it’s got all the hallmarks of a good gay reveal, but to two gay dads. They love him no matter what. It’s a neat script flip.

The only trouble with season two is it’s too short! Only seven episodes! And you can really feel it — there’s no overarching story or conflict like the one that propelled season one forward and tied it together. I do appreciate that even with the truncated season, the show didn’t rush the story. Taking time to let the characters play Dungeons and Dragons (and reveal how they all think about Catra, including Bow’s image of her as the exact Catra from the ’80s cartoon) was well worth the linger.

Noelle Stevenson says more episodes are on the way soon, and I can hardly wait. In the meantime, I’ll rewatch and take comfort in the fact that the gay agenda continues to dominate all the best all-ages TV.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 821 articles for us.

19 Comments

  1. i really enjoyed season 2! it was definitely gayer – scorpia asking catra out was really cute + adora just being totally obsessed with catra, like, just mentioning her at any chance. loved it. i will say, i definitely would love to spend more time with netossa and spinnerella in the future, since they’re the ‘explicitly’ lesbian couple, of the princesses i feel like i know them the least. ALSO, bow’s dads were so great and cute and i hope we meet bow’s brothers in the future. every cartoon should have a DnD episode.

    lastly, i’m very curious what their release schedule is going to be going forward. seems like we’re going to get a smaller amount of eps (vs 13) every 6 months, if more episodes are to be expected “soon”.

  2. i’m definitely very into the whole mess that is catradora, but i’m so worried about the stuff this season sets up. it’s looking like both catra and adora are headed for major negative spirals. there are so many references to Mara’s mysterious breakdown, and it’s definitely freaking adora out.

    then there’s the entire episode 6 situation, which ripped my entire heart out. yes, catra’s been hung up on adora, but that’s not the central thing that influences her character and her actions. she could have left the horde and gone with adora, but she didn’t. she couldn’t–she had to prove herself to shadow weaver. episode 6 shows that catra’s actions have ultimately been driven by her desire for that maternal affection, no matter how warped. after shadow weaver used her yet again and hordak showed his true colors, catra really doesn’t have any reason to stay with the horde. i’m hoping next season we get a “zuko alone” style episode for her where she strikes out on her own.

    anyway i love this gay gay show and adora is the dumbass representation i need

    • It took me a while to warm up to this season, but the D&D episode was the best! I loved everyone’s take on Catra (and themselves) and particularly Bo’s throwback aesthetics!

      Personally, I’d have been in favour of waiting to drop a full season instead of this kind of half season. I feel like we didn’t get much development of any of the characters, other than setting them up for what’s to come. Esp Catra, who basically just shouted at everyone for seven episodes, with a teeny show of vulnerability in the Shadow Weaver ep. That being said, I loved Scorpia’s crushing and her bonding with Sea Hawk.

      In summary, I have a lot of feelings about She-Ra.

  3. First, is it weird to have a crush on Catra? Because if so then I’m so weird!

    I love that Bow has two dads! I felt so bad for Scorpia constantly getting the cold shoulder from Catra.

    I loved Shadow Weaver’s backstory very interesting too.

    I could go on and on about this show! I love every character except Glimmer. Can’t stand her.

    My only complaint is that season 2 is so short. 😞

  4. Glad I’m not the only person who thought it was short in more than a “I never want this to end” way. I think it was literally episode seven when I thought “I’m really enjoying this, I wonder how many episodes are left” and brought up the episode guide.

  5. I love Catra! Her slow descent into the pain that’s been festering inside of her is really interesting and painful to watch. I thought her feelings of inadequacy were nicely paralleled with Adora’s – which they often are – and the way they each are able to work through them really shows the relationships around them. Scorpia is great as always, but I have a feeling that while Catra can be genuinely nice, Catra isn’t in a place for good stuff with anyone right now.

    My favorite moments of the season was the D&D ep, Scorpia and Sea Hawk bonding, Bow’s dads, and Shadow Weaver’s story.

    Totally thought that it was too short! When I ended episode seven, I was totally surprised that there wasn’t more story. So good. I love this show.

  6. Also tag yourself, I’m Scorpia:

    -gay hair, mostly andro but will occasionally wear a dress
    -seems intimidating but actually a big softy
    -not sure what to do when put in charge
    -totally awkward about crushes
    -loves cats

  7. HEATHER! I LOVE THIS DAMN SHOW somehow it premieres when im sick and like fUCK LIFE and then i watch it and im like okay life can be good sometimes / im watching w my mom now (i got her hooked which is one of my greatest achievements this year, thank you) and in one episode bow says, “i thought i was being supportive but i was actually being terrible!” just like how his dads said it in season two! i keep looking at this show like hOW CLEVER CAN YOU GET i love it and im so glad you linked to the promise of more episodes because when i finished at 3 am i was like ?????????????????????? but what about more please

  8. Shadow Weaver’s arc really hit me where I live. It’s like, she’s definitely coded as a woman of color who is in an institution dominated by white men who kind of tolerate her, but like, think she should be content with what status she has and not reach for any more. Then, we find out that her motives were originally good in wanting to gain more power – she wanted to defend her people against the Horde for pete’s sake. And those fucks in power were just going to sit there and not do anything!! Probably because they weren’t in any danger on their LITERAL FLOATING ISLAND, but ordinary people on the ground were the ones suffering.

    And she probably thought the stupid white men were just lying to her when they told her the spell was evil, because she knew they didn’t want her to gain more power than she already had. Then when she found out the spell was actually evil, it was too late! Then she was all evil-y for real and the only place that would actually take her in was the Horde, which seems like a survival decision on her part given the whole parasite thing. Who knows, maybe at some point we’ll even find out that she’s been sabotaging the Horde from the inside this whole time! She always did seem suspiciously incompetent at her job for someone who’s voiced by Lorraine Touissant (so badass).

    Not to say that she never did anything wrong – she certainly treated Adora and Catra like total crap. But I’m just in awe of the layers the writers put in here and I have a lot of feelings about it all.

  9. I definitely agree with everyone about this season not being long enough but I still loved it so much. I started off watching the show with a big old crush on Catra but Scorpia definitely has my heart now oml. I just really want a sweet big strong lesbian to swaddle me in a blanket like she did to Catra!! And just every scene with her is so gay and endearing and sweet I would lay down my life for her.

    And I love Catra so much, I really hope she gets some kind of emotional break or positivity in the next season. She’s been through so much abuse and watching her get some validation from Shadow Weaver only to realize that she was using her again??? Heartbreaking. My girl needs some love!

  10. This season was so amaziiing. And super gay I cannot believe this lesbian love triangle and the cutest dads!!!

    As for the shorter season: it’s originally 13 episodes but Netflix is doing the thing they did with The Other DreamWorks show and splitting seasons in half, so more episodes come out sooner.

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