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The Price of Power

The Price of Power

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Season 3 of She-Ra may be its shortest, but it’s doing the most it possibly can from start to finish. If you’re watching it for the first time and reading these recaps as you go, first know that I love you, and second, prepare to have a lot of feelings. Without wasting any time, the first episode starts exactly where Season 2 ended—a breathtaking (heh) cliffhanger with Catra and Adora in dire peril. It’s no surprise that the continuity is seamless, given that Seasons 2 and 3 were originally intended to be one season-long arc. The complexity of Season 3 is a perfect foil to the lighthearted fun of Season 2—in fact, I definitely recommend watching both seasons back-to-back. This episode serves as a perfect transition between the two seasons, giving us some happier moments while setting a more serious tone for episodes to come.

We begin the episode in Bright Moon, where Shadow Weaver’s appearance has upset pretty much everyone. Angella and Castaspella grapple for control of the situation, suspending the Bright Moon guards’ other duties until they figure out how she got in. Angella has locked the sorceress inside a spare bedroom (minus the cushions) and calls it a prison, to the criticism of Castaspella, Adora, and Shadow Weaver herself. Because of the the whole watching-me-sleep-and-lifetime-of-manipulation thing, Adora insists on being present for Shadow Weaver’s interrogation—but Angella insists that the Best Friends Squad keeps their distance. During her interrogation, Shadow Weaver goads Angella and Castaspella by mentioning her previous interactions with Glimmer and Micah. She also refuses to give any information to anyone other than Adora, which is super inconvenient given the fact that Angella just told Adora to stay away.

Meanwhile, in an actual prison, Catra suffers the irony of being cuffed in Shadow Weaver’s former cell. She stews in her own self-hatred, anger, and pain, which has pretty much become a constant Catra mood since Adora’s defection. We never learn how exactly Scorpia learned of Catra’s imprisonment, but she immediately comes to rescue her friend. While her methods are questionable (throwing a nameless Fright Zone goon off a high platform), she has the right spirit. Unfortunately, her good spirits are as much a curse as they are a blessing—Scorpia finds that in her current state, Catra is beyond help. Catra laughs grimly as she expresses her self-hatred, especially after falling for Shadow Weaver’s deceptions. Scorpia reluctantly leaves Catra to her misery as she awaits her court martial. On the bright side, maybe Beast Island has therapists.

Back in Bright Moon, Adora makes several awful attempts to enter Shadow Weaver’s prison, seriously invalidating her qualifications for Force Captain. Eventually, with the help of Glimmer’s powers and Bow’s card tricks, Adora and Glimmer break into the ‘prison.’ Shadow Weaver, who’d probably be living for this drama if she wasn’t actually dying, launches into her usual manipulative tactics. Adora makes us proud as she resists Shadow Weaver’s appeals—up until she realizes the amount of pain the sorceress is in. She exhibits the same struggle that Catra experienced in Season 2—for perhaps the first time in her life, she’s viewing Shadow Weaver with sympathy rather than fear. Despite Glimmer’s protests, Adora agrees to heal the sorceress in exchange for Horde insider details.

Entrapta continues to make herself at home in Hordak’s sanctum, gushing about her recent portal-related discoveries. Hordak gets her up to date on the Catra situation when she notices her friend’s absence. Entrapa is quick to oppose Hordak’s logic, claiming that Catra’s retrieval of First Ones’ tech during her time as Force Captain makes her a tremendous asset. Despite Catra’s downward spiral, neither Scorpia nor Entrapta has abandoned Season 1’s Super Pal Trio, which I find incredibly sweet. They might be the bad guys, but they’re pretty great friends. 

Back in Bright Moon, Shadow Weaver teaches Adora how to finally heal with the power of She-Ra, a skill likely to reappear during an angsty near-death future scene. Shadow Weaver instructs Adora that she must be greater than her fear of failure in order to find the peace necessary to heal. With that strangely pertinent metaphor in mind, Adora successfully restores Shadow Weaver to her former health. The sorceress explains her escape from the Horde, then admits she has no other place to go and offers her assistance to Bright Moon. Shadow Weaver claims that she’s determined to get revenge on Catra and Hordak, and lies to Adora that Catra betrayed her, which is just… so great. The pressure rises when Bow’s ruse expires and Angella, Castaspella chase him into the guest room. They’re all just in time to hear Shadow Weaver reveal Hordak’s plan to open a portal to another planet. The sorceress wastes no time before dropping another bomb: Adora is a First One, and she came to Etheria through Hordak’s only successful portal attempt. Once again blindsided by her magical destiny, Adora sets out to confront the only source who can explain.

Light Hope confirms Shadow Weaver’s story within the First Ones’ ruins. Adora’s rising resentment finally comes to a boil, leaving her outraged and arguing for her own free will. Light Hope tells Adora she can’t choose her path, as she is already Chosen, which isn’t a super comforting response. Although she typically externalizes her struggle less than Glimmer or Catra, we see in this moment just how overwhelmed Adora really is.

Adora returns to Bright Moon with a new plan and a new attitude, firmly telling her friends, rather than asking, what’s going to happen next. She’s heading to find Mara’s ship in the Crimson Waste, hoping to demystify her past and decode the First Ones’ message. Glimmer and Bow immediately agree to come along, despite the danger that lies ahead.

After that tender ending, we return to Catra’s never-ending nightmare within the Fright Zone. Fearful and restrained, she approaches Hordak’s throne before an audience of her peers—specifically, Scorpia, Lonnie, Kyle, and Rogelio. Hordak makes an example of his former Second-in-Command, calling her a worthless failure (like Catra hasn’t heard that before). Although Catra is initially intimidated, her mood shifts as she boldly returns the insult. She makes her own court martial a roast of the army’s highest leader, accusing him of being cowardly, overly dependent on others, and incapable of defeating a group of teenagers. There’s no doubt in my mind that Catra has held these opinions for months—but prior to this season, she’s always had something to lose, be it Adora, her safety, or her pride.

Though Catra is more than willing to throw herself to her fate on Beast Island, life has other plans for her. Hordak takes great pleasure in telling Catra that Entrapta saved her life, throwing her previous accusations of him being too reliant right back in her face. Instead of being sent to Beast Island, Catra is tasked with retrieving more First One’s tech in the Crimson Waste. Yet again, she finds herself with the sliver of a chance to prove her worth to the Horde, despite Hordak’s obvious hope that she fails. I wonder if she’ll find the Avatar and restore her honor on the way.

‘The Price of Power’ provides fascinating character moments for Adora and Catra, both of whom face consequences as a result of their actions in Season 2. Typical of their arcs so far, Adora finds comfort in the support of her friends, while Catra continues her downward spiral in self-isolation. We also see just how differently Catra and Adora manage trauma from Shadow Weaver’s abuse—while Adora rebuffs the sorceresses’ manipulative tactics, Catra internalizes them even in her absence.

As always, my heart belongs to Catra and Adora—and Bow, and Scorpia, and Glimmer, and Entrapta, and so on and so forth. This episode begins the season with rich characterization and exciting new lore. With both Catra and the Best Friends Squad venturing to the Crimson Waste, drama and comedy are pretty much guaranteed.

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