Tensions rise in both Bright Moon and the Fright Zone during this pivotal episode. It’s a nail-biter from start to finish, jam-packed with character and plot moments that permanently change the show’s dynamics. Several encounters during ‘Moment of Truth’ had me booing, cheering, and groaning at my screen (She-Ra is my version of sports entertainment, I guess). Unlike many of the lighter episodes in Season 2, ‘Moment of Truth’ is the opposite of filler, working hard until the very last second to reach a point of no return.
The episode opens in the Princess Rebellion war room, where Mermista, Frosta, Perfuma, and Angella plan an attack on the Horde. Glimmer teleports in with Bow and Huntara, who’s intrigued if not slightly out of her element. Two-thirds of the Best Friends Squad deliver the bad news: Catra has kidnapped Adora, and with the sword in her possession, the Horde has the power to open a portal. Glimmer and Queen Angella immediately disagree about the Rebellion’s next course of action, stepping out into the hallway for a private squabble.
Meanwhile, Entrapta and Hordak continue their work within the sanctum. Hordak’s fancy new suit is a little glitchy, but Entrapta reminds him that nothing is perfect on the first try. She segues to their failed attempts to open a portal, adding that if they try it now, it won’t be stable enough to get anyone through. This is less of a problem than she anticipated, though—Hordak only needs a few moments of portal access to send a signal to Horde Prime. Once altered, Horde Prime will open a portal from his side (or so Hordak hopes). Entrapta realizes that her new lab partner will leave Etheria and stalls for time—but she doesn’t get far. Catra emerges from the shadows flanked by Scorpia, Kyle Two, and Unnamed Lizard Woman from the Crimson Waste. She grips the Sword of Protection and slings her arm around a bound and gagged Adora, smugly dropping both at Hordak’s feet. To Adora’s muffled protests, she reveals that She-Ra’s sword is the key to creating a successful portal. This is one of many moments where I wonder if I should cheer for Catra’s marvelous villainy or resent her for being, y’know, a villain.
The Rebellion watches through a crack in the door as Angella and Glimmer’s argument heats up. Glimmer, sick of her mother’s non-action, accuses the Queen of stunting the Rebellion’s progress. In other words, the Rebellion would be far more effective if Angella wasn’t around to tell her what to do. On top of all the portal drama, Glimmer’s also stinging about Micah’s history with Shadow Weaver, which Angella hid her entire life. She wonders aloud if the imprisoned sorceress would be useful during the rescue, which Angella knows is an awful plan. Glimmer finally reaches her limit and dismisses her mother completely. Once recovered from the emotional blow, Angella gives her daughter two choices: develop a reasonable plan, or stay out of her way.
Inside the sanctum, Entrapta has hooked up the sword to the portal tech, explaining that it can bypass the planetary interference. But she’s still unsure whether they’ll need She-Ra to open the portal, or just the sword—so she solicits Adora, who’s still very bound and gagged, for her input. Not particularly in a sharing mood, Adora refuses once her gag is lifted. She attempts to reach out to her former friend and warns Entrapta about the portal’s potential danger, but Hordak cuts her off. Realizing that she’s in the company of her kidnapper, Adora calls out Hordak’s actions, furious that he took her from her family and lied about it her entire life. Hordak smugly assures her that she’s far too insignificant to warrant his attention. Though Adora promises she’ll make him fail, Hordak insists that he won’t—until his armor glitches and he falls to the ground. This isn’t a particularly comedic moment, but I laughed anyway. Entrapta rushes over to comfort Hordak, but his only focus now is the portal. As he exits, the magic energy around the sword increases, indicating that Things are About to Go Down.
Outside Shadow Weaver’s room in Bright Moon, Bow continues to be the Best Friend Squad’s sole voice of reason. He tries to convince Glimmer that involving Shadow Weaver is an awful idea, but she won’t hear it. The princess insists that they have no choice and teleports them both inside. Shadow Weaver is straight-up chillin’ in a comfy armchair, book in hand, welcoming Glimmer’s expected presence. Once she explains the whole Catra-Adora-kidnapping-horde-sword snafu, Shadow Weaver urges her to act immediately. Shadow Weaver’s plan is essentially the opposite of Angella’s pitch, which leads me to wonder if she miiiiiight have any history manipulating young people in search of a mentor figure. Glimmer know her powers aren’t strong enough to teleport into the Fright Zone, so Shadow Weaver offers her assistance—if Glimmer frees her. According to the sorceress, Glimmer has major magic potential in her blood, and with training she can flourish. This is enough to sway the young princess, who frees Shadow Weaver by dispelling the field surrounding her. The two shake hands as Bow, the voice of a viewership, groans loudly behind them.
Back in the Fright Zone, we return somewhere we haven’t seen in a while: the cadets’ locker room. Kyle Two (Goat Woman) raids Rogelio’s locker, which contains a photograph of OG Kyle and what appears to be a drawing of their future human-lizard child. Catra announces her presence with a flick of her whip, clearly having the time of her life. She boasts to Scorpia that she’s the reason the Horde will defeat the Princesses; and then, in an extremely ingenuine voice, thanks her fellow Force Captain for helping out. Listen, I love Catra with every fiber of my being, but being mean to Scorpia is the worst thing she does this entire episode—including what happens at the end.
With the portal ready to go, Entrapta eyeballs the portal activation lever. She could be considering the consequences of its activation, or maybe she’s just conflicted about letting Hordak go. Adora seriously can’t read the room, deciding that this particular moment is the perfect time to apologize to Entrapta on the entire Rebellion’s behalf. Entrapta’s head is in other places as she offhandedly recalls Catra telling her she was abandoned. This irritates Adora, and she insists that Catra would say anything to reach her goal. Dissing your ex usually isn’t a great means of persuasion, but this time it strikes gold. Entrapta, suddenly insecure, analyzes data of her interpersonal relationships (something we all could use). Adora targets my heart specifically as she reminds Entrapta that Catra was once her friend too. Even though they both may know her personally, the fact is that she makes bad decisions—this entire portal operation being a prime example.
Just when Adora thinks she’s made some progress in her impossible situation, Entrapta seems to regress to her former pro-portal stance. She knows that she can make the machine work and reasons that all exploration poses potential danger. The things she could learn from its activation are far too exciting to give up. Adora makes a last-ditch effort, explaining that a portal would undo Mara’s greatest sacrifice. For some reason—I’m honestly not sure why—this gives Entrapta cause for hesitation. She decides to do more research in an auxiliary lab and politely asks Adora to not escape. Adora, still very much tied to a column, dumbfoundedly agrees.
Atop the Moonstone, Shadow Weaver composes her teleportation spell. Before she can finish, Mermista, Perfuma, and Frosta insist they help in Adora’s rescue. Shadow Weaver reluctantly allows them to join, rapidly approaching her annoying-teenagers-surrounding-me limit. At the same time, Angella requests a talk outside Glimmer’s bedroom, only to find it completely empty. She bursts into action, flying through the castle halls as she’s realized what her daughter has done. As the Princesses move into place, Shadow Weaver casts the spell, taking Glimmer’s hand to form a sinister-looking magic bond. Glimmer locks eyes with her mother as she teleports away.
The Best Friends Squad Minus Adora Plus Shadow Weaver and Assorted Princesses arrive at the Fright Zone, having slightly missed Hordak’s sanctum. They run into a series of obstacles as they attempt to navigate the halls of the Horde. Their first challenger is Kyle Two, who Perfuma engages in plant-based combat as the rest of the group run ahead. Next come Lonnie and Rogelio (Kyle’s lawyers have not commented on his absence), pulling the intruder alarm after a moment of mutual shock. Mermista and Frosta incapacitate them in ice, allowing Bow, Glimmer, and Shadow Weaver to advance while they keep incoming soldiers at bay.
The series of goofy encounters ends abruptly in the next hallway, where Catra sees Shadow Weaver for the first time since her betrayal. Glimmer and Shadow Weaver merge powers again (probably wise), even though it appears to cause Glimmer physical distress. Catra tries to play it cool as she teases Shadow Weaver for joining the enemy. Shadow Weaver, not in the mood for games, gives her two options: join them or get out of the way. Because of literally everything we know about Catra, it comes as no surprise when she immediately launches into attack mode. Bow takes himself out of the fight when he restrains himself with a trick arrow. Catra aims for Glimmer and Shadow Weaver, throwing her whip in a frenzy as the pair repeatedly teleports out of the way. When the whip finally manages to snag Glimmer’s hand, Shadow Weaver summons her familiar red magic that courses through the weapon, electrocuting its owners. Shadow Weaver’s play is so powerful that it takes Catra to the ground, reducing her to someone trembling, whimpering, and weak.
Shadow Weaver gives Catra zero time to breathe and offers her a way out of the Horde. It’s infuriating that the sorceress considers herself a caring and merciful figure in Catra’s life, when we can all see the trauma she’s inflicted. Catra can’t believe that Shadow Weaver can be the good guy when she made her the villain she is. Shadow Weaver encases her in dark magic, lifting her off the ground and restricting her movement. Catra is far from fierce as she finally breaks down, asking the sorceress if she even cared that she’d suffer as a consequence of her escape. With tears in her eyes, she realizes she’ll never matter to Shadow Weaver—and that she only came back for Adora. Shadow Weaver is stone-cold, threatening harm to Catra if she plans to interfere any further. Surprising no one, Catra fully intends to interfere, insisting that she and Hordak will open the portal and decimate Shadow Weaver, the Princesses, and Etheria itself. Shadow Weaver doesn’t even flinch as she pulls more magic from Glimmer, who very clearly suffers from the connection. The sorceress turns Sith as she Force-chokes Catra with the intention to kill. Bow escapes his plot-convenient predicament and interrupts the attack, warning Shadow Weaver that she’s taking too much. As she releases Glimmer’s hand, a weakened Catra falls to the floor. She looks up at Shadow Weaver, swallows her tears, and lunges with her taser to attack again—until she’s stopped by Kyle Two and they both retreat. The hall now cleared, Glimmer, Bow, and Shadow Weaver continue to advance towards Hordak’s sanctum.
Within another Horde lab, Entrapta reconsiders the implications of opening a portal. Scorpia isn’t exactly pulling her weight as lab assistant, hunched over miserably and comparing herself to Catra’s new Crimson Waste friends. When Entrapta runs a simulation on her virtual display, error symbols overtake Etheria, culminating in a massive explosion and clipart of a cackling skull. These foreboding findings lead Entrapta to a new conclusion: a portal would create a warped reality, collapse in on itself, and erase Etheria from existence. In other words, it’s a horrible idea and she won’t go through with it.
Just coming off of her encounter with Shadow Weaver, Catra enters the lab (insert Seinfeld bass riff). She shoves Scorpia aside and stalks towards Entrapta, grabbing the scientist by the shoulders and demanding her immediate portal assistance. Entrapta refuses with the worst phrasing possible: “Adora was right.” Catra breaks into dark laughter and repeats the three words like a cosmically bad joke. Completely unhinged, she lays it all out for two-thirds of the Super Pal Trio: This time she’s going to win, no matter the consequences. Unfazed, Entrapta vows to share her findings with Hordak—and I think we all knew what was coming next. Catra electrocutes Entrapta from behind, knocking her unconscious in one strike. She’s momentarily sickened by the taser in her hands, but her moment of reflection doesn’t last long. She regains her composure and banishes Entrapta to Beast Island, inadvertently crossing Scorpia’s moral boundary. Scorpia tries to argue on Entrapta’s behalf, but Catra is unreachable—she holds the taser her throat and threatens that she could be next. Scorpia, whose belief in Catra has always been unshakable, finally sees her for the total hot mess she is. Catra leaves Scorpia to process the betrayal, more determined than ever to see her plan through.
Shadow Weaver, Glimmer, and Bow have nearly reached the sanctum when they invoke the fury of Imp. Hordak’s failed clone attacks them from the rafters, but quickly falls victim to Bow’s trick arrows (redemption!). The victory is short-lived, though, as several Horde Bots appear at the end of the hall. Despite Bow’s well-founded apprehension, Glimmer reaches for Shadow Weaver’s hand. This battle might take a few minutes, which is convenient because…
Energy surrounds the sword within the sanctum, much to Hordak’s satisfaction. Adora continues to struggle as Catra rushes in, reporting the princesses and insisting they begin. Hordak refuses to start without Entrapta, and for a second Catra panics—but then, with a deranged grin, she realizes how to proceed. She’s somewhere between mocking and pitying as she says Entrapta let the princesses in herself. Glaring pointedly at Adora, she tells Hordak he can’t trust anyone—especially a princess. Adora looks up at Catra, finally silent behind her gag, and slowly closes her eyes. I don’t think she’s lost her fight completely, but this moment tells me she’s finally given up on Catra. The furious feline tells Hordak to end it all, despite knowing it’ll destroy herself and everything she knows. Just in time to witness the machine’s full power, Glimmer, Bow, and Shadow Weaver storm the sanctum. Hordak launches a massive pillar at them, which Glimmer and Shadow Weaver impressively freeze mid-air. They redirect it towards the wall, initiating the sanctum’s collapse. Falling debris leaves only Adora and Catra in proximity of the sword. Adora, still immobile, pleads with Catra as she approaches the activation lever. Time freezes as they lock eyes, finally reaching the titular moment of truth. Catra grins as she activates the portal, adding another bad decision to her ever-growing record.
And that’s where this episode ends, as its conclusion leads right into the next. ‘Moment of Truth’ is an exhausting twenty minutes of television, as well as one of She-Ra’s most powerful so far. So many things change as a result of this episode’s events, namely Catra’s relationships with Adora, Scorpia, and Entrapta, Glimmer’s relationships with Shadow Weaver and Angella, and Entrapta’s unhindered existence in the Fright Zone. In a lot of ways it feels like a cliffhanger finale, which makes it both frightening and a relief that Season 3 has two whole episodes left. If you’re expecting a break from the intensity, I’d recommend you watch a lighter Netflix animated series—maybe Bojack Horseman.
(I’m being ironic. Please don’t torture yourself with cartoons.)