Season 3 of She-Ra unravels quickly and spares none of our emotions, introducing shocking new twists from the very start. Its fifth episode, however, takes another direction—while ‘Remember’ is fast-paced and devastating as ever, it focuses on characterization and conflict rather than advancing the plot. In many ways it feels like a continuation of Season 1’s highly-acclaimed episode ‘Promise,’ also written by showrunner Noelle Stevenson. ‘Remember’ reminds us that She-Ra is Catra and Adora’s story, above all else.
‘Remember’ begins exactly where the previous episode ended, with the activation of Hordak’s ill-fated portal. We’re pulled into a reality where Adora never left the Horde, watching as she wakes up in a Force Captain’s bedroom with Catra perched above her. Disoriented, Adora asks her where she is and how she got there, but receives playful teasing from her present company. Catra is the happiest we’ve seen her since… ever, and falls easily back into the bantery dynamic she and Adora shared in the pilot. When Adora says she dreamt of something she needed to fix, Catra reassures her that everything is already perfect. She helps Adora up, hops out of bed, and calls for her best friend to follow. Adora pauses at her mirror and shrugs on her jacket, revealing a Force Captain badge on her chest. The sight of it triggers flashing images we recognize from the show’s past two seasons—but Adora has no idea. As Catra calls her name, Force Captain Adora returns to this strange new world.
Catra and Adora walk through the Fright Zone side-by-side, the latter receiving cheers and salutes from her fellow soldiers. Adora asks Catra what they’re looking at, and Catra stares at her like she hung the moon, simply answering “you.” We learn that in this reality, Adora had great success during the invasion of Thaymor. Her recollection of this mission triggers a flashback of She-Ra’s first battle and Catra’s heartbroken retreat. Adora only considers these images for a moment before proudly recalling how she defeated the rebel insurgents. Adora and Catra fall into more teasing banter, laughing as they begin to wrestle. Catra rams into an irritated solder, but Force Captain Adora has her back. Once Adora dismisses the soldier, Catra pretends to be intimidated by Adora’s power, shielding herself as Adora poses strappingly. They can’t contain their laughter as they head to the locker room, where Catra says there’s something for Adora. Adora is confused by the sudden disappearance of a door she’s used to taking, but manages to shrug it off.
Catra and Adora wrestle yet again as they enter the locker room, making up for two and a half seasons of touch starvation. Adora is delighted (and slightly confused) to find Lonnie, Kyle, and Rogelio waiting for her, holding a comically gross ration bar cake. Among the cadets’ congratulations, Lonnie thanks Adora for convincing Shadow Weaver to send them to Thaymor—something Real Adora hadn’t stuck around long enough to do. When Lonnie adds that the party was Catra’s idea, she denies her involvement, only to be grabbed by Adora, noogied mercilessly, and teased for liking her. Catra tells Adora it’s not because she likes her (yeah, right), as she laughs and tackles her to the ground. In a blink-and-you-missed-it moment, their fingers actually interlace. Kyle drops the cake (because Kyle), and when Adora looks at it, she sees that it’s etched with the word MARA. Yet again, Catra brings her back from her confusion, smooshing the dessert on her face.
Shadow Weaver adds a confusing new dynamic to this reality, praising both Catra and Adora as she enters. Catra is trusting and docile as the sorceress strokes her face and hair, which is sickening to watch considering last season’s events. Shadow Weaver requests that the newly-appointed Force Captain Adora follow her for a private discussion. Catra shows no resentment as Adora trails behind. Accompanying Adora through the Fright Zone, Shadow Weaver informs her that an impressed Hordak has given her a new mission. Shadow Weaver repeats Catra’s earlier words: everything is perfect. Adora begins to doubt this when she sees a vision of Madame Razz wandering down the hall.
At the briefing, Adora encounters several familiar faces: Scorpia, Octavia, and OG series easter egg Grizzlor. Scorpia feels the need to immediately tell Adora she dislikes her, which tracks. Someone passes a piece of paper to Adora, which she opens to read the word MARA. A slideshow of princess-related imagery redirects Adora’s attention, triggering another series of flashbacks and causing her to cry out. She abandons the briefing when the screen completely disappears, replaced with a stack of paper in her arms. Adora experiences clearer memories of Bow and Glimmer as she runs through the Fright Zone, turning a corner to face the bright light of the portal. It disappears when Catra calls out for Adora, growing concerned when Adora shows her a blank note. Adora rants and raves, repeating that there’s something she needs to fix. Catra flashes back to the cliff in the First Ones’ temple, then unexpectedly slaps Adora across the face. Her furious expression fades to confusion as she stares at her own hand, frantically apologizing. She suggests that they both just need some air.
Adora finds herself sitting beside Catra on their private skygazing perch. She asks again how they got there, questioning her own mental state. When she steals a glance at Catra, Adora re-lives their final interaction in Hordak’s sanctum. Blissfully unaware, Catra repeats this strange reality’s mantra: everything is perfect. When Adora asks Catra whether she really wants to rule Etheria, she hesitates but lands on a yes—because it’s what Adora wants, too. Adora admits that she doesn’t know what she wants, and asks what would happen if everything went wrong and they got torn apart. Adora knows something isn’t right here and sooner or later they’ll need to face it. Catra takes Adora’s hand, demonstrating a degree of vulnerability Real Catra hasn’t shown since childhood. In the softest voice possible, she asks Adora to stay.
Lonnie, Kyle, and Rogelio call for Catra and Adora from below, apparently expecting them to be at their usual spot for Holding Hands and Talking About Life and Stuff. Instead of climbing down from their perch, Catra and Adora literally materialize below to hear Lonnie’s update on the mission. Adora is horrified to realize that an entire week has passed since the briefing, growing hysterical despite Catra’s calming efforts. Adora remembers images from her time as She-Ra and knows this world isn’t perfect at all. She abandons her friends to find Scorpia, the only other person who seems out of place.
Her memories flooding in, Adora finds Scorpia within the Fright Zone. She asks how she can access Hordak’s sanctum, which holds something important inside. Scorpia prepares to sedate Adora until she hears Catra’s name, which triggers her own series of flashbacks—first their friendship, then Catra’s cruelty towards Entrapta. Scorpia unravels from there, admitting that everything is, in fact, very wrong. Scorpia follows Adora as she chases another vision of Razz and her moths, which leads them to Hordak’s sanctum. As she surveys the empty room, Adora remembers nearly everything now—most vitally, that the sword is the key to fixing space and time. Imp and Hordak catch the intruders, but disappear with the sanctum as the portal consumes it. Adora and Scorpia try to outrun the light as it spreads, but only Adora survives. She finds herself traversing the Fright Zone rooftops, watching as the portal overtakes her home. The vision of Razz tells Adora there’s still time to save the world from erasure, directing her towards the Whispering Woods. As the Fright Zone crumbles, Adora encounters Lonnie, who has no recollection of Kyle or Rogelio. Adora attempts to rescue Lonnie as the corruption creeps closer, but finds herself alone yet again within the Fright Zone. She evades the portal’s spread until she sees Catra, pulling her into a storage closet to explain. Catra tries desperately to deflect, but she’s interrupted by flashbacks of her own villainy. Hurt and ashamed, she denies the memories and refuses to leave. Adora tases her unconscious and carries her bridal-style as they escape the portal’s light.
Adora takes a skiff to the Whispering Woods as the portal destroys everything behind her. Her unwilling passenger awakens and grapples for her taser, causing the skiff to crash into a tree. Catra and Adora land equidistant to the taser, match gazes, then lunge forward, Catra reaching for the weapon as Adora puts her in a headlock. Catra frees herself and reaches for the weapon again, but Adora kicks it out of the way, refusing to leave Catra behind again. Catra avoids Adora as she’s told that things can never be simple as they once were. When Adora tries to hold Catra, she snaps, breaking into a sprint. Adora chases her and grabs her at the waist, refusing to let go as they both hit the ground. Catra frees herself again and they stand face-to-face, finally remembering everything that’s happened between them. Adora asks Catra why she opened the portal, and Catra denies, denies, denies.
The Whispering Woods begin to collapse, startling Adora to action. Catra groans, holds herself tight and grits her teeth, flashing back to her most sensitive memory. We hear music reminiscent of childhood as Adora completes her own promise, insisting that everything will be okay if they just stay together. Her words lose their impact, though, when Catra recalls their confrontation at Thaymor. Filled with rage, Catra makes a new promise: she will never go with Adora. She laughs maniacally as a horror sting plays, ranting that always goes the same—Adora leaves her and ruins everything. As Adora evades her attacks, she urges Catra to consider the consequences of the portal’s destruction. Catra doesn’t care—she’d prefer the end of the world to letting Adora win. As a chasm forms between them, Catra grips the Force Captain badge, trying to bring Adora down with her. The badge falls into oblivion as the portal invades the woods, collapsing the ground beneath Catra’s feet. Despite everything Catra has done, Adora still reaches out to help. Catra glares at Adora and lets herself fall.
Adora avoids the portal’s warpath as she tears through the woods, sobbing and afraid. Madame Razz reappears as promised, telling Adora she can still save everyone. Apparently this isn’t her first experience with portals—the same thing happened when Mara moved Etheria to Despondos. In order to save the world like Mara, Razz encourages Adora to remember the beginning. Adora reaches into her jacket and finds the name SHE RA, which triggers memories of Bow, Glimmer, and the Princess Rebellion. Adora heads for Bright Moon to find her friends, leaving the crumbling world behind her. Then, not far behind, a hand emerges from the portal’s light. Catra returns, her face and body deformed by the portal’s corruption. Portal Catra, a monster of her own creation, sets forth to stalk her prey.
In the wise words of John Mulaney, we don’t have time to unpack all that. This episode moves with the same speed and intensity as Season 1’s ‘Promise,’ exploring the tender dysfunction of Catra and Adora’s relationship. Although their dynamic is complicated, painful, and uncomfortably relatable (to me, at least), it remains the series’ greatest strength. Episodes like ‘Promise’ and ‘Remember’ serve as She-Ra’s heart, putting Catra and Adora in the spotlight they deserve.