She-Ra and the Princesses of Power season 2 review: Morally ambiguous antiheroes… for kids!
What princesses, what power! The fun, fiery She-Ra reboot nominally stars Adora (voiced by Aimee Carrero), a mysterious orphan with a magic sword. But as season 2 of the animated adventure begins, she’s just one member of the Princess Alliance, a femocracy run on diverse opinions. “Maybe it’s time for us to stop fighting and start healing!” says Perfuma (Genesis Rodriguez), the hippie floral mystic who just wants everyone to think of the forests.
And the show’s real fun lies behind enemy lines in the Fright Zone with Catra (AJ Michalka), Adora’s friend-turned-antagonist. Catra is desperate for attention from a world she despises: baby’s first antihero, if your baby’s lucky. Catra’s flanked by desperate-to-please Scorpia (Superstore’s Lauren Ash), an oddly sweet middle-manager-of-despotism with destructive pincer-hands and a groovy side-swooped undercut. Scorpia’s a goof, but she has holy-fool clarity when it comes to the confounding Catra-Adora dynamic. “Even when you’re trying to kill each other,” Scorpia explains, “You can tell there’s a real bond there.”
She-Ra is building something real special in that central antagonist pairing. Still, this season is short (seven episodes), and it too-patiently builds toward larger revelations ahead. Top bad dude Hordak (Keston John) continues to linger in the shadows plotting some mysterious thing, though the teases about his grand design suggest that trippier flights of science-fantasy await.
Meanwhile, showrunner Noelle Stevenson evolves her robo-fantasy saga in exciting directions. Characters like archer-hacker Bow (Marcus Scribner) and smoke-tendriled magician Shadow Weaver (Lorraine Toussaint) reveal enriching, unexpected backstories. A fortress siege inspires RPG improv in a Community-esque episode. Adora and Glimmer (Karen Fukuhara) are becoming more familiar as protagonists, saving the world while solving deep mysteries in their own past. And the giant ensemble leaves room for some memorable weirdoes, like Entrapta (Christine Woods), a science mastermind who barely seems to care whether she’s innovating for the heroes or the villains.
Recommending TV for kids can sound painfully prescriptive. “This show is good for you,” the critic wrote, fondly remembering the cartoons that were clearly terrible for him. (Release The Pirates of Dark Water on Blu-ray, you cowards!) But I do believe She-Ra has genuine medical benefits. We will need to stop fighting, someday, and start healing. B+
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