Daily Cartoon: She-Ra & The Princesses of Power S03E6: “The Portal”

Here we are, people! The main event! It may have only been six episodes, but the first five were legit and we have no reason to expect anything less from the sixth.

In yesterday’s episode, the world of Etheria was trapped in an alternate reality or consciousness that only Adora seemed to recognize on her own at first after Catra had opened the interdimensional portal. The portal is now ripping through Etheria threatening to completely wipe it from existence unless Adora can go back to her beginning as She-Ra and retrieve her sword as directed by Madame Razz.

Madame Razz is pretty mysterious, right? In the original series, she was basically a stand-in for Orko as Filmation pretty much just copied the template that made He-Man so popular, but in this telling, she’s not as over-the-top from a comedic aspect although she still has glimpses of it, but she’s more a friendly, elder who may not be as sharp as she once was, but still has great value in wisdom and experience.

Razz has been the one pushing Adora in the right direction post-portal since, as she states, she’s seen this before when Mara (the previous She-Ra) opened a portal to save Etheria a thousand years ago. There’s been some debate and hypothesizing over Razz’s relationship with Mara and the way I took it since Season 1 was that Mara was the daughter of Razz from the way Razz would say, “my Mara.” That may or may not be true and I’m sure it’ll play out in some form, but I’ve also seen theories that Razz IS Mara and that was something I’d never considered.

I try not to dig too far down the internet rabbit hole for these things since I’ve genuinely enjoyed the surprises and swerves these writers have dropped thus far, but maybe I’ll have to change that mindset once this episode is over and engage since I know I’m going to be left feening for more She-Ra after this.

Yesterday’s episode left us with Adora trying to find that moment in memory where she first met Glimmer and Bow and came into contact with the sword while Catra – thought to already be portal collateral damage, pulls herself back up intent on stopping Adora from claiming another win at her expense.

This has been a lot of fun and we’ve got 24 minutes of action to go. Let’s do it!

S03E06: The Portal

We open on Bright Moon in the same augmented reality we were in during Episode 5. Queen Angella and Glimmer are enjoying some quality mother-daughter time when they are greeted by a returning face: King Micah.

In our normal timeline, Micah was killed in battle while leading defenders against the Horde. He was trained to harness his powers and sorcery by Light Spinner who eventually joined the Horde in her quest for power and became who we know as Shadow Weaver.

But today, the King is very much alive and happy to be returning to his family when palace guard alerts their highness of a girl apprehended trying to sneak into Glimmer’s chamber in Bright Moon. It’s Adora and she’s shown with her hands tied, being led by security into holding. She calls out to Glimmer, but Glimmer doesn’t seem to yet recognize her.

We see Bow for the first time and in this reality, he’s a a nerd carrying a bunch of old texts and scrolls and dressed very much like Fred from Scooby-Doo. Glimmer teleports in to grab Bow so they can spy on Micah and Angella interrogating Adora.

Adora is brought before the King and Queen and after Micah puts a truth spell on her, Adora lays out the full story of the portal and Fright Zone and needing Bow and Glimmer so she can transform into She-Ra which is a completely fantastic story and one that the royals are having great trouble buying into despite the truth spell. Adora is sent away to the holding cell.

Glimmer teleports herself and Bow into Adora’s cell and she’s certain Adora’s telling the truth because her father has never messed up a spell. Adora appeals to their senses while dropping some knowledge about what she knows about them and Glimmer is quick to accept what she says at face value while Bow starts squirming that he knew things weren’t right.

The Best Friends Squad start having memories of actual reality flash through their minds and Bow suggests they find Entrapta to help solve the portal problem. They barge their way from the holding cell, but are quickly stopped by security and then Angella and Micah. Angella herself begins having memory flashes as the new reality fractures again and sends our three heroes straight into Entrapta’s lab while Angella deals with the reality she’s seen. She realizes that none of this is real and kisses Micah goodbye and goes off to help Glimmer.

Adora begins to explain the sitch to Entrapta, but she’s a scientist so she already knows the deal. Entrapta states that the portal is centered on Adora and powered by her sword. She needs to remove the power source to be able to close the portal from eradicating Etheria. The reality continues to fracture as things are happening even faster as more and more of Etheria is ripped apart. As Entrapta’s lab disappears, the Best Friends are relocated back to the Whispering Woods in front of the Beacon where Adora would go to meet and train with Light Hope.

The Beacon now begins to fracture, but there is someone standing there, almost waiting for Adora: Mara. They’re not able to communicate as the rippling continues, but Adora realizes she has to go forward and leave Bow and Glimmer behind since the portal is focused on her. But before that can happen, Bow and Glimmer vanish before her eyes, taken into the portal and leaving Adora to fix this on her own.

“Hey, Adora.”

Catra or what is more like a hybrid or multiple reality Catras combined walks up on Adora and begins tossing her around like a ragdoll. Catra blames Adora for everything happening right now, from Catra being like this to the world fracturing. Adora finally has enough and knocks out Catra with a stiff right hand letting her know that she made her choice.

As Etheria continues to crumble, both Catra and Adora are sucked into the void, but Adora is rescued by what appears to be the only person left: Queen Angella. Using her majestic angel wings (Angel-la, get it?) she’s able to fly down into the crevasse (Jack Donaghy phrase) and catch Adora. Her memories are back now and she wants to know how to help when Adora finally realizes that when Razz told her to go to the beginning, she meant Adora’s very beginning: when she came through the portal as a baby. She needs to go, grab the sword and stop the portal and that should save Etheria and bring everybody back. Adora’s sword holds the power of all of the Infinity Stones. Angella asks if Adora will also return safely, but Adora can’t answer.

Angella was has become a newfound mother-figure to Adora refuses to let her go and tells Adora that after King Micah died, she’s always been a coward. Her husband and daughter were strong and brave, but she was the Queen who stayed behind out of fear. She refuses to be scared any longer and leaves Adora on the ground while flying up to the portal and grabbing hold of the sword. She tells Adora to take care of each other before pulling the sword free and disappearing in a flash of light as the sword falls into the hands of Adora.

She transforms into She-Ra and is able to walk back into correct reality as everybody left in Hordak’s lab is coming to. She-Ra destroys the portal machine and Glimmer and Shadow Weaver combine their powers to transport everyone safely back to Bright Moon. Glimmer assumes she’s going to be grounded forever after this mess and Adora has to deliver the news that Angella sacrificed herself in the portal to save them.

Out in space, Horde Prime is seen sitting in his captain’s chair that feels very Dr. Claw-ish when he receives a transmission from Etheria showing the location of Hordak. He mutters, “so that’s where you’ve been hiding, little brother,” as we cut to black ending the season.

Final Thoughts:

When doing these recaps, I have a tendency to be pretty long-winded and this episode was certainly no exception. Everything felt important here. Adora’s journey to put the puzzle pieces together in order to reverse the effects of the portal was a true race against time and was both tense and dramatic to keep you engaged from start to finish.

A lot of times in situations where the fate the of the universe is on the line, there doesn’t feel like there’s actual stakes. Here, there was not only stakes, but collateral damage as well as even though Etheria was saved, Queen Angella was killed to do so. Now, in theory, Angella is not dead as she could simply be trapped between realities (“simply”, right?) and could theoretically be freed in the future, but for right now, she’s gone.

It’s heavy. Especially for a cartoon where people like me in their mid-30s aren’t the target audience. In my mind, that’s necessary. Not being exclusive to the She-Raverse, but in all kinds of fantasy shows and movies, the stakes and tension are what keeps you engaged and worried about the consequences should the babyfaces fail. Here, they succeeded and STILL paid a heavy price.

Now, sure, we didn’t get all the answers we were opened up for as this season ended, but we did get a cliffhanger with Horde Prime discovering the location of Hordak and introducing a new threat to Etheria that they now thought they wouldn’t have to worry about now that the machine used to open the portal has been destroyed.

There’s so much still needing to be addressed. At the top of that list for me is what will happen between Entrapta and Hordak now that he still thinks it was Entrapta who let the princesses infiltrate the Fright Zone.

And, of course, there’s still that whole little issue of Adora finding out where she comes from that became the basis of this season and led to her going on the search for Mara’s ship. Maybe this will take a back seat in the interim as the whole crew goes through the grieving process after losing Angella, but at some point, it will become an issue again for her to further investigate.

At the end of this season, the biggest answer I got is that I legitimately can’t wait for the next batch of episodes to drop. As long as this show continues, I’m sure the answers will come along with further growth from all characters involved and a few more of those Easter Eggs meant to pop the nostalgia viewers like me who are going to feel their Spidey-Senses tingle when “Tung Lashor” gets mentioned out of nowhere.

They’ve found a perfect little space where they’ve evolved the character and story of She-Ra while still being respectful of the past and it’s made for a really fun and enjoyable series. Mattel recently announced a new line of She-Ra dolls at San Diego Comic Con and I hope they do well as we’ve seen other series canceled because of toy sales that didn’t live up to the hype.

So spread the word, share this with your friends and make sure everybody’s watching this show so we don’t get any kind of early demise and this team of writers can give us the story they want to on their terms. Helluva season and a much more full set of episodes than even Season 2. I haven’t yet seen anything official regarding a renewal for Season 4, but I can’t help but think (hope?) that’s a slam dunk. This show needs to be around for a good, long time.

Also, if anyone working on the show ends up reading this: thank you. Keep it up ’cause ya’ll killing it.

For the rest of us, see you at Target to buy some Princess dolls.

Until next time.

Joe

Twitter: @MaxSexPow

Email: ShoesOnSports@gmail.com

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