4:30 pm EDT, August 30, 2019

Exclusive: ‘She-Ra’ showrunner Noelle Stevenson talks crossroads and fractured relationships

She-Ra season 3 was a triumph that shook up the very fabric of the show. Noelle Stevenson sat down with Hypable to discuss what comes next.

There was no shortage of incredible moments in She-Ra‘s third outing, particularly when it came to some of the core friendships and relationships that have shaped the show so far. But with Catra and Adora seemingly at a point of no return, Glimmer’s future clouded with uncertainty, and several new players entering the mix, we had plenty of questions to ask showrunner Noelle Stevenson about what a potential season 4 might have on the horizon for the characters we’ve all come to know and love.

Warning: There will be significant spoilers for She-Ra season 3 below.

Hypable’s exclusive interview with Noelle Stevenson

Catra’s journey in She-Ra so far has seen her go through some serious ups and downs. But in season 3, it really felt like this was rock bottom for her and she was pushing away everyone who cared for her in a bid to gain Hordak’s favor. Does that character now have further to fall? Or is there a way back for her from this point in terms of a potential redemption story?

Noelle Stevenson: Catra’s arc is far from over. I do think she’s a character who is really nursing a big broken heart and it’s really resistant to anyone, you know, getting close to her or helping to heal her in any way. She’s just clinging so hard to this unhappiness that I don’t think that she sees another version of her life right now.

This season we see her do the worst thing she’s ever done and it’s not going to be easy to come back from. But we have a lot more story planned with her and she’s a character who — her arc, along with Adora’s, just sort of defines the arc of the show. And so it’s us asking questions about what does it mean to be a villain, what’s it mean to be a hero? And we have a lot of stories still to tell.

With Adora and Catra’s relationship there’s always been that kind of push and pull of Adora really trying to get Catra back on side. But this season felt like the breaking point for Adora more than Catra, particularly with the moment in the finale Catra looked really fearful of Adora when she was trying to make her escape with Hordak. For you, is that relationship now fully in Catra’s court? Or should we expect Adora to continue to extend that olive branch of friendship?

Noelle Stevenson: You know, I think that Adora, in season 1, I don’t think she really saw Catra as her enemy and she did expect Catra to eventually leave the Horde and come with her. And I think that because of that she didn’t really… she wasn’t really taking Catra seriously at that point, and so then when Catra demonstrated, in season 1, that she thought of her as her enemy, that really threw Adora into this spiral. And we’ve seen her kind of going through that in season 2, where she does still care about Catra, but Catra is sort of taking all of her pain and anger out on Adora and saying like, you know, “This is your fault. You did this to me. You know, you’re pushing me to the side of evil down this, dark path.” And Adora takes that really personally and she thinks that’s true.

I think that Adora’s not always the most observant, I guess, emotionally, but she is pretty empathetic and Catra knows that and so she sort of has taken advantage of that. And then we see in season 3, this is the first time that Adora actually sees Catra as her enemy because she watches as Catra does these horrible things and realizes that she has to stop her. She can’t just keep taking everything that Catra’s throwing at her because of some twisted idea that she deserves it. She has to stand up to catch her and to help stop her from hurting other people.

So I think that’s where we kind of leave them in season 3, that Adora, for the first time, is angry at Catra. She stepped out of this place that she was in where it was like, you know, Catra must be right, I must have been the person who is at fault for all of this. And I think that she’s taken a real step forward by not kind of internalizing Catra’s bitterness and anger towards her at this point.

Glimmer is also going to go through several huge changes as the show transitions into potential season 4, stepping into a bigger leadership role and without her mother to really guide her. Do you foresee her struggling to find her footing as what would essentially be queen now? Or in your eyes is the character of Glimmer emotionally ready for that next big step?

Noelle Stevenson: I mean those are the questions that we’re definitely going to answer as we get into the next few seasons. I think that Glimmer, we’ve seen her get more and more frustrated with the limitations of her powers and the way she’s perceived, where she’s the daughter of this perfect, angelic, immortal queen and she’s, in so many ways, rough around the edges because she’s young, she’s sparkly, she has to recharge her powers. She’s not as strong as some of the other princesses, but she wants to be seen as someone who’s as fierce as she feels. But I think she always thought Angella was sort of the obstacle to that, as Angella is the one who always sees her as the child and she’s trying to break free from her mother in so many ways, and I think she expects that she always will, because Angella’s not going anywhere.

I don’t think Glimmer ever expected to be in a position to inherit Bright Moon, it wasn’t on the table. And so for her, her character arc was always about exerting her independence, but now she’s actually just in a position where all of these responsibilities are about to fall on her and I don’t think that she’s super ready for that. She’s never had a reason to prepare for that.

So, like I said, it’s something that we kind of get into more in other seasons, but, yeah, right now she’s in a very… she’s reached a real turning point in her character as well.

We’ve seen Shadow Weaver manipulate a lot of characters throughout the show for her own ends. Could that be an avenue that that character might go down now that Angella is no longer standing in her way and Glimmer is on the cusp of inheriting Bright Moon and really coming into her powers?

Noelle Stevenson: You know, I always say that [Shadow Weaver] is a character that is the most fun to write for me because I never know what she’s going to do. The plan for her character, she sort of has, more than any other characters, really taken off in her own direction, which I find so fascinating because that’s kind of who she is. She’s just always got her own agenda. She’s always got a plan for how to get back on top. And I think the frustrating thing this season, especially for Catra — I think this is what really pushes Catra over the edge, — is that I think Shadow Weaver really does think she’s a good guy now. Like, as far as Shadow Weaver is concerned, she’s been thoroughly redeemed and everything that she’s doing is perfectly justified, which, again, I think that is what really caused Catra to snap, because she experienced so much torment at the hands of this person and to see her be like, “I am now the one in the right,” she couldn’t take it.

So now Shadow Weaver’s still in Bright Moon, I think what she’s going to do is just what she’s always done, which is look for a way to get power for herself, to come out on top. But I think that she kind of thinks she’s doing the right thing now, which is interesting and different for her because she did sort of, you know, she had his way of carrying herself in the Horde. I think she sort of thought she was doing the right thing all along. Her morality is entirely focused around herself and around what she needs to do for her own game, and so there’s a lot more coming from her character. But, yeah, I think that she is in a kind of prime position to maybe change her sights on who she’s going to use to get power now.

Two characters who are also coming to a crossroads and turning point are probably Entrapta and Hordak, because that relationship, over the course of season 3, was really fascinating in terms of how that strengthened through discovering more about Hordak’s origins and how those two connected. Catra obviously manipulated that back in her favor by telling Hordak that Entrapta betrayed him. Do you feel like that’s going to come back around to bite Catra or is Hordak and Entrapta’s relationship damaged for good?

Noelle Stevenson: I will also say that their story is far from over. I think what we find out about Hordak this season, we’ve always seen him as this sort of distant, mysterious figure who does not let himself be seen or emotionally touched in any way. And for the first time we see him open himself up to Entrapta and we realize that his insecurities are actually not that different from a lot of our other characters, where he is not the top of the food chain. He is someone who has been considered expendable and he’s struggling with his own feelings of not being worth something.

So, as we see on the stinger at the very end of the last episode, there’s someone bigger than Hordak out there. It’s something that we are going to get into in the next season, which is what are the repercussions of what Captra’s done? Is she going to be able to pull this off after she told this lie, after she did this horrible thing to Entrapta? But, yeah, no, the same as with Catra, their story is it not over yet.

On that stinger, obviously the version of the story that we got about Hordak’s origins was all from his perspective. Is there more to that story than we know, and as, obviously, Horde Prime now knows where Eternia is and where his little brother is hiding out, are those battle lines going to blur somewhat with this bigger bad being introduced into the universe?

Noelle Stevenson: I can’t tell too much just yet. I will say that we all now have the shadow of Horde Prime hanging over us on the show and so I would just say stay tuned. I think what I will say is that Hordak is wrong in certain ways. What exactly that means, again, it’s just something that I think our viewers will have to stay tuned for and experience for themselves in the show.

The last real big question that I have for you is, I was really fascinated about this idea of Huntara having a similar but not exact story that kind of mirrored Adora’s in terms of defecting and finding her own way in the world and especially with Catra and Adora being on the outs, is that a character that we might see as one that Adora might be able to connect with in a way that she can’t maybe with Glimmer and Bow and the other princesses because their upbringings were so different? Is there a potential for a friendship between those two that might be set apart from some of the others that we’ve seen on the show so far?

Noelle Stevenson: Definitely. I do think that Adora sees Huntara as aspirational in a lot of ways and it is sort of, you know, I think Adora is caught between the Horde and the Rebellion and she sort of doesn’t feel like she fits in with either one fully.

I mean, the fact that she still is wearing her red jacket from the Horde all these seasons later and hasn’t changed, it’s like she still doesn’t quite feel comfortable at Bright Moon, but this is all she’s ever known. What she was taught in the Horde, it is such a huge part of who she is and she never had to think about who she was in the Horde because she was told who she was. And now finding Huntara, who’s someone who does have a good heart, who has also made the choice to separate from the Horde, I think Adora’s sees a version, you know, like a comfortable future for herself, where it’s like, “I have to be Huntara, like this is how I could make an identity for myself outside of the Horde without necessarily needing to fit in with the aesthetics of Bright Moon.”

So I think that’s why Adora really imprints on Huntara right away, is because she hasn’t had a role model like this before. So, yeah. I mean, we definitely haven’t seen the last of Huntara, but, I think that the ball is kind of in Adora’s court when it comes to figuring out her identity and who she is and what she wants, and I think that that’s something that we’re going to get into in future seasons. It’s just continuing to ask those questions about how is Adora going to express her own identity and her own personality.

She-Ra season 3 is available to stream in its entirety on Netflix.

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