Thursday, September 19, 2019

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Rewatch 1.3, "Razz"

Read the previous entry here!
Read the next entry here!

The series moves ahead, displaying some interesting parallels.

1.3, "Razz"

Written by Noelle Stevenson and James Krieg
Directed by Stephanie Stine


This is clearly not the face of a happy mother.
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary
Adora accompanies Glimmer and Bow to Bright Moon. Glimmer has Bow escort Adora into the castle through covert means as she makes to confront her mother, Angella. When she does, Angella upbraids her before she falls ill due to her overexertions. Angella rushes her up to the glowing stone that fronts Bright Moon and watches with concern as Glimmer recovers; after, she presses Glimmer, who teleports away, presumably to retrieve Adora.

Meanwhile, Bow nervously watches over Adora, who intuits that she will be unwelcome due to her prior association with the Horde and its predations upon them. Bow asserts that Adora will come to be valued, given time. Glimmer enters to announce Angella's imminent arrival and suggest that Adora transform into She-Ra. Adora confesses her inability to summon the form and frets; Glimmer and Bow move to intercede to allow Adora time to practice. It does not go as well as might be hoped.

Although it might be better than expected...
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary
Part of the issue is that Adora is distracted by the allure of the outdoors and a horse. Her repeated attempts do not fare well, though they do work an interesting transformation on the horse--which promptly attempts to flee from the strangeness. Adora's efforts to retrieve the rampaging animal reveal her--and her still-worn Horde emblem-- to the Bright Moon locals, who pursue her. Angella is displeased to receive a report thereof.

In the Fright Zone, rumors of She-Ra's success against the Horde spread, and Catra finds herself under suspicion. Adora's absence is noted, as well.

Not exactly what one would expect...
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary
Continuing to flee, Adora encounters Madam Razz. Razz acts toward Adora as if she recognizes her and bundles her along for berry-picking, to Adora's confusion. Adora asks Razz about the sword and herself as Razz leads her to an overgrown structure that Adora recognizes as a First-Ones ruin. The structure begins to activate, showing a field of stars and leading Adora to a strange vision. She presses Razz for information, getting little other than a command to resume berry-picking.

Elsewhere, Catra returns to her bunk and rages impotently against her situation. Shadow Weaver confronts her for her failure to retrieve Adora. Catra asserts Adora's defection, angering the magician as she conveys Catra to her own master, Hordak.

It is an interesting transformation.
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary
Adora continues to follow Razz, if with some difficulty. They come upon the scene of a battle, the revelation of which leaves Adora shaken. Razz opines about the current political and military situation, offering some quiet guidance. Their conversation is interrupted by the sounds of the horse Adora had changed being imprisoned by the Horde; she moves to intervene. In the ensuing melee, she transforms into She-Ra again and fights against the soldiers present--with some assistance from the horse and Razz.

Adora wakes to find Razz and the horse--Swift Wind--watching over her. Adora determines to defend Etheria and makes to return to Bright Moon, aided by Swift Wind. Once there, she interrupts Angella's tirade against Glimmer and swears herself to the opposition to the Horde. Angella accepts her vow.

Catra finds herself in Hordak's presence, which is not a pleasant experience, though Catra is promoted in Adora's place.


A couple of interesting points come up in the episode. For one, the parallels between Adora and Catra seem to be emphasized. They are clearly connected figures, even in the previous two episodes, both ostensibly under the direct tutelage of Shadow Weaver and acting as friends, if with some tension. But while Adora's defection leads to her being welcomed and accepted--and in a ceremony markedly evocative of traditional conceptions of knighting ceremonies--Catra's persistence is rewarded with rebuke. And while Adora's elevation is celebrated, Catra's meets with disbelief. The mirroring is a common enough device, certainly, and anticipates a major narrative thread through the series that has been released as of this writing.

For the other, the Razz of the title is an interesting figure. She is evidently not in the best presence of mind, but she is also evidently possessed of some power. In the episode, she easily scales the First-Ones ruin, for example, and calls her broom to her hand through an unseen force. She also effects escape from the Horde. As with the mirroring between Adora and Catra, there is ample antecedent for the device of the kooky mentor-figure, but I cannot help but thinking of the many hermits that appear in such chivalric works as Malory's, or even of the (predominantly female) anchorites of the Middle Ages. Such facets of medieval life are perhaps not as familiar as the knights Adora evokes or even of the triumphant archers that Bow re-presents, but that lesser familiarity does not make them any less "true" medievalisms than the other parallels.

Perhaps their lesser familiarity makes them more "authentic" than their more common counterparts. There are knights enough to be found, to be sure, and even a great many priests and nuns and monks, but there are far fewer of other religious orders whose presence punctuates medieval literature (Chaucer's Prioress, Summoner, and Pardoner come to mind as examples) and life. That such a one--refigured, yes, but so are the knights and nobles--appears in the episode can be taken as a suggestion that a more nuanced, detailed, and accurate idea of the medieval can be used well as an underpinning for the works of popular culture. Given the struggles against misuse and misappropriation of the medieval that pervade popular culture and academe, any such efforts have to be welcome.

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