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She-Ra showrunner Noelle Stevenson addresses that huge Season 4 cliffhanger
In part one of our in-depth conversation with She-Ra and the Princesses of Power showrunner Noelle Stevenson about Season 4, she explained how the series is telling more deeply personal stories through the ensemble of characters about growing up, embracing power, and dealing with the heavy emotions that come with difficult relationships.
Now that Season 4 of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power has been streaming on Netflix for a bit, we circled back with Stevenson to discuss that huge cliffhanger at the end of "Destiny Part 2," as well as some other season highlights.
Warning: Spoilers for Season 4 of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power below.
In the 13 episodes of the season, you chart the weight of responsibility on various characters. What did you want to share about your own showrunning experiences in this particular arc?
I was 24 when I first got this job, and I don't think I understood how much responsibility I would have. Telling a good story is very different from managing a group of people whose quality of life and career path might be dependent on decisions that you make. That is an incredible responsibility that I don't take lightly, and it's very difficult. I wanted to show just how difficult leadership could be, but also that it is worth it. That these people, they don't get to opt out of these leadership roles either. We still really need them. Even though it's scary, even though it's hard, even though these characters might fail, and even when they might let down the people that they're trying to help at times, that it's still worth doing. And it's worth trying to fix things that have been broken, even when it's not easy.
Some friendships are strained in this arc. What do you want to show about friendship as these characters grow up and make mistakes with one another?
Friendship can save the day, even though friendship, itself, is also hard. You really have to rely on the people around you sometimes to get through some of these really difficult situations. I think the show itself gave me so much hope, because there were some really difficult times, and seeing the characters struggle but continue to push through, it gave me hope all the time.
Explain the big decision to have Adora shatter the Sword of Protection. It's a huge moment for audiences to process. What does that act say about Adora's evolution?
Knowing that Adora breaks the sword at the end of the season, that this thing is her destiny and she just destroys it ... Spoiler alert: They're going to win in the end. But knowing she can pull through after losing such a huge part of your identity, it gave me so much fuel for my fire. And that's what I wanted to do for the viewers watching it, to not diminish or belittle these struggles that you do experience in these positions. Just because you struggle, it doesn't mean that it's not worth doing, and it doesn't mean you can't pull through. I think that became the thesis of the whole show, and this season, I think, especially, it's about that.
Aside from that huge finale, what was another favorite story for you in Season 4?
I'm so excited for everyone to see the midpoint episode of this season, “Hero,” with Mara.
What about the episode was such a creative success for you?
Mara is one of my favorite characters. I think I look at her a lot the way that Adora does, which is like, "OK, I'm trying to get this right. How am I failing at this? Can I get some answers from somebody who has done this job before me who supposedly failed at it?"
And that's an episode that I co-wrote with our story editor, Josie Campbell. Both of us really just poured so much of ourselves into it. And it's something that we've been waiting for for a long time, asking, "Who was Mara? What was she like? What was she trying to do?” I’m really excited for people to see the tragic relationship between her and Light Hope. And also to see the connection that Adora and Mara have, because Adora sees herself so much in Mara. She just is looking for mentorship from anyone who would understand, and the only person who could understand has been dead for a thousand years.