#catra once said 👀
The Duality of Redemption: Zuko and Catra
There’s much to be said about Zuko’s and Catra’s redemption arcs but today I’d like to highlight how both Avatar and She-Ra use visual storytelling to portray the duality of their characters.
(Check out this amazing video essay on Zuko’s duality through visual storytelling to hear more about him, in particular.)
One of the easiest ways to establish that something’s off about a character is to make them asymmetrical, to visualize their duality. Both Zuko and Catra have an obvious way in which their duality is visualized and for the both of them it has to do with their eyes. For Zuko, it’s his scar that his father had given him, marking him for life. For Catra, it’s her heterochromia, one eye blue and the other yellow. It’s worth noting that while heterochromia is common with cats, the original 80s Catra had green eyes so this is a deliberate storytelling choice for the new She-Ra.
Zuko’s duality can be seen throughout the series and he gets many more signifiers. He wields dual broadswords, he has an alter ego in the Blue Spirit, and he has a colour-coded (and voice actor coded) dream about a red and a blue dragon in the episode “The Earth King” (long before he meets Ran and Shaw in season 3). They’re not even trying to be subtle and his duality and inner conflict are basically spelled out by Iroh in “The Avatar and the Firelord”.
Ultimately, though, it’s the scar that dominates, just like the trauma that came with it haunts Zuko in the series. In crucial moments like in “The Crossroads of Destiny”, the framing focuses on Zuko’s left side, the scar, and his right, the “untouched” side, as visual representations of his conflict and choice. Parallels between “The Awakening” and “The Eclipse” further emphasize just how crucial this framing is in his arc. His scar is the past, the ideal of his father that he’s trying to live up to, but it’s a literal scar, abused and torn. When he walks away from Ozai, it’s his right side in the frame.
That’s not to say that the scar represents his “evil” side and needs to be gone for his redemption to be complete. The idea is teased when Katara offers to heal him, but Zuko’s arc makes it clear that the scar is part of him, just like his duality, and he needs to accept it. Getting rid of it would be as much of a rejection of balance as solely focusing on it would be.
As for Catra, her duality is perhaps not as striking at first but used to visually enhance story nonetheless. In critical scenes her left side, the yellow eye, becomes a symbol of the Horde, the past and the unwillingness to let it go, much like with Zuko. Oftentimes when she fights Adora, she’s in the right half of the frame so we see her yellow eye.
Her blue eye (blue like Adora’s) represents the potential for healing. It’s not a coincidence that, when the portal’s opening results in a corrupted Catra, it’s her right side and therefore blue eye that gets consumed. Catra hits her lowest point yet, consumed by anger about everything that happened with Shadow Weaver and Adora, and it threatens to destroy her "good side”, her connection to Adora and her chance at redemption.
It’s s equally significant that in season 4, after the portal incident, Catra gets a new outfit. Her outfit always had a sense of asymmetry to it because of the belt but it’s further emphasized with her sleeves. In season 5, after Horde Prime chips her, her design becomes eerily symmetrical and her heterochromia is gone as her eyes turn green under his control.
Again, much like with Zuko, this rejection of her duality is presented as a false solution. She gets more disheveled as she fights Adora and gets injured, gets more asymmetrical, and after they get rid of the chip, she changes her outfit yet again. This new look is a sort of cross between the early seasons and season 4 ones: it still has the asymmetry of the belt and her eyes are back to being yellow and blue, but the sleeve is gone. And so is her mask.
In many of her later scenes, especially the ones with Adora, her blue eye dominates. This, then, presents a progression from the yellow eye and corruption threatening to overtake the blue one, to the green eyes forced on her by Prime, and, finally, the triumph of blue. But the blue eye doesn’t completely overshadow the yellow; rather, balance is maintained as she becomes a more well-adjusted character. Same with Zuko, this duality doesn’t mean that yellow is evil and blue is good, but it does enhance the visual storytelling.
This is just a brief overview of these two characters and how their redemption is aided by their visual qualities and how they’re framed. I often see people comparing their arcs and while I think there’s certainly a discussion to be had about that (and the comparison of the two series), for now I wanted to highlight how both shows cleverly use the visual nature of their medium to guide their redeemed angsty deuteragonists. I might make this into a gifset or a longer analysis later.
As a sort of side note, they also both have to have everything they thought they wanted before realizing it’s not their way and choose to change for themselves, not for someone else. And that is true redemption.
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catra and adora were in love with each other this entire goddamn time.. catra’s whole motivation for being a villain was that adora had broken her heart and she always thought adora would never love her in the same way catra loved her.... ive been saying this forever the fantasy of wanting to kill the person who broke your heart just to escape the pain and their pull on you... and that’s why horde prime’s mind control scene hit so frickin hard because catra was like “i’m finally at peace, i can’t feel the heartbreak anymore, all my pain is gone” and adora was standing there completely devastated finally realizing how deeply catra had been hurt by her actions
i’ve been thinking that i didn’t like how adora seemed to forgive catra so easily but maybe its one of those things where its just gotta settle for a while and you have to go back and rewatch it because it IS making sense now... that scene coupled with catra sacrificing herself for glimmer and adora and screaming “I’m sorry for everything!” and begging adora not to come save her
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... Are people really out here thinking Catra and Adora are sisters
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Scorpia: I’m tired of you fake ratatouille fans thinking the rat’s name is ratatouille
Lonnie: please I only said that once
Catra: wht the fuck its 3am fuck off
Double Trouble: Scorpia valid as always
Kyle: whAT DO YOU MEAN HIS NAME IS NOT RATATOUILLE
[Kyle has been removed from the group chat]
Scorpia: I’ve had it
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Canon C//A is just so… awkward to me, especially if we bring any third party into equation. It's all very idyllic but only as long as you ignore literally everything that happened between them. Like, someone will ask Adora why is she afraid of heights and she confesses that Catra dropped her off a cliff once and the feeling of falling towards impending doom still haunts her or where did she get this scar from and she has to explain that Catra slashed her face when they were kids because Adora didn't pay enough attention to her or why is she wearing that necklace and turns out Angella gave it to her before she, y'know. Sacrificed herself to seal the portal. Which was coincidentally opened by Catra. And then there is just a long, awkward silence where Adora's friends need to actively suppress the fact they're her friends lest they start screaming and throwing things around. And Catra just stands there, awkwardly, wondering if it's too late to go back to Crimson Waste.
Catr*dora is very good actually if you pretend the concept of trauma doesn't work in relation to Adora or indeed any person other than Catra. Catr*dora makes perfect sense if you assume Adora is not a person with feelings but rather Catra's Emotional Support Trophy Wife. Catr*dora is great if you mentally rewrite several scenes and convince everyone else that's how it really went. Catr*dora is wonderful if—
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𝐄𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐇𝐞𝐫 𝐎𝐮𝐭 [𝐂𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐚 𝐱 𝐑𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫]
Sub Catra! x Gender Neutral Reader
Warning[pussy eating, teasing, hickys,hair pulling, biting, cursing]
It happened unintentionally. The two of you teasing each other, calling one another names and pressing kisses to various places along your skin.
A teasing smirk appeared on your face as you found yourself between her legs. Lifting Catra’s thigh up, you attached to her tan skin as blotches of red were left by your lips.
Her usual smirk faltered as her cheeks burned red and her mouth let out a soft whimper.
Already half undressed as the two of you were going to head off to bed soon, you simply had to slip off her panties. But you’d rather tease her a bit first.
She threw her leg over your shoulder and you grew closer to her core. You brought your mouth to her panties, your hot breath fanning against her skin. The brunette shivered as her lust only grew.
Bringing your lips to the fabric you flatly pressed your hot tongue against the material. You watched as Catra threw an arm over her face to hide her flustered expression from view.
“Aw don’t do that, you’re such a pretty kitten.” You coed in a teasing tone as you reached up to pull her arm away. “Fuck you.” She snapped breathlessly.
Tossing off the only fabric left on her lower half, it was time for your mouth to get to work. Your tongue slithered between her folds and worked around her clit.
She threw her head back as a louder moan flew from her lips, and before you knew it you could feel her fingers tangle with your hair, pulling the strands a bit too roughly.
Bringing a thumb to her clit you rubbed it softly in quick circles as your tongue ran along the entrance of her cunt. You could taste her slick and couldn’t help but get more aroused aswell. She gasped when your hot wet muscle pushed between her walls, sliding in and out with ease. You felt her warmth all around your face as you continue to pleasure her.
Her long black nails scratched your scalp as she whimpered and whined out your name. She thrusted her pussy only making you become deeper inside her. Giving a little squeeze to her thick fat of her thigh you felt her legs quiver, meaning she was close.
Making sure to drive her mad you slowed down, making her bit her lip in anger. Sweat dripped from her brow as her mouth hung open allowing her to take hallow breathes. She looked beautiful exposed only for you to see.
Bringing your lips back to her clit you gave little nip to the sensitive bud. Your teeth grazing her skin drove her wild as she reached the high of her orgasim. Your tongue continued to swirl over her clit, letting her ride out her high.
Screaming your name, Catra’s body shook for a moment as her juices squirted onto your face. She tasted just as good as a full corse to meal. Your tongue lapped up the rest of her juices. As you pulled away from her cunt you whipped your face clean while admiring the rare sight in front of you.
The breathless and vulnerabilitie state she was in just for you, because of you. You felt proud, and you’d be sure to tease her about it the next morning.
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*watches almost two hours of Catradora compilations and cries*
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Hey! Noelle once said that a She-ra Catra AU would be much shorter. You have a pretty good grip on the characters and I love your metas so I wanted to know how a She-ra Catra AU or just a Catra leaves the horde AU would go.
Ok, I'll bite. Simple reason why Noelle said it would be shorter is because it would take a hell of a lot less to convince Adora to come along than it did Catra, and that ultimately comes down to the differences in their treatment in the Horde and what they both psychologically got out of staying with/leaving it.
As my friend @johannas-motivational-insults details in these two metas, a huge part of what keeps Catra in the Horde throughout the series is the overarching idea of the sunk-cost fallacy, which in extremely simplified terms basically means that you have a choice between something you have put a lot of effort into that may not have a return equal to what you put in if you stick with it (Catra's view on the Horde) or an alternative that may have gains but requires letting go of what you put into the first path (leaving the Horde.) And for the record, this is a thought process that a lot of abuse victims (myself included) have to grapple with both in regards to the initial leaving and the recovery process. Basically you don't want to let go because you've suffered so much that you want, no, need there to be some kind of positive payout in return for all that. Make no bones about it, Catra suffered immensely at the hands of SW and the Horde's environment in general throughout her upbringing, but like many abuse victims she gets trapped by her need to make that pain worthwhile, because otherwise she was just a victim (and again, that is part of the reason psychologically why people will stay in abusive relationships despite knowing they shouldn't, among many other psychological reasons that I highly recommend checking out on your own time.) There is a lot more going on, but the sunk-cost fallacy is a huge part of what makes Catra tick until she finally realizes that it was never worth it and finally does let go in the end.
Meanwhile, on the other side we have Adora, who was the golden child. The one pushed to succeed and prove herself. The one who was constantly taught that she was better than the others, that she was destined for something greater. Yes, she was very much abused, but in a way that has vastly different psychological effects than Catra's situation. Adora is someone who has been encouraged to put others and causes above her own needs, which is part of why it is easy to get her on the Rebellion's side even though it causes her so much series-long distress to leave Catra behind. Because whereas with Catra leaving the Horde does incur a heavy cost even with staying with Adora as a counterweight, Adora has been psychologically conditioned to want to serve a greater power and put her full effort into it. Of course, the entire final season is an analysis in why having too much in either direction is a bad thing, because Adora wants Catra so much but feels she can't have her when she has a duty to fulfill and also believes she has to put said duty above her own life.
So, in the context of a Magicatra au, it would be way, WAY harder to find a psychologically believable reason for Adora to continue to stay with the Horde than it was for Catra, for the simple reason that leaving the Horde would be nothing but a net gain for Adora in that situation. She'd not only be serving the side of good/a greater destiny the way Shadow Weaver conditioned her, but she'd also get to remain with Catra, who was always her one exception/freedom from that conditioning. Once that offer was on the table there would be literally no way you could convincingly get Adora to stay that wouldn't require some serious character changes from the main show that I won't get into because that kind of ripple effect is way too much for this kinda ask.
Anyway, hope this explains everything to your liking and thanks for such an interesting ask.
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back to back
Bit of fic written between "Launch" and "Corridors," partially jossed by "Corridors" but whatever, I still like it.
For a long time Glimmer and Catra just sat in silence, back to back with the force field between them. Finally, Catra spoke.
"Does she ever talk about me?"
Glimmer hesitated before answering. "Adora or Shadow Weaver?"
Catra snorted. "I don't give a rat's ass what Shadow Weaver thinks anymore."
But she did still care what Adora thought. Glimmer thought Catra probably wasn't aware of how much she was giving away, with that. For all that it mattered now.
"Does she?" Catra asked again.
"No," Glimmer said. "It hurts her too much. We can all see it."
A long pause. "Does she hate me?"
Glimmer thought over her answer. She wasn't going to lie about this, wasn't going to make anything sound better or worse than it was. "Sometimes, yeah, I'm pretty sure she does. But," the words came out annoyed, exasperated, "she also loves you."
Catra's voice was wary, almost accusatory. "How do you know?"
Glimmer laughed. "It's not hard to figure out, Catra. I can't tell you how much we all hate to see you turn up on the battlefield—because the moment you do, you're all she can think about, and the rest of us just have to work around it."
Catra laughed, but it sounded like it hurt. "I'd noticed that. I've banked on it more than once."
"I figured you did," Glimmer said sourly.
Another long pause, before Catra said quietly, "I got her to dance with me once. Princess Prom. Before things got… as bad as they got later. I wonder if she ever thinks about it."
Glimmer didn't answer. She would have had to pointedly ask whose fault it was that things got so bad later, and then Catra would leave, and she'd be alone again.
"Has she… has there been…" Catra, tripping over her words? This was new. "I mean, she's She-Ra, I'm sure she could have anyone in the Rebellion she wanted, so…"
Glimmer sighed. This was a source of personal frustration for her; not because she was interested in Adora that way, but she sure would have liked to see her happy with someone. "No. There's been nobody. Sometimes people flirt with her, but I don't think she notices."
Catra huffed a laugh. "That sounds like her. Oblivious."
I think she's waiting for you. Glimmer didn't say it out loud. It seemed like the wrong kind of encouragement. "You know," she said instead, "I'm pretty sure the Horde as you knew it is gone. Forever. Prime will subsume whatever parts of it he likes and discard the rest. There's going to be two sides now—Prime, and Etheria. Not the Rebellion, not Hordak, none of that matters now. It's all of us against Prime."
Catra made a sound, like Glimmer were the stupidest person in the world. "Why do you think I kept him from killing you in those first five minutes on his ship?" She stood up. "I can't spend too long here at a time. See you around, Princess."
"See you," Glimmer said, and watched her walk away without looking back.
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Over Explained: Shera Who Says Fuck?
Glimmer says fuck constantly though her mother is always at her to stop and her aunt has a swear jar handy at all times.
Bow never said fuck before he meet Glimmer, but now whenever it’s just them he can’t help but say fuck every time his tracker pad isn’t working.
Queen Angella uses Glimmah as a swear.
King Micah only said fuck once as a kid but blames himself for Glimmer’s profanity.
Adora said fuck once but Shadoweaver heard and blamed Catra. She vowed to never say it again. When she’s captive and Glimmer is dropping f-bombs left and right she sees it as confirmation of the princesses’ evil (before becoming Shera of course).
Catra says fuck because she knows it would piss off Shadoweaver but would never say it in front of the witch. Most of the time she just knocks things over while looking the person she’s mad at dead in the eye. After Shadoweaver died Catra started saying “Fuck You” every time she passed her grave.
Perfuma has slipped up and said fuck repeatedly but’s it’s her deepest darkest secret.
No one knows if Spinnerella or Netossa say fuck.
Frosta says fuck with immeasurable glee as frequently as possible.
Wrong Hordak says Fuck even though he clearly doesn’t know what it means.
Horde Prime does not say fuck and will banish any clone who dare say such an impure word.
Hordak says fuck constantly under his breath but still blames Catra when imp starts to say fuck. It has genuinely never occurred to him that he might’ve taught Imp the word. He was banished for saying fuck but he has never realized it. Hordak covers Entrapta’s ears when other people say fuck.
Entrapta could say fuck if she wanted to but is more interested in when other people say fuck. She had record of every time someone around her has said fuck for science.
Scorpia has never said fuck and is more apt to say gee, goly, or garsh.
She just smiles fondly when Catra or Frosta says fuck in front of her.
Seahawk doesn’t understand why people say fuck when they can just say adventure.
Mermista says fuck when Seahawk does something cute but she can’t acknowledge it because that would be embarassing.
Huntara says fuck but like skater bros say dude.
Double Trouble says “FUUUUCCCCKKK” as themselves but can say fuck differently on cue.
Lonnie says fuck but mostly in respect to Kyle.
Kyle screams fuck at the slightest hint of danger.
Rogelio says fuck constantly but no one can understand him.
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I really like drawing cats
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