A bunch of disappointments and issues I found in S5 per @therodrigator6‘s request for Grist for the Content Mill.
Note that this is not an exhaustive list, it’s just all I could think of right now.
MAJOR STRUCTURAL ISSUES
Rushed or unfinished redemption arcs. This is most notable for Shadow Weaver (who sort of spontaneously gives up on being Just The Worst offscreen well before her sacrifice) but is also obvious for Catra (gets rescued in E5, is a full member of the team by E8, and this is without appearing in E7) and Hordak (never even admits that waging 25 years of imperialist warfare is wrong, gets forgiven anyway). There’s never more than a minute’s interval between “I’m sorry” and instant forgiveness except in E2, when Entrapta’s past actions actually mean something, and E4, where it just kind of feels forced and awkward and Bow kind of feels OOC.
I wanna mention Catra’s twice just because of how questionably written and rushed it was. Her resentment isn’t really addressed, none of her past actions apart from bullying Scorpia ever matter, Adora just starts to trust her immediately, and her wrestling with her temper is achieved by applying a light coat of sarcasm on a few lines. It’s just really badly done.
Underuse of the ensemble cast. Did Glimmer and Bow do anything between episode 8 and the final battle that wasn’t replicated elsewhere? The failsafe, for example, was something SW already knew about, so while it was nice seeing Bow’s dads again, that whole plot point seemed pretty much useless. Did Entrapta and Scorpia ever interact even though Scorpia literally left her entire life behind for Entrapta’s sake? Was it strictly necessary to only chip exactly the people who might not immediately forgive Catra, plus Spinnerella? Why were so many characters chipped offscreen and popped up for a few seconds in the conclusion just to explain why we never heard about them all season?
Several episodes being essentially dead air for the purposes of character development. “Shot in the Dark” could so easily have been used to have Adora and Catra deal with the issues in their relationship but that would require admitting that their relationship had issues and S5 had no time for that shit.
Adora’s desire to find her family is forgotten about. This would have been really easy to resolve, too: have Horde Prime offer her family, she has flashbacks of the Princess Alliance, the BFS and maybe even Catra and the Horde kids, and is like “I already have one”. I guess it kind of answers it when it says the First Ones are extinct, but 1) Adora barely seems to notice this, and 2) as an answer, it leaves a big old gap related to how Adora even exists if Horde Prime has had to archive memory of her species’ existence. (You can fanwank something but why should you have to?)
The show spent four seasons building up parallels between Catra and Shadow Weaver - they get similar rants about not being trusted in “Light Spinner”, Catra’s S4 outfit has the same asymmetrical sleeves as Shadow Weaver’s outfit, Adora outright compares them in the tie-in - and they just don’t do anything with it. Nobody really recognises or addresses the parallels.
Similarly, the parallels between Horde Prime’s actions late in the season and Catra’s actions in seasons 2-3 are right there and nobody seems to notice, not even Catra. Trying to control people and use them as weapons against their friends? Being willing to destroy the universe to punish your foes, even if it kills you too? REMIND YOU OF ANYONE NOELLE
As @freezingmyblitzballs has already pointed out, the symbolism of Adora’s new outfit representing her friends in different ways is great, but it doesn’t end up meaning anything or being used to drive the conclusion. Rather, the conclusion appears to be that Adora and Catra are just Special because of Mumble Mumble Unconditional Love.
Horde Prime’s vulnerability to magic doesn’t seem to mean anything because it never explains what that means. Is it that only magic can tear apart his possessing spirit? It would’ve been nice to know what that meant before the season finale!
Horde Prime’s religious symbolism can ring a bit hollow since the belief system appears to be “Horde Prime good” and “peace good”. We never see true believers, just Horde Prime and people mind-controlled by Horde Prime.
The Grayskull answer is bad and stupid and doesn’t make sense in the context of Light Hope’s initial introduction to Adora. More than that, why did a question people barely cared about merit more work on wrapping it up than Adora’s quest for her family? And why did it get so little foreshadowing, to the point where Razz appeared to be Mara’s only emotional connection outside the First Ones?
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