Presenting OTP Tuesday! Each Tuesday I will introduce you to a new One True Pairing! Tune in each week to find out which fictional couple you need to agonize/squee over next. After a quick break for a guest OTP post, I’m back and dying to talk about Catradora.
Who Are Catradora?
Catradora refers to the ship of Adora and Catra from the show She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
Adora is the main character and titular hero of She-Ra. Initially, Adora was raised by the Evil Horde, a conquering army led by sketchy guy Hordak and dark magician Shadow Weaver. Adora was taken in by Shadow Weaver as a young child and knew no other life. With the Horde, she was very successful and was soon promoted to Force Captain.
However, soon after her promotion, Adora runs into a magical sword that awakens something in her. In her attempt to find the sword – and answers – she is captured by rebels Glimmer and Bow. When Adora uses the sword to protect Glimmer and Bow, she awakens the spirit of She-Ra, a legendary defender. As She-Ra, Adora becomes tall and powerful and possesses untold abilities.
While Adora is trying to accept the fact that she has magical powers, Glimmer and Bow show Adora the truth behind the Horde and its conquering ways. She never realized the destruction her army had been responsible for and decides to leave the Horde to help the rebels win back their land.
This leads to some adjustments, of course. Adora was incredibly sheltered by the Horde and doesn’t know how to live an ordinary life. She-Ra is confusing and Adora doesn’t know how to be a hero. But the biggest adjustment is losing Catra – her childhood best friend.
While Adora leaves the Horde, Catra stays behind, and they soon find themselves on opposite sides of a battlefield. Adora, however, is fueled by righteousness and the spirit of She-Ra. Together with the newly formed Princess Alliance, Adora, Glimmer, and Bow are able to repel the Horde and save the day. However, that’s only the beginning and things are about to get worse.
If Adora is the naïve hero dedicated to doing the right thing, Catra is her foil. Like Adora, Catra was taken in by the Horde at a young age. The two were raised together by Shadow Weaver and became best friends. They relied on each other to survive the harsh world of the Horde. However, while Adora was Shadow Weaver’s golden child and prodigy, Catra was the scapegoat and disappointment.
Catra lacks Adora’s innate discipline. She flouted Shadow Weaver’s rules, got in fights, and refused to dedicate herself wholesale to the Horde like Adora. At the same time, however, she resented Adora for getting positive attention while she only got negative. Catra also lacks Adora’s naïveté; she mockingly states that she already knew the Horde was evil and judges Adora for her innocence.
When Adora leaves to investigate the sword, Catra initially covers for her. But when Adora fails to return, she is sent on a mission to take over Adora’s Force Captainship. This leads to her discovering that Adora is She-Ra and is defecting to the rebels. This causes a break that won’t soon be remedied.
While Adora works on starting the Princess Alliance and saving Etheria, Catra schemes to get power within the Horde. She maintains a position as Force Captain and forms a reluctant partnership with Scorpia, a former princess and fellow captain. The two work together and eventually recruit another princess, Entrapta, to their cause.
In the end, although Catra fails to take over Bright Moon and stop Adora, she gets what she wanted. She becomes Hordak’s second-in-command, dethroning Shadow Weaver and finally getting the recognition she craves. This puts her more at odds with Adora but Catra has moved on. She is her own person now.
Why Is Catradora OTP?
Although I didn’t watch She-Ra immediately, my Tumblr dash was quickly filled with people posting about the show. It seemed that there were two main ships right off the bat: Catradora and Glimmadora. I was mostly excited about two wlw ships, and unsure which I would be most interested in before watching the show.
Then I actually watched She-Ra and was an instant goner. While Glimmadora has some cute moments, for me, it can’t compare to the utter delight that is Catradora. Friends on opposite sides of a war? Simmering sexual tension at the Princess Prom? Catra sleeping on Adora’s bed? There’s no comparison. Catradora captured my heart and won’t let it go anytime soon.
Friends To Enemies To Lovers?
Now if you know me, you know enemies to friends to lovers is hands down one of my favorite tropes. But Catradora provides something different yet equally tantalizing: friends to enemies, and then maybe more down the line. Catradora flips the standard “two people who can’t stand each other slowly become friends and then become more” on its head.
Catradora is even more entrancing because we’ve already seen the beauty of their friendship. Catra and Adora are childhood best friends who promised to always be there for each other. The beginning of the show, before Adora’s defection to the rebellion, shows that they are truly connected and care about each other. Catra even sleeps on Adora’s bed, curled up like the cat she seems to be.
But where it gets truly magical is in episode 11, “Promise.” This episode takes place after they have faced a schism and run into each other on separate missions. They are forced to work together to survive a difficult landscape, bickering but clearly still caring about each other.
An extra layer of emotion comes from them reliving childhood memories along the way. We see how tiny Adora and Catra came to be best friends and the promise they made to stay together, no matter what. It adds extra heartbreak to their parting and only fuels our desire for them to reconcile.
While “Promise” ends with Catra cutting the cord once and for all, it was still a shining moment. We got to see these two characters who clearly love each other grow and evolve. We got to see them work together even while separate. And we got hints of what may yet come if She-Ra goes the way I hope…
Because, of course, there’s really only one way to move forward. Season one sees the destruction of Catra and Adora’s friendship. For them to come back together, to truly go from friends to enemies to lovers, we need to see a Catra redemption arc. I’m talking Prince Zuko style redemption, here. And I really think we’ll get it.
She-Ra has already shown that they have a deep understanding of Catra’s motives. She isn’t inherently evil, she just isn’t inherently good. She craves power and recognition after being in Adora’s shadow for so long. Though it’s not Adora’s fault, it’s understandable why Catra finally cuts ties in “Promise,” seeing that as her only path to getting the future she wants.
However, Catra won’t ever truly be happy in the Horde. Despite her protests, she clearly still cares about Adora. Every episode before “Promise” shows them still dancing around each other (literally, in the case of “Princess Prom”). Their promise to always be there for each other holds weight even in the midst of a war.
Catra’s actions in “Promise” — literally dropping Adora from her life — could be seen as the point of no return. But that’s quitters talk. Adora in “Promise” is encouraged to cut all ties from her life, but she refuses. I really don’t see her washing her hands of Catra. She feels guilt over their childhood and wants Catra to be better.
Catra has some growing to do before she can come back to Adora. She has to find out who she is on her own. And she has to decide for herself that supporting the Horde is something she can no longer do. But I think she will, and I think Adora’s love for Catra is going to be what changes the tide.
What’s Next For Catradora?
At the moment, things are very up in the air. Netflix has yet to officially announce the second season of She-Ra, leaving it unclear if there will be any resolution to season one’s problems. Netflix does tend to have quick production for its original series (Voltron has had eight seasons in three years), so if they do choose to renew She-Ra, we will likely see something sooner rather than later.
Despite the fact that we have no word on a second season, we can still speculate about what will happen. We know that the writers have formulated four 13-episode arcs, for a total of 52 episodes. What can we expect next?
Season one left off with Adora and the Princess Alliance successfully rebuffing the Horde and saving Bright Moon. However, their big victory is only one step in a larger war. Bright Moon is only one kingdom and the Horde doesn’t look like they’re slowing down at all. With Entrapta, a mechanical genius, on their side, they’ll likely start ramping up the destruction even more.
Adora seems to be settling in as She-Ra, though she still has a lot to learn. Her attempts to learn more about She-Ra failed, as she saw her responsibilities to her friends as the higher priority. Moving forward, she’ll likely learn how to be the best She-Ra possible. For Catra, she has been promoted to Hordak’s second-in-command. This will likely only fuel her desire for recognition and success.
Catradora at this point seems almost irrevocably separate. Adora is the icon of the rebellion. Catra is second-in-command to Hordak. However, I think future seasons will give Catra redemption and show the two coming together as equals to save the day.
Is Catradora Canon?
Nope! But have no fear – we’re only one season in. If Catradora is endgame for the show, it’s not going to happen after only 13 episodes. That would give no time for character development or growth. At this point in time, Catradora being canon would be a disservice to both characters and to literary development.
Where things stand now, Catradora couldn’t be canon in any satisfactory way. Both characters need to finish developing and figure out who they are as individuals, rather than as a pair. Adora needs to learn how to be She-Ra. Catra needs to learn how to see her worth outside of the Horde and find her potential to do good.
Catradora may yet become canon, though. There’s an excellent story here to be mined. Childhood best friends who promise to always be together even though there’s simmering resentment on one side and obliviousness on the other? Check. A drastic break that sees both parties on opposite sides of a war, even though they clearly still care? Check. The potential for redemption and reconciliation? Definitely.
The progression that we might get as Catradora slowly come together over the next three seasons would be epic. Seeing Catra reluctantly still care, despite swearing off Adora forever, would be nice. Watching her discover her own self-worth, perhaps through the aid of her new friends, would help. It would also be nice to see Adora unwaveringly support Catra.
So no, Catradora is not canon. It might not ever be canon – Glimmadora, though I don’t find it compelling, may still be endgame. There might be no endgame at all, since this is, ostensibly, a kid’s show. But the potential for Catradora is beautiful and could turn into something amazing. I’m willing to wait and see.