Over the first two seasons of the Dreamworks Animation‘s Netflix reboot She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Entrapta (Christine Woods) has gone through a surprisingly dark character arc. Starting out as the cute, eccentric inventor who loves small food and First Ones technology, she quickly becomes something much more dangerous. After being left behind during a Princess mission in the fright zone, Entrapta is captured by the Horde. However, instead of continuing to fight against her captors, she begins to design weapons for them in the name of “science.” In fact, her willingness to achieve her own goals at all costs makes her one of the most dangerous villains on the show.
Entrapta’s embrace of the Horde army is explained in the show by her love of science. All she wants is to perform her experiments on First Ones technology. The Horde’s access to robots and greater machine technology allows Entrapta to perform the experiments she most wants to do. Every time Entrapta is asked to defend her defection to the enemy, her explanation is “all I care about is the science, and the Horde lets me do what I want.” The Horde, and especially its leader Hordak (Keston John), embrace technology over the magic of the Princess Alliance. Because the Horde allows Entrapta the resources she needs to perform the experiments she wants, she is more than willing to build their killing machines.
On the show, Entrapta’s one-track mind, love of science, and obsession with First Ones tech is used to explain her motives. The message is, “Science doesn’t take sides,” so Entrapta doesn’t care who she works with as long as she gets to do her work. In the first two seasons, the show presents Entrapta’s choice as morally ambiguous. Despite her intelligence, Entrapta is shown as being rather oblivious to the consequences of her actions and the body count caused by her inventions. She is depicted as being concerned with building a better Princess trap, and what actually happens to the Princesses is irrelevant.
Writers may view this as consistent with Entrapta’s character, but it is definitely not consistent with science. Real scientists are always thinking of the implications and practical applications of their work. They do not operate in a blind furor, working only for the sake of new discoveries. The debates between scientists, engineers, and ethicists are constant. Those who conduct research may disagree on what should and should not be done, and where the limits should be, but they are constantly having these conversations. Scientists don’t just talk about what they can do, they also talk about whether they should do it.
While we, as outsiders, may not always agree with the decisions that scientists and engineers make, it is naive to think that they have never considered the consequences of their work. Therefore, the excuse that Entrapta uses for her development of advanced weapons for the Horde, the concept of development for development’s sake, is just that: an excuse. She uses science and discovery to justify her own selfish motivations. Entrapta wants to see the limits of her powers, see just how far she can take things – pushing the boundaries, no matter the consequences or the body count.
This isn’t science.
This is villainy.
Entrapta is not an innocent eccentric who does not realize the implications of her discoveries. When she watches her machines destroy buildings and forests and attack the Princesses she used to fight beside, she knows exactly what she is doing. She even designs better killing machines when the first ones fail, tailoring the technology to resist the mystical powers of her former allies – to work directly against all that She-Ra and the princesses are fighting for.
It is not that Entrapta is unaware of the consequences of her research, she just doesn’t care.
She isn’t naive.
Entrapta has made the decision that her own goals are more important than anything else, including the lives of her former friends and subjects. Science neither explains nor justifies what she has done. The show’s efforts to depict her as the bumbling professor disguises what she really is. She is only concerned with her own interests and everyone else is expendable.
Entrapta is the worst sort of villain.
I would argue that Entrapta’s choices and actions during her time on She-Ra are worse than those of Scorpia (Lauren Ash) and even Catra (AJ Michalka). Entrapta knows the Princesses. She knows that they are not evil and knows that the Princess Alliance is trying to save Etheria. She is not a believer in Hordak’s goals. Unlike Catra and Scorpia, whose well-being and survival are wrapped up with the Horde, Entrapta is just using the Horde’s resources to further her own goals. I would argue that, as a result, Entrapta is as much of a villain as Hordak himself.
Show-runner Noelle Stevenson has stated that she has already developed three season-long arcs for the She-Ra series. I hope that her arcs include Entrapta facing real consequences for the choices she has made. To have Entrapta experience a sudden revelation and return to the Princess Alliance without any recognition of the harm, destruction, and death she has caused would be too easy. This character has made some horrible decisions in order to further her own goals, sacrificing innocent people in the process. Writers and producers owe the viewers, especially the younger members of the audience, a more nuanced resolution. Entrapta’s actions have had real, tangible, devastating results. The consequences she faces should be similarly devastating.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 3 is set to debut on August 2, 2019, on Netflix… with a name you might recognize: