Thursday, August 25, 2016

Voltron: Legendary Defender Rewatch 1.7: "Return to the Balmera"

The Balmera arc of the series continues, as do commentaries on how the series recapitulates the medieval.

1.7. "Return to the Balmera"

Written by May Chan
Directed by Steve In-Chang Ahn

Synopsis

As the Castle approaches the Balmera, Allura, Coran, and the Paladins plan how they will liberate both it and its inhabitants from Galra control. As they begin to enact their plans, Lance voices a desire for glory, for which he is swiftly rebuked by Keith. Proceeding, the Paladins reconnoiter the Balmera and work to destroy Galra facilities; during the process, both Keith and Lance stumble onto new abilities in their Lions. Shiro recognizes that the Galra are enacting their own plans against the Paladins--plans which are explicated in a brief narrative focus on the Galra military as it moves to engage the Lions.

On the Balmera, the operation continues. Hunk, true to his word, works directly to free the Balmerans held captive; he learns that Shay has been taken into special captivity. Keith and Lance continue to coordinate well, and, at length, the five Paladins converge where Shay is held captive--at which point they are trapped away from their Lions, which the Galra military makes to steal as it engages with Allura and Coran. Shay and the other Balmerans work to clear the Paladins' paths back to the Lions, however, and the Paladins, Allura, and Coran make short work of the oncoming forces.

Meanwhile, Zarkon rebukes his military commander for interfering in his plans. What they are becomes clear when a Robeast crash-lands on the Balmera; the episode ends with the looming threat.

Discussion

Some of the ongoing medievalisms of the series continue in the episode. For example, the need to protect the innocent while fighting the less so, noted in "Return of the Gladiator" (here), presents itself again in comments throughout the episode that the Paladins have to limit their collateral damage as they fight the Galra on the Balmera. In such things, then, the episode breaks no new ground, although it does well to contiue to sift through such soils as the series has already dug up.

The association of Lance, the pilot of the Blue Lion, with Lancelot, his evident namesake, receives reinforcement, as well. Malory's Lancelot is repeatedly described as the knight of greatest worship--that is, the knight of greatest renown. He is also rebuked, during the Grail Quest and at other points, for seeking glory as he fights for his own elevation rather than the cause of right. Lance, in the episode, makes several comments about being fĂȘted by the Balmerans, for which he is rebuked verbally by Keith and silently by Shiro, his primus inter pares (since it is clear there is a sense of parity among the Paladins, although Shiro is clearly the seniormost--another reference to the Round Table, perhaps). It is a subtle connection, to be sure, but it is one that does help to link "Return to the Balmera" to major medieval currents and works, suggesting that what has been will contnue to influence what is and what will be.

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