Friday, August 11, 2017

Voltron: Legendary Defender Watch 2.1: "Across the Universe"

The second season of Voltron: Legendary Defender opens just as the first season closes, making more of science fiction tropes than of the medieval--but there is still something medievalist to be found.

2.1. "Across the Universe"

Written by May Chan
Directed by Steve In Chang Ahn

Synopsis

Beginning in the moments before the previous episode ends, "Across the Universe" shows Zarkon looking out over the end of the Voltron Paladins' raid on his main facility; they flee, and Haggar interdicts their escape, destabilizing the wormhole the Castle of Lions generated. Shiro, Keith and Pidge are lost; the Castle itself falls into a strange time-loop.

Shiro and Keith emerge onto a brightly lit world, with Shiro clutching a glowing wound as the two fall to ground on different trajectories and crash-land some distance apart. Keith revives to find his Red Lion out of power; he reconnoiters his area and begins to search for Shiro. The latter wakes a bit later, in pain from his wound, and does much the same as Keith. The two are able to make contact via their communications systems, and they confer about their situation--with Shiro noting the intrusion of local fauna.

Both find themselves struggling against their environment, with Shiro having to retreat to cover under attack b the local fauns--mimetic of dragons, interestingly--and Keith beset by geysers that seem to track his path. Keith notes his appreciation for Shiro's lessons as he proceeds and employs them to good effect to reach his senior colleague and, using the Black Lion, to deliver him from immediate peril as Shiro falters in his own defense.

Meanwhile, Pidge crash-lands in a space-borne debris field. After an encounter with local fauna and some evidence of suffering from isolation, she realizes that the debris field contains equipment that can be used to build a transmitter or beacon. She constructs that beacon atop her re-energizing Green Lion and, after an initial failure, successfully transmits her location.

That she does so is fortunate, as Allura and Coran in the Castle of Lions are trapped in a strange time-loop. Allura seems immune to its temporal effects, but the small creatures that accompany her mutate oddly with each pass through the loop, and Coran de-ages (although he retains his moustache, humorously enough). Attempts to break free fail repeatedly, and Coran soon finds himself an infant in Allura's arms, facing non-existence--at which point, the Castle receives Pidge's signal and is able to orient itself such that it can escape the wormhole and recover Pidge, as well as Shiro and Keith.

At the end of the episode, Galra internal politics manifest. The failure to capture Voltron is noted, and the commander who had been tasked with doing so is dragged off to torture and "a fate worse than death." A lieutenant, Thace, is promoted to command and given charge of the investigation into leaks in Galra security as the episode concludes.

Discussion

There is little overtly medievalist about the episode, to be sure, aside from the series commonplaces of paladins and druids, already discussed at length. Some things can be read as medievalist, however; the interleaved narratives are typical of such works as Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, and, although far from unique to it, do serve to situate an already-medievally-associated work with its antecedents a bit more fully.

Too, something in the brightly lit world on which Shiro and Keith land calls to mind depictions of Purgatory. The two warriors do experience some trial and privation before being allowed to ascend to the heavens, and they do emerge from their experiences on the world in what seems a stronger position because they emerge more unified, with something like a fraternal or filial relationship budding between the two. And there is something of the Fisher King or of Sir Urry in Shiro's lingering injury; whether a particular paladin or other force can heal his injury remains to be seen.

In the gap between this report and its predecessor, not only has the full second season of the series emerged, but a third has begun, as well, and the comics remain available. Matters have not conduced to much work on this series or on other, similar projects that might be pursued--but that appears to be changing. It is hoped, therefore, that there will be a bit more of this kind of thing to come in the days ahead.


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