Thursday, December 21, 2017

Voltron: Legendary Defender Rewatch 2.4: "Greening the Cube"

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

As the second season of Voltron continues, the Paladins unlock new powers--and one of them rings of medieval myth!

2.4. "Greening the Cube"

Written by Lars Kenseth
Directed by Eugene Lee


As the Paladins enact repairs to the Castle of Lions while fleeing from Zarkon, they encounter strange biological constructs. Pidge investigates them, finding them to be a coded message. She proceeds to work to unravel that message, during which time Keith contemplates his strange dagger and asks Coran about the possibility that the Galra had reached Earth at some point in the past. The answer he receives is inconclusive.

Pidge determines that the message is a distress signal from the Alcari, a race of engineers whose work Coran commends. The Paladins proceed thence, finding the Alcari living as refugees in their planet's forests--and having shifted their engineering focus from metal to biology. Much is made of Pidge's paradoxical distaste for and connection to nature. They explicate the circumstances of their oppression under the Galra, noting that they are held in part because their leader, Lubos, is a captive of the Galra.

The purpose of the Galra on the planet is soon noted; the local commander purposes to build a superweapon and return in triumph to main service. The effects of Lubos's captivity on the Alcari is also demonstrated.

Plans to rescue Lubos are made and enacted--but it is revealed that Lubos is a collaborator, working with the Galra not to protect his people, but to protect himself. The Paladins exfiltrate under Galra fire, taking Lubos with them to face the censure of his people--and the Galra activate the superweapon the Alcari have built. Voltron engages the weapon, faring badly until Pidge is able to identify and activate the Green Lion's special weapon, a bio-generative cannon.

With the Paladin's weapon activated, the Alcari revolt, and the Galra flee. The new Alcari leader pledges aid to Voltron and reminds Pidge of the interconnectedness of things--and Zarkon attacks as the Paladins depart.


It comes off as a somewhat wry turn of phrase that I ended my previous entry in the series with a comment about weeding when the current episode makes so much of sudden, unchecked growth. That the episode does so also connects it with some ideas noted in relation to earlier episodes, such as the correspondence between Pidge and forests (bespoken here and on the official series website). Of more immediate relevance is the association of Voltron and SGGK, noted here--and seeing some concepts expanded upon in "Greening the Cube."

The Green Knight in SGGK is evocative of not outright derivative of the Green Man figure in church-carvings that has since become typical in depictions of British and Celtic mythoi. In those medievalist constructions, the Green Man is an avatar of the forces of nature--with nature generally envisioned as forests rather than plains, swamps, the riparian, or most other biomes. Pidge, being the green-clad Paladin of the Green Lion--which, incidentally, supports Voltron's shield--is the character most obviously connected to the Green Knight and thence to the Green Man,* the more so due to the series website's description of her as the "Guardian Spirit of Forest."

In retrospect, I honestly should have seen something like this coming. Aside from the website's description--which, as an external item, can be set aside when reading the series as an artistic object in itself, although having the additional contextual materials is always helpful--the color imagery and the fact that the Green Lion is found entombed by vegetation should signal that the character will be connected to the natural world. That Pidge emerges as able to generate explosions of plant life is thus not a surprise (and resonates in part with her femaleness, although she has demonstrated no drive towards motherhood as yet). And that Pidge's mindset enables the kind of connectivity that drives such generation seems foreshadowed in retrospect, as well. But that it ought to have been obvious does not mean it does not resonate with the medieval or its perception, as much else in the series so far has.

*Yes, I know Pidge is female. My claim about proximity stands.

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