Thursday, December 28, 2017

Voltron: Legendary Defender Rewatch 2.5: "Eye of the Storm"

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here!
The continuing adventures of the Voltron force put the Paladins in increasing peril as Zarkon's threat grows more pervasive and tightly focused.

2.5. "Eye of the Storm"

Written by Joshua Hamilton
Directed by Steve In Cheng Ahn


A Galra armada, led by Zarkon, attacks, and the Paladins flee. The fatigue of making a fighting retreat swiftly after the completion of the Alcarian mission tells on the Paladins, and mechanical fatigue on the Castle of Lions means that the escape route followed is unstable. It collapses, and Allura follows, while Coran finds himself ill with a disease typical of older Alteans.

Believing themselves away from the threat of Zarkon for a time, the Paladins take the opportunity to rest. Keith and Lance spar a bit over access to a pool. Pidge and Hunk confer as the latter bakes--badly, given ingredients available--and Pidge subsequently makes to study Altean.

As Shiro and Allura themselves confer, Zarkon's armada appears again and renews its attack. The Paladins again scramble to flee, puzzling over how Zarkon manages to continue pursuing them. They are able to escape again, but only haltingly and at the cost of substantial damage to one of the Castle of Lions' main drive systems.

At the end of the most recent escape, the Castle emerges into something of a hellscape and hides amid a cosmic storm to effect repairs. The Paladins give more thought to how Zarkon is able to track them, and a cut-scene displays again how Zarkon manages the trick as the Galra armada emerges and attacks again.

Voltron sallies to face the threat, and Zarkon reaches out to seize control of the Black Lion. The Castle emerges from the storm and breaks Zarkon's hold, and the Lions return to it. The bad products of Hunk's earlier baking find themselves used as makeshift components for the damaged drive system, and the Castle narrowly escapes as Zarkon rages.


It may seem something of a stretch to find the medieval in the current episode, aside from the long-standing tropes of the Paladins already identified. Part of that, though, may come from the relative lopsidedness of depiction; such medieval works as receive substantial attention focus on the deeds and doings of victors rather than those over whom they gain victory. They attend to the hunter far more than the hunted, and, in the present episode, the Paladins are the hunted, with Zarkon--the magic-supported undying lord of an expanding empire, wielding an ancient, magical weapon and seeking to secure another--taking on the role of the hunter.

As such, in other times and places, Zarkon might well be the protagonist of the narrative. Back-story concerns that emerge in later episodes do more to explain it, and they may receive some attention when the episodes are treated, but he is a conqueror who imposes (martial) order over a diverse realm. Many medieval and medievalist works make such figures their heroes--the more so when, like Zarkon, they are seeking to reclaim something that was once theirs and which was taken and hidden away. So it could be that the medievalism that comes about in the episode is an inversion of the usual tropes, with the putative protagonists occupying a role more like the Arthurian Questing Beast and the antagonists serving as the relentless hunters who are lionized and commended. And if that is the case, it forces certain questions about the medieval/ist narratives from which the series (at times) works.

What many of those questions are will have to wait, of course.

What the answers are, I do not yet know.

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