Thursday, January 4, 2018

Voltron: Legendary Defender Rewatch 2.6: "The Ark of Taujeer"

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

As the Voltron Force continues its quest across the cosmos, they return to one vision of the Arthurian chivalric, saving a forlorn people.

2.6. "The Ark of Taujeer"

Written by Mark Bemesderfer
Directed by Chris Palmer


The Galra have stripped a planet of its resources and forced the full population to retreat to a single ship with a single engine, described as an ark by the natives. Meanwhile, Allura asserts that Zarkon is tracking the Paladins through her; Keith retorts that he is the tracking agency. Pidge claims that the Black Lion itself is the issue, and Shiro asserts that the Paladins will be going on the attack.

Pidge presents a mechanistic means of finding targets, noting Taujeer is the nearest likely target. After, Keith and Shiro talk briefly; Keith makes to rest, but considers his strange dagger until interrupted by a seeming call to arms. The Red Lion rejects him, and he finds himself among the Galra--but only in dream.

Keith makes to leave, but is happened upon by Allura about the same business. They confer about the need to isolate tracking factors and decide to leave together. The other Paladins note the absence of Keith and Allura. Lance jumps to romantic conclusions, and Allura and Keith note their plan. Shiro rejects the plan, but Keith and Allura assert their continued intent--as the Castle of Lions enters a debris field emanating from Taujeer.

The Paladins deploy to investigate, and the Taujeer natives relate their plight. The Paladins agree to help as the gravity of the situation becomes clear. The lack of one Paladin and the accompanying Lion is noted, and work to assist proceeds apace.

Meanwhile, Keith and Allura confer about their own situation, and Keith broaches the idea of some few Galra, at least, as allies. Allura rejects the idea--and Zarkon continues his search, dispatching the nearest Galra commander back to Taujeer under duress.

Work to save the Taujeerians proceeds, and progress is made. Keith and Allura continue to confer. The situation on Taujeer becomes more urgent--for the Galra attack. The Paladins make to interdict the attack and support the Taujeerians. Keith and Allura make to return to action, but their small craft explodes, stranding them in space as the fight against the Galra continues.

The Red Lion launches itself to retrieve Keith and Allura amid the ongoing battle. The Yellow Lion manifests a new power, keeping the Taujeerians from falling to their doom. The Red Lion returns in time to save the lot. The Galra are repulsed and the Taujeerians saved--and Keith and Allura apologize for their departure, so Shiro puzzles out that the Black Lion is attracting the Galra.


Early in the episode, the Galra commander comments that if the natives "are strong enough to survive, they will; that is the Galra way." The comment, an iteration of ad baculum or "might makes right," is an easy shorthand for evil or badness. It is also the kind of ethic that Arthurian knighthood, as often conceived by Victorian and later thinkers, explicitly rejects; White's take on the Round Table, underpinning many people's conceptions of chivalry, offers one example. While more formal students of Arthuriana will be aware that the Round Table Knights are not quite so noble--as modern thought conceives of the noble--as all that, the Pentecostal Oath to which the Round Table swears annually does at least move away from a flatly might-makes-right dynamic. And, again, more prevalent ideas of knighthood as a motion towards sainthood--the kind of ethos that Tolkien's knight-like protagonists display and against which Martin poses most of his own knighthood--align against force-as-justification.

Or they do so nominally. In the event, of course, the "good guys" do have more military might on their side than their opposition. Lancelot wins his fights because he is stronger and more skilled. Aragorn has a divine lineage, decades of experience, and a motley assortment of peculiarly capable companions. The Paladins have Voltron, described repeatedly as the ultimate weapon in the cosmos. Their rejection of might-makes-right becomes ironic or hypocritical in the event--but they are not the less correspondent to their medieval and medievalist forebears in being so.

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