Thursday, March 1, 2018

Voltron: Legendary Defender Rewatch 3.1, "Changing of the Guard"

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

The third season of Voltron: Legendary Defender deals with successions--for good and for ill.

3.1, "Changing of the Guard"

Written by Tim Hedrick
Directed by Steve In Chang Ahn


In the wake of the climactic battle with Zarkon, Keith searches through the debris left by the fight, reflecting upon the combat and the loss of Shiro. He acknowledges that Shiro is not to be found and returns to the Castle of Lions. There, Corran and Allura confer about diplomatic matters. She worries about whether the newly-freed worlds can effectively unite and fight the still-mighty Galra Empire. Additionally, actions against the Empire continue, spearheaded by the Paladins and assisted by the Blade of Marmora. Although the actions are successful, there is tension associated with the Galra fighters, despite their resistance to the Empire.

Pidge follows up on the search for her family, conferring with Corran. They tumble to the idea that a loosely organized resistance is forming organically. Corran checks up on other Paladins and the unification efforts--and the inability to form Voltron in the absence of Shiro. Keith rejects the idea of finding a new Paladin.

Meanwhile, Zarkon lives, attended by Haggar. Zarkon's commanders seek audience, but they are dissuaded by Haggar. Lotor's agent marks the tension.

A diplomatic meeting begins on the Castle of Lions. It proceeds poorly despite the promise of effective resistance; the lack of Voltron is a sticking point for many, and Keith's repeated outbursts do not help.

Lotor attends and competes in gladiatorial combat among the Galra, stifling talk of dissent against his regency. His unorthodox methods occasion significant comment. His personal agents also prompt concern. Still, he is clearly effective, and he garners support thereby--although he still deals harshly with those who oppose him.

At the Castle of Lions, the Paladins, Allura, and Corran comfort Keith as he determines to succeed Shiro--as was intended.


Notably, the introductory animation continues to feature Shiro as the pilot of the Black Lion, despite his disappearance from it in the previous episode. As noted in the write-up thereof, the idea of Shiro as an Arthurian "once and future" leader is present in the series--his return is like to spur celebration.

Aside from that, however, the issue of succession to power is one that emerges frequently in medieval and medievalist work. In the medieval European, particularly, with its oft-reported emphasis on the divine right of kings to rule, it would seem that fighting over who would take over after the death or incapacitation of a ruler would be unnecessary--but that does not mean it was not often engaged in and used as an ad baculum argument for legitimacy. (Admittedly, there would generally be attempts to legitimize the rule in other ways, but it was violence that secured it.) Such is the case with Lotor, whose parentage should have made him an incontestable successor but who nonetheless had to defeat a potential rival in public combat before being able to assume command.

It is of some interest that the "typical" medieval succession--"legitimacy" covering violent accession--is associated with the antagonists in the series, rather than with the protagonists that mark earlier treatments. The Malorian Arthur, after all, had to fight battles against no few kings to secure his rule--despite Merlin's machinations and the complicity of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The War of the Roses was a succession struggle, the Hundred Years War was fought in part over succession, and the Norman Invasion was conducted similarly. And while it is the case that victors write histories, so that the protagonists in the narratives of those events are generally those who successfully concluded wars, the pattern of "good guys" fighting their way into power remains a long one; its subversion therefore attracts attention. Consideration of it would be welcome.

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