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The third season of Voltron: Legendary Defender continues with the matter of succession--and strange mirroring.
3.2, "Red Paladin"Written by May Chan
Directed by Chris Palmer
SynopsisA planet whose people are rebuilding their civilization--with Voltron iconography on display--is assailed by Lotor's four lieutenants: Axca, Ezor, Narti, and Sethrid. The lieutenants display their exceptional prowess by subduing the locals without having to kill any, and before Voltron can be summoned to aid. Lotor takes control of the planet, showing an unexpected mercy to the inhabitants.
Meanwhile, at the Castle of Lions, the Paladins, Allura, and Corran confer about who would succeed Shiro. Team roles are discussed, somewhat facetiously, and Keith reveals in an outburst that Shiro named him successor. There is tension about who will take the Black Lion--and Corran reminds all that the Black Lion will choose its own pilot. Allura affirms that she will participate, as well, and the Paladins present themselves. Allura fails to awaken the Lion, as do Pidge, Hunk, and Lance. Keith presents himself reluctantly, and the Lion responds to him. Allura commends him, followed by the others; Keith continues to reject the choice. Lance ultimately convinces him of the rightness of the decision.
The Paladins then address the question of who will succeed Keith in the Red Lion. Allura presents herself, thinking to succeed her father, who had piloted it before; the Lion does not accept her.
Lotor and his lieutenants confer about current circumstances. The lack of the Black Lion and of the coherent Voltron is noted. Narti is dispatched to gather information.
The Paladins discuss who to bring into Voltron until they are summoned to aid the suborned people.It is a trap, although they do not know it. Keith, again reluctantly, pilots the Black Lion, accompanied by Hunk and Pidge. Lance falls behind, the Blue Lion not answering his commands. Battle is joined, Lotor announcing himself and engaging them. Amid the battle, which goes poorly for Keith, Pidge, and Hunk, Lance and Allura determine what is the matter; Lance is now to pilot the Red Lion, and Allura the Blue. Once they join the fight, along with the Castle, matters improve for the Paladins--because Lotor withdraws. The need to learn more is noted, and the new Paladins begin to settle into their new roles--which includes Keith leading aggressively, pursuing Lotor.
DiscussionA matter of particular note in the episode, and one that emerges only across the entirety, is that the Paladins as they become and Lotor's personal forces are mirrors of one another. Both consist of five primary operatives--the five Paladins, Lotor and his lieutenants--each possessed of complementary skills and attitudes. Both are ostensibly headed by princely rank--neither Allura nor Lotor has fully succeeded the previous monarch, although both are ranking members of their people. The gender-balance of the groups does not quite match--the Paladins are more evenly distributed than Lotor's group--but Lotor's are more unified in purpose, even so. They thus constitute a speculum obscurum for each other--although, given the clear situation of the Paladins as the progatonists, Lotor's group is meant to be the "dark" version (as their clothes convey, though their skins are more diversely colored than the Paladins').
That they are a clearer counterpart to the Paladins than Zarkon is made manifest in their seemingly gentler methods. What Zarkon sought to do with force and could not sustain against determined resistance, Lotor and his lieutenants accomplish with guile--and successfully. They are a thinking enemy, and therefore more dangerous--not only because of Evil Overlord List concerns, although those apply, but also because they are more than a brute against whom rallying is easy. Like the Paladins, they are not so easily misdirected--and with the shift in leadership among the Paladins, there is some suggestion of greater danger.
For Keith has assumed Shiro's station, and if he is like Arthur--even to having Lance at his right hand, along with his special sword--then he is also, as the Gawain-poet puts is, "sumquat childgered," and it shows in his inept leadership in the fight against Lotor. And a hot-headed, impulsive leader is not the kind to put against cold, cunning calculation.