Thursday, May 10, 2018

Voltron: Legendary Defender (Re)Watch 4.4, "The Voltron Show!"

Read the previous entry here!
Read the next entry here!

In a welcome bit of silliness that pokes fun at many animation tropes, the Paladins find themselves putting on shows within their own show.

4.4, "The Voltron Show!"

Written by Joshua Hamilton
Directed by Chris Palmer


The Paladins confer regarding their current status, noting that matters are improved and the rebellion against the Galra empire is increasing. Part of the upswing has resulted from the parades the Paladins have been doing across space, and Coran is tasked with seeing to the logistics of the next such event.
Image result for The Voltron Show!
No, not going well.
Image taken from the episode, used for purposes of critique
It does not go well, and in its wake, a trader known to Coran offers him assistance in the form of a consciousness-altering medicament. When another of Coran's events goes poorly, he avails himself of the assistance--which takes the form of a parasite that attaches it to his brain.

Changes to his personality are immediate and noted--but they have the result of producing improved performances from the Paladins in their recruitment drives. Despite some complaints from the performers, the shows go over exceedingly well--until Shiro reminds Coran that their tour has a definite end and the Paladins need to go back to the overt, direct fight against the Galra. Coran rages at the seeming betrayal and engages local megafauna in a parasite-induced rage. A fracas ensues, although it takes some time for the danger to become clear; it begins amid the Paladins' last show, and they believe it part of the festivities--until the parasite is extracted from Coran and he warns them of the threat. It is swiftly dispatched--to the acclaim of the crowd--and the debriefing that follows is a relatively pleasant one.


The referentiality of the present episode is delightful, with call-outs to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and to the various anime series that precede Voltron: Legendary Defender both in the overall Voltron franchise and in popular US conception, generally. While many of the jokes were doubtlessly lost on the expected primary audience of current children, the presumed secondary audience of those who were (nerdy) children in the 1980s and whose nostalgia for such media can be counted upon doubtlessly got most or all of them.

More to the point, while complaints about "spit and polish" likely go back as long as soldiering itself, it seems odd that the Paladins--most of whom are not much more than children and few if any of whom actually trained as warriors (Allura is the likely exception)--would chafe at an ultimately useful respite from active combat. That they are affected by their experiences is clear; Shiro's seeming PTSD is a recurring element of the series, after all, and even for those who are not drastically impacted by such concerns, the physical tolls of combat demand occasional rest. Too, as noted in the episode, the parades and performances have actual, useful effects on the numbers of recruits to the cause of overthrowing the Galra regime. It may not be particularly medieval, but, as has been noted before, a series that borrows from the medieval and medievalist cannot be expected always to adhere to them.

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