Thursday, May 17, 2018

Voltron: Legendary Defender (Re)Watch 4.5, "Begin the Blitz"

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Tumult among the Galra opens an opportunity for Voltron and the Paladins' allies--and they seize upon it to great strategic effect.

4.5, "Begin the Blitz"

Written by Rocco Pucillo
Directed by Eugene Lee


The Paladins and the Blade of Marmora confer regarding recent developments; the attention of the Galra Empire is on the search for the outlawed Prince Lotor. Shiro suggests a plan to capitalize on the Galra internal disorder. He notes a critical location to cut off a large part of the Galra empire and outlines a strategy for taking it, and small units are assigned to the individual tasks needed to accomplish it. The strategy is risky, but the potential rewards are great.

The green is what it gets the alliance.
Image taken from the episode, used for critique.

As Shiro's strategy proceeds and forces are marshaled and directed towards their assigned ends, Lotor and his lieutenants proceed to a new location. There is internal dissension among them as they make their way to the broken Galra homeworld. He reports that the rift in the Galra homeworld remains open--and that he has the means to traverse realities and harvest raw quintessence. He enacts his plan to do so.

The forces arrayed against the Galra confer, Allura broadcasting across their alliance to coordinate events. Their assault begins, with Pidge and Hunk infiltrating a communications station and taking it handily. Other teams take on massive Galra weapons emplacements, encountering some difficulty in doing so; one of the emplacements falls quickly, the other, less so and at great cost, a deed accomplished only through the intervention of the taken emplacement.

Voltron itself descends upon the critical location, soon stumbling into a minefield. Allura contrives an escape, and Voltron's assault continues.

Meanwhile, Lotor considers his unsuccessful efforts. His three remaining lieutenants confer, their dissension showing, and they take him captive, thinking to return him to the Galra in exchange for clemency. He is, however, able to make an escape, stranding the erstwhile lieutenants.

The alliance's plan falls into place, its disparate parts succeeding in their objectives as the Galra communications station comes back online. The success of the alliance is reported to Haggar--to her expressed approval.


The present episode continues the series's tendency towards multi-threaded narrative, and the amount of attention given to Lotor and his surroundings suggests an increasing focus upon him. It is sensible enough, since he is now a proclaimed enemy of the Galra despite being the son of Honerva--now Haggar, whose approval of the alliance's success against Zarkon's empire makes sense in that context.

If there is medievalism being invoked in the episode other than in the long-identified use of Paladins and the Arthurian overtones of several characters, or in the outlawry of Lotor noted previously, it may be in a couple of things. One is a certain nostalgia for a somewhat imagined past, with Lotor looking back to the founding of the Galra empire for his own inspiration in a manner not unlike a return in thought to an imagined Classical era by Western European medievals in the High Middle Ages. Another is in the clear turnings of the Wheel of Fortune--not the game-show icon that evokes some of the same nostalgia as the current series, but the philosophical construct articulated by Boethius and present in the medieval mind in Latin and in many translations, including Chaucer's Boece. It must be admitted, however, that tying the trajectories of the various characters in the present episode explicitly to Boethius or overt translations or editions of his work is tenuous at best; the episode more addresses the kinds of thoughts that give rise to such texts more than the texts themselves. And a 22-minute cartoon cannot do much to make any connection overt, in any event. Still, the episode does continue at least to pass forward what the medieval passed forward, and it is worth looking into what it does with what, and how.

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