Thursday, May 24, 2018

Voltron: Legendary Defender (Re)Watch 4.6, "A New Defender"

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The short fourth season of Voltron: Legendary Defender draws to an end with a crisis narrowly averted and a change of allegiance looming.

4.6, "A New Defender"

Written by Tim Hedrick
Directed by Steve In Chang Anh


Immediately after the events of "Begin the Blitz," Corran reports Galra forces moving on Voltron's position. Alliance efforts to seize territory continue, and Matt attempts to use one of the seized weapons emplacements to intervene, but he is prevented by the emplacement shutting down--as is that held by the Blade. Voltron's fight continues, however, and Shiro is confident in Voltron's success--with some justification. The incoming cruiser, however, is commanded by Haggar, which bodes ill.

The escaped Lotor proceeds along his own course, although he is tracked, and a newly armored and isolated Zarkon pursues him. An attack ensues, which Lotor is hard-pressed to evade. He flees, and pursuit continues through dangerous space, but Zarkon does not waver. The superior capabilities of Lotor's craft are evidenced, however, and Lotor is able to make an escape.

It's never a good sign.
Image taken from the episode, used for critique.
Haggar calls for a halt towards Voltron's position, confusing her own lieutenants. She proceeds through the corridors of her vessel, demanding not to be disturbed until the planet where Voltron fights is destroyed. She begins a ritual to enact her will, gathering dark power and releasing it through the ship in an unholy conflagration that resonates with the world. The dark energy surrounds the world, affecting Allura before paralyzing Voltron under crushing gravity. An escape attempt fails.

The Paladins disembark from Voltron and seek to fight their way to where Pidge and Hunk can work to disrupt the devices holding them on the planet. their process takes them deep into the world, where Allura identifies Haggar as the source of their trouble. She seeks to interdict Haggar's work, but she cannot, and the Paladins come back under attack. The nature of the threat is made clear--and it is a substantial threat, indeed, one that will eliminate the alliance if it succeeds. Alliance forces begin to recognize that something is wrong, and Keith moves to investigate, taking a seized Galra fighter and picking up Matt along the way.

Lotor observes as the search for him continues. He hears about Haggar's impending action--the world where the Paladins struggle is set to explode spectacularly, taking whole systems with it. He proceeds thence.

The Paladins return to Voltron, finding themselves isolated and disabled. They attempt escape again, the ground beneath them crumbling and dumping them in a crevasse. Lance exhorts Allura to exercise her power, and she endeavors to do so. Voltron is empowered and clears the planet, reestablishing contact with the alliance and asserting the need to interdict Haggar. Corran is ordered away; he complies reluctantly. Keith makes a suicide run on Haggar's ship; before he can complete it, Lotor arrives and disables Haggar's vessel, ending her ritual. Haggar orders withdrawal, and Lotor offers to treat with the allied forces.


As in the previous episode, there seems little overtly medieval about "A New Defender." Indeed, throughout the season, the series has appeared to move away from the medievalist tendencies of early episodes as it has taken a darker, more somber tone. How much of the motion stems from the idea that medievalist work is principally fit for lighter tales is unclear, but some of that idea seems to be at play--despite the popularity of the decidedly dark work of George R.R. Martin and its derivatives, or the well-received and generally better medievalist fantasy work done by Martin's contemporary, Robin Hobb. And that does not even begin to treat the enduring appeal of medieval literature, with its often "adult" themes, or of nonfiction that treats the period.

While medieval and medievalist material does pervade work meant for children (which I have addressed in small measure), that does not mean it ought to be restricted to it and bowdlerized as is the overwhelming tendency with things given to kids. (Note that I am not saying a four-year-old necessarily ought to be given a detailed explanation of, say, the Miller's Tale or the gory minutiae of the conditions faced by such knights-prisoner as Malory, but circumscription reminiscent of the Comics Code Authority's dicta are also unhelpful.) Conversely, "growing up" should not mean setting aside the medievalist, and, while Voltron: Legendary Defender seems to be trying to grow up, it seems to try to do so partly by shedding the medievalist as childish--which seems a strange thing, given the franchise concerned.

Even though I make such a complaint, however, I did enjoy the season, and I look forward to continuing to look at if and how the series plays with the medieval.

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