Thursday, June 14, 2018

Voltron: Legendary Defender (Re)Watch 5.3, "Postmortem"

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Into the power vacuum left by the defeat of Zarkon, many Galra seek to go--and other forces seek to manipulate events.

5.3, "Postmortem"

Written by Todd Ludy
Directed by Steve In Chang Ahn


On the Alcari homeworld, construction continues as the Alcari leader, Pidge, Matt, and their father look on. The Alcari leader explains the construction as the emergent capital of the Voltron-allied coalition, and Pidge's father notes the rapid changes. Noted are that the conflict with the Galra is not yet ended and that the Alcari defenses are not yet fully in place.

Among the Galra, news spreads that Zarkon has fallen and that Voltron is on the Alcari homeworld; it is to be the next target. On that world, Lotor and Allura confer about recent events; Lotor is not thrilled to have slain his own father. Not all are pleased to see Lotor in place as he notes the looming contest for leadership of the Galra--and his desire to participate. Doubts are expressed about the plan, although Shiro notes the utility of placing Lotor on the Galra throne. Shiro asserts his authority as the leader of Voltron over the objections of the others, growing increasingly angry.

Haggar observes events from afar, seemingly through Shiro, and clearly longing for her son before interrupted by an assassination attempt she is able to thwart with ease. The assassins are sent back in shame, and Haggar enacts her reprisal. She also frees Lotor's erstwhile lieutenants, conscripting them to her own cause.

This is another not-good sign.
Image taken from the episode, used for reporting.
Meanwhile, a Galra commander attacks the Alcari homeworld as a tactic to secure power over the other Galra. The attack makes planetfall as a weapon of mass destruciton, and Voltron is summoned to aid; Shiro responds first, finding the Alcari biotechnology suborned by the attack.

Haggar lays out her concerns to Lotor's former lieutenants. She is not out to secure her own position, but the Empire.

Lance, conducting target practice, finds himself overwhelmed and unlocks strange new abilities. Allura notes the similarities to her father's performance, and the two confer about Shiro's difficulty. Lance offers such counsel as he has. And Pidge explains her accomplishments to her father, who exults in them--and the need to fight on is noted, to her father's sadness.

Shiro continues his investigations, a new horror arising before him and attacking. Shiro summons the other Paladins, and the Galra advance slowly as their plans proceed and the Alcari suffer. Matt and Pidge's father confer with Corran as the attack continues with difficulty. The nature of the Galra attack begins to become clear, and Pidge enlists her family to analyze the attack as the whole of Voltron is deployed--and swiftly trapped. The attack proceeds toward the Alcari capital, draining power from the Alcari. Matt and Pidge's father work to overthrow the attack as Voltron struggles against capture by the Galra--and Corran realizes who has attacked.

The Paladins other than Shiro appear in a strange communion. Lance receives an odd, partial vision before Voltron breaks free; he returns to himself amid the ongoing battle as the Galra are thwarted. The ongoing attack is halted and the Galra weapon overthrown--by Lance.

Guess who's back...
Image taken from the episode, used for reporting.
In the wake of the battle, Pidge's father notes pride in his children. He will return to Earth, though he commends his children's dedication. And Lance confers with Shiro; matters ease between them somewhat, although Lance is still concerned. And Lotor's former lieutenants, now Haggar's agents, return to her with Sendak, retrieved from his unceremonious ejection into space.


There is much going on in the episode, a number of plots working simultaneously and in some relation to one another, but with participants not necessarily aware of one another's actions. The parallel to the braided narrative typical of such romances as Malory's prevalent throughout the series is therefore particularly prominent in the current episode--as is the parallel to early passages in Malory, when an appointed tournament to determine who will next hold the throne is in progress. (Admittedly, the Galra exercise is likely to be more vicious than even medieval tournaments; even prior to the Arthurian Round Table Oaths, there were codes ostensibly observed, as seems not to be the case with the "victory or death" ethos promulgated by the Galra.)

The nature of the power struggle itself also seems to ring of prevailing concepts of medieval history--namely that a bunch of belligerent warlords rush to fill a power vacuum, with one of them having the imprimatur of organized religion. The Holy Roman Empire comes to mind as a possible antecedent, perhaps in the late ninth century or in the run-up to the Hohenstaufen dynasty. (Given the reforms occasioned in the latter case, it seems a more likely antecedent.) That is, admittedly, a first-blush impression, and more work would need to be done to confirm or deny it--if a neat historical parallel can be drawn, which may well not be the case. But even if there is not a single underpinning event, the episode seems to be borrowing from the ideas at work, and that is worth more consideration.

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