Thursday, July 12, 2018

Voltron: Legendary Defender (Re)Watch 6.1, "Omega Shiled"

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The Paladins of Voltron begin their work to unite the Galra as the sixth season of Voltron: Legendary Defender begins.

6.1, "Omega Shield"

Written by Mitch Iverson
Directed by Chris Palmer

Synopsis

This sort of thing never bodes well.
Image taken from the episode, used for reporting.
With the Castle of Lions still near the Galra mothership, Lotor reaffirms his peaceful intentions to the Paladins, citing Allura's role. She commends him in turn, prompting sour expressions from Lance. As they continue to confer, returning to the Galra ship, they are confronted by a Galra disciplinarian, Lotor's former governess, Dayak. Lotor makes introductions all around, and Daia notes spread of news of Lotor's ascent through the Empire, exulting in the triumph of her former charge. Lotor commends her to the Paladins for instruction about the Galra--and she reveals the intensity of her belief. Hunk is tasked with undertaking the instruction, and the rest proceed to a briefing on the current state of affairs among the Galra. Sendak is noted as leading the most threatening splinter group, and Lotor purposes to address the issue of the splintering Empire via providing unlimited quintessence.

This also does not bode well.
Image taken from the episode, used for reporting.
Meanwhile, Hunk's instruction proceeds. The methods are much as one would expect for a people who were, even before their former leader's descent into evil, rigidly stratified and bellicose. He does, however, learn about the Galra history of conquest and genocide. Their combat-centric society is explicated amid the beginning stages of his training.

Lotor and Allura continue to confer about the need for her to follow her father's work. She is unclear of how to proceed, and is left to work as Lotor makes a speech to his people, claiming his throne openly and calling for their loyalty in exchange for receiving unlimited energy. There is resistance among the various Galra groups, and Sendak works to capitalize upon it, attacking those who would pledge to Lotor.

Hunk progresses in his training as Sendak's attack progresses. The Paladins intervene in the attack, expressing concern over Sendak's return. Shiro experiences some distress amid the conversation, which is noted by the others as their intervention proceeds.

It's a kind of magic.
Image taken from the episode, used for reporting.
Elsewhere, Haggar proceeds along the path to Oriande that Allura and Lotor had followed--and the interferes with Shiro as Voltron forms and joins battle with Sendak's forces. Sendak strikes at the civilian population and flees; Shiro continues to suffer from Hagar as efforts to protect the planet from natural phenomena begin. Voltron separates so that the individual Paladins can work to their strengths simultaneously, and repairs commence--as does a mutiny. Hunk's training emerges, and the Galra fall into line, averting the conflict. Hunk also awakens new abilities in the Yellow Lion, speeding progress. But Shiro's connection to Haggar also continues to cause problems; he experiences the assault of the White Lion, and the shield fails. Lance is injured, and Allura and Hunk respond. Allura heals Lance as Hunk tries to make a stopgap repair--that narrowly succeeds.

In the wake of the event, matters are eased, and the Paladins return to the Castle--with Shiro yet suffering. And Haggar emerges from Oriande greatly empowered and restored to her Altean self.

Discussion

There is not necessarily much of the medieval in the present episode, aside from the long-established patterns the Paladins. A bit may emerge in the (admittedly brief) cross-training program Hunk undertakes (reluctantly, it must be admitted--but then, yellow is associated with cowardice, and Hunk has frequently been described as fearful). There is something that echoes, if quietly, the practice of fosterage--the exchange of children across households, done as a lesser peacemaking gesture than marriage and in the interest of easing feudal succession. The cultural competency Hunk displays--which suggests that his training went on for some time; spans between scenes are not always clear--and that results from his training becomes useful to him in carrying out his work int he episode.

It also, by explicating some of the Galra history, serves to depict them as having been nobler warriors than they now are. That depiction is complicated, however, as are all warrior ethics, by the necessity of violence to them, and further complicates through the open admission of early genocidal practices among the Galra. That is, Dayak openly asserts that the Galra homeworld hosted multiple sentient species early in the Galra history--but those species do not seem to appear in the series, evidently wiped out long before. But that necessary, even horrific violence is not without its medieval--and earlier--antecedents; the knights of old were necessarily killers, and if the best of them pretended to be restrained by such codes as Malory's Pentecostal Oath, the pretense was thing and not engaged in by many.

Perhaps more fortunate a medievalism is in the interactions between Lance and Allura in the episode. While he still remains a lecherous adolescent, his unthinking, headlong rush to get her clear of an energy discharge bespeaks the best parts of the chivalric idea his name evokes--Lancelot readily and repeatedly entered into seeming danger, doing so because he knew at an intuitive level that it was his place to do so. Similarly, Allura's evidently magical healing of Lance's injuries speaks to the wondrous fantastic so often couched in medievalist settings. As the putatively virginal monarch, and one who has been empowered through a journey into a paradisaical realm, she is an amalgamation of no few tropes prevalent in medieval art and literature--Marian overtones abound in her, and the royal ability to heal is evident, as well.

As such, the sixth season of Voltron: Legenday Defender seems poised to continue to deploy the medievalisms that have populated the series previously. What will happen with them will be interesting to see.

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