Thursday, August 9, 2018

Voltron: Legendary Defender (Re)Watch 6.5, "The Black Paladins"

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More revelations shake the Paladins as the sixth season of Voltron: Legendary Defender approaches its end.

6.5, "The Black Paladins"

Written by Joaquim Dos Santos
Directed by Eugene Lee


Not good.
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary
The fight between Voltron and Lotor's lieutenants continues, with Voltron faring less well than could be hoped. Shiro continues to flee with Lotor. The Castle intervenes, helping Voltron, and the battle continues, with the Galra seizing Voltron and permitting Shiro to escape through a wormhole created by Haggar. Voltron breaks, and Keith leaps to pursue his former leader, following narrowly. the other Paladins are left behind.

Keith emerges into a Galra fleet, which opens fire on him. He evades the attacks and continues his pursuit--until Acxa intervenes. They fight, and Shiro delivers Lotor to his lieutenants. They deliver him to Haggar, who orders Shiro to lead Keith away from the fleet.
The plan seems to be working.
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary

The other Paladins confer on the Castle until its systems begin to shut down as a result of being hacked. Pidge tries to intervene, isolating the problem--temporarily. Pidge realizes the source of the problem and moves to make repairs.

Lotor is brought before Haggar, who claims him as her son. He rejects the claim again as she tries to explain herself. She orders him confined, and Axca attacks Haggar, who flees. The conspiracy between them is noted, and Lotor and his lieutenants flee, making to return to the Castle.

This kind of thing rarely leads to a good place.
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary
Keith continues to pursue Shiro, following him into a cave that leads to a Galra facility. Entering, he finds it full of clones of his former leader--with the one he had pursued ready to fight. Melee ensues between them, and it goes badly for Keith for the most part--until his Galra heritage begins to become visible. Keith pleads with Shiro, to no avail. And the facility begins to collapse around them, pushed by Shiro's artificial arm.

Meanwhile, Pidge explicates the nature of the problem afflicting the Castle and works to correct it. She succeeds, narrowly, and remarks on having planned for Shiro's betrayal--sadly.

At length, Keith disarms Shiro. As the facility continues to collapse, Keith recalls his earlier interactions with Shiro and finds strength in sudden purpose.


The title of the episode calls back to the first-season finale, "The Black Paladin." The episode reveals that Zarkon had been the Black Paladin earlier in the show-universe's history, a wicked black knight from whose grasp and twisted minions more noble warriors must rescue an imprisoned princess. And it sends the Paladins drifting apart, cast across the cosmos--from which separation they reunite in the succeeding episodes, to be sure. But it is a decidedly medievalist piece within a series that makes much use of the medieval, and recalling it in the name of the present episode sets up an expectation that it will, in turn, be heavily medievalist.

In the event, the episode does not meet that expectation (which is not an indictment; the episode was entertaining). It does seem to echo parts of Return of the Jedi, to be sure, but how much of that resonance speaks to the medieval in anything other than the most oblique ways is not at all clear. Of course, not every episode need make much of the medieval, and there are other sources that are well worth pursuing in any wide-spread media item.

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