Thursday, October 25, 2018

Voltron: Legendary Defender (Re)Watch 7.9, "Know Your Enemy"

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The full force of what has happened on Earth is made clear to the Paladins as they make what should have been a triumphant return to their homeworld.

7.9, "Know Your Enemy"

Written by Joshua Hamilton
Directed by Rie Koga


Voltron approaches Earth at high speed, trying to make contact with resistance forces--and succeeding. They are warned off and informed of the current situation: Sendak's Galra forces occupy the planet and will leverage it against the Lions. The resistance interferes with Galra efforts to take the robot, and Pidge proposes a plot to make Earthfall covertly, using a seized Galra fighter craft.
It's a classic plan.
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.

It is a cramped flight in, and there is some tension as the fighter passes the Galra blockade of the planet, but entry is successful, if rough. In its wake, the Paladins, Coran, Romelle, and Cosmo look upon the war-stricken world in horror. Keith pushes them on through the devastation towards the resistance's headquarters, and Galra patrols espy them. They are evaded, in no small part thanks to Lance's marksmanship, but reinforcements attack. Fortunately, resistance forces counterattack, rescuing the Paladins and their companions and taking them back to the resistance's hold-out.

It appears formidable, indeed.
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.
The impressive facility greets the Paladins and their companions. The Paladins mark the changes, and Pidge is overjoyed to be reunited with her parents. Lance is also greeted by his large family, and Hunk reflects on his own family before asking about them; they are not present. Shiro is returned to duty and presents his companions; greetings are exchanged, and Keith receives an apology from his former commander. Shiro also mas only moments to mourn his former lover before being called in for debriefing.

The Paladins are briefed on the straitened circumstances Earth faces. After some strained discussion, Allura asks to see the integration of Altean technology into Earth's defenses; the request is granted. The difficulties previously encountered are noted, and offers to address them are made. How to proceed is discussed, and surrendering the Lions is advanced. Allura reminds them that they have access to information about Sendak, and Pidge and Allura proceed on it as Corran works on the Earth's ship. Hunk rails against the situation in which he finds himself, and, to comfort him, Keith opens himself, as well, commending Hunk.

The two make to retrieve Hunk's family and are interdicted by two of the elite cadets as Pidge and Allura manage to pull up Sendak's information. His primary patterns of attack and occupation are pulled up, unsettling Allura. She ends up refining a new hand for Shiro.

Hunk and Keith's operation proceeds, with Hunk recalling time with his family. Contact with local resistors is made, and the status of the prisoners--inside forced-labor camps--is noted. Hunk sorrows, the more so when he sees his family imprisoned.


The present episode calls back less to the medieval and more to the defining conflict of the 20th century: World War II. The Galra, with their insistence upon racial purity and propensity for enslaving populations, figure as the Axis; Earth figures as the Axis-occupied territories in both the European and Pacific theaters. The Paladins, then, figure as the late-entering Allied powers--chiefly the United States, corresponding to that country's propensity to present itself as having "won" the war despite other countries having endured it longer and suffered more greatly from it. There is clear resentment on the part of some resistors for the Paladins, whose work has been largely unknown and has not, to the understanding of local forces, incurred the same costs as their own. And there is some echo of appeasement practice, which did not work in World War II and is rejected as unworkable in the episode. At the same time, there is clear appreciation by no few resistors of the Paladins and the hope of salvation they represent. As such, there is no small amount of material to unpack from the episode--but it seems of much more recent vintage than that which this blog normally partakes.

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