Thursday, January 10, 2019

Voltron: Legendary Defender (Re)Watch 8.4, "Battle Scars"

Read the previous entry here!
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The costs of combat continue to confront the Paladins as Voltron: Legendary Defender presses on.

8.4, "Battle Scars"

Written by Joshua Hamilton
Directed by Michael Chang


I'd be scared.
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.
One of Honerva's Robeasts makes planetfall on the Alcari homeworld. Panic understandably ensues as the Robeast wreaks havoc.

Elsewhere, the Paladins confer about their circumstances. After some strain, they determine to put in with the Alcari for rest and aid. Pidge, in particular, is eager for the chance to reconnect with the technical wizards, and calls ahead--though no reply is forthcoming, which occasions some concern.

It is a matter of no small concern.
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.
The Paladins proceed, rushing on to find the planet ruined and a weblum on approach. They move on the planet themselves, rushing ahead to find the desolate wasteland the planet has become; its cities are broken, all life drained from it. They look for survivors, hoping to evacuate some from the path of the weblum; there are none, all life reduced to dust in the wind, its vital energy drained. And the Paladins posit reasons for the attack to little avail.

Pidge is stunned by what she finds and reclaims her mental connection to the Alcari in the extremity of her sadness. She sees visions of what had happened, and she begins to follow them. The other Paladins attempt to delay the weblum while she does so; the progress of the attack plays out before her eyes in painful, terrifying detail. The Alcari attempted to defend themselves without success; they are able to evacuate some of their population and send a copy of their data to another site, but only a few scattered remnants of them remain, and none on their homeworld, after the Robeast saps the planet's energy. And Pidge learns that the Robeast is using wormholes to travel, which accounts for much of what they have seen in other places.

You thought your service was bad...
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.
The attempt to delay the weblum goes poorly, even after Allura joins it. A call for aid has no effective result, transmission interrupted by local conditions. But Pidge is able to witness the end of the Alcari homeworld and the purpose of the Robeast's attack: retrieval of Alcari technology. At the last moment, she evacuates the planet, and the Paladins together watch the world be taken by the weblum. They mourn its passing--and they report what they have found of Honerva's machinations.


The tone of the episode is deeply elegiac, even more so than earlier episodes of the series that have been mournful in their thrust. Those go back even as far as the first season of the series (here), popping up with more and less effect later (here, here, and here). The comments on those earleir episodes about the manifestation of such concepts as Þæs ofereode; ðisses swa mæg therefore apply to the present episode in like measure. Given the more overtly philosophical content of the episode--Pidge's vision reveals the Alcari leader speaking to a child about the need of the old to give way to the new, something repeated by the Paladin later in the episode--they apply perhaps more fully; the Alcari whose world is taken are to be mourned, certainly, but a remnant of their people and much of their knowledge remain. They, and the Paladins who are strangely witnesses to their final days, look forward to brighter times and endurance amid the changes of the world--a stable ship upon the rough seas of life, to draw close to another bit of Anglo-Saxon verse. One has to wonder about the possibility of foreshadowing in the episodes to come...

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