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The series continues with another example of dark mirroring--and what is reflected is the beginning of a back-story.
3.4, "Hole in the Sky"Written by Tim Hedrick
Directed by Chris Palmer
SynopsisAn alarm sounds on the Castle of Lions, noting to the Paladins a distress signal sent in an old Altean code. Despite Keith's misgivings, Allura determines to press ahead and enact a rescue; as they approach the source of the signal, they find an Altean ship caught in a rift of unusual type, identified by Corran as quintessence. Allura demands more action, cajoling the other Paladins into investigating, and, as they breach the rift, they lost contact with Corran, who grows worried.
On the other side of the rift, the Paladins begin a search-and-rescue operation, finding long-dead Alteans and the source of the ship's fate--a comet familiar from Alfor. They also find violent opposition in the form of an alternate Slav (the multiverse-perceiving researcher rescued from Beta Traz) and a look-alike of Shiro--one Sven. It is their appearance that allows the Paladins to realize that they have stumbled into an alternate reality not long before other Alteans arrive. They recognize Allura and the divergences in the universes' histories begin to be explicated.
Meanwhile, it is revealed that Lotor has conspired to bring about events and waits to steal the comet from the ship--a comet composed of the same stuff as Voltron.
Pidge, through study, arrives at the same realization--the comet is the same stuff from which Voltron is made. Slav and Sven continue their sabotage work, and the commander of the native Alteans lures Allura with promises of a utopian empire while the other Paladins come to recognize the dark nature of the alternate Altea--it relies on mind-wiped slave labor. A fight breaks out, as is wont to happen, and the Paladins depart under fire--with Sven dying along the way.
While Voltron is able to take the comet from the alternate Alteans and escape--and though Corran is happy to see the Paladins returned--victory is not ultimately theirs. Lotor, having been watching, sweeps in to steal the material, spiriting it away to some other end, one about which the Paladins must fret.
DiscussionFollowers of the franchise will be pleased to see Sven in the episode. The call-out to the 1980s cartoon is a welcome inside joke.
The episode returns to the idea of mirroring that presents itself in "Red Paladin," doing so far more forcefully than the earlier episode. In that earlier episode, Lotor and his followers mimic the Paladins; the present episode follows the long-standing science-fiction trope of the dark mirror universe (most notable in that genre perhaps for its permeation of the Star Trek franchise), presenting an almost-inverted image of an Altea that might have been. Again, the idea of dark mirroring was one eminent in the medieval mind--insofar as there can be said to be "the medieval mind"--largely due to 1 Corinthians 13:12 and its presentation of the view of the world as occluded by bad glass. So in that, the episode seems strongly to echo the medieval.
It is only a seeming, though; the episode is far more medievalist than medieval. (Clearly not a problem for this webspace.) "The" medieval mind tended to view the "real" world as the dark version, the impure and imperfect iteration of how things ought to be; more contemporary "dark world" depictions, of which the episode is one, view the other world as the dark one, with the "real" world as the best of all possible realities. So while the episode does partake of tropes that partake of the medieval, those tropes are not medieval in themselves, and the episode bears only a tenuous connection to its more remote forebears as a result.