Thursday, May 3, 2018

Voltron: Legendary Defender (Re)Watch 4.3, "Black Site"

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Matters turn darker for the Paladins and one of their adversaries as an old threat returns to the forefront and makes itself known.

4.3, "Black Site"

Written by Tim Hedrick
Directed by Steven In Chang Ahn


Aboard the Galra flagship, Haggar faces herself, revealed as an Altean, before she is summoned to an interrogation in progress. She intervenes in it, beginning to puzzle out Lotor's involvement in affairs.

Elsewhere, the Castle of Lions returns to the Alcari world, delivering personnel and materiel to the continuing war-efforts against the Galra. Pidge returns from the events of the previous episode and is greeted warmly--along with her brother, Matt, whom she introduces to those he doesn't know. He is smitten by Allura--and Lance grows immediately jealous. Shiro, Matt's old friend, greets him warmly, as well.

Back aboard the Galra ship, Zarkon is outfitted with armor and resumes his throne. Haggar reports events to him, and he chastises her before purposing to relieve Lotor of duty.

Matt receives a tour of the Castle of Lions and a frantic explanation of events. He is clearly pleased to see his sister at ease. Hunk asks after Matt's activities--he had been an intelligence agent after being freed from Galra prison. And Matt commends Pidge.

Inspecting work on his comet-made craft, Lotor receives a summons from Zarkon. That Lotor has plans independent of his father's throne is noted; he takes one of his lieutenants, Narti, with him to answer the summons.

In something of an aside, Allura and Corran address a cow that had been acquired in the Paladins' earlier adventures. Their confusion about the animal is clear.

Haggar greets Lotor and escorts him to Zarkon. Lotor greets his father and is relieved of command by him, utterly dismissed--to his quiet delight. Haggar notes oddities about him, but Zarkon discards them. Haggar, however, works on Narti in some strange way before she and Lotor return to Lotor's own plots.

Matt and Pidge continue to reconnect, and Matt ingratiates himself to the other Paladins, offering information to facilitate better reconnaissance. Lance, meanwhile amuses himself with trifles until interrupted by Corran and Allura--with the cow. He shows them how to handle the animal, scandalizing them utterly.

Upon his return, Lotor reports events. His own plans, however, have been proceeding apace in his absence--of which Haggar is now aware. The comet-craft are reported to Zarkon--and Zarkon's counter-plans begin, with Lotor now their target.

The Castle's Galra-detection network is enhanced, and new intelligence arrives. Pidge, Hunk, and Matt decode it, finding that Zarkon is returned and a massive troop movement is underway. The Paladins move to investigate before intervening in what is ultimately the attack on Lotor by the Galra. Lotor makes to flee as Voltron approaches under its new cloaking ability. Lotor realizes that Narti is the source of the Galra intelligence on his location and kills her without hesitation--and he escapes. A fight ensues, with Voltron making a quick escape as Lotor's forces do--and Zarkon declares Lotor outlaw.


While Zarkon does not use the word "outlaw" to describe Lotor in his episode-ending message, the label applies--not in the sense American audiences might typically know from Westerns, but in the medieval legal sense. In that sense, the protections of the law do not apply to the person declared to be an outlaw--and the distinction is one that matters. Typically, a criminal who is not an outlaw is still entitled to some protections. That is, there are limits on the use of force against that person, and that person may still be entitled to some due process and acceptable penitence--a trial, by jury or by combat, to prove innocence, or the opportunity to pay a wergild to make restitution, or else an at-least-symbolic attempt to fulfill the terms of banishment, or outright imprisonment. Outlaws, however, have no such protection, no such expectation; as Zarkon declares of Lotor, no force applied against them is excessive, no clemency is to be extended them, and their deaths are not accounted murder or manslaughter, but of no more moment than the extermination of vermin.

It is of such things that rebellions are made--in the medieval imagination as well as in the world that does the imagining. The Robin Hood mythos centers around the title character being an outlaw, for one, and while Lotor is not so romantic a figure as Sherwood's archer, he does seem to represent a more sympathetic figure than his tyrannical father. The present episode may well be setting up such a notion--although it is decidedly thwarted by Lotor's ruthlessness towards his own lieutenant, which must make her comperes nervous about their own possible fates at his hands, even as they must fear what will befall them if the Galra forces find them. But that is also not unlike the medieval and its prevalent dynastic upset, with warriors finding themselves amid shifting loyalties and needing to be suspicious of all.

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