Thursday, August 23, 2018

Voltron: Legendary Defender (Re)Watch 6.7, "Defender of All Universes"

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The Paladins conclude a battle and find a new purpose as the sixth season of Voltron: Legendary Defender comes to an end.

6.7, "Defender of All Universes"

Written by Tim Hedrick
Directed by Rie Koga and Chris Palmer


The battle from the previous episode continues, Lotor and Voltron facing off as a shuttle arrives at the Castle of Lions. The Paladins are hard-put to it, with Lotor's evident skill showing. The difficulty of coordinating five fighters against one is clear, as well, and the Paladins seek to strategize, using their surroundings to advantage. The attempt is successful, at least in part, but Lotor displays additional, surprising abilities.
No, Voltron does not have an easy time of it.
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.

Meanwhile, Coran and Krolia tend to the retrieved Shiro clone. And the battle continues to go poorly for Voltron. Allura explains his strange abilities, accepting responsibility for them. Lotor exults in his triumph and presses his attack, and Voltron is disabled, temporarily. The Paladins follow Lotor into the quintessence field, guided by Allura.

In the field, the Paladins face Lotor again. Battle is joined, and the effects of the quintessence begin to manifest in increased capabilities for Voltron. Increased aggression also begins to manifest; Allura recognizes psychosis as an effect of the field. They make to escape while under attack by Lotor; Allura determines to overwhelm Lotor with energy; to all appearances, it works, and Lotor is defeated. The Paladins must flee before being destroyed by the field; they leave Lotor behind them as they return to normal space.
For varying definitions of "normal"
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.

After, Allura explains what she knows of events. The others thank Allura for her efforts, and Coran notes the destabilization of local space in the wake of their battle. Work to repair the damage begins under great pressure. Coran notes that the Castle will need to be sacrificed against the rifts, and work to use it in such wise proceeds. The Paladins retrieve what they can and evacuate, and Coran bids his family's handiwork goodbye--but not in vain, as the efforts to rebuild reality succeed. A single crystal remains of the Castle; Hunk retrieves it.
Appropriate that the Lion associated with earth retrieve a stone.
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.

The Paladins proceed to find a safe haven where they can tend to Shiro. Allura is able to retrieve his spirit from the Black Lion and return it to the cloned body. Shiro returns, although he is somewhat changed by the experience. And the Paladins purpose to return to Earth.


There is much going on in the episode, and no small part of it partakes of the medieval and medievalist. Lotor's resonance with Mordred is one such thing. He describes himself in the episode as offering a "new Altean defender" as he assails the old one--Voltron--that has done much to bring freedom from Galra tyranny to the universe; in so doing, he continues to refigure Malory's Mordred, who presents himself as offering a new order to supplant that of Arthur. And his actions do result in the final ruin of the Altean kingdom, though, as in the late medieval work, hope remains for the Paladins.

Allura continues, too, to exhibit saintly qualities--not so much in beatific patience, as contemporary usage often associates with the term, as in the miracle-working depicted throughout medieval hagiography. She effects a transition into and return from what might well be called heaven; the quintessence field is a luminous realm that fills people with power that mortal flesh cannot endure, and Dante's Paradiso comes to mind as one of many antecedents. Too, it is through her that Lotor--in demonic guise--is defeated, with clear parallels to the stories of holy people that were popular in what we now call the Middle Ages. And Allura brings Shiro back from the dead, corresponding to what has often been regarded as among the holiest of works.

There is also an echo of an earlier medieval in the episode, an elegiac thread that brings to mind Old English poetry. Allura is clearly saddened at having to leave Lotor in the quintessence field; it is clear that, despite his perfidy, she has some feeling for him. Coran must destroy the work of his forebears, work in which he takes no small pride. The Paladins have to give up what has been their home. Each is ample cause for sadness, and it is evident that the Paladins feel that sadness. But they also look to hope to come as they propose to return to Earth, and "Deor" comes to mind: "Þæs ofereode; ðisses swa mæg."

As a special note, this appears to be the 250th post to the Tales after Tolkien Society blog. Thank you for reading! We hope you'll keep doing so!

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