Thursday, October 18, 2018

Voltron: Legendary Defender (Re)Watch 7.8, "The Last Stand, Part 2"

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Timelines return to union as Voltron heads to Earth and Legendary Defender continues.

7.8, "The Last Stand, Part 2"

Written by Mitch Iverson
Directed by Michael Chang


Not the most welcome guest...
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.
Following from the previous episode, the Galra besiege Earth, led by Sendak. Resistance ensues, meager as it is against the Galra's military might and genocidal tendencies. There is argument about how best to discharge the military resistance, and that resistance fares poorly.

Sendak demands the surrender of the Voltron Lions. Sendak disbelieves the protestation that the Lions are not present and focuses attention on the military installation where Sam Holt has been at work, and another attempt at resistance begins (one calling back to the 1980s Voltron series). The second wave fares somewhat better than the first, the enhanced technology proving itself in live-fire combat. Sendak withdraws to attack civilian populations, and the situation worsens rapidly. And Sendak determines to settle in to wait for the Paladins to emerge.

This seems somehow familiar...
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.
Sam offers comfort as he can, effectively taking command despite the objections of his superiors. Resistance remains possible, despite the horrors that have been perpetrated. Reports of the resistance's situation follow; they are not good. Attempts to retrieve supplies using a literal underground railroad begin--involving another team of five: the four superior cadets (James Griffin, Rizavi, Kinkaide, and Leifsdottir) and Veronica, assigned to command them.

The retrieval mission begins smoothly, with the group proceeding to a known supply depot quickly and operations going easily. Galra patrols are spotted in time, though, requiring action, and the Earth forces have trouble repelling the higher-technology invaders, exfiltrating under fire as more Galra arrive. Veronica is cut off from retreat, but the retrieval mission must go on.

The materials are delivered back to the remaining military installation--as is news of Veronica's loss. Sam reiterates his faith in the arrival of Voltron and exhorts the others to work on the further enhancement of technology--as the Galra continue their assault on Earth and its defensive capabilities while they enslave the human population to build their own military structure. The military's plan proceeds with difficulty--and Sam is summoned to see the returned Veronica, who reports on the situation of the outside world. A paramilitary resistance is at work against the Galra, as well, and efforts to coordinate begin. Veronica asks after her brother--the Paladin Lance--only to be told that no news has yet come. Efforts will continue, however raggedly, and a warning beacon for Voltron is launched. The beacon is released as a flurry of decoys, allowing for a warning to be passed to Voltron.

The situation remains dire, but hope persists that one final effort can be meaningfully made.
Hope springs eternal...
Image taken from the episode, used for commentary.


There is something of an elegiac tone in the episode, as is the case with the earlier "Defender of All Universes." The earlier episode has something of the "Þæs ofereode; ðisses swa mæg" of "Deor" about it, and something like it is at work in the present episode; Sam Holt's optimism that Voltron will arrive and put things to rights, even amid admissions that things are bad, rings of it. And it works into messianic tropes, as well; they cannot be called specifically medieval/ist, of course, but they were certainly prevalent in medieval works. Repeated insistence that an ancient salvific power would emerge to vanquish evil is shows up throughout medieval corpora, with seemingly relevant examples in the Chanson de Roland and among the hagiographies, with others appearing in Dream of the Rood and elsewhere. Thus, as in previous episodes, there are evocations of the medieval/ist that become so more in context with the rest of the series than necessarily directly in themselves--but that makes them neither less valid nor less entertaining to seek and find.

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