We’ve speculated, we’ve asked questions, and we’ve interpreted vague answers to the best of our abilities, but at midnight we finally got to see the plot of Voltron: Legendary Defender play out in season 3! Though the season was cut short with only 7 episodes, there was a lot of information packed in and presented to us, but it all felt surprisingly seamless for the most part. Here are the top 5 points from the season!
1) Lotor’s Reveal
We had already fallen in love with Prince Lotor before the premier, let’s be honest. And AJ’s tweet was certainly a real catalyst toward that. But that didn’t make seeing his character reveal any less thrilling. Lotor has much more to offer than just your typical bad guy qualities. He has the skill and power of a ruler, which he gets from his father, King Zarkon, but he also differs from the other Galra leaders. Just before his introduction, insurrectionists Galra mention that Lotor has a group of generals under his command who aren’t even full Galra. Those generals end up being lovable and fun to see on-screen, but the guy has a point. From what we’ve seen so far, the Galra are hell-bent on either destroying or enslaving any race but their own. This makes Lotor seem like he’s gone soft.
Lotor also develops a different plan of action than his father had exercised previously. Rather than going with brute force to obtain his goals like Zarkon, Lotor takes a craftier approach. He constantly toys with the paladins of Voltron, playing a large-scale game of space tug-of-war with them. He does not possess all the brute strength his father does, nor does he have an army at his command. Instead, he relies on mind games and manipulation. Which makes him far scarier because, just like the paladins, we have no idea what his next move will be.
Sven and the Alternate Reality
A lot of predictions about season 3 were made, but there seems to be a general consensus that this was completely unexpected. After being lured into a mysterious quintessence wormhole and onto an ancient Altean ship, team Voltron is greeted with characters who at first appear to be our already known Shiro and Slav. But the accent, demeanor, and distinct lack of white hair floof quickly indicate that this is not Shiro. The accent is immediately reminiscent of the character Sven from the original Voltron: Defenders of the Universe. And sure enough, subtitles reveal that this character is named Sven, confirming that Shiro’s character has been based off Sven’s for the purpose of this reboot.
Our paladins don’t know anything about Sven, but they quickly figure out that they’ve been pulled into an alternate reality. And after talking with some friendly Alteans who also board the abandoned ship, the team discovers that there are more disturbing ordeals than figuring out Sven. It turns out in this reality the Alteans are the conquerors of the universe instead of the Galra, and they have been traveling across the universe to instill “peace” by means of implanting mind control devices in other species. This moment was absolutely devastating. Allura, who had just started getting control of the Blue Lion, was elated to see that people of her own race had somehow survived. And when that was ripped away from her, the look on her face was heartbreaking. But kudos to her for powering through this and fighting to save that reality from further devastation at the hands of the Alteans. Allura was the key to success in that mission!
Allura and Lotor’s Commanders
Speaking of Allura, that long sip of character development is refreshing! For the past two seasons, we have loved Allura because of her badass fighting and strategist skills, but her emotional issues have generally been overlooked. In this season, there is no denying that she is going through the same issues that every paladin on the team is going through, especially when she is chosen to pilot the Blue Lion; being denied as a pilot by the Red Lion hurt her because her father was Red’s original pilot. Her insecurities show, and we are reminded that she is most likely around the same age as the other paladins. Allura has had to grow up too quickly, has witnessed the decimation of her race, and has, quite frankly, held her shit together better than anyone else in the show. Seeing her flourish as a pilot and leader gives us a much deeper look at her character. I’m almost in tears just thinking about it.
In addition to that, Lotor carries an all-female group of commanders with him. Each of them has a distinct trait: knowledge, strength, tactics, and espionage. I’d like to point out that these traits are strong. Not only that, but they are also all-encompassing. To see these traits given to female characters who continually fight and succeed is absolutely EVERYTHING. We really haven’t seen many female Galra to begin with, so to see that Lotor has chosen these women to fight under him is both surprising and invigorating. 2 points to Lotor for embracing the development of mixed race female badasses!
Shiro’s Return and Near Death Experience
The real moment we had all been waiting for was Shiro’s return. And it definitely lived up to the dramatic expectations we had! After waking up on a Galra cruiser once again, Shiro must find a way to escape. But this time, he’s doing it on his own, and has the misfortune to see what appears to be a clone of himself being experimented on in another room as he passes. That is our first indication that something I wrong. The second is hearing a Galra scientist mention “Operation Kuron”. “Kuron” can be loosely interpreted from Japanese as “clone”. That’s never a good thing to hear.
After going through some hassle on the planet he escapes to, Shiro finally figures out how to get back to Voltron. But when his plan fails, he is left floating in a Galra pod in the middle of space. He continues to log his time spent, noting his lack of food, water, and oxygen. But just before his last breath, the Black Lion picks up on his distress and the team comes to save him. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
There are a lot of questions surrounding Shiro and his return. For starters, how long has he really been gone? His hair has considerably grown out, and he hasn’t shaved for quite some time. The amount of time passed is never mentioned during the season, but seeing as the previous seasons have picked up quickly where the previous one left off we can assume that it really hasn’t been that long. Even after he cleans up, his outfit, and even his hair floof, is different. Why does no one question his appearance?
Shiro’s demeanor has also changed. In the past, he has been extraordinarily calm, collected, and understanding of his teammates’ emotions, especially Keith. But upon his return, he seems to have a shorter temper and more demanding leadership method. Even little things like his body language and rhythm of speech seem off. And did anyone else notice that Shiro has suggested a lot of things that Lotor wanted to happen?
From what we have seen, it is highly possible that the Shiro brought back into the castle is not the original Shiro. If this Shiro is part of “Operation Kuron”, he is most likely a clone. The memories he flashes through could very well be implanted, his prosthetic arm easily mass-produced, and his physical traits like his scar and hair genetically engineered. Since we’re getting the prediction training rolling in this fandom anyway, I submit this:
This Shiro is possibly unaware of being a clone. And because of this, he has no idea that he is actually a Trojan horse sent in by Lotor to bring down Voltron from the inside out. Though the small differences in his appearance and demeanor seem obvious to us, the rest of his team has been so desperate to find him that they probably aren’t paying much attention to it. This wannabe Space Dad is going to make the team space sad if this prediction comes to light.
The Voltron Origin Story
Finally, we get to see some Voltron history! Coran’s recount of Voltron’s origins reveals that the original 5 paladins were originally a diverse group of diplomats seeking peace throughout the galaxy. With the help of another Altean alchemist named Honerva, who is studying quintessence leaking from a riff in Zarkon’s planet , King Alfor is able to create Voltron. He and the other paladins, including Zarkon, who pilots the Black Lion, go on to form Voltron and become known as the Defender of the Universe. Oh, and Zarkon marries Honerva. He was chivalrous at some point, apparently.
But things go south when Honerva become obsessed with her studies and begins to experiment with the quintessence in immoral ways. Her cat becomes sick, and she uses quintessence to heal it. Because, hey, the Galra are already bad guys, so why not throw in some animal testing too? Unsurprisingly, the cat is notably different in appearance and personality afterward. But Honerva stands firmly behind her combination of science and magic.
However, she soon becomes poisoned while doing her research. As she is dying, Zarkon begs the other paladins to help him pry open the riff and syphon some quintessence to heal his wife. But when Voltron finally makes its way into the riff and the lions are forced apart, Zarkon hops out with Honerva in hand and puts her in direct contact with the quintessence. Both are instantly affected and physically altered. And that’s how Zarkon and Haggar came to be the dynamic Galra duo they are today.
Knowing that Zarkon and Haggar are married is not entirely shocking, but it is still unnerving that Honerva, one an acclaimed Altean alchemist, turned herself into the Galra witch she is now. Now it also makes sense that she had been so protective of the stash of quintessence aboard the Galra ship in season 1; the quintessence is her life, both literally and figuratively. And the use of quintessence in tandem with her Altean science skills is apparently what makes her so powerful. Gaining insight into this backstory helps a lot of loose ends tie up.
However, we are left to wonder why Lotor left his parents. Was he going through the usual rebellious teenager phase? Or is there something deeper that drove him away and inspired him to take in unusual cohorts?
Overall, the third season of Voltron was a massive success. The angst was present, but not overbearing and character development came through in ways we hadn’t expected. The reveal of Lotor and reappearance of Shiro were handled smoothly and kept us captivated all night. The biggest disappointment is simply not having enough episodes to watch because the season was split into two separate seasons instead of being left to one. But don’t worry, season 4 is set to premier in October, just after New York Comic Con! Season 3 was fun, but now we’re counting the quintents until October 13th!