There’s no denying that Shiro’s reappearance in season 3 of Voltron: Legendary Defender raised a lot of questions from fans. Those questions have continued to pop up and evolve each time a fan re-watches the show and notices something new. I personally supported the theory that Shiro was a clone in a previous article, and that’s not something I plan to rule out despite some new hints I’ve discovered on my own. But here is an explanation of how my own thoughts on Shiro have evolved!
First, just before Shiro opens his eyes, we see air bubbles floating to the surface of some sort of pink liquid. Second, when Shiro wakes up he has a vision of Ulaz, the Blade of Marmora operative who had helped him escape from the Galra back in season 1. The vision dissipates as quickly as it appeared and Shiro seems to get his bearing rather quickly. Aside from those jelly legs he’s got from being strapped down to an examination table for who knows how long.
His struggle to get on his feet was the next issue I found; at this point, he has been missing for some time, but it seems odd that he would be confined in such a way for the entirety of the time he was missing. The Galra could have easily thrown him into a cell just as they did before, or even put him in a cryo-pod if they were concerned about him escaping. So why was he strapped to that table for so long?
That question was answered pretty quickly. As he makes his escape, Shiro gets a glimpse of an ongoing experiment that sends him into a flashback. In the flashback, we see a first-person perspective from inside a pod filling with some sort of liquid—the same stuff we saw in the first few seconds of the episode—as a Galra scientist talks about “Operation Kuron” and orders someone to “begin stage two.” It’s also important to note that what triggers his first-person vision is seeing himself, or a duplicate of himself, strapped to an examination table. If you remember my article on season three, you’ll know that this was what absolutely indicated to me that the Shiro Keith saved was actually a clone. But looking at it in conjunction with my new observations, something feels off.
This Shiro could well be the original Shiro with short-term memory loss. This would explain why he doesn’t remember anything that happened between the time he wakes up and when he was fighting Zarkon for control of the Black Lion, and I think this is a good theory to work with. What bothers me is the phrase “begin stage two.” There are a couple things we could consider to be stage one of whatever plan is going on, namely Shiro’s Galra prosthetic, but I think those should be put on the back burner for the time being.
I think it is very likely that stage two of Project Kuron involved some sort of mental programming or re-programming. This could also be the reason for Shiro’s short-term memory loss and could explain the “weird headache” he experiences after being rescued by Voltron. Having someone root around in his head would surely have some side effects and I can’t think of something more obvious. So, even if this is the original Shiro, he’s compromised in some way.
The moment that brought me back to the clone theory was when Shiro had another first-person flashback. In this flashback, a Galra scientist refers to Shiro as a subject number and clears him to be used in Project Kuron. Now, it’s possible that there are many different individuals of races from across the universe involved in this project. But because the focus has been on Shiro for so long and we know “kuron” roughly translates to clone we can conclude that the reference applies explicitly to Shiro. And giving him a subject number confirms that he is one of multiple subjects in the experiment. So, that just opens up more questions: how many Kuron subjects exist and how is this Shiro going to affect the team?
The last issue I have to bring up in “The Journey” is the comment that is made when Shiro makes his escape: a Galra scientist simply states that “Operation Kuron stage three is underway.” Even if I noticed this before, I didn’t remember it, and it was the biggest ‘oh shit’ moment I had during the episode. This means that Shiro’s escape wasn’t really an escape at all—it was all part of a larger plan devised by Zarkon’s forces. Which further leads me to question Shiro’s first escape. Were Ulaz’s intentions as innocent as they seemed? Or is there something we don’t know about him and the Blade of Marmora that will come back and negatively affect Voltron in the future?
I’m not saying that the BoM isn’t a positive ally, just like I’m not saying that Shiro is definitely a clone. But at this point in the series, I don’t think it’s fair to rule anything out. Shiro has been an enigma since the beginning and so has his past. Right now my strongest theory is that, clone or not, he has undergone some sort of mind alteration that is subconsciously forcing him to lead his team into Zarkon’s hands and unknowingly give coalition information/secrets to the Galra. Those headaches are either a side effect of the initial alteration of his mind or the moments when his mind is being opened to someone else. Either way, Shiro’s presence on the team is going to cause some major damage in coming episodes.
I’m a firm believer that Lotor will have some insight into this situation. Knowing him, he’ll probably aim to use the information as leverage and try to get at the Black Lion if Shiro is rejected again as paladin. The likelihood of the latter happening is slim, but hey, a girl can dream!
On a final note: Shiro’s scream when he cauterizes his leg wound in this episode felt like a rusty knife being driven through my heart and I will never be able to get over the fact that he’s going to have a scar on his thigh for the rest of his life because of it. Let him rest, DreamWorks. I am begging you.
What are your thoughts on Shiro’s reappearance? Does this new-hair-new-me Shiro bode well for you, or is your gut telling you that something is wrong? Leave me a comment, reblog or retweet and let me know!