The End of Voltron: Legendary Defenders

Here we are. Two years after we got a show that, despite cheesy motivational dialogue and initially cardboard cutouts of villains, won our hearts. I’m tearing up just thinking about it. Despite everything that has happened, I’m going to miss this show when we get to the end. It helps a little that I’m watching with my brother and waiting to finish The Good Place first before we tackle it, but my God.

The show is about five humans and two aliens allying in space to overthrow a tyrannical, colonial empire. Shiro, the leader, lost his arm as a Galra prisoner, as well as his peace of mind. Meanwhile his friend Keith is struggling to find his identity, while Pidge wants to find her family. Hunk and Lance try to support the team while battling their insecurities and anxieties, and Lance flirts with anyone who identifies as female.

December 14, we get the last season of Voltron: Legender Defenders. This comes months after Trollhunters from Guillermo del Toro has wrapped up, and just as Castlevania released its second season. The Paladins from Earth are trying to defend their home, after spending years away from it, and to finally attain peace that the galaxy failed to attend over ten thousand years.

Voltron, to be fair, was not the first original animated show that Netflix premiered, or even the first spinoff of an established series. But it was the first one that entered my sphere and grabbed my attention, when a friend passed on the trailer and I started squealing happily on seeing a character like Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender. It took a few months for me to learn that the show was a reboot of an anime franchise that featured space lions and not a lot of women.

Representation

It’s important to me that Voltron, despite having only a few POC cast members, has POC characters in large amounts. It’s a show that doesn’t play the token minority card, as certain others do.

We also see neurodivergence, with Shiro battling PTSD and an identity crisis, while Keith has obvious abandonment issues and Allura and Coran work through survivor’s guilt. Shiro losing his arm and his freedom while traveling in space weighs on him heavily. Pidge, in the meantime, fears the worst after searching for her captured family for years.

Having Kimberly Brooks play Allura feels really important. Here, Allura is no damsel, and she’s not a white elfin alien as she was in the original anime. She’s a princess, a war leader, and even an extremist in one parallel universe. Allura has to grow while coping with the Galra wiping her people out, leaving her and her father’s adviser Coran without a home, or purpose. She endures volumes of pain, and has the freedom to feel it without others judging her, due to being a woman. Also, she’s allowed to have flaws battle with her empathy, and grow past those flaws over time.

 

The Plot

Voltron never lets the viewers or the Paladins forget the high stakes. They have to overthrow an empire that threatens earth, and has wiped out entire planets. While the Paladins have trained in a military school, they’ve never had to face real war before this. They know if they lose, they can never go home. And if they win, they still need to do a lot of work before going home.

The villains also become more layered and threatening over time. This actually is an ambitious feat considering that one of them puts Lance in a coma in the first season, and later mocks Shiro about his time as a Galra prisoner. But we get more threats, moral ambiguity, and more worst fears realized. Villains who don’t realize they’re evil are worse than the ones fully aware of it. They lack perspective and empathy.

Each of the Paladins also has their character arc, to grow past their flaws or find new means to cope with existing traumas. Keith endangers the team’s alliance with a resistance group once when trying to find answers about his past, and Pidge initially wants to prioritize finding her dad and brother over saving the universe. Lance wants to know who he is on the team and how to be important. Hunk desires to return to Earth, but knows that’s impossible as long as the Galra threaten innocent lives. They all change, and grow.

The Fandom

I’ve talked about the more egregious parts of the Voltron fandom earlier, so I won’t discuss them here. Instead, I want to thank the good people in the fandom for the joy they’ve brought me, and the joy that I can bring them. To the people I love, you know who you are. Thank you for the worlds your pens bring. Just mentioning the show to them made a few start gushing happily about all that they loved.

The amazing thing about Voltron is how it inspires creators that make art, write stories, or analyze the plot lines. I’ve seen lovely fanart from my friend, and stories that come from the show’s world-building and episodic nature. Dozens of adventures could happen off-screen that vary from the silly to the serious. It’s fun to fill in the gaps and the backstory.

Voltron has led me to find people who love the show for the potential stories on each planet. A computer scientist used his knowledge about data empires to write a fic about Pidge finding a way to host all the knowledge in the galaxy, and it is a rocking awesome story. Another friend was super excited when I wrote a Halloween story featuring a schooldays game that involves calling up a malevolent spirit.

Farewell and Good Fortune

I’m going to miss all the good that Voltron has ushered in, proving that a Netflix show could create a community, and make people fall in love with a story. It proved that we could have other shows like HildaTrollhuntersShe-Ra, and Castlevania.

Thank you, Netflix, for proving that a show like this could work. When my brother and I finish, and close the chapter for good, I’m going to sob for a long time. And then I’m going to keep building worlds with my friends.

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Priya Sridhar: A 2016 MBA graduate and published author, Priya Sridhar has been writing fantasy and science fiction for fifteen years, and counting, as well as contributing columns to Chalkpack Magazine and drawing a webcomic for five years. She also enjoys reading, biking, movie-watching, and classical music. One of her stories made the Top Ten Amazon Kindle Download list, and Alban Lake published her novella Carousel. Priya lives in Miami, Florida with her family and posts monthly at her blog A Faceless Author. Website Twitter: @PriyaJSridhar