Voltron: Legendary Defender returns to Netflix in just five days. I’ll admit, initially I wasn’t convinced that I would appreciate a reboot of an ‘80s animated series about five misfits becoming Defenders of the Universe against an empire of purple mystic bat-people in a huge mechanical lion-robot, but it is really, really good. Plus, there’s still a decent amount of time to power through Season 1 if you are still on the fence. If you haven’t seen it, be wary for spoilers from this moment on.
The official trailer for the new season was live on January 5th, and though it was arguably a short teaser of what’s to come, fans didn’t disappoint with their reactions:
The Season 1 Finale
It’s totally understandable that emotions are running high for fans. There’s a lot to contend with. In the final episode, the #Voltron team (with Allura and Coran) barely escaped defeat at the heart of the Galra Empire. When flying in and decimating enemy forces to rescue the princess, Emperor Zarkon and the Druid Haggar use one of their mysterious abilities to wrench apart Voltron and cause the Paladins to split. While the other four Lions are separate but functioning, Shiro’s Black Lion is unresponsive and ejects him. Zarkon states that he is actually the original Black Paladin of Voltron, but the Black Lion is claimed once again by Shiro while Keith fights Zarkon.
Thankfully, Allura’s rescue is successful through their singular powers and true familial bond – and due to the Galra commander Thace defecting and shutting down the particle trap. Yet, however unlikely this sounds, Thace’s rebellion is the penultimate twist of the episode. All seems like it could end happily ever after, until Haggar shoots a lightning bolt into the team’s escape wormhole. The Lions break away from the Castle-ship and from each other, all landing in far-flung reaches of the galaxy.
In such a precarious and pivotal final scene, almost anything could happen. So here’s some speculation and wishes for each of the Paladins' storylines in Season 2.
Unapologetically the "straight man" of the group, Hunk helps the Voltron team remain focused on their shared destiny. Initially, he was unhappy becoming the Yellow Paladin, shying away from the danger, understandably vomiting while piloting his Lion, and immediately deferring to Shiro’s judgement. At the end of this Season, he is far more comfortable as the team’s heavy-hitter, discovering new talents and values, and he is the closest to a second-in-command for Shiro. Even in the most jeopardous of battles, Hunk is humble and light-hearted despite his own anxiety. He’s always been the best hugger this side of the universe, Paladin status or not.
As the most empathetic of the Paladins, and as one who has seen first-hand the struggle less aggressive alien races endure under the Galra rule, Hunk would fit the role of diplomat just as well as Allura does. This desire to help in any way he can is central to Hunk’s character, and it is only his bravery and extraversion that increased exponentially in Season 1.
We know that the Voltron team will encounter more allies and more enemies in the upcoming episodes. Despite his best instincts, Hunk’s altruism may result in the Yellow Paladin being stretched in all directions as their galaxy gets larger. Difficult decisions could rear their ugly heads in Hunk’s future, and depending on what exactly is at stake, his personality could harden and become pragmatic, or remain the ray of light in dark space.
Deep. Or, we could anticipate all the new, fantastic dishes Hunk will rustle up for his friends so that Altean cuisine is quarantined just for Coran. You know, Hunk basically being the team’s mom and all.
In Season 1, a great deal of Keith’s character arc was centered around his aggressive temperament. This confidence in his abilities has occasionally manifested into over-confidence, and when the rest of the Voltron team aren’t able to guide him, it has led to disastrous missteps in judgement. Zarkon even remarked that Keith fights with the intensity and ferocity of a Galra soldier when the Paladin mistakenly engaged him in combat. Just where Keith sources his outbursts of anger is a subject of much contention with the very analytical Voltron fans, but this trait has also unlocked a powerful protectiveness within the Red Paladin.
As an orphan who was eventually expelled from the Galaxy Garrison based on his rebellious tendencies, Keith’s role as the loner of the group was both intrinsically and externally caused. Voltron may have a greater significance to him than it does to the other Paladins, engendering a protectiveness that is well-intentioned, yet unwieldy and unpredictable.
Will we see a calmer, more rational character in Keith in the next Season? Shiro’s voice is heard in the SDCC trailer, asserting that if he doesn’t "make it," he wants Keith to lead Voltron in his place. Ominous. The loss of Shiro would be horribly tragic, but the void left by the Black Paladin could lead to an opportunity where Keith can assume the mantle of leadership, gradually becoming a more balanced and a much stronger warrior. So, best stock up on the tissues, because I have a feeling this might get emotional.
Particularly perceptive fans noticed that in the trailer both Keith and Lance seem to be without shirts, with a towel slung around their necks. It’s understandable that as the hub for the Voltron team, the Castle-ship caters to their every need. There might be a swimming pool or a sauna tucked away in one of the nooks of the vessel. Keith? Relaxing? Willingly spending time with Lance? It’s just not realistic. But this tiny moment in the trailer may be a snapshot of the new Red Paladin we will come to know in the upcoming season.
Lance is the provider of comic relief in tense situations the Paladins encountered over the course of Season 1, either intentionally or unintentionally. He’s adventurous, and jumps into scenes with an exaggerated, macho physicality and a ridiculous joke. All this parading and posturing brings the starry-eyed premise of the show back down to Earth, and despite his crass tendencies, he doesn’t steal the limelight from any of the other characters’ development. Actually, Lance kept mum about his own personal struggles.
In Episode 4 of Season 1, the Blue Paladin confides in Coran that he is homesick for Earth and misses the simplicity of life before. Nearly immediately after this, Lance throws himself in front of the blast from the hacked Rover, instinctively protecting Coran. He may have insecurities, but his talents and fearless commitment to his fellow Paladins allows Lance to be the hero he intrinsically is, silly humor and all. How does this character arc relate to the potential storyline of Season 2?
I believe his Lion will land back on Earth, the crash becoming global news and enabling him to be reunited with his family after his disappearance from the Garrison. The kicker will be, of course, that he must either choose to stay on planet Earth with the family he so dearly misses, or to leave and assume his duties as the Blue Paladin once again. The audience knows he is a complex, unique kind of hero, unapologetically individual. It’s now a question of whether Lance believes in himself and his importance to the galaxy to make a difficult decision.
Oh yeah, and Lance prides himself on being a ladies’ man, but we really didn’t see any evidence of that in Season 1. At all. I mean, the closest he got to a successful date ended up with Nyma double crossing him, leaving the poor guy tied to a tree, watching the stolen Blue Lion disappear into the distance. Let’s say he’s telling the truth about his exploits. Is romance written in the stars of Season 2 for this Paladin? Could it be found with Keith? Yes, Keith and Lance are literally like fire and water, yet even very different individuals make an awesome couple.
No matter the outcome, if these two Paladins understand each other better and become closer, they’d be a mutually effective stabilizing influence. When asked whether there would be any LGBT representation in the show, story editor Tim Hedrick said, "I think I’ll just let that play out as we go." I mean, let’s not get too hasty here, but maybe. Maybe.
Like Keith, Pidge had her own motivations and her own mission at the forefront of her mind despite being connected to Voltron. She didn’t necessarily fall in on the same wavelength when becoming a Paladin as perhaps her Garrison buddies Hunk and Lance did. Her search for her relatives aboard Sendak’s ship was fruitless, and her intense heartbreak at their continued absence shook the foundations needed to form the robotic weapon. She came very close to leaving the Voltron team. Yet, Pidge confronted the Galra infiltration of the Castle-ship alone when the remaining members of the team were absent, utilizing her own cunning and strengths to save the day.
This showed Pidge that her involvement in Voltron was vital, for her new family she found in the boys and the Alteans, and for herself (sorry not sorry – I have a lot of feelings for Pidge because she is my favorite Paladin). It would seem logical that Season 2 pursues the mystery of where Mr. Holt and Matt Holt are being held captive.
In an interview with Fandom, the character’s voice actress Bex Taylor-Klaus divulged that the search for the two Holts would become a group effort, with Pidge drawing a lot of her emotional strength from her bond with the other Paladins. Season 1 evidenced Pidge’s intellectual talents, therefore Season 2 may be the opportunity to present a softer — but just as strong — character.
Voltron: Legendary Defender is the first rendition of the story in which one of the Paladins identifies as a girl. Not only is Pidge a highly skilled Green Paladin, she is extremely knowledgeable in technology, hacking and engineering, proven in her repeated repurposing of alien machines for Voltron’s gains. These traits are typically reserved for male characters in mainstream media. Moreover, when Pidge is revealed to be Katie Holt in disguise, it’s announced with very little fanfare with no incredulous reactions regarding her gender or her abilities.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying it’s awesome that budding female scientists, mechanics, astronomers and others are recognized in the show. With regards to the next season, I’m looking forward to seeing a Pidge whose confidence continues to grow as she consolidates her place in defending the universe, finally receiving some closure on what happened to her brother and father.
Hunk and Pidge are as equally capable regarding hacking and engineering, but it’s Pidge’s love for collecting scrap and interacting with every robot she comes across that was a highlight in her personal arc. Over the course of the season, she’s been gathering various bits and pieces of tech, and that must have come to a hefty total. Where is she keeping it all? The Castle-ship is large, but it’s totally possible she is running out of room in which to store all these thingamajigs. Pidge has proved her mettle in robotics with her trusted drone Rover.
So, with her know-how, Allura and Coran’s instincts and the diverse array of gizmos and relics she’s gathered, Pidge could definitely build another Voltron. Or a fake Voltron to fool Zarkon — your thoughts?
Shiro’s storyline in Season 2 is the one that will be most difficult to predict. He has been an excellent, stable leader of the Paladins, all the while coping with his PTSD, amnesia and survivor’s guilt. He embodies all of the legacy of a Black Paladin, up until that reveal. Yeah, the one where Zarkon was the Black Lion’s original Paladin and the robotic cat responded to his wishes. The bond between Lion and Paladin is clearly complex, and this dualism in the case of his Lion adds a layer of instability to Shiro’s arc for Season 2.
The title of "Champion" left its marks on him, cybernetic arm not included. In the final episode, Haggar taunts that Shiro could have been the Galra’s greatest weapon, conjuring up a mirage of Shiro as he was in the Gladiatorial Arena. I think this all points to a Shiro that is going to discover and struggle with exactly what and who he was to the Galra Empire during his imprisonment, and may step down from leadership in order to do so.
There’s a lot of well-founded concern regarding the Black Paladin’s longevity when reviewing the SDCC trailer. To kill Shiro off would be a missed opportunity to showcase a character that works with their trauma and insecurities to become an even better Paladin than before. It wouldn’t be amiss to see Shiro taking a backseat, narratively speaking, but I hope Season 2 isn’t his last.
One final question that needs to be answered by Season 2 is the brand of eyeliner that Shiro uses. As discussed, Shiro was put through the mill by the writers of Season 1, physically and psychologically, but his eyeliner still looks great. This secret is far more significant than why Zarkon appears to know exactly where the Voltron team is at all times.
In any case, there’s not much longer to wait. Free up your Friday, stock up on classic movie snacks, and ensconce yourself in several blankets to be extra comfy for whatever emotional turmoil there is in store for the Voltron Paladins.
Thanks for reading! If you made it this far, you’re clearly dedicated. What do you think? Do you have any theories (as pedestrian or as wild as you want) for Season 2? Leave a comment here or feel free to chat to me on Twitter about Voltron at @_idolon!
Of course, one last thing:
Who is your favorite character from 'Voltron: Legendary Defender'?
See you on the 20th!