Voltron Paladins

Voltron Season 2 Delivers On Its Promises With An Extra Dose of Feels

The Half-Blood Paladin

For all the ties that Legendary Defender has to its DOTU predecessor, there are still plots and characterizations that are unique to only this version of Team Voltron.  The current interpretation of Keith is one of these unique facets that continues to keep me guessing about where the writers are going with him next.

DOTU Keith was the best of the best; a straight-laced leader at the top of the class at the academy.  Yes, he made mistakes, but otherwise is your infallible hero type.  Compare that to the emo, angry academy dropout with a chip on his shoulder and you have a completely different character.  Being my favorite character, I was shocked at the changes in Keith and unsure if I would like it.  By the end of season 1, I was not only used to the differences, but appreciated the character in his own right.

Then the Blade of Marmora appeared, first in their interaction with Ulaz in “Shiro’s Escape”, and then in Keith’s bunk with the knife he has hidden under his pillow, and I knew we were in for a character plot twist.

We only get backstory of Allura and Pidge’s families in season1 as they are intracule pieces to the storyline.  In the second half of season 2, Keith’s lineage takes front and center.  Once he learns the connection of the knife to the Blade of Marmora, he is obsessed with trying to find them.  It’s for good reasons too: that knife is the only tie he has to where he comes from.

When he finally meets them, he risks the entire mission against Zarkon to learn how he is connected to them.  He is put through trials to earn the knowledge, knowing there is a good chance it may kill him.  He is attacked both physically and mentally; tearing away at his beliefs and fears to determine what kind of man he is.  Stubborn, Keith refuses to give up even when facing a phantom!Shiro making him choose between being a paladin or the knowledge of the blade.

It’s only when the Red Lion is destroying the place to rescue Keith, and Shiro is willing to battle the Blade of Marmora so Keith can keep the knife does Keith finally relent.  He offers the knife to the Blade so that Shiro won’t be hurt.  That is the moment where we see the real Keith: the paladin who wants to protect his family and save people.  The knife reacts to this, forming the sword that the Blade of Marmora wield.  It proves to the Blade that Keith’s link to the knife is true – but it also comes with a plot twist that no one was expecting.

To be able to wield the sword, the person must be Galra.  This means that Keith, who up until now has been a human from Earth, is not fully human after all.

This knowledge plays into the plot later, but it is more prominent for the characterization of Allura. During the “Ark of Taujeer”, Allura and Keith are trying to determine if they are the reason can track the team.  While together, they have a conversation about Allura’s hatred of the Galra race and how it keeps her from being able to trust Ulaz’s sacrifice, or finding the Blade of Marmora.

Allura has every reason to distrust the Galra since Zarkon is responsible for the death and destruction of her people and world.  Keith, however, finds it hard to lump all people of a group together, believing that people should be given a chance to prove that they are different.  Later, when it’s revealed that Keith is part Galra, Allura turns a cold shoulder to the paladin for four episodes.  It’s in “Best Laid Plans” when Keith volunteers to sneak onto Zarkon’s ship – using his Galra biology to trick the ship systems – do they talk and reconcile.

It’s hard to see the growth in Allura in those four episodes leading up to this conversation, but as she tells him her thought process, it shows how she was able to work past her anger.  She tells Keith that she wanted to hate him because he was part Galra, but the paladins were also family, and she can’t hate her family.

This part of the storyline didn’t shock me, and I appreciated the subtle layering of this political topic within the cartoon.  Comics and cartoons are historically a place where sensitive topics in the world are approached and sometimes resolved within the inner workings of the universe.  The current issue of racism, which includes the lumping and stereotyping of a class, has been a big speaking point in the post 9/11 world – especially in the direction of the Muslim race.

While Volton: Legendary Defender doesn’t make this a big speaking topic like we’ve seen recently in features like Zootopia, the inclusion of it in this storyline is a subtle message.  It’s to remind people not to assume all X, in this case the Galra, are the same as the ones in their group who caused the suffering.  The message from this resolution is that one must interact and get to know the person for who they are, not “what” they are.

It’s a good message to keep reappearing in popular media, and I have to give credit to the Voltron: Legendary Defender team for including it in a respectful, realistic way and allowing both characters to address it, react to the other’s feelings, and use it to grow.  Allura is never going to completely trust the Galra, but it shows she has the capacity now to not judge a Galra based on Zarkon’s crimes.  That is a sign of a good leader, and it shows her continued growth as a princess, leader, and eventually as a ruler.

Another change from this plotline is in Keith himself once he has the knowledge of his bloodline.  As you watch the following episodes, you see Keith start to level out as a teammate.  He’s still reckless, but he is becoming more considerate of his teammates.  Hunk notices this when they are on their mission during “The Belly of Welbulm”, and points out that fact Keith actually made a joke.  Keith also takes the time to focus on Hunk, helping his fellow paladin overcome his fears and then complimenting him on his accomplishment.  Hunk jokes that Keith’s becoming Galra has made him a better human.

We cannot use DOTU to guide us in where Keith’s character arc will go next, which will continue to give viewers some surprises to look forward to as he continued to grow.  His growth is going to be essential in becoming the leader of the Voltron team with Shiro gone.  He needs to work on building better relationships with the rest of the team – even Lance – if they are going to be able to respect him like they do Shiro.

Keith still has unanswered questions about his heritage that are open for exploration in further seasons.  He brings up at one point that the Blue Lion was on earth – so is there a link to the Lion and his Galra heritage?  It’s assumed that his mother is the Galra parent – so how did she get to Earth and where is she now?  Was she the Blue Lion paladin? Does this give Keith a family link to Zarkon – and how will that go over?


Next Page: Season 3 Speculation – So What Comes Next?

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