Voltron Legendary Defender Season 03 Review
Story - 75%
Visuals - 85%
Value - 70%
Voltron is back, and takes the series in some exciting directions! But, the shorter season, and questionable episodes hold it back from true greatness.
Voltron Legendary Defender is easily becoming one of the best seasonal shows on Netflix, I mean that knowing (and seeing) all the Marvel shows. In a way, it’s becoming as popular as it was in the 80’s when it first released, and that’s saying something. Fans have eagerly waited for Season 03 to arrive, and it’s finally here. The problem, is that though you could argue that these episodes are some of the best the series has ever offered, it has some very fatal drawbacks.
WARNING: FULL SPOILERS AHEAD!! SERIOUSLY!!! SPOILERS APLENTY!!!!!
….still here? Ok good. So, right off the bat, the team had to deal with two major threats. One, Shiro is missing, and Voltron can’t form without a pilot of the Black Lion. And two, Prince Lotor has come, and through his new leadership, the Paladins are arguably facing an even more dangerous threat.
Right here, right now, I’m calling it, Lotor and his four female generals are the coolest characters on the series. Not just as villains, as characters. Yes, they’re even better than the Paladins themselves…most of them anyway. In the course of two episode, we get to see exactly how cool, persuasive and vindictive Lotor is, and how he’s a complete opposite to his father, Zarkon. As for his generals, they’re very much the Anti-Paladins, and I mean that in a good way. They serve Lotor faithfully, and yet they have quirks and personalities all their own that really make them stand out.
Lotor is no pushover, he proves that both in the arena and in some epic space battles. But what makes him a threat is that he’s brilliant. Zarkon always came off as stubborn, to a fault. He craved power, and wanted nothing more than to have it, his soldiers and fleet be danged. Here though, with Lotor, he’s a strategist. He knows the power of recon, of gathering intelligence, of using the planets of the universe against his foes. And that’s cool, very cool.
As for the Paladins themselves (SERIOUSLY! IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS, LOOK AWAY!!!!), they face troubles from within. Fans of the classic Voltron series will rejoice by the end of episode two. For Keith becomes the head of the Black Lion, Lance becomes the pilot of the Red Lion, and Princess Allura herself becomes the pilot of the Blue Lion. This is now the team that was made face in the classic show, using their “correct” Lions, and it’s pretty cool. But what I give the writers props for, was that it wasn’t forced.
It would have been easy to go “Keith, you’re the leader, and I’ll take your Lion” and so on. But they didn’t, as they established, the Lions choose their pilots, and the shifts happen because of the pilots being honest with themselves and supporting each other. Lance really comes off strong this season, and you understand why he gets the Red Lion because of it. As for Allura, she’s been a favorite of mine since the series started, and to see her not only become a true Paladin, but to thrive as one is a true joy.
But…for those wondering if it becomes “too easy”, far from it. Keith is still reeling from losing Shiro, and he has to grow into the leadership role, one that I’m happy to say he’s not fully accustomed to by the end of the season. Which is great! Because if it’s too easy, then what’s the point?
Another prop I have to give is the connective tissue this season shows. We FINALLY get more advancements on Pidge’s search for his brother. We find out that one of Lotor’s generals is the mysterious Galran pilot that Keith saved last season, and a certain final epsiode shows off more plot and history than the first two seasons combined, in one episode!
Then, of course, we have the animation. If you didn’t know already, the team behind Voltron Legendary Defender is the one who did Avatar and Legend of Korra, and some of the fights and animations they do here is absolutely incredible. This is easily the best looking of the seasons so far.
…you’re waiting for the “but…” aren’t you? Well, here it is, and it’s several big ones.
First off, Lotor? Epic. But…he kind of drops off at the end. Which stinks, because I would’ve loved to see him spar with the Paladins more, especially after acquiring a certain item. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a presence throughout, but at the end, we kind of lean away from him. Plus, there’s the obvious question of parentage that is going to be in SERIOUS question after the season finale.
Second, Shiro. Yeah, he’s alive, we all knew he was alive, and we knew he would come back eventually, and he does! But…it’s a little too quick. Add to that, the entire episode of his journey back was a little to convenient on multiple levels. Add to that, we see an “aged” Shiro, whereas the episode we hear references from note that it’s only been a little while since the battle with Zarkon, how has he aged to that extent? Not only that, but we find out that the Galran’s did something to him, hinting that he’s not fully in control of himself, and yet after that episode, we get no indication of that. Finally, for anyone who knows human physiology, a feat that he accomplishes (and we see him accomplish) is literally impossible. And of course…just before he “dies”…the other Paladins show up. Really? It honestly would’ve been better that he was revealed to be alive at the end of the season, to hint his big return for Season 04. This could’ve allowed for more growth with the other Paladins instead of forcing him back into the lineup. Now, they do work out the whole “six Paladins, five Lions” situation in great scenes, but it’s still odd.
Which brings us to the biggest flaw. It’s only 7 episodes. Now yes, at San Diego Comic Con we found out that Season 04 is coming in October at some point. So that’s only two months away…but…you have to wonder why they did the ending like they did. Two super consistent flaws in this series are filler episodes and terrible cliffhanger endings. This kind of repeats here. Which is bad, as 7 seasons doesn’t allow for much room to maneuver. And though one “filler” episode does work itself out in a way (complete with ANOTHER reference to the original Voltron series, hint, SVEN!!!!!), it still strikes as odd. Add that to Shiro’s episode, and you’ve got two headscratchers in a 7 episode season.
That brings us to the finale, where we find out the literal origin of Voltron, the Galra Empire, and more! And it’s GREAT!!! As an episode, it’s amazing! But…as a season finale? Not so much. Especially since the “clear” plan for Lotor doesn’t line up with how he thinks. Why do the Paladins believe that he’s following his fathers’ plan when he’s clearly not his father? And while a few bombshells are well delivered, it’s not a suitable season finale.
In the end, Voltron Season 03 is a well done season, but one that has flaws that honestly can’t bring up to the par of the first two. 7 episodes really hold it back, and questionable story choices hinder what could’ve been something really special. Guess we’ll have to wait until October to truly see how this all plays out.