Voltron Legendary Defender S2 1-3 Review: Still a Ton of Space Fun
Voltron Legendary Defender has returned for the second season and I got the opportunity to preview the first three episodes of it. I’m happy to say this is the same Voltron we got in the first season. The series still has the crisp, colorful and expressive animation and even throws in some truly gorgeous shots of fantastical alien settings. The characters remain distinctive and fun. There’s still a sense of a slowly building history and mythology within the show, along with hints of a very interesting and dramatic backstory for the paladins.
From Voltron: Legendary Defender
I’ve talked previously about how Voltron does a lot of things right when it comes to being a good reboot. It’s based on the 1980’s cartoon Voltron: Defender of the Universe, which was a cut up, rewritten and redubbed version of the Japanese animes Beast King GoLion and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV. The new Voltron is made from scratch, offering a fresh, modern take on the old series. There’s a lot of love for the old series in there and the show incorporates elements from both the original Japanese shows and the English version.
But while it homages the source material, this show is very much its own thing and incredibly accessible to new viewers. The cast of this version of Voltron is diverse, lively and come with unique backstories and inner conflicts, making them in some ways more compelling than the original versions. The show has also put its own unique spin on the Voltron universe so even longtime fans can't guess where the plot of this new series will go.
However, Voltron is not without its flaws. The humor can occasionally feel a little forced, though it’s probably fine for the younger age demographic its targeting. Voltron also occasionally had a problem with inconsistent pacing and that does rear its head a bit in these first three episodes.
In the first episode of the season, “Across the Universe”, the show picks up directly where it left off last season. The big cliffhanger was that the team got separated after the big battle with Zarkon and now they’ve stranded in different corners of space. The show follows up on this immediately, showing the dire situation the separated paladins find themselves in.
Of the three episodes “Across the Universe” was definitely the strongest. There was tons of excitement, high stakes and tension and it kept you at the edge of your seat. There were humorous moments with Pidge and Allura interspersed as nice breathers. These breather moments also allowed us to see Pidge come up with a creative solution to the problems of the episode.
Unfortunately the two episodes that followed it didn’t quite measure up, mostly due to poor pacing. The second episode, “The Depths” focused solely on two of the paladins being stranded in an isolated place and it dragged on far too long. It didn’t contribute much to the show’s mythology or the characters.
It wasn’t bad or completely pointless by any means. It did show a tiny bit of growth for one of the characters, but this sadly wasn’t enough to make the episode feel essential, especially since the character they were partnered with got pretty much nothing to do. It was definitely a weak episode that just made me impatient for the paladins to get back together. The setting, while gorgeously rendered, wasn’t particularly interesting and the plotline was fairly predictable. It’s possible the characters we were introduced to in this episode will be important to show later on, but right now it comes off as a waste of time.
The third episode, “Shiro’s Escape”, suffered from the opposite problem in that a lot of it just flashed by a bit too quickly. The beginning of the episode also makes it seem like you’re going to learn more about Shiro’s time as a prisoner, which is super compelling stuff. So it’s a bit of a letdown when instead of exploring that, it just zips off the next thing. A new character is introduced, but he doesn’t have much of a personality. There’s a moment in the episode with them that could have potentially been poignant, but he and his relationships with the other character weren’t developed enough for it to matter.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season goes. The show is waving death flags pretty hard for Shiro, but the fact they’re being so obvious about it makes me wonder if they’re just trying to scare fans and the twist will be that he lives. Shiro died in the original Japanese anime Voltron was based off of but was just seriously injured in Voltron itself. It’s pretty clear the show wants to keep fans guessing which way it will go for Shiro this time.
If he does end up dying, it would feel kind of cruel because he basically spends the first episodes of this season suffering and on the verge of death anyway. You kind of want the show to cut him a break at this point. Hang in there, Shiro.
Slight flaws aside, it looks like we’ll have another exciting season of Voltron to look forward to. I can’t really predict where we’re going to go from here and that’s part of the fun. But from the hints dropped in these episodes, we can expect plenty of action, more to be revealed about Shiro’s time as a captive and his relationship to the Galra Empire and more about the previous Black Paladin. It looks like that Shiro, Keith and Allura in particular will be tested this season as all three of them are already showing some signs of strain and uncertainty. I can’t wait to see how it plays out.
The full second season of Voltron: Legendary Defender will come out January 20 on Netflix. Look forward to it.