Voltron Legendary Defender Season 3 Premiere Review: Some Big Space Shake-Ups

Author Thumbnail BY Caitlin Donovan - - August 01, 2017
8/10

The third season of Voltron: Legendary Defender is coming to Netflix on August 4th and the first two episodes start the new chapter off with a bang. The first episode of the season is "Changing of the Guard" and the second episode is "The Red Paladin".

The show picks up where last season left off with the team having to deal with the messy aftermath of their leader Shiro’s departure. Shiro went missing during last season’s finale and that leaves a big hole the team needs to fill fast.

From Voltron: Legendary Defender

The season premiere also centers around introducing a new antagonist, Prince Lotor, who steps up to take the place of his father, who’s out of commission after the events of last season, as head of the Galra Empire. Lotor promises to be a more interesting (or at least smarter) antagonist than his father was. He seems to at least realize that ruling solely through fear and intimidation isn’t sustainable and one has at least appear likeable and trustworthy for their evil empire to sustain itself. I have high hopes he’ll be a good addition to the show and make the conflict between the paladins and the Empire more complicated than it has been so far.

From Voltron: Legendary Defender

Lotor also has a squad of women as his henchpeople. The cast has been heavily skewed toward male characters so far, so I assume this was an attempt to gender-balance the reoccurring characters a little. I would have preferred a more elegant approach, like introducing a few more female characters in a bunch of different roles rather than just throwing out a girl squad, but it’s something, I guess. They all have pretty cool and distinct character designs, especially the lady with no face and a creepy cat creature companion, so I’m hoping the show will flesh them out and give them meaty motivations, personalities and backstories

The premiere has a ton of things to establish, so it’s very packed with plot. In fact, it was so packed that a lot of the humorous moments seemed a lot more forced than usual. Tonal issues aside, the way the status quo of the show is shifting is really interesting, so the episodes do keep you hooked. However, the way some things play out is fairly predictable. We’re going to get into spoiler territory below as I discuss how the team deals with Shiro’s absence, so skip it if you’re not here for that.

From Voltron: Legendary Defender

SPOILERS AHEAD.

Pretty much every fan guessed ahead of time that Keith would take over as leader and Allura would get the blue lion while Lance would take over the red lion and that is exactly what happened. It’s a pretty clear tribute to the original Voltron series (who had a similar team dynamic once that series' equivalent of Shiro left) and it’s not a bad set-up. It’s great to see Allura be part of the team, for one. But the show’s justification for why the team had to be rearranged this specific way is kind of wobbly and vague.

So far there’s no indication why it has to be Keith as  leader of Voltron beyond “he’s the one who doesn’t want to be and also the lion and Shiro said so”. It was especially weird to have Pidge list out the basic roles each character plays on the team and define Allura as “the decision maker”, which is essentially what a leader is... and then have the show turn around and say she shouldn’t be the leader. The reasoning behind the red lion and blue lion swicheroo is also flimsy- apparently Lance was chosen by the lions to fill the role because he decided to put the team first and supported Keith as leader. Except, every character puts the team first, so it’s not clear why Lance is the only one who gets a seat change for it.

Another weird thing about the fallout with Shiro had nothing to do with lion switcheroos. It was a bit odd that only Keith had a big emotional reaction to Shiro being missing and only he was desperate to find him. Keith is definitely the closest to Shiro, so it makes sense for him to be the most affected, but the other paladins just seemed content to look sad for a second and then seemingly decide he was dead and gone and there was no point looking for him. It would help a lot if these episodes had acknowledged that they can do two things at once- save the world and look for Shiro. Instead there was this weird implication it had to be one or the other. C’mon guys, at least put up missing posters or something.

From Voltron: Legendary Defender

It at least seems likely the show is going to explore why Keith is the best choice for leader a lot further, so maybe that part will become less of a head-scratcher. The whole thing did lead to some good character development for Lance, who hasn’t gotten the spotlight in a while. Seeing some of Allura’s struggles and insecurities was also nice.

There were also some nice little world-building moments tucked in there. I especially liked the moment where Lance seemed surprised Allura would choose pink for her paladin suit and she explained that on her planet pink was the color they wore to honor fallen warriors. It makes sense that colors would have different connotations in alien cultures compared to Earth cultures, so it was a nice touch on the part of the show to acknowledge that.

SPOILERS END.

Overall, this was a strong season premiere. It was not without its bumps, but a lot of the flaws have the potential to rectified later. Thhe first two episodes of season 3 of Voltron: Legendary Defender are a real game changer for the series and set up a lot of exciting new mysteries and characters for the show to explore. Where has Shiro vanished to? What’s Lotor’s real agenda? How is the team going to handle all the new changes? I’m excited to see the rest to the season and find out. 

What Others Are Reading

Author Name
Caitlin Donovan is a long-time nerd with a passion for superheroes and epic fantasy. She lives in North Carolina with her cat and wrestles with writing novels and doing editorial work when she's not ranting about pop culture online. She runs a blog at ladyloveandjustice.tumblr.com
@Caitlin Donovan | caitlin@epicstream.com