Voltron Season 2: A Phenomenal Space Adventure
By Robin Harry
If you like animation and have a touch of nostalgia, you likely haven’t missed out on Dreamworks’ Voltron: Legendary Defender on Netflix. A reboot of the Voltron franchise from the 1980s, this series is a fantastic romp through the galaxies, with stunning animation, interesting characters, and a story that gets better and better with each episode. Season 2, released this January, is a fast-paced, intense intergalactic romp, and I loved every minute of it.
While Season 1 started off a bit uneven with the storytelling and character development, Season 2 never misses a beat. The first two episodes basically finished off the cliffhanger that ended the last season, dealt with the repercussions, and then the show got right into a continuation of the story that really explored the characters and a couple pointed themes.
In Season 2, Team Voltron was faced with a few challenges. They had to figure out how Zarkon kept finding them every time they escape, and they had to forge relationships with new allies while figuring out how to trust themselves and each other. Most importantly, they had to defeat Zarkon and his threat of universal dominance.
I really enjoyed how the story progressed. When things kicked into full gear around the end of episode 4, there was an unmistakeable sense of urgency and desperation. Zarkon felt like an ever-present threat, looming over both Team Voltron and the universe. As the team moved from defense to offense and found allies in the Blade of Marmora, the hope and renewed vigor also came across quite strongly.
The writing this season was phenomenal, with my favorite episodes being penned either by Tim Hedrick or Joshua Hamilton (both of whom wrote some of my favorite Avatar: The Last Airbender episodes). “Space Mall” was a wacky adventure that got to show the fun sides of most of Team Voltron, balanced by the heavier story of Shiro and the Black Lion. “Belly of the Weblum” had my favorite pair-up of Keith and Hunk. The last two episodes, “Best Laid Plans” and “Blackout,” were intense, and had me at the edge of my seat the entire time.
The show exploration of the theme of trust was fascinating, as it was approached from several different vantage points. The members of Team Voltron had to learn to trust themselves and their Lions, a lesson most evident through Shiro’s goal to bond with the Black Lion and relinquish Zarkon’s hold over it. They also had to learn to trust each other, a struggle most telling with Allura, as she fought her instincts to distrust all things Galra (including potential allies and Keith himself).
Allura’s distrust of the Galra and blind faith in all things Altaean were part of another poignant theme. Allura treated the entire race of Galra as a homogenous population of evil, despite ample evidence that there were Galra who opposed Zarkon’s megalomaniacal machinations. Hunk aptly pointed out that Allura’s reasons for feeling this way were rooted deeply in personal tragedy and thus understandable, but that didn’t make her stubbornness or her attitude towards Keith or the Galra allies any easier to watch.
Blanket assumptions about a group of people are rarely correct, and I really liked how Allura’s perspective was deconstructed by the end. She found out that there were good Galra and bad Galra, but she also found out that there were Altaeans on Zarkon’s side. I enjoyed watching Allura come to terms with the Galra allies, though I really look forward to next season to see how she deals with the revelation that Altaeans weren’t all they seemed to be.
There was quite a bit of character development in this episode for a few of the characters. Keith definitely got to shine, as we saw him come to terms with his heritage. Shiro started shaping him into eventual leadership, and Keith continued to learn to work with others, mostly getting over his rivalry with Lance. Also, Keith is a badass. His determination and unyielding fight in “The Blade of Marmora” wasn’t just fun to watch, but kind of inspiring and really quiznacking impressive!
Shiro also gets some decent development, as he learned to bond more with the Black Lion. He really tested his own limits, entering the psychic plane to battle Zarkon, and mastering that well enough to use it against Zarkon. Most fun for me, however, was seeing Shiro at the limits of his patience with Slav. You know someone’s annoying when even Shiro can’t keep his cool around them.
Zarkon, unfortunately, never evolved more than the control-freak megalomaniacal villain. While it was interesting watching him battle Shiro for control of the Black Lion, he would have been a bit more interesting to me if there was more to him than that. That said, I’m incredibly curious about the origins of Haggar and the rest of the Altaean sorceresses.
The different team-ups were quite fun to watch, as different characters elicit different aspects of each other. Keith and Hunk were easily my favorite pairing. Hunk is the most easy-going character and is friends with everyone, but there’s something special about his friendship with Keith, especially since Keith can be so brooding and distant. We heard Keith call him “buddy” a couple times during battles, and in “The Belly of the Weblum” he actually cracks jokes with Hunk while talking him down from one his common vomit episodes. Hunk really brings out the lighter side of Keith.
I can’t talk about these characters without talking about their actors. These characters are voiced so perfectly by the entire cast (well, of course they are with Andrea Romano at the helm), and give these characters the depth that I enjoy so much. Josh Keaton a.k.a Space Dad is an absolute gem as Shiro, and really nails that commander-with-a-heart-of-gold air that Shiro portrays (which is no surprise if you’re familiar with Keaton’s work as Green Lantern Hal Jordan).
I have to talk a bit about Jeremy Shada, though. The work he does with Lance is absolutely fascinating. From where I stand, Lance has to be the most difficult character to voice. Lance can be flippant, playful, contemplative, excited, encouraging, dismissive, smart, sarcastic, whiny – sometimes all in the same episode! He has the biggest and most flexible personality, and could easily veer over the line to irritating if not properly acted. Shada keeps him on that enjoyable side of the line while allowing him to be all these things.
As in Season 1, the animation is stunning and wonderfully expressive. The combination of traditional animation and CGI is really well balanced. I will never get over that tiny detail of Voltron having worn-out paint all over it; I marvel at it every time they form Voltron. The fight scenes between Voltron and the various Robeasts were beautiful to watch, as were the scenes in the psychic plane. One of my favorite scenes is in the last episode, during the crux of final battle, where the animation changes to pencil-sketching with the different hues of the five Lions. That was just gorgeous.
This season ended yet again on a cliffhanger. I personally am not okay with Shiro being “missing” (here’s where I admit I have a megacrush on him), so the sooner they bring him back in season 3, the happier I’ll be. I’m also fascinated by who this Prince Lotor could be. I was under the impression that Zarkon ran things, so this was an interesting name drop to end the season with. I wonder if Prince Lotor will have anything to do with Keith’s Galra heritage.
I also hope that next season we will get some exploration of the rest of the characters, especially Pidge and Lance. Lance had some moments as he explored his role on the team, but I hope to see more of him. Also, will Pidge finally get reunited with her family? Will we see the guy that Keith and Hunk rescued from the Weblum again? Will Allura discover more about Altaean magic?
The series hasn’t “officially” been renewed, but I’m assuming it will be. Until then, I may give the first two seasons a rewatch. It’s definitely worth it.