The Rise of Voltron: Reactions and Recap Part III
This is the third in a three-part recap/reaction to Voltron: Legendary Defender Episode One — the Rise of Voltron. I broke off last time about 44 minutes in when the Sendak’s warship was orbiting Arus.
So far, I’ve been doing a rough scene by scene breakdown of the episode, but I don’t have much to say about third half of the episode.
First, there’s an argument about whether or not the team should stay and fight or take the Lions that they have and hide somewhere. I hate scenes like that because the outcome is a foregone conclusion, and they generally serve no purpose other than to fill space and let characters bicker back and forth.
In the end, Shiro asks Princess Allura to make the decision, since the Lions are hers, and I’ve already written about how I feel like the only person with any agency or decision-making power here is Allura.
I’m all for putting female characters in roles of authority, and I like what’s being done with Allura’s character a lot. I’m quite impressed with her development throughout the series. The problem is that I feel like the pilots, who should have a voice in this kind of decision since they aren’t Altean, end up carried along by the storyline and the sheer force of Allura’s personality.
I don’t think the cartoon needs a ton of angst about who is or isn’t in charge, but a line or two from someone about “Hey, why exactly are we following this chick into battle when we hardly know her?” would help a lot.
The next scene is a big reveal involving a transhuman blue glowy version of King Alfor, whose consciousness has been uploaded to an AI and stored in the Castle of Lions. “AI ghost” is an interesting take on the mentor figure, and there is, of course, a standing tradition of blue glowies. The AI seems to “live” in an environment similar to holodeck, but the technology is best part of the scene.
Allura reveals some doubts to her father that she hasn’t shown before and asks him what she should do. I expected Alfor to say something like, “Only you can decide now,” but he actually gives her directions. Normally, I’d prefer the ghost mentor character to give useful advice, but the execution feels weird. On the one hand, she’s asking for his opinion and he affirms that Allura’s judgment was right in the past. On the other hand, if Allura’s going to be the leader of her people, she needs to be the one actively deciding what to do–especially since her decisions put everyone else at risk.
The rest of the episode focuses on the team trying to liberate Red Lion from the Galra ship. I was prepared to be bored, but the mix of action with character development was quite well done. Keith shines as Red’s pilot and rises to the challenge of earning Red’s respect. That’s as expected, but was well-handled and I see the glimmers of a future leader forming in his character. There’s a cute bit with Pidge getting some face time, reprogramming a Galra drone (it becomes sort of a pet) and we see some hints about Shiro’s time as a Galra prisoner as they search the ship for Pidge’s family.
I won’t spoil any of that, but I thoroughly enjoyed the entire rescue.
Voltron appears near the end of the episode, and…..after all the build up, I have to say I was disconcerted by the Lions forming Voltron by themselves AND the lackluster transformation sequence.
There were enough good things in this episode to make me want to continue, but as a hardcore Voltron fan, I can’t say much positive about the battle sequence or Voltron himself.
All in all, the Rise of Voltron was a promising start to a new era in a franchise I love. Despite my criticisms, I enjoy the show and happily recommend it to anyone. To fully understand my love for this new iteration, it’s important to just keep watching. With a show this heavily serialized, it’s impossible to pin down episodes or elements that really won me over. It all develops across the season arc, and while the episodes have obvious flaws, the series finds a way to correct or make up for most of them.