Season 4 Premiere Plot Summary:
Keith (Steven Yeun) struggles to balance his responsibilities as a Paladin and a member of the Blade of Marmora. When Team Voltron is in danger, Shiro (Josh Keaton) has to make a difficult decision.
Considering that the previous season of Voltron: Legendary Defender just came out two months ago but ended so abruptly, this premiere is a welcome return. While last season’s finale largely ignored the ongoing problems with the Paladins’ team dynamic, “Code of Honor” thankfully jumps right back into the group’s growing pains.
“Code of Honor” greatly benefits from showing the conflict from the perspective of Keith, Shiro, and Allura (Kimberly Brooks). These three have always been the show’s most fleshed out characters, and the show is typically best when they are front-and-center. As the team’s official/de facto leaders, these Paladins also have the best vantage point of understanding how Keith’s split focus and Shiro’s return impact the group. Their perspectives truly bring this conflict to life in a way that could not have been achieved if all of the Paladins had equal time voicing their thoughts.
Not all of the decisions in this plotline are entirely organic or well timed though. Having Keith join the Blade of Marmora is a clever way of forcing him to further question his role among the Paladins, but the twist would have likely been more effective if the development was introduced earlier in Season 3. Keith’s leadership issues were already a strong reason for him to doubt himself and his ability to inspire the team, so his separate mission also seems somewhat unnecessary. Likewise, though Shiro’s presence certainly creates immediate drama on the team, giving him more time to settle into his position as the lion-less Paladin would likely have been a good source of ongoing drama. After all of the tension among Team Voltron this episode, the resolution feels a little too neat and convenient.
All of that being said, I am largely optimistic about the new team dynamic this episode establishes. Seeing Keith struggle to fill Shiro’s shoes was a fun development last season that I was looking forward to seeing more of, but “Code of Honor” obviously throws that potential story arc into doubt. Thankfully, though, having Shiro re-establish himself as the head of Voltron (pun very much intended) will give the show more time to explore storylines that would not have been possible if the show maintained its status quo. Following Season 3’s mixed ending, I’m more hopeful than ever that Season 4 can reach the high bar set by the show’s second season.
Rating: 8 out of 10
VOLTRON: LEGENDARY DEFENDER IS STREAMING ON NETFLIX