Written by Josh Sarnecky
Voltron Legendary Defender Season Two Premiere Plot Summary:
After narrowly escaping their first encounter with Zarkon (Neil Kaplan), the Voltron team becomes separated. Without the Paladins, Princess Allura (Kimberly Brooks) and Coran (Rhys Darby) must find a way to escape a time loop; meanwhile, Pidge (Bex Taylor-Klaus) attempts to contact the rest of the team from a debris field. Elsewhere, Shiro (Josh Keaton) and Keith (Steven Yeun) find themselves stranded on a barren moon and in dire need of assistance as Shiro begins to succumb to his injuries.
When we last saw the Power Rangers in Space, err, I mean the Voltron Paladins . . . I spent a significant amount of time in my review of the series premiere of Voltron: Legendary Defender explaining the many similarities between the Voltron franchise and the Power Rangers, and those parallels are likely here to stay. However, since the series premiere, Voltron has managed to establish its own identity and utilize its inspirations rather than rely on them. The season two premiere marks an opportunity for the show to further find itself by exploring some darker content. For the most part, this episode nails this content, though there a few hiccups in its approach.
Team Voltron begins this season at arguably its lowest point, and Shiro and Keith’s storyline is appropriately grim. While many shows flirt with the idea that one of their main characters may perish, there is a real sense in this episode that Shiro may not survive. For a show that often seems more comfortable with comedy and action than drama, this plot point is handled incredibly well. Shiro and Keith’s relationship has been somewhat explored in the past, but this episode gives their bond much more weight. Putting the two outsiders (i.e. the only Paladins that weren’t classmates at the Galaxy Garrison) together, who also happen to be the most serious members of the team, helps keep the drama rolling in a way that probably would not have been possible if Shiro was paired with someone else. On the top of this character drama, The Revenant-esque sequence in which the wounded Shiro has to fend off deadly creatures adds a thrilling element that elevates Keith and Shiro’s fight for survival to one of the best single episode plotlines in the show’s brief history.
The episode’s other major storyline, meanwhile, fails to live up to and in some ways takes away from the aforementioned adventure. Allura and Coran’s attempts to escape the time loop in their corrupted wormhole certainly adds some solid humor, but the comedy gives the episode an inconsistent tone that makes the transitions between plotlines rather jarring. The two narratives share a race against the clock, but the moods they present are so dissimilar that both plots become difficult to get fully invested in. Similarly, Pidge’s efforts to contact the rest of the team are largely forgetful other than an amusing but ill-timed gag. As I mentioned earlier, the series has previously displayed greater comfort with comedy than drama, and this episode proves that predilection despite the strength of Keith and Shiro’s storyline.
Overall, the season premiere’s parts, including solid comedy and quality drama, are stronger than their sum. Unfortunately, the episode’s content could have easily been divided into two or three separate episodes and may have been better off for it. Yet I can’t say that I’m too disappointed in the premiere; the show appears poised to continue the great momentum it found during the second half of season one. The show’s comedy, action, and drama (even when they don’t mix particularly well) are firing on all cylinders. Anyone looking for a solid action cartoon should look no further.