Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 4 Review

Five teenagers become the last line of defense for the galaxy in an intergalactic battle against the evil alien force led by King Zarkon.

Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 4

Executive Producer(s):
               Joaquim Dos Santos
               Lauren Montgomery
               Ted Koplar
               Bob Koplar
               Yoo Jae Myung

Production Company(s):
               DreamWorks Animation TV
               World Events Productions
               Studio Mir

Genre: Action, Science-Fiction
Air Dates: 2017
Status: Season 5 in Development

What You Need to Know:

Previously in Voltron: Legendary Defender – Shiro, who was missing for a few episodes after knocking out Zarkon at the end of Season 2, finally pops up and rejoins the team, who have already adjusted to having Keith as their new leader, and Allura taking the Blue Lion spot. Lotor finally shows up with his harem soldiers and is a rebel with a plan of his own, and is quite a match for the Voltron team. Meanwhile, Haggar, as she helps recover Zarkon, remembers her being his wife and the catalyst for the conflict thanks to her obsession with the quintessence having virtually infinite power, which explains why Voltron is so powerful.

 

What You’ll Find Out:

With Shiro now back on the team, Keith feels less obligated as a team leader and spends more time with the Blades of Marmorra. This causes a rift within the group, resulting in Keith leaving the team to be with the Blades, while Shiro re-assumes the position of Black Lion pilot. Later on, Pidge is reunited with her brother Matt and the two geniuses worked together to help Shiro and the others.

Zarkon’s loss to Voltron is spread across the universe, causing many civilizations to revolt and form the Voltron Coalition, with the mission to liberate the rest of the universe from Galra control. The Voltron team are tasked to strengthen the coalition by performing a series of stage shows (I kid you not). The coalition then began their campaign and by the end of the season, have liberated a third of the Galra territory.

Meanwhile, Zarkon is back and orders a search and destroy operation against Lotor, now deemed a traitor to the Galra Empire. This forces Lotor to speed up his plan of re-opening the gates between dimensions, in order to mine the quintessence for his own use. This complicates things, however, when he kills one of his own harem soldiers suspected of being under Haggar’s spell, causing the rest to plot to bring Lotor to Zarkon in exchange for leniency. Lotor then is forced to take drastic measures – an unholy alliance with the Voltron team.

What Just Happened?

Season 4 of Voltron: Legendary Defender has the smallest number of episodes with just 6. I suspect that extending the series to 6-7 Seasons or so is just wordplay when in actuality the episodes were divided into smaller chunks and stamping the season number with it. We’ve seen this practice before with Cartoon Network on their handling of Steven Universe, Uncle Grandpa, and more recently Adventure Time. It’s awfully annoying, to be honest.

Word has it Shiro’s return happened sooner than the staff wanted it to be due to the insistence of the top brass from either Dreamworks or Netflix. The reason is explained in the fourth episode of this season – Shiro is the most popular character of the show. This, of course, resulted in re-writing the plot, that in effect not only removes Keith from the Voltron team but also demotes him to a supporting role, pretty much crashing down all the build-up that was made for him in past episodes.

I have mixed feelings for this. On the one hand, I am glad Shiro is back. He is indeed my most favorite character. But I don’t want him back in the leadership position, and especially taking back the Black Lion. It makes the concept and requirements of being a Paladin of Voltron and piloting a lion virtually redundant. I’m more than ok giving Shiro a supporting role and just have him give commands in the Altean Castle.

And I do feel bad for Keith because like I said earlier, Shiro’s return has him demoted to being a supporting character. So all that build up and development seemed to tantamount to nothing. I also get the impression this would make him less popular among the fanbase.

If there is a silver lining to this, there’s still Operation Kuron, of which Shiro is unknowingly an agent of the Galra. So chances are Shiro’s revelation about this will result in him giving the Black Lion and the position of team leader back to Keith. However, I’m no longer as hyped over that revelation because we’ve already seen the switch between Shiro and Keith, then a switchback, and with Operation Kuron, if that is the case, likely another switch.

There’s also the matter of how grand is the war against the Galra really is. The show wants to say that ‘when we say universal, we mean it’. It does open a bunch of questions that the series won’t answer in terms of world-building. So as to not bore you with science stuff, let’s just say that if Voltron, who is on one end of the universe, travels to the other end where Zarkon is, the time of travel between those two points is like taking a non-stop flight from New York to Australia and Zarkon didn’t grow old during the whole process.

So am I to believe that all the ships featured in Voltron Legendary Defender are capable of traveling across the universe with virtually no time dilation whatsoever? In other words, if Shiro and the team left Earth to travel across the universe and back, it only took them a couple of months. If they did that in the real world, when they return to Earth, hundreds, maybe even thousands of years have already passed!

Granted, even in the original Voltron series, the conflict is said to be universal. But it’s mainly hyperbole and the conflict is more between Planet Arus and Planet Doom, rather than expanding through galaxies. What I’m trying to say is I prefer less is more in terms of the scale of the Galra conflict. If the staff really wants this to be literally universal in scale, at least provide more details to maintain the claim a la Star Trek or Gundam or Macross. If that’s not possible, then make it something like Gurren Lagann. The way Voltron: Legendary Defender explains it is smack right in the middle which ends up neither appealing nor interesting.

And it doesn’t stop there. The whole writing pretty much suffers everywhere throughout the season. Lotor, who was shown to be incredibly cunning and tough, takes a full 180 in this one. An entire episode is made dedicated to being pure comedy, but it ends up more cringy than funny. And there isn’t anything that gives Voltron a true sense of challenge or struggle. I can’t help but blame the sudden return of Shiro and putting him back in the leadership position as the cause of all this.
Rating: 4.0/10

Final Thought: With only 6 episodes, and a totally messed up writing, there’s not much else to say other than this season is my least favorite of the bunch. All I can hope is that it’s just a huge fallback for the staff and that they would work hard to make it better in the seasons to come.

 

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