‘Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 3’ review
By Rebecca Peterson, Assistant Editor
We are halfway through the brief two-month period between the airing of season 3 in early August and the release of season 4 on Netflix in October, and I’m still trying to parse out how exactly I feel about the latest instalment of Voltron: Legendary Defender.
On one hand, the part of me that loves Voltron for its world-building, character development, fast-paced plot, and sheer interstellar fun absolutely adored season 3. The shortened season gave us a new villain (a fan favourite from the original ’80s series, no less), more backstory on the history of Voltron and the original paladins, more humour delicately balanced with heart as the paladins are forced to adapt and change in the face of challenging and often painful circumstances, and enough fodder to spawn a million fan theories to keep everyone occupied until the next season airs. However, with the limited time allotted to each story thread this season, I couldn’t help but feel as though the overall arc was muddied and left a little incomplete.
With this in mind, let’s delve once again into the wonderful world of Voltron: Legendary Defender (spoilers ahead).
Last season ended on the unsettling cliff-hanger of an empty black lion and the disappearance of Voltron’s leader, Shiro (Josh Keaton). The emotional weight of this loss is generously given several episodes’ worth of focus as the team struggles to move forward without him—especially Keith (Steven Yeun), who Shiro named as his successor in the previous season. This results in a bit of musical chairs (or lions) as Lance (Jeremy Shada) takes up Keith’s previous role of second-in-command in the red lion, and Princess Allura (Kimberly Brooks) takes on the role of the blue lion’s paladin.
It isn’t just Team Voltron facing changes, however. With Emperor Zarkon (Neil Kaplan) down for the count, his son Prince Lotor (A.J. LoCascio) steps up to become the new head of the Galra Empire. With his personal guard of half-Galra assassins, he quickly becomes a very real threat to Voltron, especially as they struggle to find their legs as a team under a very different captain.
The pros from this season come from the incredible voice talents of the main cast and the stellar animation by the studio, the former providing several moments of real emotion to tie the incredibly drawn action together. However, I truly believe this season was hampered by time constraints. Mentions of previous story threads, such as Pidge’s (Bex Taylor-Klaus) search for her missing father and brother, did not delve deeply enough to move the plot forward in any significant way. In some places, the character development felt oddly circular—while Keith, Lance, and Allura took certain strides forward this season, other characters either faded into the background or, in the case of one character who shall remain nameless for the sake of major spoilers, wound up right back at the start of their narrative arc. We lost some of that sense of gravitas that last season imparted in us. There were, again, mentions of the intergalactic alliance against the Galra Empire, and mentions of how this alliance is somewhat imperilled by the prejudice against the Galra-led resistance, “The Blade of Marmora,” but none of this was addressed in any great detail.
Personally, I would have loved to see more of a reaction from this alliance to the news of Keith leading Voltron, given that he is half-Galra himself. I would have loved to see Allura balancing her duties as princess with her new position as part of Voltron. I would have loved to see any kind of significant progress in the development of Pidge and Hunk (Tyler Labine) as teens becoming adults in an incredibly stressful environment. I don’t think these oversights are entirely the fault of the creative directors of Voltron—I honestly believe it was just a matter of time, and the lack thereof.
Ultimately, this season felt like exactly what it really was: Half a season, with half a plot arc. I’m extremely excited for the fourth season to air this October, and for it to hopefully pick up some of the plot threads that got lost in the frantic shuffle of this shortened season. I still love these characters, this story, and this series, so it isn’t very hard to stay optimistic for an incredible season to come.