DreamWorks’ Voltron Legendary Defender is already a serious contender for my favorite TV show of 2017. Yes, I know it’s only January but it doesn’t matter. The first three episodes of the season that Den of Geek was provided with expands the universe of the show dramatically. Voltron has always been called “Defender of the Universe” but now it’s actively exploring it.
In the lead up to season one of Voltron, a lot of attention was paid to what was different from the original. How this show was going to modernize the story. That they didn’t say “form blazing sword.” That was a totally fine angle to take; it’s what you’d expect from a reboot. The show itself took great care to keep the visuals of Voltron intact while paying service to small bits of its lore.
That isn’t needed any longer. Voltron Legendary Defender has expanded beyond the scope of the original series. It doesn’t need to reference it quite as much anymore because it’s so astounding all on its own.
It has its own universe to play in and does so phenomenally in these opening episodes. In each of the outings we get to visit three distinct areas that will live on in fan works to come after the series has been binged.
The worlds explored here are ripe for a Voltron expanded universe. I called for this in my season one reviews and it’s still something I need. Give us novels. Give us more comics. If they really wanted, Voltron could be a licensed merchandise juggernaut on the level of Star Trek. Make it happen, DreamWorks. At least give us an art book.
It’s no secret that one of those areas is a water world as glimpsed in the season two teaser trailer. It shows up in episode two and it is a treat of an episode. Not only does it introduce a whole new race to the Voltron universe but it’s gorgeous. The art and design team really outdid themselves with this one.
If you liked the Balmerans in season one, get ready to fall in love again with the aquatic race seen here. In the span of twenty minutes Voltron is able to create a whole culture, explore its world, and have a wacky plot at the center of it. That takes skill. It also helps that Lance and Hunk are the ones swimming around the whole episode.
Both that and the first episode function as great breather episodes after the intense season one finale. It would be easy for the show to hit the ground running but they take the time to do some quieter character focused stories that lay groundwork for what’s to come.
Episode three is when the plot kicks back into gear and everyone’s favorite Shiro is right at the center of it. Some of the lingering questions about what happened during his capture start to pay off in ways that only up the stakes for everyone on the Voltron Force.
As in season one, it’s the characters that make this show such a delight to watch. Everyone gets some time to shine, although Keith still ends up with the least development. At this point I’m wondering if this is an intentional choice. He does feature prominently in the first episode but we don’t get a better handle on who this guy is. With a certain development at the end of episode three that might start to change.
Everyone else though is in top form. In the months since the first season dropped, Voltron has amassed a huge fanbase who have grown to love these characters. They will not be disappointed. With Shiro you’ve got your #SpaceDad goodness along with all the angst. Hunk has all the wacky jokes and clueless observations. Pidge delights in her quiet moments with science and technology to play with. Allura and Coran both get a chance to play comedy and it’s astounding.
The real winner of these opening three episodes is Lance, who gets a lion’s share (heh) of the second episode. Its no wonder so many fans love this guy. He’s so full of himself without being a total dick. He’s actually charming and funny so some of that smugness is earned. Episode two will easily be a fan favorite simply for his large presence.
As much as this season of Voltron steps out of the shadow of its original incarnation, it does still have a few references to delight old fans. When you seem them, you’ll freak out.
Voltron: Legendary Defender continues to be a triumph for not just animation but television in general. It should be thought of as more than just an ’80s reboot. It deserves to be taken on its own merits and appreciated for the incredible universe it’s created.
Voltron Legendary Defender Season 2 drops on Netflix January 20th.
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