With Voltron Legendary Defender season three in the bag and dropped on Netflix, we got the chance to sit down with showrunners Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery to break down the season.
Reservations about Allura piloting the Blue Lion, bringing Sven into the Legendary Defender universe, Lotor, and some possible hints to season four are all below.
Right off the bat, what were you happy with in season three of Voltron?
Montgomery: We’re really happy with how the vast majority of it came out. There’s a lot of really cool things that happened in this season. For me obviously bringing Lotor in is a huge thing for everyone. We were all really excited to do that. A huge thing for me was of course Allura becoming a Paladin. That for me we all probably wanted from day one but I was probably the most jerky about it and demanding it.
Was there ever a point where Allura wasn’t going to get in a Lion?
Dos Santos: Not from our standpoint.
Montgomery: Not from us. There were maybe some reservations. There’s always concerns from certain parties when you change your lineup of main characters. Some people got kind of used to Allura in her role and went, “Why change it? She’s great where she is.” We knew we had to evolve her and wanted to involve her more with the main Paladins and it was a really important thing for us so we did have to kind of put our foot down a little bit.
Of course that doesn’t mean anything, we can put our foot down all day and if our bosses say no, our bosses say no and that’s the end of it but luckily they let us have our way. I’m eternally gratefully because I would have been crying many many tears if that had not happened.
Dos Santos: From our stand point it was the plan all along. Artistically and creatively that’s where our heads have been leaning since day one. We were able to make it happen which is not always the case.
In this season most of the Paladins were swapped around but we only got an explanation of why Allura was wearing pink. Will Keith and Lance ever wear the colors of their respective Lions?
Motgomery: We’re not going to tell you that. But for me it’s almost like retiring a beloved sports player’s number. You don’t put someone on the Bulls and give them the number twenty-three cause that’s Michael Jordon. Keith sees that black outfit and he’s like, “That’s Shiro.”
He’s not even comfortable piloting the Black Lion because that belonged to Shiro as well. He might take on the Black Lion because he knows that it’s a bigger responsibility but he’s not gonna put on Shiro’s outfit. He’s sticking to his outfit and you can’t have two guys in the red outfit; Lance doesn’t want to wear the same outfit as Keith, he’d look like a goof.
Dos Santos: If you really want to get down to it, this was just the way to get to original configuration of the show.
Talk about bringing Sven into Voltron Legendary Defender.
Dos Santos: That was another scene we had talked about.
Montgomery: I can’t even remember who’s initial idea it was.
Dos Santos: Once you start talking any sort of alternate reality that immediately happens in the meetings. We start talking in that voice.
Montgomery: Shiro was out of the picture at this point and it served a great dual purpose of not only can we have a voice for Sven but we can also use him as a little bit of an emotional tool for Keith and our guys. They go, “it’s Shiro!” it’s not Shiro, it’s a guy with a very clearly different accent. It was fun.
You’re playing around with an episode like that, which is such an emotionally compelling episode for Allura, but at the same time we get to do something as ridiculous as having Sven in there and Slav being the most badass character in the episode. It was just fun.
Dos Santos: I will say, Sven dying is the most emotional I’ve ever gotten on this show.
You even did a specific visual homage to the old show with the whole “space hospital” thing.
Dos Santos: That was a joke that gets told regularly in the room.
Montgomery: It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Dos Santos: If we’re pitching somebody is going to bite the dust, don’t worry they’re going to space hospital. It’s all-good.
In Season 3 you introduced a lot of new elements. Did you ever worry the season would feel overstuffed, especially since the original third season got cut in half?
Dos Santos: The third season getting cut in half didn’t happen until after we were done. For us it felt like a very natural thirteen episodes. When season four drops maybe everyone can go and rewatch all the way through and see how the things play out.
Overall, when they came to us with that idea of splitting the season in half, you know creatively we were like “uhh, it’s gonna feel stilted and a little cut short.” But the better outcome is that well be able to deliver more Voltron content on a more regular basis. There won’t be this big waiting period.
Montgomery: When we look at it I’d much rather have people saying that “a lot happened” instead of people being like, “that was a boring ass season.” We’ll take it.
Talk about creating Lotor’s four generals.
Montgomery: We just had to have a lot of female generals in Galra. We maybe had a couple in the background (in earlier season) but we ended up going back and cutting them out specifically because we came up with this idea of, “what if Lotor’s generals are the female ones?”
We had this bigger story of Lotor having this much larger force, similar to how Zarkon has all these commanders; Lotor would have all female commanders. We ended up narrowing it down to a smaller crew because Lotor works on a grander scale but he’s also on the front line with his generals and just keeping that crew kind of small and able to travel around together which is a better dynamic.
Dos Santos: Also it’s kind of a mirror for the Voltron team. It makes it a bit more personal than Lotor’s guys. It’s an equivalent team to Voltron basically.
How did you go about creating Lotor and evolving his character throughout the season?
Dos Santos: He was a character, like Allura getting to pilot the Blue Lion, we’ve been talking about since day one. We’re lucky enough to be working on a show that’s highly serialized and we’d knew we’d be able to top load and we’d be able to pepper it in throughout. That big cliffhanger at the end where Haggar says “Summon Prince Lotor!” we were just geeked building up to the moment of revealing it because we knew we’d be creating a character that is very unlike Zarkon.
I think moving forward he’s a much more complex character than Zarkon. He’s a character that’s far more relatable. I like a character that is a little morally ambiguous and not so much of a mustache twirling bad guy for bad guys sake. And I think with the advent of the Paladin back-story episode we see now that Zarkon has a bit more gray area to why he became what he became. I think Lotor is more so. I think moving forward expect the unexpected with that guy.
Montgomery: And he’s just hot, right?
Dos Santos: Yeah, he’s suuuuuper hot!
Montgomery: He has pretty hair. The L’Otoréal.
Dos Santos: That was incredible.
Montgomery: Herbal Quintessence was another one.
Dos Santos: He’s a super fun character. Super fun villain. It’s gonna be really interesting to see how our team has to adapt to take him on. It’s not gonna be all about just punching and robot fighting to get past him. He’s a way more cerebral player.
Any hints or previews for season four?
Montgomery: Everyone dies.
Dos Santos: Lauren’s a nihilist all of a sudden. Hints are tough. That’s like spoiler time. If people are excited by what they saw in season three I think they should keep that excitement level up because there is a ton of really really cool stuff coming down the lane there. With the advent of being able to tell this serialized story we’ll start peppering in story elements that will pay off eventually. Not like every episode is going to reset and they’re just going to be fighting Lotor every episode. There’s gonna be a bunch of stuff in play.
Any other messages to the fans?
Dos Santos: Stick around for season four. There’s a bunch of really cool stuff coming up. If you’ve been following along this long you’ll see some nice pay off that’ll be really cool.
Voltron Legendary Defender season three is currently streaming on Netflix.
Shamus Kelley wonders what will happen if he uses L’Otoréal. Follow him on Twitter!