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Review: Grander Adventure Awaits in “Voltron Legendary Defender” Season 2

Voltron Legendary Defender

Voltron Legendary DefenderThe first thing to understand about season 2 of Voltron Legendary Defender is that it’s really a second season in name only. Rather than something akin to a new chapter or a book in what has been a very plot-driven show, it’s a straightforward continuation that picks up exactly where the first left off. That’s a relief, given that we left our intrepid heroes after their first encounter with Emperor Zarkon and space witch Haggar saw them soundly defeated and lucky to escape alive, only to be scattered due to a wormhole gone haywire. With the team battered and separated, it’s up to their wits and their trust in each other to see them back together again.

Netflix made the first three episodes of Legendary Defender available for review, and fans who enjoyed the first season will be satisfied to find that the brisk pacing of prior episodes continues. It’s clear we won’t be facing 13 episodes of the team trying to get back together again. Their crisis takes after the quest to find the mechanical lions of Voltron in the series premiere: a division of the team that puts certain characters together and ultimately sets the stage for adventures to come. Keith and Shiro start in a much more serious situation, with the pair battered and separated and Shiro badly injured from the prior battle. As the two stay in contact over comms and try to reunite, it ultimately falls to Keith to look out for his friend and mentor. The situation affords good opportunity to touch on the brotherhood these two share, and for old school Voltron/Go-Lion fans a certain moment comes off as a bit of fanservice and a tacit tribute to Keith’s past status as team leader and the Black Lion pilot in the original show.

Voltron Legendary DefenderIt’s not all seriousness here though. A full episode is devoted to Hunk and Lance finding themselves among an aquatic society that seems like an idyllic paradise governed by a benevolent monarch, only to eventually uncover a nasty truth behind its apparent peace. The affair is is really Lance’s chance to shine first and foremost, which means equal parts proactive leadership and buffoonery. The combination renders Lance a strange hybrid of Captain James T. Kirk and Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He’ll have your back in one moment, and then in the next he’ll be fawning over a space mermaid. What can you do?

Rounding out the group’s assorted adventures are Pidge and Allura, who both find themselves isolated and forced to rely on their wits to overcome their obstacles. Pidge is left stranded and recovering in a galactic junkyard and has loneliness, uncertainty, and simple boredom as her enemies. She eventually copes with all three by improvising with the surrounding equipment in ways that would humble MacGyver. In contrast, Allura’s problem is one of urgency as the Castleship is caught in a temporal anomaly worthy of Star Trek. She and Coran are caught in a self-repeating loop that Allura struggles to break through trial and error, while Coran turns younger and younger (and less and less able to help her) each time through the cycle. The exploits of Pidge and Allura make for satisfying viewing, as in both cases it’s thought and strength of character that win the day, and both characters capably rescue themselves. Less compelling is the show’s insistence at using Coran as unrelatable comic relief regardless of the situation, including a groan-worthy moment where he’s regressed to a hopelessly stereotypical pouty adolescent even when oblivion seems like a very real possibility.

Voltron Legendary DefenderBeyond the crises that begin the season, Voltron Legendary Defender sets the stage for still greater adventures to come when the gang falls in with a Galran dissident and gets its first sign that others are resisting Zarkon beyond the Voltron team. Allura has little reason to trust any Galran but Shiro recognizes him as his savior from his time as a Galran prisoner, setting the stage for a classic conflict on trust. Unfortunately, Zarkon’s forces are much too aware of exactly what they’re up to, which raises troubling questions of how and who’s to blame. These are fantastic issues to take into the heart of the season, continuing this show’s way of being powered by much more than simple anticipation of the moment when the giant robot finally gets to punch a monster.

In short, season 2 of Voltron Legendary Defender shows every sign of being more of the same and an action/adventure show that refuses to remain static for long. If you are a new or old fan that liked what you saw before, there is no reason to stop now.

Voltron Legendary Defender Season 2 will be available for streaming on Netflix on January 20, 2017.