Voltron: Legendary Defender – Season 3 – Review
Synopsis: In an all-new series, five unlikely heroes and their flying robot lions unite to form the megapowerful Voltron and defend the universe from evil. (Official Netflix Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Voltron enters its third season with the same wonderful art and animation fans have come to expect. This season doesn’t have any significant dips or noticeably trimmed corners, boasting a uniform visual quality. But the series stumbles in other ways, in part due to the 3rd Season’s truncated nature.
It was apparently decided between Season’s 2 and 3 to try and deliver fans new episodes faster, rather than offering up thirteen episodes at once. It’s clear this hit the writing team like a bag of bricks, catching them off guard and forcing them to work in a manner ill suited to the style Voltron had delivered till now.
Fans of Voltron’s highly comedic nature will note a distinct lessening of that, with the series taking a stronger focus on the core narrative. While there’s normally an episode or two devoted to a wholly silly affair, non-exists in this 3rd Season, with each episode feeding into the larger narrative directly. There’s still comedy of course, but it feels much less a core component.
It largely works, at least for the first three episodes. While the team struggles to cope with the loss of Shiro, and readjust accordingly, Voltron’s 3rd Season opens with a very tight narrative. Comedy still peppers these events, but overall it feels far more serious.
Bolstering the quality of these first three episodes is the introduction of a new series villain, son of Emperor Zarkon, Prince Lotor. Lotor sets a new tone for the series, offering up a more character driven antagonist with some hints of nuance included in his introduction. There’s aspect to the character that really make him more of a ‘grey’ individual, good characteristics mixed in with the bad. He feels a much more meaty character compared to his father, who was decidedly one note. But Prince Lotor is also where Season 3 first starts showcasing its troubles.
Prince Lotor may feel meaty, but the season utimately fails to utilize any of that. Prince Lotor quickly falls into the same patterns his father suffered from, and that deeper characterization goes to waste. Even his four minions, who each are given more lively, distinct personalities than either Zarkon or his Witch, also quickly feel like little more than skin-swapped replacements for our original evil-duo.
It’s after episode three that Voltron’s 3rd Season starts to fall apart. Episode four offers up an interesting story line involving alternate realities, but is disappointingly resolved as suddenly as it appeared. Instead the whole thing acts as a way to introduce the series McGuffin that carries us to the end of this seven episode run.
The Season then jumps right to a big revelation about one of its characters. It’s a twist that happens far too soon, and should’ve been something that was given more breathing room between last Season’s finale and it’s Mid Season 3 reveal. It’s a development that needed to wait awhile longer. If not a full season’s length then a handful of these bit-sized seasons. Without spoiling too much, it undermines our main cast’s ability to grow and develop as characters, making the season feel much weaker on its character work than past entries.
Finally, it doesn’t help that the season goes out not with a bang, but a whimper. While the creators warned of a smaller finale compared to the last, this season ends on a flashback detailing the origins of Voltron. But the flashback feels too dense, too interesting to scrunch into just one episode. It feels rushed and under done, leaving the origins of Voltron to feel more disappointing, than grand.
Overall Season 3 is a step in the wrong direction. It’s not to say shorter seasons can’t work, but what’s here feels like a compact version of whatever Season 3 could’ve been, and not at all the same quality fans have come to expect. Here’s hoping Season 4, or more likely 5, rights the ship.
Voltron: Legendary Defender is available for streaming only at Netflix.com