Spoilers ahead for anyone who isn’t caught up with the story so far.
After five seasons and 45 episodes, DreamWorks Animation’s excellent Netflix series Voltron Legendary Defender has been so impressive that it should be difficult for new episodes to go above and beyond the stellar stories delivered so far. I’m happy to say that Season 6 manages to do just that. The new seven-episode arc, available to stream now on Netflix, tears open the Legendary Defender’s universe in ways that neither this series nor its progenitor have attempted before. That’s a bold move for the creative team, including showrunners Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery, but it’s also incredibly refreshing for the artistic team behind the scenes and the viewers who get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Up until this point, Voltron Legendary Defender has focused mainly on the Paladins–the pilots who fly mighty robot lions into battle against the dread Emperor Zarkon’s vile Galra Empire–and the title titan that is formed when said lions unite to confront a threat that’s too large to handle mano a mano. But recently, Voltron had wrapped up the Zarkon arc, now freeing the story up to include the duplicitous machinations of heir to the Galra throne, Prince Lotor, and to explore the Paladins’ side stories a bit more. Fans will really see the storytelling open up in Season 6 as Voltron introduces all-new worlds, mind-bending realities, dynamic new characters, and heart-breaking sacrifices. This is Voltron at its best.
With the exception of one very silly, very different episode that acts as a bit of a break / palate cleanser, the core of Season 6 follows Lotor’s uneasy position on the throne. This perilous path is complicated by fractures and factions within the Galra Empire; those who support Lotor’s blood claim and his victory during the Kral Zera are willing to overlook his alliances with Princess Allura and the Paladins, while those who disagree with this partnership end up siding with Sendak under his new banner, “The Fire of Purification.” Conflicts between the factions are heated and bloody, but it feels like the bulk of this battle is yet to come in future seasons.
The key to Lotor’s success, as he sees it, is to secure access to and control of quintessence through the honing of Allura’s newly awoken Altean alchemy skills. In his mind, providing limitless energy for the Galra Empire and its many people, planets, and colonies would negate the need for war over resources. It’s a solid argument, one which Allura in her unfailing optimism happens to side with, but audiences will have to ask themselves one question: Can Lotor be trusted? You’ll know the answer by season’s end.
Elsewhere in the universe, the Paladins themselves are still in action, of course. Keith continues along his own very personal (and very rewarding, story-wise) path with the Blade of Marmora. Fans should be happy to see that he gets to spend some quality time with his recently revealed and reunited mother, along with a brand new pal he makes along the way. Keith has always existed on the periphery of the Paladins in some capacity while also keeping a tether to the Voltron force; expect that drama to continue in fantastic and emotional ways this season.
Keith’s own journey is tied to Shiro, who is battling some personal demons of his own in Season 6. Fans will find out for certain just what’s been going on with the leader of the Paladins, along with a lot more action, jaw-dropping twists, and stunning reveals centered on the charismatic commander.
On the lighter side of things, Pidge and Hunk take a bit of a backseat to the drama this season and get to enjoy some more comedic beats instead. (Hunk’s trial by fire when attempting to learn Galra culture and language offers some great character moments.) There’s no better example of this than the episode “Monsters & Mana”, the third episode of the season, in which the Paladins all engage in a highly imaginative fantasy game similar to D&D. It’s fantastic, and it really gives the artists a chance to show off their skills, talent, and creativity. It’s also a deep breath before the plunge into the kinetic, action-packed battles that close out the season after a devastating reveal.
Lance fans, rest assured that the unlucky-in-love Paladin will get a chance to shine in Season 6 early on, though he’s somewhat relegated to the sidelines in both the romance and action aspects later on. And no, I didn’t forget about the crafty Haggar or her tenuous alliance with Lotor’s former generals; both parties have big parts to play in the way Season 6 inevitably shakes out, and their own journeys are also explored, if a bit less so.
To say more would be to risk giving away too much, so it should suffice to say that both new and returning fans of Voltron will find a lot to love, obsess over, and be thrilled by in Season 6. It’s a short season, but the pacing and plotting works, especially since the early episodes take time to explore heady sci-fi concepts and personal relationships before the last few installments rocket to a break-neck pace that delivers all-out action and universe-changing consequences. Prepare yourselves, Voltron fan; from here on out, things will never be the same!
Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent