Spoilers ahead for folks who aren’t caught up with Voltron Legendary Defender through Season 6.
It’s been a long space road for the Paladins of the Voltron Force. Way back in Season 1, Shiro, Keith, Lance, Hunk, and Pidge were flung far from their home on Earth and cast into a galactic battle against the Galra Empire. Now, as DreamWorks Animation Television’s Netflix hit Voltron Legendary Defender prepares to launch its seventh season this Friday, August 10th, that long-lost home is finally within their reach after six seasons of crushing defeats, devastating losses, and thrilling victories.
Season 7 has the unenviable distinction of having to close out major plot lines that have run throughout the series while also setting up new stories (and possibly new series) to come. Normally that’s a tough spot to be in for any work of fiction because the storytelling has to be concerned with resolutions first and establishing a new conflict second; this can feel disjointed when compared with a more traditional narrative structure. But because Voltron‘s story has been building to the Paladins’ return to Earth for six seasons, whether they or the audience knew it or not, Season 7 manages to deliver a satisfying resolution to that story while, intriguingly, introducing a new generation of heroes and promising new adventures on the horizon. And while Voltron never stumbles in its storytelling, things get very rough for the Paladins and their allies this season, a season that will have fans clutching their armrests in anticipation and cheering their heroes on throughout these 13 episodes.
I had a chance to check out the Season 7 premiere a few weeks back, so if you’re interested in more specific thoughts on that episode, check them out here. Just like that episode review, this season review will avoid spoilers except in rare cases; I’ll give you a heads up.
At the end of Season 6, the Paladins and their allies had defeated Lotor, though it came with the sacrifice of the mighty Castle of Lions. Now, the only things standing between the Voltron Force and their home on Earth is the fact that the Lions need to recharge their energy supply and, of course, Sendak’s “Fire of Purification” faction of the former Galra Empire. The 13-episode season is broken up into mini-arcs, and without giving too much away, I think it’s safe to say that the first few episodes feature the Paladins struggling to make their way home to Earth on what’s going to be at least an 18-month journey using outdated star charts. This chunk of episodes establishes a precedent for Season 7: Everything the Paladins have learned in their time together–both with each other as sentient beings and also with their surprisingly sentient Lions–will be tested, their every advantage will be stripped away, and they will be forced to discover new abilities and find out just how strong their wills really are if they hope to survive.
The other two thirds of the season throw some wild twists and turns into the mix while curiously shifting the story focus a bit. I won’t get into details here because this shift is a really fun and original story, one that feels less like a diversion and more like a setup for future adventures. But this comes with the odd effect of not quite sidelining Voltron but almost literally overshadowing the mighty mecha at times. Shiny new toys are introduced on both the heroic side and the villainous side, and that makes me wonder if Voltron itself is about to become outdated, almost a relic of its own time. (Time itself plays an interesting part in the narrative of Season 7, too, so it’s not really a stretch to say that the world as the Paladins know it has sort of moved on past them.)
While the bulk of Season 7 is all-out action and hold-your-breath space battle sequences with literal world-ending/saving consequences, there’s still room for a lot of character development and the show’s usual brand of silly humor. Every season has one standalone episode that sets itself apart for being weird, or quirky, or uniquely original; keep an eye out for the fourth episode “The Feud” for this season’s example. You can also expect a fair share of reunions, returning villains (some deadly, some funny), and some very big surprises. Every main character gets their moment this season, as usual, but the cast has swelled quite a bit, so those moments are fewer and farther between.
[Edit: A previous version of this write-up contained a spoiler that was unintentionally visible on some devices and browsers. Be sure to tune in after the new season airs so we can discuss said spoilers a bit more.]
Season 7 of Voltron Legendary Defender is another well-crafted collection of episodes that bring the Paladins’ story so far to a satisfying close while also introducing new characters who could conceivably carry the torch into all new adventures. It also features a heap of references to classic anime series like Robotech and Space Battleship Yamato, and has an homage (in my mind, anyway) to an iconic Transformers character as well. (Oh and the teleporting space wolf gets a name, but if you don’t want to know what it is or how it’s an Easter egg, don’t click here.)
Season 7 very much feels like the beginning of the end for this particular cast of characters’ story, or at least this specific journey, but what a journey it’s been.
Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent
Season 7 of Voltron Legendary Defender arrives on Netflix Friday, August 10th.