Spoilers ahead if you aren’t caught up with the final season of Voltron Legendary Defender.
DreamWorks Animation’s excellent run of Voltron Legendary Defender may be over after eight seasons, but fans out there might still have some lingering questions about just what happened over these final 13 episodes. And while you can read my overall review of the final season to see how it fared and compared to previous seasons, there are some specific details from Season 8 that require a bit more focused attention. Most of this discussion will center on the season’s (and really the series’) big bad, revealed to be none other than the Altean scientist Honerva-turned-quintessence-addicted witch Haggar, one of the most tragic villains in history.
While I went into some detail and philosophical wanderings about Honerva’s corruption and redemption in my overall review, some of her machinations went by so fast in Season 8 that you might have missed out on exactly what she did, why she did it, and how it helped pave the path to her ultimate goal. That’s why we’re here. But first, before we get to how she did what she did, let’s talk about what Honerva’s goal really was all along.
Back when she was an Altean researcher, Honerva fell for the powerful and charismatic Galra leader, Zarkon. This courtship of sorts occurred more or less simultaneously to the discovery of quintessence and its power-granting abilities, traits that would ultimately corrupt the duo and form an addiction of sorts. That addiction decayed their relationship and also negatively and tragically influenced their bonds with their son, Lotor. Because of the addiction to quintessence, Honverva/Haggar lost both her husband and her son, but rather than blame herself or the drug that she desperately needed, she turned her rage against the Voltron Paladins and their allies.
At first, Honerva’s plan was to fulfill her ultimate dream of piercing the veil of reality in order to find an alternate universe where she could live happily with her restored husband and son once more; the destruction of Voltron and its allies was a mere cherry on top. But after this dream turned into a nightmare, Honerva turned her rage upon the Galactic Coalition, comprised of the Voltron Paladins, Alteans Allura and Coran, the Earth’s Galaxy Garrison and its MFE fighters and powerful transforming ship IGF-Atlas, remnants of the Galra Empire and its fleet, and many alien races. In fact, she became determined to wipe out all of reality, borne out of frustration at her inability to find a life free of pain and loss. That’s a pretty extreme outcome, but how did she (almost) pull it off?
First, Honerva stepped out of the shadows as the witch Haggar and fully embraced her Altean heritage as Honerva. After getting a lead on the location of the vanished Prince Lotor, Honerva called another Kral Zera, a ritualistic ceremony in which the Galra who hope to become emperor fight to the death for the throne. The last time we saw the Kral Zera, it was Lotor and his generals who were victorious after a facing down numerous challengers; this time, it’s over in a blink, and so is the Galra leadership. Honerva summons a fraction of her impressive power to destroy the gathered Galra in mere moments, blaming their bloodline for her failings and the loss of her family.
With the Galra broken and abandoned, Honerva returned to her people, or at least the offshoot of the Altean refugees who had been sequestered on one of Lotor’s planetary sanctuaries. These descendants, who saw Lotor as their savior while remaining blissfully unaware of his quintessence experiments that used them as subjects, are more than happy to follow Honerva into battle against those who killed their lord: the Voltron Force. Honerva’s manipulation skills are on par with Lotor’s own here, though her alchemical abilities far surpass his. She’s able to melt down the remnants of ancient Altean statues in order to construct six mechs of her own, each piloted by an Altean acolyte. But this is just a start for Honerva’s plan.
One of her acolytes, Luca, travels to Earth to battle Voltron before ultimately being defeated by the transformed Atlas; this occurs in Season 7, though we see flashbacks to Honerva’s machinations in Season 8. Meanwhile, other Acolytes traveled to quintessence-rich worlds in order to harvest their resources. But there’s another part of Honerva’s plan that’s even more diabolical here. One Acolyte traveled to the planet of Olkarion, a very advanced technological planet that the Paladins visited earlier in the series; the planet became a sort of refugee hub for those fleeing persecution by the Galra. In addition to sapping the planet of its quintessence, essentially killing it (and making it easy prey for the dead planet-devouring Weblum), the Acolyte and their mech also stole a number of massive black cubes, the same super-weapons seen in a Season 2 episode.
This all leads up to one of the craziest episodes of the season and the series overall. In “Genesis”, Honerva positions the cubes around a pyramid-like structure on Oriande, the legendary source of Altean alchemy. Though this realm, which exists within a white hole, is guarded by the powerful White Lion who is only supposed to grant access to those with “the mark of the chosen” (which Honerva apparently has), Honerva’s plan accounts for it. Her acolytes funnel quintessence from their source planets back through the cubes and into the pyramid, super-charging the Altean witch. She also manages to drain the quintessence from the White Lion guardian itself, killing it. All of this is in service to two ends: Resurrecting Lotor (though in a corrupted form as a husk of a soul melded to his Sincline mech) and ultimately to pierce reality’s veil and find an alternate reality of her choosing, though this happens later.
This is all insane to watch unfold, including a fantastic scene of the transformed Atlas cutting between Voltron and an attacking Acolyte like a protective big brother, Lotor’s Robeast betraying an Acolyte pilot by brutally destroying it while others watch on in horror, and Honerva getting her own version of the Castle of Lions when the pyramid structure floats up and out into space.
That’s a big win for Honerva, but the next big battle that takes place in the second half of the final season actually happens within her own mind. This is a fantastically directed and orchestrated sequence that sees a mysterious entity (itself born of quintessence before time existed) inhabiting and directing Allura, though it’s unclear how much control Honerva has over these events from a distance; the witch does manage to take hold of the other Alteans aboard the IGF-Atlas when the moment calls for it, so perhaps Allura is simply made of stronger stuff.