I've been a big fan of Netflix's Voltron series, Legendary Defender, from the pilot episode onward. Each season has introduced twists, turns and new corners of the multiverse to dig up. And along with that, each season establishes that Legendary Defender is not here to prey on your nostalgia. It's here to establish the baddest robot in the galaxy for a new generation while showing so much love to those of us from the past.
Season 6 may be my favorite of the series so far. While some have complained that the truncated episode counts (only 7 episodes) have hurt the newer seasons ability to develop story and characters, I would argue the opposite to be true, The shorter seasons make every episode matter so much more, they make every single moment feel urgent and important. I found myself rewinding multiple times during a few episodes because I missed something important. I even watched entire episodes over again to make sure I caught EVERYTHING that was going on at points!
There are a few of standout episodes in this season for me and 2 come in the front half. Not to say the back half isn't loaded with greatness, but I've come to expect epic and incredible space battles from VLD. Episode 2 of this season, titled Razor's Edge, sees our former paladin Keith and his long lost but finally reunited mother taking on a mission of dire importance to both the overall goal and the plot of this season. Without revealing too much, this duo gets stuck in a weird space/time field which provides us with a plethora of trippy visuals and flashbacks/flash forwards. The animation is a real stand out here along with the added bonus of some great backstory on Keith's life along with backstory on the Blue Lion's time on Earth.
The other standout episode for me was actually the very next, titled "Monsters & Mana". A clear shout out to the beloved Dungeons and Dragons, the paladins and Coran sit down for some much needed relaxation that leads to hilarity, tomfoolery and eventually some needed revelations for our heroes. I loved all the callbacks, I loved Shiro's "I'm gonna be a paladin. Again." and the accompanying sighs from Pidge. This episode shows the growth of this group and gives some shine to everyone. While being mostly filler, it was enjoyable. To compare it to food (which is a pretty standard move for me), steak is great but sometimes you just want a cheeseburger.
Also, "Black Paladins". Just. WOW. To go back to my food comparison? This is the prime cut.
Another thing that has always stood on this show? The voice cast. This is a group of All Stars, make no doubt about it. Josh Keaton is hands down one of my favorites of all time and his work with Shiro has been just phenomenal. Another star getting a real chance to shine is Kimberly Brooks as Allura. Her character has a complex arc in seasons 5 and 6 and Brooks handles the emotions of our Princess with grace and ease. She has strength and softness all at once. Also worth a highlight is the depth that Jeremy Shada has given to Lance. To me, this is the character that has grown the most throughout the series. Lance is the glue that holds Voltron together and Shada does a wonderful job with his vocal changes from season to season.
Oh and Gregg wanted me to make sure I mentioned how great it is that VLD confirmed Lance's Cuban heritage. From Gregg: "That whole reveal was really well done. It just makes his eventual focus that much more needed."
The animation this season is also a sight to behold. The aforementioned "Razor's Edge" episode provides us with some of the most stunning visuals VLD has offered and the fight scenes in season 6 are unparalleled. The team at Dreamworks really out does themselves on this one. The emotions in "Black Paladins" are beautiful while the brutality does not miss a beat. There is so much to consume visually, I highly suggest a second viewing to try and really take everything in properly.
This is not to say this season had no flaws. While the Keith exposition is well done, we still know far too little about Lance's life on Earth before the Blue Lion and we know even LESS about Hunk. Hopefully, as the series seems to be driving towards it's eventual conclusion, we get some episodes dedicated to these 2 paladins backstories. And having mentioned the eventual (but please not TOO soon) ending to this great series, we're running short on story threads! Season 6 does a great job tying up loose ends as the paladins head towards home on Earth. Will this be their final stand? Or will a new galactic threat emerge from one of the multiverses? AND WHAT THE BLEEPING BLEEP IS HAGGAR AND COULD WE FIND OUT WHAT THE BLEEPING BLEEP HER PLAN IS?!?!
All of that being said, I'm on pins and needles awaiting season 7 of VLD. What started as a beautiful nostalgia trip has fast become one of my favorite series, animated or otherwise. With the paladins heading to Earth, we get to see how they will be received on their home planet after being hailed as heroes for the rest of the galaxy. Will they be heroes at home? Or will the giant robot lions FREAK EVERYONE OUT?!?!
FINAL RATING: 8/10 Black Paladins
My rating is also a shout out to what was my favorite episode of the season. A heart-wrenching and beautiful episiode at the pinacle of an incredible season.