The animated sci-fi action series Voltron: Legendary Defender, produced by DreamWorks animation, continues with the seven-episode season 3, and the new season is already an improvement over season 2.
Taking place right after the events of season 2, the short season 3 move the show’s overarching plot forward with Prince Lutor, the son of Emperor Zarkon. Unlike Zarkon, Lutor is a patient and cunning man who brings a more delicate touch to his father’s empire. He also commands an elite squad of women from varying species, tasked with subjugating star systems and hunting Voltron and its paladin pilots.
Voltron: Legendary Defender‘s high production quality is the same here as ever. Crisp and colorful animation, combined with convincing voice acting and standard sci-fi sound effects, all make season 3 a pleasure to watch. The scenes and dialogue also seem to rely less on cheap gags and side-tracking and instead have a leaner focus on plot. Season 2’s many distractions and jokes slowed the narrative, but so far, season 3 avoids that pitfall.
Despite the lean plot, season 3 finds time to explore fascinating, if well-worn, sci-fi conventions. A visit to a parallel universe, complete with its inhabitants, meeting battle-hardened rebels holed up in an ice planet and searching for immortality despite ethical concerns all color season 3’s narrative. Episode 7 also sheds light on Emperor Zarkon’s and Allura’s father, King Alfor, though fans of Brian Kotietzko and Michael deMartino’s Avatar: the Last Airbender will find many similarities between that backstory and that of Avatar Roku and Fire Lord Sozin; too many, maybe.
The characters of Voltron: Legendary Defender have settled into their molds, with Lance being the fun guy, Keith being pressured to perform and lead, and Coran being a foppish butler type. Even with moments like Lance and Keith doubting themselves and their role in the paladin team, the characters still show no signs of new growth or dimension. Prince Lutor’s all-woman elite team, similarly, gets no development. Who are they? What brought them to Prince Lutor’s side, and how do they all think? Aside from stock behavior, such as the brute member’s constant comments about violence, these questions aren’t answered. They can be thought of as a rough parallel to Princess Azula’s team in Avatar: the Last Airbender, but without the personal depth.
Overall, Voltron: Legendary Defender‘s third season accelerates the show with an engaging plot, fresh new characters, and more high-quality animation to provide a short but solid sci-fi adventure.