With Prince Lotor of the Galra Empire joining the paladins, season five of Voltron: Legendary Defender is bringing some major changes to the universe—changes that could potentially turn the tide of the war.
S05E01 – “The Prisoner”
One may think the title is referring to Lotor, who is being held in the castle, and while that’s partially true, there’s an unexpected character hidden in its meaning.
But before that character is introduced, team Voltron is shown completing a mission to further damage the Galra Empire. The intel for this excursion was provided by none other than Prince Lotor, who is trying to prove his sincerity in allying with the paladins. Team Voltron, of course, does not trust him quite yet, but as Shiro points out, all his information has been correct. Lotor, too, mentions this in a scene where Allura and Shiro go to his futuristic prison cell to talk to him. During their talk, Lotor asks Allura to judge him based off his actions, not her preconceived notions about his race, which is a nice way to drop current social issues into the show. Though Voltron is about fighting evil aliens in space, it still communicates thoughtful, relevant messages for people of all ages.
A little ways into the episode, the surprise character is revealed, and it’s none other than Pidge and Matt’s father, Sam. Lotor knows where he’s being held, so Pidge, Matt, Rolo, and Nyma race to his prison to save him. I honestly didn’t expect Sam to be introduced in the first episode of the season, especially with all the Lotor drama, but at least fans are receiving closure on that part of the Holt family’s story.
The mission to rescue Sam seemed a bit slow and unnecessary since it turned out he wasn’t actually there. The excursion simply wasn’t anything special, and considering it took up a significant chunk of the run time, it made for an overall average episode.
At the end of the episode, Zarkon offers Sam in exchange for his son, Lotor.
S05E02- “Blood Duel”
While “The Prisoner” was a little slow and at times not super engaging, things really heat up in this episode.
Pidge, Shiro, and Matt go meet Zarkon so they may exchange Lotor for Sam. There are some flashbacks to a heated discussion between the paladins and Lotor about the trade, and Pidge showed—and continues to show throughout the episode—her feisty side. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to be reunited with her father. The paladin’s talk with Lotor also brings up a tough question: is the life of one person worth more than the life of many? Is Sam worth Lotor, who can help create an alliance between Voltron and the Galra and, therefore, save millions? It’s gut-wrenching to think the team would sacrifice Pidge’s father, but it also shows they’re trying to make decisions with the greater good in mind. On a side note, while all of this drama was happening, I realized how much I love Lotor’s overall design.
Perhaps the most emotional part of this episode was a brief scene with Haggar. The witch is continuing to learn more about who she once was before the dark Quintessence corrupted her, and she undergoes some kind of magic ritual that allows her to actually see her memories. She sees herself pregnant with Lotor, which answers a question I had about whether Haggar gave birth to her son as Haggar or as Honerva. I still wonder, however, how Zarkon knows Lotor is his son and Haggar is just now finding out. When the memories fade, Haggar says, “Lotor,” and her voice sounds softer and less growly than usual. It’s a shocking display of emotion from the ruthless witch and begs the question: What’s next now that Haggar knows?
Haggar returns a little later in the episode and says to begin Operation Kuron stage four, which many fans suspect has to do with a clone Shiro. It’ll be interesting to discover if this clone theory is true.
Back on the planet where Shiro, Matt, and Pidge are facing off with Zarkon, there are some really beautiful cinematic shots, including a close-up shot of Zarkon with the focus on Sam, who’s behind his shoulder, before focusing back to him, and a low angle shot of Lotor’s slow moving steps as he goes to cross paths with Sam. As soon as Sam is past Lotor, Pidge races to him, only to find out he is a hologram. Then, Lotor breaks from his restraints, the black bayard in hand.
That’s when all heck breaks loose.
Lotor and Zarkon engage in a battle that’s one of the best and most intense ones from the show so far. At one point in the fight, Zarkon brings up Lotor’s half-Altean blood and how that part of his heritage is weak. Zarkon’s wife, Haggar, is Altean, however, so what has changed in his view of their race? With this question and the question about how he always knew Lotor was his son when Haggar just found out, Zarkon has a lot of explaining to do.
Though Zarkon called Lotor weak, Lotor gives it right back to him, sending his father into a rage. But Lotor is a force to reckoned with, and he slices open the containers of strange fluid on Zarkon’s back, which is giving him his strength. There are two other beautiful shots after he does: bright, purple particles slowly float past Lotor’s face, and there’s a close up of his sword’s tip dripping with the liquid. Also, I always knew Lotor was a skilled fighter, but something about seeing him battle Zarkon really proved his power.
As aforementioned, Zarkon has a lot of explaining to do, but I fear I may never receive the answers I seek because Lotor kills Zarkon in order to save team Voltron at the end of the episode. The moment took my breath away, and his death will affect the Galra Empire and the universe profoundly.
“Blood Duel” was definitely my favorite of these two episodes and maybe one of my favorite episodes from all seasons. It was so dynamic and action-packed, and there were so many moments that made me gasp and that kept me on the edge of my seat. Now that Zarkon is gone, there’s a title of great power to be filled and an opportunity for team Voltron to strike a fatal blow while the Empire is weak. We’ll just have to wait and see what the paladins—and now Lotor—do next.
What did you think of these episodes?
Edited by: Kelly Conley