When Voltron: Legendary Defender premiered last year, it had a lot to live up to. Based on the beloved series from the 80’s, Voltron: Defender of the Universe, the new series managed to find a way to build upon the lore set up decades before it and interweave new backstories for characters. Instead of being a show about toys, Legendary Defender felt like a series that could stand on its own two feet ... that just so happened to be about toys.
Voltron: Legendary Defender’s second season far surpasses any expectations I had for it. I was worried going in that the show would suffer from a sophomore slump, but Legendary Defender manages to capture the magic of the first season and expand the universe. In the three episodes Netflix provided to me ahead of the show’s release, there are more characters, more worlds and the backstories we got a glimpse of last season are explored more at length.
When we last left our Paladins, they were separated and sent adrift to different parts of the universe. Our heroes were in different corners, struggling with the existence of the evil Emperor Zarkon and trying to find their way back to each other. At the beginning of the new season, Pidge is still trying to find her missing family members, Hunk and Lance have discovered new abilities that the Lions can take on, Keith discovers a strange connection to an ancient artifact in his possession and Shiro is reeling with the events following his time spent under the watchful eye of the Druids.
Instead of rushing the reunion in the first episode, Legendary Defender’s second season takes its time to stress the importance of each character’s personal journey. It can be difficult to remember that Shiro, Pidge, Hunk, Lance and Keith are individuals outside of their team setting, but the second season heavily reinforces and reminds the audience of that fact.
What makes Voltron: Legendary Defender stand out is it takes the time to make you care abut the characters and the travesties happening around them. The writers force you to care about the devastation the Galran War, an never ending battle, has brought. The second season takes the serialized, emotional drama and turns it up tenfold. In doing so, however, it still manages to balance the heavy isolation, confusion and alienation the Paladins are going through with a solid amount of comedy.
The new season of Legendary Defender feels mature. You can feel the weight of what’s happened to the Paladins between their fight with Zarkon and suffering from emotional blows has hardened them. Even though they’re the same, optimistic characters from the first season — who believe in friendship, teamwork and the power of good above all else — they’re not as innocent as they once were. They’ve stared down evil and instead of just heading into battle foolhardily, they’ve become warriors in their own right.
Part of this has to do with new characters who are introduced this season. There are a few new friends that the Paladins meet during their solitary quests and, more importantly, more enemies. The Paladins don’t have time to be as naive as they were in the first season, and that shows in the newfound maturity they display.
Despite the emotional nature of Legendary Defender’s second season, the show doesn’t sacrifice any of its action. During their time drifting across the universe, the Paladins discover there are other groups who have dedicated their lives to taking on Zarkon and the Galra Empire. Some of these rebels happen to work within the Empire themselves, and despite the lessons the Paladins have learned in their time fighting Zarkon, they’re still not veteran soldiers. It’s through these team ups that the Lions learn new tricks for taking on Zarkon, and his crew of episodic one-time villains that the Legendary Defender redefines the action we remember from the first season.
Overall, Legendary Defender feels stronger. There’s a stronger sense of self, and it’s through its newfound confidence the show is able to take bigger leaps into uncharted territory. Legendary Defender didn’t leave me feeling unsatisfied or disappointed with the slight changes made in its early episodes, but instead I was left ready to binge the rest of the season. With new characters, stronger backstories and an army of new villains and rebels ready to go to war, the stakes have been raised and the drama is all the more better because of it. It’s rare that a show succeeds in its second season as much as Legendary Defender has, but if you were on the fence about whether or not to check out the series, there’s no better time to jump in.
Voltron: Legendary Defender is available to stream on Netflix right now.