There once was a time when I didn’t know about Voltron outside of a toy at my grandmother’s house. I knew of Power Rangers, not Voltron, but as I grew older, I heard more about it. Then, Netflix announced Voltron Legendary Defender, and I knew I had to watch it. And I did, and I very much enjoyed it over these past few years. Now, another series I’ve enjoyed has ended, and while hardly perfect, I hope this Voltron Legendary Defender Season 8 review shows that I feel the series ended on a mostly solid note.
For those who don’t recall, I thought Season 6 of Voltron Legendary Defender was magnificent, and then Season 7 was actually really bad, so I was very nervous going into this one. For the most part, that nervousness was settled, for the show righted the ship in the best way possible by giving the newly reformed Voltron Coalition a simple mission: stopping the Galra occupation. That led to the massive confrontation with the witch Haggar, now going by her Altean name Honerva.
While the slow build usually would’ve doomed the season, it actually worked in its favor here. For when things started to go as planned, they derailed via the escalation of Honerva’s attacks with her RoBeasts (which is a callback to the original series), as well as her big plans for the universe. Another thing I appreciated was episode 2, “Shadows” where they reveal how Haggar truly became the Honerva we see now, and how it ended up with the Alteans from the Lotor colony following her every word.
One thing that Voltron Legendary Defender has done right more times than not was giving the Paladins a worthy antagonist, and that may have been why Season 7 fell flat for me, for Sendak had long outlived his usefulness. But here, with Honerva, we got a character who had different motivations than all of the other villains. True, she wanted revenge on Voltron for what they did to Lotor, but more than anything else…she wanted her life back.
Her rise to power and the actual succession of her plan (no matter how briefly) was very well done. Sometimes the villain needs to win in order to lose, and that’s what happened here in a very believable way…for the most part. Her death did feel rushed, but I’ll get to that later.
Not to be outdone, many of the Paladins had good mini-arcs in the season. And the biggest one is the one you wouldn’t expect with Lance, but again, I’ll get to him later. Allura was second, as she was driven to figure out how Honerva had turned the remaining Alteans against Voltron, and her desperation and willingness to go extremely far to stop her was sometimes very frightening. I’m not sure how I feel about Allura going so dark in certain places of the plot, but it did serve the endgame rather well, and in the end, she did serve the light instead of embracing the darkness like Honerva and Zarkon did.
Keith, Shiro, Hunk, Pidge, and even Coran had their own little bits that added to the story. Hunk starting the beginning of his “cooking empire” was clever. Pidge’s arguments with his mother were hilarious. Shiro embracing his new role as Captain of the Atlas (and winning an arm wrestling competition) was nice. And Keith finally dropping his barriers and embracing his team as friends and family were great.
Before I get to the more negative aspects of the season, I do want to mention just how freaking epic the visuals of this show were. No Voltron Legendary Defender Season 8 review would be complete without talking about the stellar battles, the seamless animation, the really good emotion moments that were perfectly rendered, and everything in between. The animation and visuals for this show have always been one of the highlights of the series no matter which season, and I’m glad to see they went out on a strong note.
I’ll start at the top and work my way down, ok? First off, as balanced as the season was, there were many episodes that didn’t feel as important to a final season as they should have. Ironically enough, this season MIGHT (might…) have been better with a small episode count because of all the fluff that sometimes got put in. “Day Forty-Seven”, “Clear Day”, “The Grudge”, “Battle Scars”, all had their merits, but at points they didn’t add up to much in my opinion.
Sure, having the Olkari find the way to detect the warp jumps was important, but did it need a whole episode about it? And did I need to see the remaining Lotor generals have a reunion? No, not really. I thought the only one left alive was Akshi! But no, the others were alive…and they broke up…because one didn’t want the rage anymore…?
Furthermore, “Clear Day” was only good because of the Allura storyline. We’ve seen the Paladins relax before, why do it here in the final season? This also barely touching some of the obvious deus ex machina and plot holes that are in the season, but I’ll spare you my rundown of that.
Then there’s Lance and Allura. Hold on! Hold on! I’m not dissing the relationship. I LOVED the relationship. They’ve been teasing this forever, and they finally made good on it. In fact, I would argue that this is one of the best shown, and written, relationships I’ve seen in animation recently, and that’s saying something. But…they killed Allura!
I LOVED how Lance became the ultimate supportive boyfriend here. And him professing his love to Allura in EPISODE 1 and saying that he would be her family was very touching. I’ve heard some people complain that the relationship wasn’t given a lot of show time, but to me, that was great! We didn’t need them bashing over our heads that they were together, they did it in the quiet moments. Like Lance and Allura resting against one another as they decide their next move. Or Allura grabbing Lance’s hand when talking with the others about the plan to go into Honerva’s mind. So then, at the end, for them to kill Allura, basically crushing Lance in the process, just felt wrong. Did the ONLY real relationship in this series have to be split up apart just after being put together? That’s a classic trope, and no amount of “honoring the memory” will make for that.
Speaking of making up, let’s talk about the ending ending. I liked that they did a “where are they now?” bit talking about how they truly made the universe a better place and became better themselves. But did we really need it? Yes, the series was never going to get a sequel per se, but this kind of shuts the door on the potential in many ways, especially with Allura dead. And as for Shiro…
…man, they couldn’t resist, could they? If you recall, a big spoiler ahead of the Season 7 premiere was the reveal that Shiro was gay, and that he had a boyfriend named Adam on Earth. This was HUGE for the LGBTQ community…and then the relationship was in all of one scene, and Adam was killed. Not cool as fellow Outerhaven writer Sara wrote. Then, in Season 8’s ending, we find out that he did find love again, and they kissed on screen…does that sound familiar? It should, it’s similar to how The Legend of Korra ended, minus the “teasing” bit, for they went full-on kiss here. I didn’t like this. Sure, Shiro could’ve found love again, that’s not my issue. My issue is showing it in this way, and prioritizing this relationship moment over Lance and Allura being happy together forever. It comes off as trying to make up for not one but two mistakes (the Season 7 controversy and the “Korrasami” backlash that happened because of the teasing/implied aspect of the end). And that’s not cool to me.
Still, its flaws aside, Voltron Legendary Defender Season 8 ended rather strong. Not the best of endings, but a solid one. Dreamworks should be proud of the run that this series had, and I’m honored to have watched it.
Voltron Legendary Defender Season 8 Review
Voltron Legendary Defender Season 8 may not have been the perfect ending, and there will be controversy over what they did. But, in the end, the writers sent out the show the only way they knew how: as a bright light across the stars.