I wish I could be writing this post and be more chipper about it, but if you saw my Weekly Wrap on the 11th, you might remember me talking about some truly horrendous queerbaiting that left me really upset. It was here, and honestly? I’m still pretty upset about it. And most of the rest of the season.
If you haven’t seen S7 and plan to, be aware that spoilers abound ahead!
I can talk briefly about the good things. For once, after all, Hunk was actually appreciated. He held the team together really well, and at one point, he and Keith had a really genuine conversation that gave me a little hope for the future. He also got to reunite with Shay, and even though it got all of ten seconds of screentime, anyone who knows me knows I love those two. They’re just soft and sweet and lovely.
Keith’s space wolf, Cosmo (or are they spelling it Kosmo?) was also cute. A good dog, a friendly dog, a teleporting space dog. He did some really neat things to help the team out that saved the day, and he’s just a cute dog. A+ all around for that little fella.
And Lance finally, FINALLY got to reunite with his family, and it brought tears to my eyes. The animation during that moment was stunning, and watching his entire family smother him in a group hug was just the kind of happiness and love that kid deserves.
But beyond that, I was disappointed. I was bored. I was frustrated. And here I thought nothing could be worse than S4, which was pretty bad.
My biggest gripe of all goes back to SDCC. During the Voltron panel, the showrunners aired the first episode of the season and revealed that Adam, one of the characters Shiro talks to in a flashback, was his fiance, making Shiro and Adam the first known queer characters in Voltron.
Then, not only did Kaltenecker the cow/visual gag get more screentime than Adam, they killed Adam off in his second appearance, long before the paladins ever made it back to Earth. Worse still, if the SDCC announcement had never been made, there is nothing in canon to explicitly confirm Adam and Shiro’s relationship. Nothing at all. They promised development and visibility, and all that came out of it was bury your gays, but only if you heard the crew’s announcement. Otherwise, you might have just passed Adam off as a dear friend.
On top of that, two of the villains, Ezor and Zethrid, are implied to be in a relationship. Cool! Sapphic characters!
Less cool, because they torture a 15 year old kid two minutes later. Can’t have sapphic characters do anything heroic, now can we?
Adam and Shiro stung. Ezor and Zethrid stung. Not just for me, but for a lot of people. It’s just another example of queer characters only being allowed to be dead, suffering, or evil, and pardon my French, but it fucking hurts. Books have been so much better lately about it, but there’s still a lot of TV out there that can’t seem to comprehend queer characters leading happy lives or doing the right thing or even surviving, and that’s what’s made me so upset about this.
Part of me recognizes that I should have seen this coming. These are some of the same writers who worked on The Legend of Korra, the same folks who thought that Korra and Asami holding hands at the literal last three seconds of the entire show was solid romantic build-up. I don’t deny that it was hugely important to hear that two WOC were queer, but the execution was extremely poor. Asami was underdeveloped to an extreme, and most of the final season of TLoK did a huge disservice to Korra as a character, even before you bring shipping into it. Point is, these are not people who’ve shown they know how to treat queer characters and queer relationships with respect. I wish I was surprised, but now, it feels like it should have been the obvious conclusion from the start.
The attempt at queer rep in this show was never about doing the right thing. It was used as promotional material, and it’s left a lot of people feeling cheated.
I wish I could say that’s the only thing I disliked, but the rest was equally terrible. The plot dragged and felt disjointed only four episodes in out of thirteen for the season, and during episodes seven and eight, it wasn’t even about any of the paladins of Voltron. It was a long, two-episode flashback that bored me half to death, and on its heels came more long, boring episodes about war preparations on Earth. It made me miss the bouncing from planet to planet and the space fights from earlier seasons. Everything was grim and desaturated, and once the fights did break out, even those were boring. Only Shiro’s fight against Sendak was interesting, and that was only until once again, Keith saved Shiro instead of Shiro getting the chance to save himself and get revenge on a character who so badly wronged him all the way back in S1. It would have been so much more satisfying if Shiro had ended that fight all on his own, and Keith hadn’t been the hero of the day yet again.
Not to mention Keith has become all doom and gloom. He used to laugh and smile a lot in the first two seasons or so, and since then, he’s nothing but surly and closed off and angry, and I’m getting tired of the broody hotshot pilot snapping at the rest of the time. I’m also tired of Pidge getting all the spotlight all the time, while Lance and Hunk get the back seat in almost every plot.
I think I could go on, which is the frustrating part. There’s so much about this season that let me down more than I could have ever prepared for, and it’s almost exhausting to lay it out. But it’s equally exhausting not to say anything about what’s made me so irritated, the mistreatment of queer characters in particular.
Unfortunately, I’ll probably watch the eighth and final season. The way my brain works, I can’t quit cold turkey this close to the end of the show, and I do want a resolution to these loose plotlines they’ve been chasing. I’m even holding out hope they’ll do something to fix some of the damage they’ve done, though it’s not very much hope at all, and it’s pretty damn unfounded.
If you haven’t started Voltron and plan to, I can’t say I recommend it beyond the first two seasons, knowing what I know about the plot direction now. If you’ve already started, I hope you’re still getting more enjoyment out of it than I am. This season was the make or break point leading up to the finale, and it didn’t make it, not by a mile. Legendary disappointment after all.