[SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses the final series and the events of the last episode.]
The big question at the end of the eighth and last series is: what did you think? I’m surprised to find myself saying: IT WAS BRILLIANT. Yes, it was flawed. No, this isn’t what I thought was going to happen. And no doubt the fandom is up in arms and raging with trillions of theories and “should have beens” flying across the interweb. Fortunately, I live in a universe of one (me) where virtually no opinions colour my thinking on anything, so I can say, without knowing what anyone else thinks: I loved it. It was bloody brilliant. And it ended exactly how it was supposed to.
The two main aspects of the eighth series were the Lance/Allura relationship and Allura’s death. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say: it had to happen. Both aspects HAD TO HAPPEN. She had to have a relationship with Lance. And she had to die. No one wanted her to have a thing with Lance, least of all me. The idea was put forward quite early on; after all, Lance had a humongous crush on her from the moment he saw her. But the idea of this rather young and immature guy with the extremely sophisticated, intelligent, powerful woman who was ten thousand years old (and counting) was just WRONG.
BUT! The fact that it was wrong, meant it was perfect. Wow, that’s going to be hard to explain! For a start, the moment the relationship was established in the first episode, I realised she was going to die. It was the Big Arrow: the fact that their relationship was wrong indicated directly that she had to die. They couldn’t be together forever. There was no happy-ever-after for them. Knowing she was going to die (and I promise, I knew NOTHING about this series when I started watching: I go in with no spoilers at all, no knowledge, and no discussion with anyone) meant that I watched the entire series on edge: when would she die. How would she die. How would this affect everyone. How would this affect Lance.
Simply put, what we have here is a conflict in a relationship: it was perfect and it was wrong. How could it be both? It was wrong, thus it signalled Allura’s death. And it was perfect because of a little thing called STRENGTH.
Now I need to talk about Allura: she was by far the strongest character, in every way, and also had the greatest strength of character. She believed in the Paladins from the moment they arrived, before they even had a chance to believe in themselves. She held them together. She had knowledge. She had power. She was absolutely driven, too, and very focused on what needed to be done. She had lost everything: her family, her people, her planet. She had nothing left and everything to live for.
ALLURA GAVE EVERYONE STRENGTH…….
……but who gave Allura strength?
Ah, Lotor. Sigh. Seriously hot. Sexy voice. God, he was yummy. Please let me take a moment while I divert into fantasyland…….
Anyway, Lotor was the ideal partner for Allura. Completely besides the fact that he was gorgeous, he was her equal in every way: intelligent, educated, driven. They talked the same language and they understood one another. And they looked really good together. The chemistry worked. They worked. It was an ideal match. I wanted them to get married and have lots of babies all in different colours with white hair. This was a couple that fulfilled my every romantic dream. However, this would only have worked if Lotor was redeemed. Just how he could be redeemed, I couldn’t imagine. He had been broken by his godawful parents. Was there any possibility of coming back from that kind of insanity?
Which leads me back to my question: who was there to give Allura strength? And the answer is: Lance. When she was broken after her foray into Honerva’s mind, who brought her back? Who sat at her bedside and LOVED her? Lance. No one else could do it. And THAT is why their relationship was perfect. THAT is why it had to be: SOMEONE had to give HER strength and that person had to be someone who offered her pure, innocent, devoted, whole-hearted love. Someone who loved her utterly for who she was. It was love that brought her back. And however much I felt uncomfortable with their relationship, I could see it had to be.
It was also part of Lance’s story arc.
I want to look briefly at all the story arcs, because one thing that troubled me in the eighth series (and for the seventh as well) was that there was very little character development. I only realised later, once I’d finished watching to the end, that the reason for this was because most of the character arcs had already finished.
Pidge: Her story ended basically when she found her brother and father. She was now complete as a person.
Hunk: He didn’t have much of a story arc but it was completed right at the very end when he cooked for the diplomats, which was a really nice touch.
Shiro: His story arc ended when he truly found himself, as it were, and became wholly himself (with that awful new arm that I really hated, but that’s another story). He reached his pinnacle by running Atlas. Before he’d been the leader of Voltron, but being the leader (captain or whatever) of Atlas, meant he was even more powerful. So he had all the power he was going to get and didn’t need to develop much more. I loved that he had a happy ending with a new partner: as a character, he really suffered the most and deserved some joy.
Keith: His story arc ended with his rescuing Shiro and finding his mother (not in that order, I don’t think!) So as a person, he was complete before series eight and didn’t need more development. I personally don’t think Keith was capable of a romantic relationship with anyone, boy or girl. I think he is destined to be a lone wolf for the rest of his life. His pinnacle was being able to lead Voltron: this was Keith at his most powerful. His friendship with Lance, I think, was extremely important, and I imagine he would always be there for Lance. This was indicated in a scene towards the end and was a sign of his maturity.
Lance: But no one matured more than Lance and we had to wait a long time to see that maturity. He was silly and funny and excitable and jealous. But he was also smart. His perfect-but-wrong relationship with Allura gave him the maturity he lacked and I even wondered at one point: who are you and what have you done with the real Lance?! Not only did his chance to openly love the woman he had yearned for for so long make him grow up, he also actually grew a few inches and ended up taller than Keith!
So: it was part of the crucial story arc that Lance reach maturity by having that relationship with Allura. It was part of Allura’s story arc that she be given strength from someone who loved her because frankly, she was exhausted after giving up all her strength for everyone else.
And just because her death was signposted (to me, anyway, as I am a writer and have an understanding of story construction), doesn’t mean it wasn’t a shock. The moment she said, “I’m not coming back,” I broke down and sobbed. Her sacrifice was the right thing to do but it was still heart breaking.
More about that sacrifice: why did it have to be Allura? Because she was a goddess. She may have been born a princess, but she grew into her godhood. This was her story arc: her attainment of power. She became more and more powerful as the story developed until she was powerful enough not only to end Honerva but to REDEEM HER.
Before I do on, I want to make a note about the theme of Voltron. To me, it was about strength. Not just the characters and that whole “my robot is bigger than your robot” thing. Behind every evil character was another evil character who was even stronger than the first. But the strongest of all was Honerva. She was, frankly, horrible. But the more powerful she became, the more one pitied her because all she wanted was to be her little boy’s mother. And there is no greater strength, if you can measure such a thing, than a mother’s love for her child. Not all mothers. Not always. Not always in the right way. And not all parents bond with their kids. But if there is a bond, the pain when it breaks is truly terrifying. And it was that pain and loss that drove Honerva. It was that pain and loss that gave her the terrible strength to do what she did: to tear through universes to find the right one where she could be a mother.
And – oh! – what a fantastic piece of writing! THE IRONY! When at last she found the perfect universe, when she found Lotor as a child, he REJECTED her because he was uncorrupted and pure and could see her for what she was. The irony is that the only universe that produced an uncorrupted Lotor was the one in which Honerva had disappeared. Honestly, even the Star Wars universe couldn’t produce an idea as good as this, as subtle, as complex, as brilliant.
So now it’s the end and we have the two most powerful beings in all the universes confront each other: good vs evil. I love that they were both women. And I love that Allura showed her strength not by fighting, in the end, but by showing the greatest strength of all: she helped to redeem Honerva. And by redeeming Honerva, she also redeemed Lotor: by recreating all the universes again in a new god-like big bang thing, it meant that that uncorrupted Lotor, in his universe, could grow up to be a good man, the one he wanted to be, the one I wanted him to be, the one Allura would have wanted him to be. So he was redeemed after all.
Now who can truly offer redemption more completely than a god? Or goddess? Thus did Allura reach the level of godhood. And gods and goddesses are, as we know, immortal. So Allura isn’t dead.
She’s out there. And she’s strong.