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Voltron: Legendary Defender Recap: What You Need to Know

Looking for an epic space opera that isn't named Star Wars? It might be time for you to check out Voltron: Legendary Defender (yes, that Voltron). This Netflix series (a reboot from DreamWorks Animation) reimagines the Voltron saga for a new generation.

What some people might call a blatant billboard for Voltron toys, I call a great cartoon that packs plenty of thrills, laughs and poignancy into each 24-minute episode. All in all, it's a great series that will take only a little under 9 hours to binge-watch — at least until Season 3 airs on Aug. 4.

Who's Who

Takashi "Shiro" Shirogane - Leader of the Defenders of the Universe, Shiro, the Black Paladin, has spent a year as a captive of the warmongering Galra Empire. As as a result of the empire's experiments, he has significant holes in his memory and a strange metallic arm.

Keith - Skilled, but hot-headed and sullen, Red Paladin Keith was one of the best pilots in the Galaxy Garrison before he dropped out, making him a perfect match with the Red Lion robot. Orphaned at a young age, Keith is on a mission to uncover his mysterious lineage.

Katie "Pidge" Holt - The Green Paladin, Pidge is a technological genius. She's searching for missing family members who were captured by the Galra, but she's also hiding a major secret.

Lance - Acocky, wannabe ladies' man, Lance is the Blue Paladin and pilot of the Blue Lion. Lance has been rivals with Keith since their time in the Galaxy Garrison.

Hunk - Hunk is the strongman of the team, and the only thing bigger than this Yellow Paladin's heart is his appetite. As the pilot of the Yellow Lion, Hunk is determined to free the galaxy from Galra dominion.

Princess Allura - One of the last members of the ancient Altean race, Princess Allura is on a mission to defeat Zarkon and the Galra Empire. When she's not going on diplomatic or stealth missions, she pilots the Castle of Lions, a structure that's both a fortress and a spaceship.

Coran - Although he's a bit silly, Coran acts as Allura's royal advisor and the Castle of Lions' mechanic.

Voltron - When the five robotic lions join together, they become the Legendary Defender of the Universe, Voltron. Piloted by the five Paladins, Voltron has fought off a number of intergalactic threats.

Galra -  The Galra Empire has ruled the universe for at least 10,000 years, steadily conquering and colonizing planets to obtain various resources. As a race that prides itself on strength, the Galra have no problems eradicating the "weak" to make way for the strong.

Zarkon - The emperor of the Galra and the former Black Paladin, Zarkon is obsessed with finding and claiming Voltron, since it's the only thing in the universe that can stop him.

Haggar - Zarkon's second-in-command, Haggar is a member of a magical race called Druids. Using a mix of magic, tech and science, Haggar creates monstrous beasts for her emperor.

Season 1

Episode 1: The Rise of Voltron

The series premiere gives us our first glimpse of the team members before they become a team. Pidge, Lance and Hunk are all classmates at the Galaxy Garrison, where a falling object from space piques their curiosity enough that they sneak off campus. They arrive to find Shiro, who's been missing for a year, and Keith, who arrives to rescue Shiro. Using Shiro's jarred memory, they find the Blue Lion, which kicks off their journey to become the Legendary Defenders.

Episode 2: Some Assembly Required

Now that they've got the lions, the new Paladins undergo rigorous training in order to seamlessly form Voltron.

Episode 3: Return of the Gladiator

Shiro's painful past as a Galra captive comes back to haunt him as a giant robot lands on Arus.

Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that Shiro injured Pidge's brother. Meanwhile, the team struggles to defeat the raging robo-beast.

Episode 4: Fall of the Castle of Lions

After beating the robobeast, Princess Allura and the Paladins hope to make a hasty retreat in the castles, but a Galra general sneaks in and tries to steal the whole shebang for Zarkon. Hunk and Coran are sent on a mission to retrieve a new power crystal for the castle, and they meet some new friends in the process. A team member is injured in a bomb blast, and we find out Pidge's secret.

Episode 5: Tears of the Balmera

Still on their mission, Hunk and Coran fight to escape the Galra with the crystal and save a new friend. Back at the castle, Pidge goes up against the formidable General Sendak in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

Episode 6: Taking Flight

With the castle finally repaired and ready for takeoff, the crew answers a distress signal from a stranded group.Lance gets in over his head and jeopardizes the team and the Blue Lion.

Episode 7: Return to the Balmera

Even though they expect a trap, the Paladins attempt to free an ally, Shay, and her people, who might be able to assist them. Keith and Lance discover new lion power, and the team manages to free Shay's people … just in time for a Galra ship to land.

Episode 8: Rebirth

The Paladins battle a newly arrived robobeast, while Allura tries to use her powers to invoke an ancient ceremony to aid their allies. Hunk discovers a new lion power just in time to save the day.

Episode 9: Crystal Venom

Upon returning to the Castle of Lions, Allura and the team notice that something isn't right. A Galra crystal has corrupted all the machinery in the castle, including the AI of Allura's father. She faces a hard choice. Meanwhile, Shiro attempts to interrogate Sendak.

Episode 10: Collection and Extraction

Using the information that Shiro got from Sendak, the Paladins explore a secret Galra space station. Shiro remembers his escape from the Galra, while Keith gets into a fight with a Galra Druid and discovers Quintessence, the life-force energy the empire's been harvesting from conquered planets. Allura, disguised as a Galra soldier, gets captured.

Episode 11: The Black Paladin

In an effort to save Allura, Coran and the Paladins travel to Zarkon's massive ship. Keith goes head to head with the emperor, who has successfully re-established his link with the Black Lion. The Paladins manage to save Allura and get her back to the castle. Everyone attempts to make a hasty retreat into a wormhole, but they run into a nasty surprise.

Season 2

Episode 1: Across the Universe

A parting shot from Zarkon's forces scatters the escaping Paladins and their lions to different locations in the universe. Meanwhile, Coran and Allura struggle to escape from a recurring wormhole time-loop before it's too late.

Episode 2: The Depths

Still separated from the team, Hunk and Lance try to find their way after crashing in an idyllic underwater kingdom. Though the lovely queen embraces them with open arms, things are not exactly what they seem. Lance discovers his lion's affinity for water.

Episode 3: Shiro's Escape

Still recovering from wounds sustained in the crash, Shiro and Pidge follow a strange set of coordinates to an unlikely ally, which raises suspicious within the team. Keith gets a clue about his mysterious origins. Zarkon and Haggard unleash another robobeast.

Episode 4: Greening the Cube

While taking some downtime to repair the castle, Pidge finds a distress message in some strange spores. The Paladins land on Olkari and encounter a race of highly advanced engineers, who combine technology with nature. Pidge and her lion gain a new power in the fight against the Galra's latest weapon.

Episode 5: Eye of the Storm

Even as the heroes use wormholes to elude Zarkon, somehow the villain always manages to track down the Paladins and the castle. Exhausted and desperate, Allura deduces that Zarkon is tracking them through a supernatural link to her. Unbeknownst to Allura, Keith has the same suspicion about himself.

Episode 6: The Ark of Taujeer

After escaping Zarkon once again, Allura and Keith sneak off, each thinking they're the reason Zarkon is tracking them. Keith confesses his part-Galra heritage. Meanwhile, the rest of the team attempts to rescue an alien race on a rapidly disintegrating planet under attack from the Galra. Shiro reveals the real reason Zarkon is tracking them so easily.

Episode 7: Space Mall

To make the final repairs to the castle's wormhole system, Coran and most of the Paladins travel to a crazy space mall. Shiro stays behind. While he attempts to strengthen his bond with the Black Lion, he has a nasty run-in with Zarkon.

Episode 8: The Blade of Marmora

Keith and Shiro travel to the rebel Galra base, where they try to form an alliance. During the excursion, Keith undergoes a trial to find out about his true lineage.

Episode 9: Belly of the Weblum

Keith and Hunk embark on a mission to extract minerals from an enormous space creature to complete repairs on the castle. On the way, they run into a mysterious Galra, who works with them to escape the belly of the beast.

Episode 10: Escape from Beta Traz

To help create a weapon to defeat Zarkon, Shiro, Lance and Pidge travel to free Slav, a paranoid genius, from a Galra prison. Pidge searches for clues about her missing family. Lance battles his own doubts.

Episode 11: Staying Alive

While the team is on a mission for a new crystal, the crystal-encapsulated robobeast from Season 1 awakens. Allura lets her hatred of the Galra overtake her, while the team makes the finishing touches on the weapon to stop Zarkon.

Episode 12: Best Laid Plans

With the work on their weapon complete, now the Paladins and their allies put their plan to stop Zarkon into action. Thace, the undercover rebel agent, battles to complete his mission, while Keith volunteers to download a virus into Zarkon's ship. Allura comes to grips with her racism.

Episode 13: Blackout

The final onslaught begins. Allura sacrifices something and makes a shocking discovery. Voltron forms the legendary blazing sword for its final battle with Zarkon. Shiro disappears and Haggar makes a call to bring in Prince Lotor, Zarkon's son.

What Happens Next?

With the threat of Prince Lotor looming and Shiro missing, Allura, Coran and the remaining Paladins will either have to find their missing friend or search for a replacement pilot. This season has plenty of room to dig into the whereabouts of Pidge's family and Keith's mother, and fill in the missing gaps in Shiro's memory. Whatever happens, it's sure to be an action-packed adventure.

Credit: Netflix