Voltron season 2 is turning out to be one of the best things to happen in animated shows in a very long time. The action is spectacular, the voice actors are great, the writing is sharp. In season 2, the stories are getting better and better. In particular, the stories are “growing up” more and more, unafraid to tackle some pretty dark themes and complex scenarios.
Episode 4, “Greening the Cube” is the best example yet. Let’s recap!
Voltron Season 2, Episode 4 Recap – “Greening the Cube”
We open on the entire team of Paladins conducting an EVA to repair the Castle. It’s still badly damaged after the hijinks of the last few episodes, and we get some great technobabble gags.
We get some insight into Pidge, who shows off her intuitive grasp of technology. She manages to fix the ship when even Coran doesn’t know what to do, and she takes the opportunity to wax poetic about the beauty of Altean tech.
Altean technobabble goes way, way beyond even Star Trek. Coran and Allura are practically making up words, and the joke is that even they can’t keep them straight.
Suddenly, the Castle flies into a field of… squishy asteroids. That’s what Hunk calls them, anyway, and soon the gang is having an ill-advised snowball fight with them.
Would you start tossing around space goop without knowing what it was?
They turn out to be spores. I could’ve told them that! The surprising thing about these spores is that they appear to be genetically programmed. They’re flashing with bioluminescence… in code.
That is a very cool idea, and one that the show takes the time to acknowledge. I can’t immediately think of another sci-fi story that explored the use of lifeforms as literal messages.
So, the spores are a distress call, and they lead to the planet Alkarian. The Alkari people of that world are practically wizards with technology, though it seems they may have extended those abilities to biological manipulation.
To be precise, they have telekinetic abilities with technology. They’re so good at it, that they can create machines from any metal. Coran demonstrates with a small cube that floats and records his voice, and… that’s about it. It’s pretty much a ThinkGeek product.
Alkarian is the planet. It is inhabited by the Alkari. Yes, it’s backwards.
Down on Alkarian, the team lands in a deep, dark, distinctly Avatar-like forest. They find the Alkari in short order, and they are… very imaginative.
They fire arrows up at the Lions that emit a magnetic pulse, grounding them. After landing, the Alkari emerge in wooden mech suits.
I have seriously never seen wooden mechs in anything else. I love them!
The show even takes the time to point out how crazy they are. “Are those wooden mech suits?”
It turns out that the Galra have taken over the Alkari city, and so they’ve moved into the forest. They’ve adapted their metalbending skills (this is the same studio as The Legend of Korra, you know) to create machines from wood and nature.
Pidge finds this distasteful.
The team is asked to go rescue the Alkari king, who was captured by the Galra to work on a secret weapon.
The secret weapon closely resembles Coran’s ThinkGeek cube, and with good reason.
The king’s name is Blubos, and the Alkari are so very dejected that he’s been captured. The mere mention of his name causes them all to look down and sadly murmur “Blubos…”
This is a clear reference to Galaxy Quest, in which the aliens are so very sad to hear about the poor fate of the cast of Gilligan’s Island.
With the help of some wooden drones (another fantastic idea), the Paladins infiltrate the Alkari city. They come up onto the king, announce that they’re the cavalry… and Blubos isn’t impressed.
“Hmm,” he says, just before hitting the alarm button.
Turns out he’s been a traitor the whole time. He doesn’t believe there’s any hope against the Galra, so he’s been living it up working on their secret weapon. He is essentially Galen Erso.
Aww, Blubos. Why?
Pidge interrupts with a well-placed blast from the Green Lion, and the team hightails it back to the forest. Meanwhile, the weapon is complete and takes off in pursuit.
After regrouping, the team forms Voltron and begins the battle. The Cube is a formidable opponent, because it takes anything Voltron throws at it and tosses it right back. It copies their powers, amplifies them, and turns them against the team.
Get it? Like Coran’s gadget?
This is the best Voltron battle so far this season. We get to see Voltron twisting and turning in melee and close-quarters combat, and the Cube’s attacks are impressively rendered.
The team is on the rocks as the Cube proves itself immune to just about everything. Even slicing it in half just results in two smaller, equally effective Cubes… not good.
Eventually, Pidge takes damage and is forced to land. The Alkari come and give her a pep talk while repairing the Green Lion.
As it happens, Pidge needed to embrace her natural side a little more all along. When she finally does, the Green Lion wakes up with a newfound set of powers based around nature.
So, it seems that each Lion has its own special power. Blue works better in water, and now Green controls nature. Very Captain Planet.
Using her new weapon, which causes branches and roots to emerge from anything it hits, Pidge takes down the entire squadron of Cubes singlehandedly.
We end with a brief conversation about Pidge’s green side, how she’s not likely to take up gardening, and how everyone’s very glad to be alive. The Alkari pledge their help in the final battle against Zarkon.
Then the entire Galra fleet shows up.
Did you forget that Zarkon can track them now? This is the first cliffhanger of the season, and it’s a doozy.
- Lance’s beauty regimen is pretty special.
- The title “Greening the Cube” is a reference to the 1989 film Gleaming the Cube.
- The phrase carries several meanings here:
- In the original movie, it meant pushing oneself beyond the limit. That’s what Pidge does when she awakens her new powers.
- In the end, Pidge (the Green Paladin) is the one who defeats the Cube.
- And of course, she wins by literally “greening” it. Her new weapon essentially turns the cubes into plants.
- All that wood tech isn’t quite steampunk, but it is something… Naturepunk? Hippiepunk?
- Quote of the episode: “Nature’s designs are superior to any that we could devise.”
- I have dubbed the Galra governor of this world Teen Thanos, because he has acne. He could also be Orc Thanos.