Voltron is a great “Western anime”, and season 2 has firmly cemented its place among classics like Avatar: The Last Airbender. The overarching storyline is getting downright twisted, the action is amazing, and the comedy is just delightful.
After “Space Mall”, which was essentially one long stretch of comic relief, the show gets serious with episode 8, “The Blade of Marmora”. Episode 8 isn’t unique for its dark tone. Episode 5 was a retelling of Battlestar Galactica’s “33”, which is as dark as it gets.
What makes this episode special is its complete focus on a single storyline, about a single character. There isn’t a big action set-piece, and Voltron doesn’t even form. Instead, it’s entirely about Keith and what amounts to his internal struggle with his own past.
Onward, to recap!
Voltron Season 2, Episode 8 Recap – “The Blade of Marmora”
If you recall, at the end of “Space Mall” Shiro had decided it was time to go seek out the Blade of Marmora. That’s the group of Galra who oppose Emperor Zarkon. The ones who carry knives just like Keith’s and have incredibly high-tech bases.
The group have mixed but generally positive reactions to this decision. Pidge is incredibly excited to go see what kind of crazy super science the Blade does at a real facility as opposed to a tiny outpost.
Keith is brooding over his knife. He’s hoping to finally find out why a Galra blade has been in his family since before he was born.
Allura is cautious, suspicious, but willing to go along.
And Hunk is just lost in thought over the Space Taco. He wonders if the main base might look like a Space Donut? A Space Éclair? Or a Space Cheese Blintz with Powdered Sugar on Top?
That’s the stars.
As it turns out, it looks more like a Space Dumbbell. The home of the Blade of Marmora is orbiting a blue dwarf star suspended between two black holes.
The craziest super science yet. It goes way beyond a Dyson Sphere. Blue Dwarf stars are only hypothetical, because they take so long to create that the universe isn’t old enough yet for any to have formed.
While the team is wondering just how to approach this situation, they receive a radio message from the base.
“Two may enter. Come unarmed.”
After some argument over who should go and why they should be unarmed, Shiro and Keith end up flying out in the Red Lion. Red can handle the extreme heat of the blue dwarf.
During the trip over to the Marmora base, Shiro and Keith have a little heart to heart. It turns out Shiro was serious when he said that if anything happens to him, Keith should lead the group.
Keith responds that nothing’s going to happen to Shiro anyway.
Anyway, they arrive without too much difficulty beyond a few acrobatics in the asteroids, and are greeted by another group of Asari. Apparently the Blade of Marmora buys all their stuff from the Mass Effect store.
Notice one of them has a tail? Maybe they really are marmosets!
At this point we get one of two scenes on Emperor Zarkon’s flagship. The B storyline in this episode, such as it is, is so tiny that I’m just going to spell it out right now.
Witch Haggar has caught on that there might be some spies among the Galra. She’s interrogating officers to try to root them out. She ends up talking to Thace, the Galra who helped Team Voltron escape the big battle at the end of Season 1.
That’s the battle where they got their butts kicked, and only survived thanks to the help of Thace. He’s apparently able to fool Haggar’s psychic abilities, and convinces her that he’s loyal to the Emperor.
She “recruits” him to help her find the real Marmora agents, and that’s all we hear about that this episode.
Presumably all of that will pay off in a later episode.
Meanwhile, back at the Marmora base, Shiro and Keith are speaking with the rebel leader. His name is Cormovan, and he is not friendly.
It turns out Ulaz wasn’t technically allowed to tell the Paladins where to find the Blade. Shiro tries to convince them to ally even though they are clearly not interested, when they notice that Keith is carrying one of their knives.
This is a big problem for them, and it’s a big problem for Keith too. He really wants to know where the thing came from and how it ended up in his family.
After some argument, Keith agrees to undergo the rite of initiation for the Blade of Marmora. They’ll only talk to one of their own, and so Keith’s going to join them.
Probably without, you know, actually joining them.
Cut to Keith wearing one of their cool Mass Effect/Splinter Cell suits in a big empty room. The rite is a trial by combat.
A Blade of Marmora warrior approaches, and the fight begins. Keith gets the snot beat out of him, and is allowed to proceed to the next room.
This whole sequence is really effective. “Surrender the blade, and the pain will cease. You are not meant to go through that door.”
Keith progresses through several fights, each adding one more opponent. Each time, he’s beaten to within an inch of his life and escapes through the door. And each time, they tell him he must surrender the blade, and that he’s not meant to go through the door.
Finally, Keith figures it out. Sort of. He bypasses the door and slips through the hatch where the Marmora warriors are entering.
The trials go to the next level now, and Keith is confronted with what looks and sounds like Shiro, but clearly isn’t. The show makes this obvious beyond a doubt by showing the real Shiro’s reaction.
“Shiro” tries to get Keith to give up the blade and return home, but he refuses.
Things get even weirder now, and Keith is back in his house on Earth, with his father. Just as they begin to talk about the blade, the Galra attack. The Red Lion is sitting outside (a situation that never occurred), and his father tries to get Keith to give up the fight and stay.
It’s the opposite of what everyone else has told him. The other trials have tried to convince Keith to give up the blade. The vision of his father tries to get him to give up everything else.
Keith ultimately refuses and goes to fight the Galra, forgoing the chance to reconnect with his parents and learn about his past. It turns out he’s having a dream. He hasn’t woken up yet, and his body is starting to twitch and convulse.
During this sequence, the real Red Lion activates itself and starts trying to bash its way into the base to rescue Keith. It seems their psychic link even works when Keith is unconscious.
Finally, the real Shiro goes and wakes up Keith. Red’s going to destroy the base, and they need to get out of there.
A large Blade of Marmora force shows up and insists that Keith give up the blade before leaving. Finally, Keith agrees, and that’s all he needed to do.
The blade flashes, imbues Keith with some kind of power, and extends itself into a sword. Keith really does have Galra blood, and he’s proven himself equal to the Blade of Marmora.
We close with the Marmora leader bowing to Princess Allura and asking for her help in rescuing their spies on Zarkon’s flagship.
- Again, this was a highly unusual episode. There was no giant monster to fight. Voltron didn’t form. We only see one Lion. There wasn’t even a villain at all. Even “Space Mall” had Varkon the mall cop.
- When Cormovan tries to kick the Paladins out, he tells them “Our organization is built on secrecy and trust.” Oxymoron much?
- We still don’t have answers about Keith’s Galra heritage, but we’re sure to get it next episode.
- Why is it that whenever a Lion has a passenger, they just stand behind the seat? Shouldn’t they get thrown around by the G forces?