Warning! SPOILERS for Voltron: Legendary Defender season 6 ahead!
Voltron: Legendary Defender season 6 arrives today on Netflix, delivering another dose of the heroics and hi-jinks we've come to expect of the Paladins and their allies. When last we left off with the gang in the Castle of Lions, Allura had been successful in unlocking the secrets of Altean alchemy - a key development in Lotor's plan to harness unlimited Quintessence and use it to bring peace and prosperity to the universe.
Season 6 is a direct continuation of season 5, but it's also the culmination for many of the arcs Voltron has been exploring since season 1. Questions that fans have long been asking are answered and mysteries that have simmered throughout the series are finally unveiled.
It's unlikely that season 6 is the end of the series, and where the story leaves off does suggest there's more Voltron to come (though we should stress season 7 hasn't yet been officially announced). Instead, season 6 feels more like the end of an era, bringing to a close this journey of discovery that the Paladins have been on since the day they first discovered a Lion of Voltron hidden away on Earth.
Keith Claims His Destiny
From the get-go it seemed as if Keith was destined to one day pilot the Black Lion and lead Voltron. Not only is that precisely what happens in the original 1984 series, but it seemed like a natural progression that a hotheaded loner like Keith would eventually grow into a seasoned warrior and leader. However, when given the opportunity to pilot the Black Lion and lead Team Voltron during Shiro's absence in season 3, Keith struggled with the responsibility, handing leadership back to Shiro as soon as he could.
After stepping down as leader and pilot of the Black Lion, Keith embraced a new calling, joining the Galra resistance group, the Blade of Marmora. Having only recently discovered his half-Galra heritage, this was a chance for Keith to learn not only where he really came from but, perhaps, where he truly belongs. And while on a mission for Marmora, Keith crossed paths with another of their operatives - a Galra named Krolia who just so happened to also be Keith's mother.
Through working with the Blade of Marmora, Keith had already matured a great deal from his early days as a Paladin, but it's this time spent with his mother that allows Keith to accept his past and eventually recognize his own potential. Their mission takes them near a dying star around which time behaves erratically, with each wave of energy emanating from the star giving Keith and Krolia visions of their pasts and futures. It's during these visions that Keith learns of how Krolia, already an agent of Marmora, infiltrated Zarkon's forces in an effort to stop the Galra Empire from locating the Lions. How she shot down her fellow scouts to prevent them from reporting the discovery of the Blue Lion, before crash-landing on Earth where she was rescued by Keith's father. They fell in love and Keith was born soon after. But then, more of Zarkon's scouts arrived and after defeating them, Krolia realized the only way she could keep the Blue Lion - and most importantly, her son - safe, was to leave Earth and resume her work with the Blade of Marmora.
Krolia gave up being with her family in order to protect them, and it's an example from which Keith learns a good deal. Her sacrifice was noble, and though painful to bear, it made all the difference, ensuring that Keith could one day realize his own destiny - as the leader of Voltron and pilot of the Black Lion, yes, but also in continuing his mother's fight to free the universe from the Galra Empire. Krolia's selflessness is an example by which Keith learns to be a better leader, allowing him to finally claim his destiny. When Keith later rejoins Team Voltron, he's more confident in himself and his duty, having learned not just of his heritage but the ugly truth behind Lotor's plans - information that sets off a string of events that lead to a climactic showdown.
Lotor's True Nature Revealed
Lotor has been a fascinating character since he was introduced, never coming across as an outright villain like his father, Emperor Zarkon, but always acting with his best interests in mind. And once his interests aligned with those of Allura and the Coalition - with both parties wishing to end Zarkon's reign - it was impossible to ignore the advantages that came with having Lotor as an ally. Together, they were successful in defeating Zarkon and in doing so Lotor began to earn the trust of Allura and (to a lesser extent) the other Paladins. Allura and Lotor grew closer the more they researched Altean alchemy, culminating in their trip to Oriande where Allura unlocked the knowledge necessary to enter the Quintessence field - giving Lotor access to the unlimited energy he hoped would bring peace and prosperity to the universe.
It seemed almost too good to be true, that in Lotor they would find an ally who would not only help them defeat Zarkon but fight for peace alongside the Coalition. And that's because it was too good to be true, even if nothing Lotor did or said while working with Allura and the Paladins would have given them that impression. By all accounts, Lotor was true to his word and committed to bringing peace to the universe - but once Keith returned, he revealed the ugly truth behind Lotor's search for unlimited Quintessence.
While in the quantum abyss, Keith and Krolia made a startling discovery - an Altean, one whose family had been off-world during Altea's destruction and who, along with hundreds of others, was rescued by Lotor and brought to a colony on a planet hidden by the dying star's temporal distortion. There, the Alteans survived and in time, came to worship Lotor as their savior. Eventually, Lotor announced a new, better colony, one to which only a special few would be chosen to travel. Those who traveled to the new colony never returned, but their loved ones were comforted in knowing that one day, they too would travel to the new colony and they would be reunited. Only one Altean - Romel, whom Keith and Krolia met - questioned this new colony, and after her brother was selected to travel there, she stumbled on what was really happening. Lotor wasn't sending these chosen Alteans to any new colony, but rather a hidden facility where they were harvested for their energy, their life force - Quintessence.
This is the bombshell that sets in motion the climactic events of season 6, and it's a reveal that while not entirely unexpected - Lotor was always going to be the villain - is such an effective reveal because of how long it was withheld. Lotor's villainy is insidious - his intentions good and noble, but it's the means by which he's willing to achieve his goals that is truly evil and disturbing. When Team Voltron learns this truth they are horrified, but none so much as Allura, and it's her disgust with not only Lotor but herself that highlights the real danger of villains like Lotor - they manipulate those who wish to do good into being complicit in something awful.