battle of the seasons 2

The Seventh Wheel: A Case for Black Lion Lance

Alternatively titled: Lance Deserves The World Because He is My Son and I Love Him

Okay, so Shiro’s gone and someone’s gotta fill his big ass shoes. In the toss-up between him, Allura, and Keith, I’m going to be arguing in this post that Lance could be the guy to do it. And, fair warning, this is going to be ridiculously (like, ridiculously) long lmao so here’s the TL;DR right now: I think that a) Lance already shows the character traits of a good leader, and b) there’s a good chance of him becoming one, given his impending character arc. 

It also has a chance of not happening, of course, but who cares?? I already started writing this thing, so:

Alright, let’s begin at the beginning, because that’s always a good place to start.

Lance is first introduced to the audience as the classic loud, arrogant, goofy flirt. The perfect comic relief character. He rescues a guy because his “rival” was gonna do it first and he can’t have that, the first thing he does in the giant robot cat is fart, and he hits on a girl who just fell out of a pod in a magic castle. He’s there to make you laugh.

I can’t imagine anyone looking at a character like that and “You know what? This guy could be a leader.” Allura says it herself in episode 1. The black lion is supposed to be the decisive head of Voltron, a person who’s a natural born leader, who’s in control, and,

Basically, calm, collected, and respected. “A natural born leader.” So, definitely not Lance. Case closed.

But, not really. Because Lance actually is calm and collected. He’s just not respected. He has all the leadership traits– the problem is that he’s not treated as someone who could be a leader.

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🌟🦋NEW NEW WAND✨🌹

Shiro and the Black Lion meta: “You Saved Me.”

I’ve been wanting to write this meta for a while, because after season 2 came out I’ve seen a lot of people characterise the Black Lion as disloyal or fickle, and I don’t think this is the case. I think the Black Lion is extremely loyal to Shiro, and very closely bonded to him; and I think she probably hates Zarkon as much as Shiro does. That might be a strange conclusion to come to after she literally spat Shiro out in the season 1 finale, so let’s break this down a little bit:

If you leave aside the incident in 1x11, the rest of the show portrays the Black Lion and Shiro as very closely bonded. In 1x02 Shiro is the only Paladin who’s able to do the nosedive exercise. At this point he’s been piloting the Lion for like… a couple of days MAX, but he’s able to bond with her to the point that he can see through her eyes. So far, we haven’t seen any of the other Paladins pull this off. The Lion/Paladin bond is a two-way thing - we see that clearly with Red and Keith - so we have to assume that this bonding moment is not just down to Shiro’s calm focus. It’s also coming from Black.

You can also see Black’s willingness to bond with Shiro in 2x07. Shiro goes down to the hangar, sits in the Lion, and goes: “Work with me. What do I have to do to strengthen our bond?” And the Lion is like: “YES BONDING! ALRIGHT! LET’S GO!!” She immediately powers up and whisks Shiro off on a spiritual journey. She invites Shiro to see through her eyes, and shows him her history and how she was made. Shiro asks ‘what do I have to do to strengthen our bond?’ and the Lion’s answer is 'you need to understand my history and where I come from’. And again - we’ve not seen any of the other Lions do this. Shiro is the only Paladin whose Lion has opened up about their past or told their Paladin this kind of visual story.

None of this is consistent with the characterisation of the Black Lion as disloyal. It certainly doesn’t seem like she mistrusts or dislikes Shiro, right? If anything, she seems positively eager to open up to him.

Which brings me to my theory about the Black Lion: I don’t think she’s fickle, or contrary, or lowkey still into her ex. I don’t think she likes Zarkon at all, or misses him, or wants him back as her Paladin.

I think she’s traumatised.

More under the cut, because sweet quiznak did this get long:

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STAR VS. THE FORCES OF EVIL’ SPOILER ALERT! These are untimed boards from the end battle of “Starcrushed,” the season 2 finale of “Star Vs. the Forces of Evil.”  There were story points I had to hit, but I still got to invent a lot of what happens. I had the honor of boarding alongside the talented Evon Freeman and Gina Gress for this episode.

WHO’S YOUR RIVAL LAI GUANLIN?

Lai Guanlin: … what’s a rival? (confused by korean pronunciation of eng word)

Seonho: SEONHO SEONHO pick me pick me pick me pick me

NOTICE ME LAI GUANLIN SENPAI

Shiro Meta: “I want you to lead Voltron”

So a lot of people have been talking about why Shiro chose Keith to lead Voltron if anything happened to him. I’ve seen this attributed to Shiro’s favouritism or bias towards Keith, but I have another take on things: Shiro’s choice of Keith as his successor reflects his own insecurities about his suitability as leader.

We know Shiro harbours serious doubts about his ability to lead Voltron. In 1x09 Shiro hears Sendak’s voice in his head telling him “Did you really think a monster like you could be a Voltron Paladin?” And in 2x03 when Allura tells him: “You are the Black Paladin now, not Zarkon,” Shiro disagrees: “Yeah, well - the Black Lion may have a different take on the matter.”

See this? This is the face of a man who fully expects to get spat out of his Lion again at any moment. (If you want a really long and interesting meta about Shiro’s relationship with the Black Lion following the S1 finale, read {it’s all about trust} by @headspacedad)

Coming out of that battle with Zarkon in 1x11, Shiro no longer knows if the Black Lion trusts him, or if he can trust her. And it’s easy to see why: the Black Lion forcibly ejected him from the cockpit in the middle of battle. He thought they’d bonded; now it seems like they haven’t.

{relationship status: IT’S COMPLICATED}

But his insecurities go deeper than that: during that climactic battle at the end of season 1, not only was Shiro ejected from his own Lion, he also had a full-blown panic attack onboard the Galra ship and had to be rescued by Hunk and Allura. Allura - the person he’d come to rescue in the first place - ended up saving him.

Right after this battle, an injured Shiro crash-lands on an alien planet and tells Keith: “If I don’t make it out of here - I want you to lead Voltron.” And it’s not just because he’s injured. He thinks he’s failed as a leader. And in that moment, he probably fully expects the Black Lion to reject him again. Or maybe he expects Allura to take him aside and just quietly tell him “Look, it’s not working out. We need to pick someone else as the Black Paladin.” Because how can you lead Voltron if you can’t even keep control of your own Lion? How can you lead Voltron if you panic in the middle of battle?

For the record: I think Shiro is DEAD WRONG and he’s an amazing leader and I have so many feelings about how great Shiro is and what it means to see a mentally ill character in a leadership role but I DIGRESS. The point is: Shiro spends much of season 2 battling his own feelings of inadequacy about his position as Black Paladin.

Shiro’s line that “The Black Lion may have a different take on the matter” reflects his own belief that the Black Lion doesn’t want him as a Paladin. He thinks she’d rather have someone else - someone who’s less of a walking disaster. And again: I really don’t think she does, and I have SO MANY THOUGHTS about this that I will probably write up at some point, but that’s not the point. The point is Shiro firmly believes that he’s not good enough to be the Black Paladin, and that the Black Lion would rather be piloted by someone else.

Someone like Keith.

Remember that battle at the end of season 1? Whilst Shiro was getting spat out of the Lion and having a panic attack, Keith was doing this:

Yep, just casually taking on Zarkon one-on-one, without hesitation. Not only does Keith intervene to save the Black Lion from Zarkon’s grasp - he also fights Zarkon head-to-head, repeatedly charging back into the attack with no regard for his own safety.

Shiro must have seen and heard this and thought: “That’s the kind of Paladin the Black Lion deserves. That’s the kind of Paladin she wants.” A brave and decisive leader, not a hot mess. Someone who’ll charge at Zarkon head-first; who can keep it together in the midst of battle. Shiro thinks he should have been the one battling Zarkon, not Keith. As Black Paladin and leader of Voltron, he should have been the one to charge at Zarkon and try and take him down. Instead, he was having a panic attack, and Keith was the one who stepped up.

Shiro chooses Keith to be the next leader of Voltron because he thinks Keith is the kind of leader Voltron needs, and the kind of Paladin the Black Lion deserves.

It doesn’t particularly matter that this choice doesn’t make a lot of sense, or that the team might be better off with a more cool-headed and thoughtful leader. This is not a rational decision on Shiro’s part. It’s a decision rooted in his own insecurities. His decision-making is flawed: not because of bias or favouritism, but because of his own sense of inadequacy. He looks at Keith and sees someone who will take on Zarkon without hesitation. He looks at himself and sees a failure. And he concludes that Keith is the kind of Paladin the Black Lion wants - that she would rather have Keith than him.

And the Black Lion spends most of season 2 proving him wrong, but that’s a meta for another day.

(thank you @bentfire for the screencaps btw)