This is barely coherent because I’m exhausted but
I FIGURED OUT WHAT SEEMED OFF ABOUT LANCE IN SEASON 4
So first in season 3 we see the relationship they’ve been building up between Keith and Lance for like 2 SEASONS really blossom. Like they’re BFFs. Lance is Keith’s impulse control. Keith is Lance’s comfort. They’re all cool and stuff.
Then, in 4.01 Keith leaves. Lance thinks joining the Blades will make Keith happy, so he’s like, okay cool. Then Pidge goes to find Matt and comes back with this guy who makes bad jokes and flirts with Allura (sound familiar?) but is also super smart and mature and good at fighting and stuff. I don’t think it’s too much of a reach to say this is Lance’s worst fear –– someone shows up who’s like him but ‘better’, more worthy of his friends’ attention, meaning he gets rejected. But no big deal, right? Ain’t no one rejecting him yet.
But then when Matt flirts with Allura (in like the dorkiest way possible omg save him) she blushes and doesn’t insult him or anything, which for her is responding pretty positively, or at least moreso than she does with Lance. And then Shiro (y’know, Lance’s hero) is all MATT?? I LOVE MATT!! And then Matt forms the Tech Nerd Dream Team™ with Hunk and Pidge, Lance’s best friends from the Garrison. (Basically, Matt is a lot like Lance, but ‘better’ and adored by people the way Keith was.)
The next time we see Lance, instead of being his social butterfly self and getting to know the new guy, he’s holed up in his room in the dark in the middle of the day, looking tense and marathoning video games.
Okay, though. Maybe that’s okay. People play video games. No biggie. But first of all, that doesn’t seem like Lance. He’s the social guy. He’s the last person I’d expect to be holed up in his room playing video games in the dark in the middle of the day, especially when a cool new person just showed up. Lance loves people. Lance loves getting to know people (see: Taking Flight, The Depths, the Voltron Show!, Changing of the Guard, and literally every episode with new aliens).
But even if you disagree, consider this: in the Paladin Handbook, Crystal Venom, and Eye of the Storm, we see that when Lance has time to himself, he uses it to relax (napping, chilling with a good lemonade, going to the pool). There are two ways people spend free time: relaxation and stimulation. Video games are definitely a form of stimulation. When are you more likely to choose stimulating activities, even if you’re more into relaxation in your time off? When you’re trying to distract yourself from something.
^ picture by breeceesall (So sorry!!)
(Lance is answer choice D. I accidentally originally said B because I just glanced at it and that was a mistake, thanks to celestialdefenders for pointing that out!)
(By the way, side note: when Allura and Coran come to get Lance to milk Kaltenecker and they all leave the room, he says something like, “Okay, let’s get this over with”… and it sounded… off to me? Like he was covering up the insecure layer and going back to business… I dunno maybe I just heard it weird, I’m not really counting this as a point.)
The last thing Lance would do is tell anyone about all of this inner turmoil. After all, the only times he voices or even admits to himself his own insecurities are to strangers (Escape From Beta Traz) and to… well, Keith (Tailing a Comet, the infamous leave the math to Pidge scene). Who’s gone.
And I don’t think it bothers Lance as much when he has stuff to keep his mind off it (in the Voltron Show, they’re doing his favorite part of the war effort. Of course he seems happy and lighthearted!). But.
Pidge and Hunk were already starting to distance themselves from him and form their own li’l Tech Nerds Unite team as early as season 1. Now they have Matt to further finish off the new-and-improved Garrison Trio, this time without Lance. They definitely aren’t doing it on purpose, and probably don’t even realize that they’re doing it. Obviously everyone loves Lance. But they don’t show it, because they don’t realize they have to. He seems so happy and confident. But to Lance, I can see how it would seem like Pidge and Hunk have replaced him.
And now Keith, who was quickly becoming Lance’s closest friend, strongest teammate, and the most likely to understand what he’s going through, has left. Meaning Lance is, for all intents and purposes, alone.
Dude, if I were Lance, I’d be sitting in the dark marathoning video games too.
EDIT: wingedkeith made a really good point and said I could add it in!
“I just wanted to add on something: at the end of season 3, we see lance’s insecurities as he claims that he’s the “one pilot too many” and says he’s going to step down. So this boy already feels sort of useless, and then Matt comes along and seems to “replace” him in every aspect with the team. I’m not really sure what we can draw from that, but it’s something I noticed and thought you’d also find it interesting that it isn’t just season 4 where Lance starts to feel this way, but season 3 as well, and that means it’ll probably carry over into season 5, where Jeremy (I think?) said that Lance will have a pretty big character arc.”
Further proof that this part of Lance’s arc has been a long time coming. Majorly in season 3 and even before then in Escape From Beta Traz, he has always felt like a seventh wheel. This started out as really subtle and it’s been getting less and less so. Which means Lance’s insecurities will
probably definitely be a really big factor later on!