About Lance and Lotor ...
In my mind, Lotor is a cunning, more subtle villain than Zarkon — he’s patient, he’s methodical, and he’s not going to go galavanting all over the galaxy to hunt Team Voltron down.
He’s going to exploit one particular link in the chain, the one he sees as the weakest — Lance. He’ll somehow find a way to communicate with him, in secret; he’ll play up his half-Altean heritage, ply Lance with compliments, give him much needed advice and even feed him information about Galra attacks (minor ones) wherein Team Voltron succeeds in saving the day.
Lotor doesn’t mind sacrificing a few Galra for the sake of a bigger picture — the capture and defeat of Voltron. And when he starts to suggest that he and Lance meet directly, and when Lance goes, alone, Lotor doesn’t capture him. He cements the trust between them by giving him the location of a Galra base, waxing poetic about some sob story involving his tortured past, and then letting Lance leave without tracking him at all.
Then Lance finally tells the team everything, and naturally they all, especially Allura and Keith, lose their minds. Allura knows Lotor is evil. Keith isn’t jealous because that is not important at all here — he is terrified and angry that Lance would be taking this risk, that Lance would meet this guy alone. Unfortunately for Keith, though, he doesn’t express it in the best way.
And Lance, who has been feeling less and less confident as the days go by (because abusive manipulative a-holes know exactly how to compliment someone while also making them feel small, isolating them from friends and family), fights back, furious that they refuse to trust Lotor — because in his mind that means they don’t trust him.
They strike the base, they win the day, and Lance leaves. He leaves voluntarily, and goes to Lotor.
And that’s when it falls apart for our heroes. Because now Lotor has the Blue Lion and Lance. He has a bargaining chip, a hostage, and the others can’t form Voltron. Lotor knows too much about the other Paladins, he knows his enemy better than Zarkon ever did, thanks to Lance. And then he really starts to strike fear into the universe.
And Lance, our poor Blue Paladin, realizes that his friends were right all along, and Lotor has no reason to keep being nice — other than to mess with Lance’s head.
And I’m so tempted to write this all out as fic, but holy crap, realistically, Lance getting better from this would be such an agonizing trial. I do not believe in romanticizing Lotor because I’ve framed him as a villain in this concept; he would be evil without redemption here, and so it would be entirely up to Lance to stand strong on his own and hold himself together.
Everyone has their own headcanons, and this one is mine — but it’s pretty damn dark and wow, Lance, honey, I didn’t know I could be this mean to you.
Ideally the team saves Lance, he takes a long, long while to regain his footing, his self-worth, his inner strength, and when they finally take the battle to Lotor, Lance is the one to thoroughly and unequivocally kick his ass.
And then he and Keith sort out their issues, figuring out that things are going to be rough between them as Lance still needs to recover and Keith has his own baggage that he brings to the table, but it’s the sort of rough they’re willing to work through together.