So I’ve got some thoughts about Shiro in this new season. I’m just speculating right now since I haven’t had a chance to properly sit down and watch it. But a lot of parts I have seen so far are making me go
at this Shiro and some of the things he’s saying.
I know a lot of you are rolling with the idea that this is a clone of Shiro, and I think you’re probably right. Especially since we have already seen the Galra making a clone of Shiro, it seems quite likely that this is the case. Odd that they would show them doing that if it wasn’t going to be relevant to the plot later. Again, I’m just speculating and spit-balling here so take this as you will - but I think that the Galra are using Clone!Shiro to manipulate Keith so that they can steal the black lion from him.
Here’s what i’ve noticed so far:
1) Lion/Paladin colors have not changed. Meaning that despite Keith piloting black and Lance piloting red, their respective color palettes have not changed. It’s a striking image, it stands out, it’s noticeable. If this were meant to be a permanent change, one might think the armor color would at least change, but it hasn’t. Nor have their clothes (I know the clothes thing might seem nitpicky, but I’m getting to a point in #2).
2) When it comes to clothing changes (excluding Allura in her pink armor because she wasn’t previously a paladin so isn’t relevant to the point I’m making), SHIRO is the only one whose clothes have changed. This is actually a very common clone trope in science fiction media. Clones are often portrayed as “identical with a minor difference” as a way of distinguishing them from the original person (usually for the sake of a show-down or mirrored parallels - think of the MirrorVerse episode of Star Trek, in which the mirror versions of Spock and Kirk are distinguished by slightly different clothing and beards). This slight difference in Shiro’s appearance (especially the cut sleeve - and don’t even get me started about the random moment where he’s missing his scar) could be a way of distinguishing them from each other for future scenes (and possibly for a showdown)
3) As @pilindiel pointed out, there were no Galra guards watching longhair!Shiro until he got up, and they let him escape. If they were in the process of making clone(s) of Shiro, why on earth would they not keep the REAL Shiro under tight supervision, why on earth would they simply let him escape? We’ve already seen shots of the Galra creating a clone of Shiro, so we know it’s something they’re doing, and longhair!Shiro is shown having flashbacks of someone calling him by a number. Homeboy is a clone, possibly even one of many clones. Or maybe he’s been brainwashed, but I’m thinking clone is more likely. If he is a clone, though, he likely still has all of Shiro’s memories, and thus was probably still ‘brainwashed’ or trained in one way or another to get him to act how the Galra want him to behave (more on that later).
- Ninja edit: I’m betting too that if he’s a clone, he might not even know it.
4) Keith is part Galra. And the Galra have been aware of this for some time now: in fact, it was Zarkon himself who first addressed it (“you fight like a Galra soldier”). I think they are hoping to somehow exploit his Galra heritage as a way to either control him or at least persuade him into delivering the black lion. The show made a BIG DAMN DEAL about Shiro bonding with Black and about how Shiro had too much willpower/control of Black for Zarkon to take it from him (astral plane). But Keith? Keith’s bond with Black hasn’t been shown to be as strong. It’s new, and it’s likely weaker right now - I mean, we’ve mostly seen her accept him because of his bond with Shiro (saving Shiro from the lizardboars, Shiro’s belief in Keith as a leader, etc…) His somewhat weaker grip on the black lion, in tandem with his Galra heritage, could make him easier to exploit for the sake of the Galra reclaiming the black lion.
- for those of you who are wondering why the Galra wouldn’t just have the Clone!Shiro resume control of Black and deliver it to them: it’s possible that the black lion wouldn’t accept the clone. I mean, sure, Clone!Shiro probably has Shiro’s memories, his mannerisms, etc… which is why Black reacted to his escape ship… but at the end of the day, he isn’t Shiro. Like I said before, the show made a big damn deal about Shiro’s bond with Black. It was a major plot point - it would be a waste of time, and a bit of bad writing, to harp on that bond so much, only to then turn it around and go “welp, Keith’s the permanent black pilot now” or to say “oh yeah totally this Clone!Shiro could take over the lion, no problemo”. The Galra likely NEED Keith (his Galra heritage, his bond with Shiro, etc…) to be the one piloting Black because Black probably wouldn’t accept the phony Shiro. Edit: Black doesn’t respond to Shiro when he tries to pilot her. *SIRENS GOING OFF*
5) Keith is still reluctant to be the black paladin, especially with Shiro back in the picture, which might run contrary to what the Galra are trying to accomplish. If the Galra need him in the position of black paladin in order to exploit his connection to it and his Galra heritage, then who better to convince him to stay in that position than Shiro? Now, with all that time spent showing Shiro’s bond with Black, it seems odd to push the idea that suddenly Keith is the true black paladin: UNLESS the Galra need him to be (as I mentioned in #4). The Real Shiro has, in the past, expressed that he wants Keith to lead in his absence, so Clone!Shiro insisting that he remain as the black paladin isn’t super out of character and wouldn’t necessarily raise any alarms amongst the team. With Keith reluctant to do so, and reluctant about his position as leader and as pilot of the black lion, what better way to convince him than to present him with the only person who was ever truly there for him and believed in him? What better way to get Keith to do what they (the Galra) want him to do than to have the person he trusts most, the only person who’s “never given up on him”, tell him to do it? To quote @pilindiel “How else do you dismantle a leader than by being what that leader cherishes most?”.
So yeah, this could be way off base, but this is the vibe I’m getting so far. Shiro is a clone and the Galra are using him to manipulate Keith to get him to stay as pilot of the black lion so they can reclaim it.