Addendum to rant on Keith Last-Name-As-Yet-Unknown’s origin
Previously, I expressed my discomfort with Sheith fandom’s tendency to attribute Keith’s attachment issues to his experiences in orphanages and foster homes. As I re-watched the series, I noticed something else that has rarely (if ever?) come up in any Sheith fanfic I’ve read so far: Allura’s initial and brutal rejection of Keith once she learns of his Galra heritage. Even though I generally like Allura as a character, I was horrified by her actions during my first watch (i.e., yelling at the screen and scaring my cats), and seeing it again in the context of S4 has made it even worse. This is an on-screen rejection of a family member by a (putative) family member.
S2:E9 The Belly of the Weblum
Again, working with the foster care system in California, USA, one of the things I have learned is that a major reason why many teens in some CA counties end up in foster care is because of abuse, either physical or emotional, once they reveal their being LGBTQ to their families. THEIR FAMILIES REJECT THEM AFTER DISCOVERING WHO THEY ARE. (Then later in the episode Hunk goes on to ask Keith a series of well-meaning but ignorant questions about Keith’s identity, which reminded me of how people try to navigate others’ sexual and ethnic identities in accidentally hurtful ways. I hope this was intentional, and if so, well-done writers for creating a scenario that hews so close to real-life.) Allura, of course, goes on to re-accept Keith into her orbit, and for this reason I think her initial rejection often gets glossed over in fanfiction. But one negative experience always looms larger in the mind than subsequent positive experiences; the sweet cannot quench the bitter.
And so we get this:
S4:E1 Code of Honor
I’ve read a few excellent fics recently (some of which I’ll be reccing) where we see the cumulative effects of Keith’s pre-series and in-series emotional rejections wearing down his sense of self. And yet to me, since we have yet to see details of Keith’s backstory, Allura’s post-BoM rejection looms the largest. I get the whole “your people are responsible for the destruction of her people” argument, but it doesn’t hold much water for me. Voltron addresses genocide with a light (if not non-existent) touch, and the relationships among the characters are always brought to the forefront of the narrative. The dynamics of Allura’s relationship with Keith are crucial to her character development, but man does it contribute to leaving Keith in a dark place.
S4:E6 A New Defender