3:45 pm EDT, June 20, 2018

Exclusive: ‘Voltron’ EPs discuss Keith’s growth, love, Shiro’s autonomy, and shifting dynamics

Voltron’s sixth season upped the ante and positioned itself as the best one yet. With so much to digest, we sat down with executive producers Lauren Montgomery and Joaquim Dos Santos to break down the season.

With everything from Keith and Krolia’s relationship, and Keith stepping up as leader, to Shiro being revealed as a clone — much like popular fan theory suggested — there was a lot to discuss when spoke to Montgomery and Dos Santos. Season 7 will see the show evolve once again, but for now, here’s what they had to say when we posed a few of our burning questions to them.

Warning: There will be significant spoilers for Voltron: Legendary Defender season 6 below.

Hypable’s exclusive interview with Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery

Krolia and Keith, who just found their way back to each other in the season prior, had the chance to build their relationship in the two years they spent alone in the quantum abyss. Was Krolia an influence on the Keith that, ultimately, returns? More mature, level-headed, and seemingly ready to take up the leadership position he struggled with before leaving with the Blade of Marmora?

Joaquim Dos Santos: I think part of the reason, you know, one, we wanted them to have a very genuine bonding experience, and have real time with each other, so that Keith could fill in that void that was lost for so long. But yeah, I think she’s a positive influence on him. She’s a powerful mother figure, she’s a powerful warrior. She was doing the right thing, even though she was working within the ranks of the Galra. She was doing the right thing.

Lauren Montgomery: Basically, having that chance for Keith to fill in a lot of the backstory for himself, answering those questions. He lived a large part of his life not knowing whether he was wanted by his mother. His Dad couldn’t really be like, “yeah, your mother is from outer space.” So there was this unrest inside of him as he grew up, really not knowing where he came from, or who he was, or why these things happened to him. So, now that he’s really had all of those questions answered, he’s found a peace, and a resolve. And so that’s allowed him to no longer live, I think, with the constant turmoil of not knowing. Now that that’s put to rest, he can actually focus on bigger things. And so it allows him to kind of have that maturity, and now come back and take on this responsibility of being the leader of Voltron, where he maybe didn’t feel like he was at a place where he could do that before.

Joaquim Dos Santos: There was a sort of mental block before. I think it’s also important to say though, that while the fire might be a little quelled, it’s not completely out. You’ve still got some burning rage.

There were some interesting parallels between those two characters, especially in the way they dealt with death. Krolia’s reaction to learning Keith’s father has passed, and likewise with Keith when it came to Shiro, was that something you wanted to emphasize? The similarities between them?

JDS: I think it was also highlighting, between them, that she has been removed. She has literally taken herself out of his life. So, she’s getting filled in on a lot of stuff. Sure, he had to download her on the effects her absence had on his life. She probably had some growing to do there too.

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LM: Ultimately, those two things just happened to line up perfectly. It wasn’t in our original breakdown, like, these two things are going to happen at exactly the same time, it just kind of happened that way. But when you have a story with a lot of recurring themes, sometimes those themes line up really well, and that was just one instance where it did.

With regard to the emotionally charged fight between Keith and Shiro, that was the first time that any character has explicitly said “I love you” to another in the show. What did it mean to you to be able to include that moment, and how do you foresee that will affect Keith’s willingness to be open about his emotions moving forward? Because he’s always been a very closed off character, so for Keith to outwardly say something like “You’re my brother. I love you” was such a huge moment for him.

JDS: The one exception Keith allowed in his life in terms of expressing himself was probably with Shiro, because he felt the closest to him. And that situation was an extreme series of events. I think he was pleading with him. I think he was letting him know exactly where he stood, and why this shouldn’t be happening. And why he knew that there was still good in there, even though, ultimately, it was a clone of Shiro. That clone went on believing he was Shiro for the longest time, so it still had those latent emotions and memories in there as well. If you look at Keith going back to the original episode, where he comes out of the shack, and greets Shiro, that’s a very different Keith than the way he acted with all the rest of the Paladins. So I think with Shiro, in particular, his guard is down a bit and he’s able to express himself.

LM: But don’t expect him to go telling anyone else he loves them.

JDS: That’s right. He’s not handing out hugs, and love hearts to everybody.

LM: I think it’s something that he did in the moment because he felt it was necessary at that time. And he’s willing to go there with someone like Shiro, but it’s not something that he just, any old day, he’s going to do it.

JDS: But it’s important to hear, I will say. It’s something that I say to my friends on a regular basis, because I think that it’s important to hear. For people that you care about, for people that you think are important in your life.

After the reveal that the real Shiro was trapped on the Astral Plane, Allura managed to transplant him back into the body of the clone that has been with Team Voltron ever since that fateful showdown with Zarkon. Will the two Shiros be fighting for power over that body? And will they share memories?

JDS: You’ll never knooooow…

LM: For me, the way I see it is that our Shiro has now been placed into the clone body. The clone Shiro, by all intents and purposes, truly believed he was the original Shiro and shared all of those same drives, and goals, and really only became evil when Haggar took control. And so, I like to think that the clone Shiro was kind of absorbed into the real Shiro’s essence when he was put into the body. And so now he’s just become part of that real Shiro. So our real Shiro is in control. There’s not a clone Shiro that’s watching out through Shiro’s eyes. He’s just part of his consciousness now, there’s just one guy.

JDS: Yeah, I think it’s good to put this one to rest, because we did the sleeper cell thing for long enough. So we are putting that one to rest.

LM: We’ve got our old Shiro back. He’s all up-to-date, he’s got all the memories and the knowledge of the clone Shiro, and everyone knows [he’s] one guy, good to go.

Touching back slightly on Keith stepping up in a big way as a leader. It seems almost natural now that he would return full time to piloting the Black Lion, but what does that mean for Shiro’s role moving forward? Or will the focus largely be on Shiro’s recovery?

JDS: You kind of touched on something there. Shiro’s still been through it. He’s passed out at the end of this thing, so he’s still going through it a bit. And those are questions that’ll need to be answered, how that all shakes out.

With Honerva returning, and presumably picking up her plans where she left off, should we expect her to fill the void of the antagonist with Lotor, I’m assuming, out of the picture — whether that’s permanently or temporarily?

LM: I think you can assume to know that her story isn’t over. But what capacity she comes into the future of the show, I think we don’t really want to go too far. But we definitely have more story to tell for Honerva slash Haggar, and we’re excited to share that with everyone. Eventually. Some day. Maybe.

JDS: She’s definitely in a good position to have more story.

Presumably the planet of Alteans that Lotor saved is still out there. Should we expect Allura, and the rest of the Paladins, to attempt to make their way back to them? Or will replacing the Castleship take priority?

JDS: It’s definitely something that’s out there. They do have more immediate concerns, like you said. They basically adrift at the moment, where we leave them. They don’t have any means of fast travel, so they’ve got to get through the immediate concerns first.

LM: But everything that you’re thinking is essentially what they’d be thinking as well. It’s definitely something that’s on Allura and Coran’s mind, and it’s not something that they’re going to immediately forget.

JDS: Nobody is going to forget it.

Pidge and Shiro’s relationship has always been one of my favourites on the show. How devastating was it for her to essentially plant a kill-switch into his arm? And how much, if any, delayed guilt will she be suffering from with the return of the true Shiro next season?

JDS: I don’t know if it’s guilt moving forward. It’s interesting to think that maybe she had this guilt this entire time, since having set that kill switch up. And she’s been sort of coping with that, while all this other stuff has been going on. I think it’s added another level of depth to Pidge.

LM: Ultimately, having it be something that did come into play, and that she did need to use, I think that would kind of absolve her a little bit of that guilt. Because she was right. If she had thought about it, and then not done it, and then this happened, I think she would feel more guilt with like, ‘I really should have done that.’ It sucks, and it wasn’t easy for her to do at all. But now she probably a) feels that she did the right thing, and b), now that she’s got good ol’ Shiro back, everything’s great.

Hunk had the opportunity to step up in several big ways over the course of season 6. How satisfying was it to finally get to showcase his leadership skills?

LM: It was great. We finally found ourselves at a place where Hunk could learn these diplomatic skills that he would need to utilize in that situation. Up until this point, he was able to do a little bit. There were hints at him using his skills to bring people together in the Space Whale episodes, and a little bit at the beginning of season 3, with the diplomats. But for the most part, he could go to any planet and be a diplomat, but ultimately none of this really matters until they solve the big problem they had, which is the war. So really, the best use of these skills is going to be with the Galra. And so we finally found ourselves at a place storywise where he could take that time to learn from the Galra, without the Galra obviously trying to murder him, because now they’re working together. And it was great, because we got to being in Nanny, like a weird, off-kilter version of the nanny character. But having Hunk not only learn those skills, but then utilize them to empower, and embolden the Galra, it was awesome, and it was fun. It was a story for him that we’ve been waiting a long time to do.

We’ve talked previously about evolving Lance from Mr. Ladies’ Man. This season, he had a huge realisation about his own feelings for Allura, and she also learned about them, in part, from the Space Mice. How do you foresee that shifting their dynamic heading into season 7? Especially with the several supportive moments they shared in the back half of the episodes, post-Lotor’s betrayal.

LM: Obviously Lance, we’ve been setting him on this course for a long time. Starting off as very much this guy who would hit on Allura in a very creepy-aggressive way. I think, almost in a way that protects himself, because ultimately once he was rejected, he knew why. He didn’t want to really put himself out there because he felt he never had a chance. Now he’s finally got to a place where his self confidence has reached a place where he thinks he might actually be worthy of love from another person. And I think Allura, she saw things in him, she saw his growth, and she grew to appreciate it. But ultimately, as we know from the show, Lotor kind of came in and threw that all off. ​Allura has just experienced a massive heartbreak at the hands of Lotor, so I think she’s probably not going to immediately rebound to Lance in the way that would do a disservice to both of those characters. But I think we can look forward to seeing them both evolve their friendship naturally, as we’ve seen them grow to respect each other in very different ways than they initially did in the early episodes of the show.

With the Paladins heading back to Earth, how should we expect this to shift the direction of the story? Especially with most of the major antagonists, as we knew them, out of the picture?

LM: ​I think we can look forward to the story having a very different energy, much in the way Lotor has a different energy from Zarkon. The stakes will still be there, but we’ve always loved throwing different dynamics at our characters and seeing what stories come out of it. We don’t want our characters to end up in a repetitive sort of situation where they’re constantly fighting the same fights over and over again, and we avoid that by shaking things up by taking certain forces out of the story and inserting others into it. We certainly don’t want to give away any events in future seasons, but I think it’s safe to say, things will never be the same again for our characters.

‘Voltron’ season 6 is available to stream now on Netflix

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