Clear Day: Aftershock

“It’s super meta. It’s like inverse meta!” – Joaquim Dos Santos on the meta within Season 8.

Meta is writing about writing. As recently discussed in @leakinghate’s Seek Truth In Darkness, an episode title reflects the main idea and thematic material within its respective episode. Clear Day therefore refers to something in this episode being made clear. With regard to the narrative itself, information about Allura, Lance, and Lotor should be made plain to the audience. However, a deeper meaning to the title, similar to @crystal-rebellion’s theory regarding The Feud, is the meta commentary in the frames and subtext of Clear Day. In this mini meta I posit part of the thematic material in Clear Day is commentary on the writing process surrounding Season 8, before last minute changes were ordered. Keep your arms and legs inside the burrow buggy; we’re going on quite a ride.

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In the days following Season 8’s release, the Voltron Twitter account released a series of advertisement tweets essentially giving away the major plot points of the season, including its controversial end. One such tweet read as follows:

“All the paladins are at a Carnival, yet none of them are having any fun… Except maybe Shiro? More surprises to come in the final season of #Voltron Legendary Defender, now streaming on Netflix!”

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The tweet included a 4 minute clip from s8e8 Clear Day that runs from Keith and Hunk entering a foreboding It’s a Small World ride parody to Colleen Holt haggling a family picture out of Pidge, a family picture that, interestingly, is taken with a very sour looking Pidge standing beneath a familiar logo icon.

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If we take only a passing glance at the overall visual mood of Clear Day we immediately notice a yellow overlay is cast on the carnival. Yellow is a color used to symbolize both happiness and madness, and both are conveyed within the episode. A well-known example of the use of yellow to contribute to a mood of insanity is The Yellow Wallpaper, a short story in which a woman is trapped in a room by her husband and doctor due to her “hysteria” and is slowly driven mad by the patterns in the sickening yellow wallpaper. In the outer world of the carnival, its participants are happy (especially the alien child and Slav with their purple lions). However, something feels “off” in this world given comments like Burr’s, “I couldn’t help but notice the Blue Lion isn’t here. That’s fine. You can’t expect Voltron to keep all their promises” and the Whack-a-Mole game’s, “I’m Coran Coran, the non-truth telling man! Bop me on the head to keep me from lying!”

As we go beneath the surface with Keith and Hunk the mood becomes vaguely “off”, almost as if the jovial facade of the carnival is hiding something out of place beneath the surface. Keith, who doesn’t want to take a day off for fun in the first place, resists going inside but is pushed into a giant maw with sharp teeth. This mirrors Shadow Lotor’s fanged grin as he invites Allura to follow him. Once inside, Hunk, ever the optimist, is fascinated by the colorful show, but Keith wants nothing to do with the ride which, by the way, pans out to show the burrowers busily working beneath the same familiar icon.

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The burrowers sing a song that runs as follows:

We burrow every day, underground is where we stay

Waiting for the time to say

Clear Day! Clear Day!

What do we say? Clear Day! Clear Day! Clear Day!

Yes, Clear Day is the literal name of the celebration, but consider it in the context of the rest of the song’s words. Workers are busily burrowing, staying hidden away from view until the right time to come out and make something clear. Those workers are, on a story level, Lotor and the colonists. On a meta level, they are the writers and animators buried away in their studio until it’s time for the story to see the light of day.

When next we see Keith and Hunk, Keith has had enough of being stuck inside the ride and insists he and Hunk are leaving. Hunk asks, “Can we come back when the ride gets fixed? I wanna see how it ends.” This is right on the heels of the previous scene’s Dark Entity Lotor beckoning Allura to “Follow me!” just before Voltron appears in front of the colony. When Keith and Hunk burst through the side of the tent, they come through the same colony, complete with time warpage and, once again, a very familiar moon logo above it. Slav and some aliens can be seen holding purple lion toys, and they look not just pleased but joyful.

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Let’s review. Keith is impatient and decides to leave the ride that features imagery strikingly similar to the red colony planet and its moon with the secret facility while Hunk wants to see how this story plays out. Wasn’t it Keith in s6 who jumped to conclusions without fact checking at the now confirmed Altean Battery Facility and Hunk who, although it is played as ironic in the moment, says at the beginning of Romelle’s colony story, “Wow, Lotor is even nicer than we thought”?

And then… where do Keith and Hunk burst forth from again? That’s right. Center of frame from Lotor’s colony planet. The same one, immediately preceded by this scene, where Allura’s Animus, appearing as her Shadow, bade her to follow him.

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Notably, the “tent” itself has some very interesting brickwork for a tent. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about this and the logo we keep seeing.

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Before we wrap up, let’s go back to one of the more interesting comments during last week’s ABTV interview with Episode Producers Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery.

JDS: You can’t deny there was goodness in [Lotor].

Host: Yes, but at a certain point, cool motive, still murder! Lots and lots of murder!

JDS: Totally involved a ton of murder.

Host: Yeah, I’m pretty sure all the battery Alteans are super dead because I don’t think anyone else found that moon.

JDS: Right. Right.

However, in s7e5 The Ruins, Kolivan tells Keith he sent a team to the coordinates he was given, but when they arrived there was “just an empty facility. They were all gone”.

But someone does know where those now confirmed “battery Alteans” are. In the story, that character asked Allura and the audience to follow him. As for the meta commentary, while I’m sure it must have been, well, maddening working under the restrictions imposed by those invested in boys’ toys, I think it’s a safe conclusion the writers believed that ultimately they had a magnificent end product to unveil and were simply waiting for the time to say, “clear day”. That is, until the colony plot, like so much else, was left on the cutting room floor.

Thank you @crystal-rebellion @leakinghate @dragonofyang @voltronisruiningmylife

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