The true story behind Season Eight has been in front of us since the beginning. We just haven’t noticed it – because it was never said; it was shown.
The truth of who was behind everything that went wrong in Season Eight – as well as the cluttering of Season Seven is, in fact, one person’s fault. The Executive Producers lay the story out for us clear as day once we know where to look.
Remember this fellow? This is Bob, and I think you may hate him before this is over.
Are you ready?
Here we go.
Bob was the host of the game show ‘Garfle Warfle Snick’ in Season Seven’s fourth episode, ‘The Feud’.
One thing that has been curious about Voltron: Legendary Defender, is the writing. Regardless of the current opinion of the Executive Producers, the show was very good for quite a while. The writers showed an ability to write multi-layered plots and leave all hints of foreshadowing everywhere between parallel storylines, intersecting arcs, and a generous use of symbolism.
The Game Show episode is no different.
‘But Crystal, that was just filler.’
All of the filler episodes have been meaningful. We have been told from the beginning that there are no wasted frames. With only two years to release eight seasons, the VLD team has never been able to afford meaningless filler. Yet comedic breaks are necessary to break up a heavy narrative and retain viewer engagement. So how can they do both?
The ‘filler’ and ‘whimsical’ episodes are actually extremely plot-heavy. Season Six’s Episode Three ‘Monsters and Mana’ demonstrated this flawlessly – laying the plot ahead out very clearly under the guise of the Paladins playing a game to relax.
The Game Show is no different, and no less heavily burdened with hints. However, the details of what precisely it is foreshadowing – or telling, are a little harder to see when you only think of the plotline.
I propose that ‘The Feud’ is actually a meta commentary from the writers on precisely what was going on behind the scenes – that is, during the tumultuous production of Voltron: Legendary Defender. They are telling us the full story the only way they can through their NDA gags – through the very show itself.
Hear me out.
Let’s look at a brief summary of the episode before we settle comfortably in the weeds.
The episode starts out with a game show-like opening, and the Paladins being openly confused about where they are, or how they came to be there. The show’s host, Bob, explains they are there to play. When Keith makes a challenging comment about just leaving, Bob replies in no uncertain terms that they are “on [his] show and going to play as long as [he] wants” all while chaining the Paladins to the floor so that they cannot physically leave.
The show proceeds as Keith is chosen as the first contestant for the first round. He is gagged with a pacifier, and forced to draw based on prompts the host gives him, and his teammates must guess what the drawing is. On the last one, they fail, and Bob announces that the opposing team may be able to steal, drawing questions from the Paladins – there had been no opposing team…
Until the cardboard cutouts of Zarkon, Haggar, Lotor and Morvok appear and spring to life. The game goes on with the Paladins competing against the Galra team, only for the Paladins to win and the Galra to lose, forcing them off the show. The Paladins are to continue competing until one challenge remains: to vote which of the five may leave the show while the others remain behind.
The Paladins all vote for one another, and Bob comments that he finds it curious that no one voted for themselves. They all give different reasons for their choices. In the end, Bob releases them all, saying they won. The Paladins wake up in their lions in deep space and collectively realize they all had the same dream. Coran recognizes the name Bob, and explains “I’ve never met him myself but I’ve heard tales. He’s an all-powerful, all-knowing, interdimensional being who judges the worthiness of great warriors. The legends say that if you meet Bob and live to tell the tale, you’re destined for great things indeed.” The episode ends when they sit in stunned silence before Keith mutters “That guy was kind of a jerk, though, right?” To which Allura replies “Completely,” and Lance follows up with “I’m not that dumb!”
Thinking in the context of the game show representing the real world, the Paladins can comfortably represent the cast and crew driving the show, and we can cast Bob as the metaphor for the person high in the executive chain that is pulling all the strings, changing the rules, and forcing the Paladins to do exactly what he wants – whether they like it or not.
Let’s break it down.
Right out of the gate, the Paladins are confused to meet Bob – they never expected to encounter this kind of resistance. He explains that they’re on a show and the stake is their freedom; if they lose, they’ll be trapped with him for eternity. When they insist that they have work to do, he denies that and promptly secures their feet to the floor with a cheerful laugh. Keith presses him and threatens to leave: “I don’t know who you are or what’s going on, but we’re getting out of here.” The lighting, atmosphere and mood alter sinisterly, and Bob delivers a very dangerous threat:
Bob is explaining in no uncertain terms that the show is his – he is both the host and the owner, and the production staff of VLD are only allowed to play with the characters for as long as he sees fit.
Immediately after, it shifts starkly back to normal, and he’s quick to move into the first round, where Keith, the one who had been protesting with increasing aggression and determination, is promptly gagged and forced to design at Bob’s direction, leaving the teammates to try and keep up.
Lance, too, takes a substantial bit of the spotlight in this episode, being the one chosen to handle a round himself, courtesy of Zarkon referring to him as ‘the dumb one.’
Lance faces off against the gameshow host. In his first challenge, Bob makes it a point to cheat at the very last second, the face switching from someone Lance does recognize to someone he doesn’t. He nearly fails the round entirely, and Bob even makes a curious comment.
Despite his best efforts, trying his hardest to win the round and
protect his teammates, Lance is continuously shot down and berated by
Bob. He does manage the very last one, securing a small victory for his
team. I speculate that while the Paladins represent the whole of the
production staff, Lance (and Keith as well) may represent Joaquim Dos
Santos himself. Dos Santos has mentioned that he sees parts of both
Lance and Keith in himself*. Lance takes on a leadership role in this
episode, despite Keith being the technical Black Paladin at the time. In
the end, Lance loses his second challenge, ending up in the Garflator.
Pidge then steps up to the plate to try and save him from the penalty for failing at a near-unwinnable challenge. Ironically, after meditating on the mini-golf objective, Pidge launches herself at Bob directly in an attempt to break the rules and attack him, demanding that he “let [them] go, now!” Pidge has close association with two members of the production team; her Voice Actor and Lauren Montgomery. When Dos Santos mentions that he relates to both Keith and Lance, Montgomery mentions that she relates to Pidge (and Keith) in the same manner.* I propose that this is a nod to Lauren also attempting to fight against the control being exerted over their creative intention and will.
In summary, the three most vocal and physically active in their
resistance against the gameshow host are the three Paladins that the
Showrunners have explicitly said they relate to: For Dos Santos, that’s
Keith and Lance; for Lauren, that’s Keith and Pidge.*
Other irregularities include the Galra, who are exclusively treated as flat characters. They even first appear as cardboard cutouts before they pop to life – literal props.
While humorous, their personalities embody the quintessential characteristics that a misogynistic, rich and privileged man might have. Zarkon is the (bizarrely) affectionate and doting husband. Haggar, the wife, is quite markedly silent – seen but not heard, demure at her husband’s side, even when openly hit on by the show host.
Lotor is the petulant and spoiled child, but even so, he still
retains the hints of his trauma when he flinches away from both Haggar’s
touch and Zarkon’s yells. Morvok is the miscellaneous underling who
sucks up unabashedly to the host – his only other appearance is in
Season Two, Episode Six “The Ark of Taujeer” where he was quite the
suck-up to Zarkon as well. The fifth spot on their team is noticeably
empty, and at the end of the round, they’re simply discarded.
Once the Paladins are free from the show and realize they’ve all had the same dream, Coran recognizes Bob’s name from lore and explains to the Paladins that he’s an “all-powerful, all-knowing, interdimensional being who judges the worthiness of great warriors.” In a show that incorporates liberal use of alternate realities, tears in reality, as well as existing between realities – nowhere else do they make mention of ‘interdimensional’ travel. Bob exists, as an entity, entirely outside the Voltron reality – all realities. He’s from another plane completely, outside the Paladin’s universe.
Lastly, just to drive this point home, if we unscramble the title of the Game Show and rotate some of the shapes slightly…
It reads “World Events.”
It appears that Bob the “all-powerful, all-knowing, interdimensional being” is running a show that translates to “World Events”, where the production team members are gagged puppets, playing by his rules despite their protests and outright attempts to fight back, doesn’t it? Perhaps if he’s interdimensional, the dimension he comes from is ours.
And he just single-handedly meddled in your real show.
So what does this all mean about who was responsible? I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions from this, but it might be time to look further into the owner of Voltron, past and present. WEP LLC (formerly World Events Productions), and its CEO Bob Koplar, just might have that answer.
*Interview referenced is June 25, 2018 with GeekDad
World Events ciphering courtesy LeakingHate