Only Mostly Dead: Narti as the Heart of Sincline
In July 2019, I pitched a guest article to TPL about something I’d pondered after Dragonofyang’s tweet regarding design elements in VLD from a cancelled Robeast toy called Dracotron. It gave me an idea about a part of their outline for what the original season would’ve been that there wasn’t enough information to fill.
When I told TPL my idea, they told me that they had come up with the same thing, but wanted to keep it a surprise for their reconstruction. So, they asked me to keep it quiet for the time being. Since everyone is now stuck inside in the middle of the pandemic, they decided to release the scripts early to lift people’s spirits. So, they offered me the chance to publish my observations now, before the relevant script is uploaded.
In Seek Truth in Darkness, LeakingHate posits that after being rescued from Honerva, Lotor would make amends with his generals. The most crucial thing that the quartet needs to talk about in order to reconcile and come back together as a group would be the fate of Narti. Her death is what broke Lotor and his generals apart, so in order for them to come back together, it needs to be addressed.
Starting with whether Lotor actually killed her.
There are precisely two shots of Narti after Lotor attacks her in S4E3 “Black Site”.
In the first one, the armor spikes on the back of her elbows are facing downward. The way that the camera and Narti’s body are angled makes it clear that she is on her back.
In the second one, the spikes facing upward. Additionally, the back of her hood and her tail are clearly visible, indicating that she’s on her stomach.
So either Kova is strong enough to move a body many times his size….. Or Narti rolled herself onto her stomach after Lotor and the other generals took off in the Sincline ships.
In any work of fiction, especially animated TV shows, every detail. Counts. When telling a serialized story across multiple episodes, reusing elements is key. If something doesn’t serve some purpose within the overarching narrative, there’s no point including it. In the words of author Anton Chekhov:
“If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”
Kova is not so important to the story that a detail like him rolling Narti onto her stomach serves a purpose in the overall plot.
Which means that Narti is not dead.
From a narrative standpoint, this makes perfect sense. VLD uses parallels between characters and situations to foreshadow major events, and reinforce core similarities between the things being compared. In Season 8, we were meant to learn that Lotor was not the villain he was assumed to be. The Paladins would’ve learned this through the discovery of what actually happened at the second colony. For his generals to have a similar reconciliation, they would need to learn that the friend they thought he had killed was still alive.
So if Narti is still alive, where is she? And how would the characters find out before Lotor’s rescue?
Do you remember what I said about the importance of only including necessary details?
Allow me to ask you a question. What role does this creature play within the final season? Why did the writers use this creature specifically? What purpose does it serve in relation to the overall plot of stopping Honerva?
You could replace this monster with any random creature, and the events of S8E3 “The Prisoner’s Dilemma” would be fundamentally unchanged. But the writers chose to use this one.
In the original season, it’s purpose was twofold.
First, it parallels Sincline in S8E6 “Genesis.” The creature turned against its handlers and attacked all Galra indiscriminately. After being pulled from the Rift, Lotor-in-Sincline lashes out at everyone around him, heedless of whether they’re friend or foe.
Second, it’s attack on Lahn’s fleet helps illustrate the cost of Keith’s decisions in Season 6. Because he condemned Lotor without gathering proof and chose to leave him in the rift, people across the universe are suffering.
As I mentioned earlier, every detail in a story needs to have a purpose. The writers set this creature up as a parallel to Lotor. So, if Lotor can be calmed down from his rage, so too can this creature.
And the art team chose to give it a tail.
They chose to give it three fingered hands.
They chose to give it Narti’s powers
And they chose to give it Narti’s coloring.
After Season 8, many fans speculated that this creature had a similar origin to Narti. While they were close to the truth, few grasped the full picture:
This creature is not merely connected to Narti.
This is Narti.
And if Allura can use her magic to un-melt Lotor, she can also restore Narti’s true form.
It makes so much sense in the context of the research TPL has done into what the season would’ve been. While Lotor and his generals serve as foils to the Paladins, the fandom believed that Narti was a foil to Pidge. In reality, the paladin who serves as Narti’s counterpart is Allura herself.
In the same season that Allura was called the Heart of Voltron, Team Sincline fell apart because the woman who had been her team’s unifying force was killed. Allura’s journey involves her learning to use the power she has, but to stand up for what she believes and what she wants. It’s ironic then, that her counterpart on Team Sincline physically cannot speak.
And just like Lotor, Narti’s removal from Season 8 adds to the brokenness of the season. Many fans came away from the edited season feeling that Allura’s death caused the Paladins to drift apart. In the same way, Lotor and Narti’s “deaths” being permanent leaves Acxa’s reconciliation with Ezor and Zethrid hollow. Just like Voltron, they became less than the team they could have been.
Within TPL’s outline of the original Season, there is only one place in the story where the reveal of Narti’s fate could have fit. Allura was unconscious for two days after the end of S8E8 “Clear Day.” In the original season, she would’ve followed the vision of Lotor and learned what really happened at the second colony. If that was going to be its own episode, what would the Paladins have been doing ?
In July 2018, at SuperCon, Josh Keaton said that the fight from S6E5 “The Black Paladins” was his second most emotional scene. He said that the audience had not seen his most emotional Shiro moment yet. In the edited season, there was no such emotional moment for Shiro.
Considering Narti was specifically targeting Keith in “The Prisoner’s Dilemma,” and given the abilities she has displayed in previous seasons….
What do you think the odds are that while Allura is unconscious, Narti will go after Keith again? That Season 8 would flip their previous fight and have Shiro be the one fighting a mind-controlled Keith?
2 thoughts on “Only Mostly Dead: Narti as the Heart of Sincline”
I really like this one caz there are many who felt that there be another keef and shiro fight do to a drawing of Keith going full galra that I believe dropped after season 7,but we never saw galra Keith again
This is so eye-opening! Thank you. I have some additional layers of ideas on top of your brilliant observations about Narti. I think that, as you said, every detail counts in the animation process, and Kova the cat actually is a very important character in this show, with its own arc, which, also, was truncated and butchered in S7-8. Kova might be a clue to what happened to Narti and other characters, as well.
Watch again, S4E3 (Black Site), after they show Narti’s body turned over on her belly, how Kova lifts its head and looks somewhere up, to its right, with frowning eyes. Was it one of Lotor’s sentries Kova was looking at? Or one of the invading Galras? Not sure. But I think someone probably rolled Narti over, to check her vital signs, and Kova is witnessing. (Also, a minute before slaying Narti, Lotor instructed the robot sentries to direct all power to the shields, until they leave, then scuttle. That was probably what happened, the sentries scuttled – maybe taking Narti with them…? Narti was probably transferred to… a “black site”? The title of the episode might not only talk about Haggar keeping Throk in the black site interrogation chamber, but foreshadow Narti’s fate as well? After all, Keith later mentions that “Ranveig found the creature in the quantum abyss and experimented on it with Lotor’s quintessence”. How did the creature (Narti) end up in the Quantum abyss? That is a place that only Lotor knew about at that point in the story. Maybe Narti ended up at a “black site” in the Quantum abyss, to be interrogated by Lotor, as a story counterpart to Haggar’s interrogation of Throk? And from there things went really wrong, we don’t know more details.
But it’s interesting to notice the “creature” has no name. All animals in the show (including Keith’s wolf, although someone else named it for him, to his reluctance) have a name. Kova the cat got its name at Lotor’s insistence, against Haggar’s will. This one does not. Why?
Also, Kova itself definitely has special powers. After all, it has been Honerva’s pet initially and has been enhanced with Quintessence and longevity. Then Lotor took it, and most likely developed a special bond with it. Then, Narti becomes its owner, creating a unique symbiosis. (which says a lot about Lotor’s trust in Narti, because he gave her his childhood cat).
I can only speculate what Kova’s powers are, but maybe this cat can store someone’s consciousness, memories, etc? (Narti’s, Honerva’s, Lotor’s?) The reason why I think so is also nested in S8:
Re-watch S8E2 (Shadows). At the beginning of the episode, Haggar arrives at the battle scene on Daibazaal, where Lotor was last seen. There, you can see the remnants of one of Lotor’s ships, and inside it, almost as if it’s inside an animal carcass, albeit wires and metal parts of a ship, we see a stray cat named Kova… (How did it get there?) Its eyes start glowing, and immediately after that, the episode blooms into an avalanche of Honerva’s memories! How interesting.
Later in the same episode, after taking the throne at the Kral Zera, Honerva travels back to the Quintessence rift, and with her ship facing planet Daibazaal, she performs another one of her magics, this time with… Kova the cat! Why? Because she wants to know what happened to her son, and Kova seems to know the secret! How? Unless, Kova somehow has access to Lotor’s consciousness? Watch what happens – Kova is placed on one of those arabesque-decorated mats in front of a ceremonial torch, and Honerva suddenly is sucked into a vortex of celestial imagery, culminating with seeing Lotor’s life moments and tragic destiny in rapid succession. Also, notice how after this, the cat and the torch disappear from the magical pentagon platform, replaced by rising motes of purple quintessence. Did Kova die after this? Not sure.
Also, I think (without much proof though) the Quintessence that the Komar extracted from Voltron in S1E13 (Blackout) is the one everyone is raving about across various subsequent episodes, searching for it, transporting it on unmarked ships, smuggling it throughout different places in the Universe, experimenting with it on the Narti “creature”… It’s the one Kolivan, Krolia and Keith are trying to trace, eventually leading them to the Quantum Abyss. After all, Haggar herself exclaimed while sucking it out of Voltron: “It’s pure Quintessence!!” Unusually potent. Perfect for turning Narti into an out of control beast. After all, that is what too much Quintessence (or a drug overdose, for all intents and purposes) does to someone. I suspect Lotor had something to do with the unmarked ships transporting that Quintessence into the Quantum Abyss (not out of it). There might be several reasons why he was taking it: to heal Narti… and to heal his pilots from his second colony. But this is another subject.
To conclude my long comment: as you said in this amazing article, nothing is thrown into the show for no reason. Narti is a key player in the Sincline team, the “heart” of the Sincline. Restoring the heart brings the team back to life and concludes their arc in a wonderful way.
I believe Kova also has his own arc. He is the magical element that binds together lots of characters story arcs. This mysterious creature is a key character, with more powers than we were let to see in the end. If someone had the time and talent to investigate Kova’s arc throughout the seasons, it would probably bring to light a lot of unexpected facts.
I really like your final thoughts on the Narti – Keith subplot. Yes, if the most emotional Shiro moment is missing and Narti’s arc is not resolved, I’m wondering, too, how these were supposed to be connected. I like where you’re going with this.