R&A Commentary: Launch Date
Welcome to Team Purple Lion’s reconstruction of VLD Season 8, Rise and Atone. Thank you for watching Episode 1 and if you haven’t, a link to the video and comic pages themselves is below. While we all work on Episode 3 Genesis we are happy to present to you our commentary on Launch Date and commentary on Episode 2 Prisoner’s Dilemma will be uploaded in the near future. As always, Team Purple Lion ourselves and Rise and Atone are entirely ship neutral, and this commentary is to provide an analysis of the plot structure and characters for educational and personal entertainment purposes only.
The Keith and Shiro scene wasn’t originally conceptualized as going here in particular. When we started our metas about S8, we knew that Keith and Shiro’s arc was missing, but didn’t have a clear idea about where all it should go. It was sortof nebulous like Shadows until we had more information. But it was actually pointed out to us that there was some kind of glitch in the background. An object was messing with the tracking. So we looked further into that and sure enough the object in question was the right size and shape to have been a person. Who is it probably? Well… gazing at the sunset is something Keith and Shiro used to do together so it stands to reason it would be Shiro.
Then we had to decide what they’d talk about here. When you’re writing, you want to get the most bang for your buck. That is to say, you want to fit the most information you can that moves the plot along into the smallest amount of space. So I had to think about what they’d have talked about that would have been necessary to cut. Well, when Lotor’s rebirth was removed from the plot it took out all the stuff that’s involves Voltron being wrong to have left him in the rift. So since this is Episode 1, the exposition of our story, we want to reestablish some of our conflict from the last season. Here Keith as the leader of Voltron should already be starting to question his decision to leave Lotor, and it’s not because he necessarily feels bad for Lotor — yet. It’s because ever since then pretty much everything that could go wrong, has. And there’s some dramatic irony going on here because if you remember our Season 7 reconstruction from this summer, it actually ends on the cliffhanger of “omg Lotor was actually telling the truth and now Honerva has all these brand new mechs!” So Keith here is inadvertently giving the audience a little reminder that in fact, Team Voltron was wrong to leave Lotor in the Quintessence field, although Keith doesn’t realize just how wrong his decision was yet.
The other aspect we were working with here was closure to the Kuron and Shiro shared body experience. Who would Shiro talk to about the issues he’s been having coming to terms with that? Keith of course. They’re already talking here, so let’s have Shiro bring it up. And we get into a bit of heavy thematic material because Shiro’s doing something a lot of soldiers with traumatic experience do — he’s having a moment of wondering “was it worth it to survive?” We loved that they could give this tough, resilient warrior who’s always been the mentor and strength for everyone else a moment where he gets to open up and be vulnerable with the person he trusts above everyone. And of course Keith is here for him no matter what, so Keith is going to reassure him that no matter what’s happened he is important not only as a warrior but as a friend.
Our second scene to integrate back in was Pidge’s presence at the Allura and Lance date. LeakingHate is actually the one who caught that Pidge should be here. So early in the episode we know Pidge is grounded by her mom, Pidge has Beezor, Pidge is weirded out and then visually angry that Lance has asked Allura on a date. So in the scene published in Dec 2018 Beezor seems to come out of nowhere. Well, the logical conclusion here is that he’d be with Pidge, so our process here was to go “okay, why is Pidge out here? Pidge has probably been sent to do punishment work by her mom and she’s taken Beezor with her”.
Again, we’re in the exposition phase, so we want to start introducing ideas and themes that are going to come up again later in the season. Why does Beezor go out and take a picture for Allura and Lance if Pidge is put off by the idea of them dating? Well, it’s similar to her giving up her prized video game to get Allura a dress. This is Pidge showing love to her friends by putting their wants above her own. Pidge is angry because all this time Pidge has had feelings for Lance, so now when Allura is actually considering giving him a chance it is Not Cool. So what we’re specifically demonstrating here is the same thing the video game demonstrates. Pidge is mature enough that even though it sucks for her, if going on a date makes Allura and Lance happy, then Pidge is willing to put their happiness above her own. Pay attention because that exact same concept is going to be super important later in the story for Lance, who does not react graciously to other people showing interest in Allura. In fact, the last time someone was blocking him from his crush, that guy ended up left in the rift.
Let’s talk removal. You might notice we ended up removing the kiss from this episode. The reason it’s removed, beyond the odd animation, is because it was disruptive to narrative flow. When you’re writing you want to pay attention to how your scenes are building tension. This scene is building the tension, which needs to culminate in a break of tension. We actually played with leaving it in, but the bottom line was it just wasn’t making the scene flow as it should. So in the season published in December the kiss appears to be an afterthought in the way it’s visually added in. That’s because when you have Pidge showing up with Beezor and Beezor interrupting the kiss, that interruption breaks the tension, so it would be awkward to add basically a second high point. It pulls the rug out from under both breaks of tension. In the Dec 2018 season the kiss is the tension breaker. In the reconstruction Pidge showing up and having her freakout moment followed by a selfless action is the tension breaker. BUT. If you’ve taken out Pidge showing up with Beezor and then sending him put, you remove the payout to the tension that was building, so you have to add other payout. That’s how the kiss got there in the first place.
Now you might notice that some uncomfortable things were left in, such as Coran playing a 1950s patriarch in a Father’s Study to interview the young man for the date. And you might think, “But this is regressive! Why didn’t they take it out?” What we want you to keep in mind is that when you see something that we left in that seems to be over the top in its regressiveness, it’s because it is going to be specifically overturned later in the narrative. Just remember that characters need to have problems in the beginning of the story, and sometimes being proven wrong is part of their character as well as plot development.
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