From planning to posting, share your process for making creative content!
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RULES — When your work is tagged, show the process of its creation from planning to posting, then tag 5 people with a specific link to one of their creative works you’d like to see the process of. Use the tag #showyourprocess so we can find yours!
Thank you so much for tagging me @lan-xichens, I’ll try my best to explain how I made this set from start to finish hehe ♡ and also a big thank you to @suibianjie @highwarlockkareena @nyx4 @aheartfullofjolllly and you as well Kris for putting this all together! Content creators get a lot less recognition than they deserve for all the time they put into their content, so getting everyone to see the (sometimes excessive) process we all go through to put our content in our blog, I hope it creates a positive change!! 💖
The set in question was actually requested by someone so they could celebrate their friend’s birthday! At first I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to be able to finish it on time (college is very hectic right now) but I was able to finish it three days before the deadline which was may 1st! ^-^
The first thing I did was decide what characters I wanted to use in the set, I first reached out to the person who requested the set if there were certain characters they wanted me to use but they said they didn’t know enough to really give me any directives outside of the quote. I decided, since the quote is applicable to the entirety of the show, that I would try to put in as many characters as possible.
Thus, of course, came the hunting for scenes. Those of you in the net discord surely know I came into the content help channel a few times to ask for certain scenes here and there, and eventually I had to download an additional 10 episodes to the back then 20 or so episodes I had in my CQL episodes folder.
As you can see I have 30 random episodes of CQL downloaded (slowly but surely getting to the point where I have all 50 episodes downloaded) and I think I ended up using scenes out of at least 20 of those episodes.
I planned out beforehand what characters I would use per gif. I knew obviously I would start out with Wangxian, them being the main characters of the show, and then would work my way down the list. The second gif consists of Nie Huaisang, Nie Mingjue, Jin Zixuan, Jiang Yanli, Wen Qing, and Wen Ning. They’re all family pairings, two being siblings and one being a married couple. The next gifset consists of the Yi City characters, then the fourth gif consists of the juniors, and the final gif has Jin Guangyao, Mianmian, Jiang Cheng, and Lan Xichen in it.
I have to admit though that when I had made the first four gifs I’d forgotten who I would put in the last gif and the when I thought about it the first time around I could only think of Lan Qiren and the very cursed Yaoyang ship 😭 it was only at dinner time that same day that I remembered I hadn’t put Jiang Cheng in my gifset yet and that’s when I thought of the other characters as well.
I had already made my first two gifs when I went to check Hanyi’s blog for layout inspo and eventually I decided I wanted to try a triangle-ish layout, which I doodled below. I eventually ended up changing the layout of the last gif in the final design. It was also the first time I would work with a triangle-ish layout so I was a bit nervous as I was scared it wasn’t going to work out...
I use Avisynth 2.5 and Adobe Photoshop 2021 (the paid version, unfortunately, I need it for school except I didn’t need it this year but I wanted it so I paid for it with my own money ouch) to make my gifsets! I always start out with trimming down all the scenes I’m going to use into three to five second videos and putting them through Avisynth. This time around I did it separately for each gif I made, simply because I needed so many scenes. I would include a screenshot of my “gif vids” and “temp” folders but I’ve already deleted all the videos, which is what I usually do immediately after a set is posted.
I’ll try my best explaining this gif by gif since each one had a different layout!
I think I had up to five different designs of this gif 😭 it started out with the gif on the left originally being more centered and the quote right smack in the center but somehow it felt a bit too... empty? I changed up the design and pulled the gif over to the right and put the two closeups on the left, the exact opposite of the gif I eventually ended up with. I switched things around one more time and saved the gif as you can see it right now, except I didn’t include the lines yet. It was only as I finished up my fourth gif that I decided this gif needed lines as well so I added them ^-^
2.2 Nie Huaisang, Nie Mingjue, Jin Zixuan, Jiang Yanli, Wen Qing, and Wen Ning
I got the inspiration for the font layout on this gif from this Wenzhou post! I hadn’t tried it before and when I did for this gif I was very happy with the way it turned out :D I wanted to portray that life is a pile of good and bad things, as the quote says, in CQL by mirroring these happy scenes side by side with the sad scenes
2.3 Yi CIty
My first time working with the triangle layout!! Putting in the lines and making sure they would line up with the second gif took me the longest of all actually 😭 I think once I got the line on the left in I just copy pasted it and flipped it horizontally so I didn’t have to fiddle around with angling it anymore :’) my original idea was to get a happy Song Lan scene and a sad A-Qing scene, but when I stumbled upon this A-Qing scene in ep38 I just had to put it in there because her smile is so precious 🥺 Xue Yang and Xiao Xingchen in the center are also supposed to be mirrored, with Xue Yang embodying the “bad things” and Xiao Xingchen the “good things” ! I also think the Yi City characters fit this part of the quote very well!!
2.4 The Juniors
Ah yes, the junior quartet!! :D I had this planned out from the very beginning, that I would include happy versus sad juniors in the “vice versa” part of the quote, and I think it worked out quite well! My first idea was to put the “vice versa” completely in the special font and have it typed out over the gifs like I did with the “vice” but as I typed out the “versa” I realized it had one letter too much to be able to do that 😭😭 it took me a while to come up with how I would position the “but” and “versa” and after some moving around I decided to just place them the way I did in the final gif! For the font, I duplicated the “vice” and added a stroke to the duplicate, then I changed the fill setting to 0% so I could slightly drag the duplicate away from the original layer to create the effect that’s in the gif — also, finding a scene in which Jin Ling smiles is really difficult.... he barely even smiles in the scene I ended up using :(
2.5 Jin Guangyao, Mianmian, Jiang Cheng, and Lan Xichen
The final gif!! I feel like this might come a little across as “I promise I didn’t forget these characters” because they’re a very odd quadruplet to put together, but they were the most important characters left to put in the set! I was thinking of putting Nie Mingjue in here together with Jin Guangyao and Lan Xichen, but I did feel he fit more with his brother up in the second gif. Mei @mylastbraincql cheered me on making this gif for which I was very grateful :D <3 the layout came to be after I googled “how to evenly split a rectangle in four” because I didn’t want a repeat layout in the set (*/∇＼*)
For the coloring I pretty much did all of the tweaking on the first gif and then copy pasted all of it onto the second, third, fourth, and fifth gif. This is usually the way I go about my coloring, I will always edit certain gifs if necessary but I don’t think I had to change the coloring much on any of these gifs? Maybe I added in a curve layer here and there, but nothing major! This is really one of my preferred coloring styles, even though I try to step outside of my comfort zones with other sets ^-^
I will always upload sets into my drafts and edit the caption in there as well, clicking on “preview post” a couple times to check everything looks good on my blog as well, before I post a set. However, this time, since there was a deadline and I finished before the deadline, I put this set in the queue so it would automatically post on the 1st of may! Knowing myself, I would’ve forgotten to do so </3
Whew that was... a lot 😭 did it make any sense? Probably not, but it was fun to ramble （ ´∀｀）
@blinkplnk with this set !
@wuxien with this set !
@wendashanren with this set !
@wanyinxichen with this set !
@yibobibo with this set !
@mylastbraincql with this set !
@sugarbabywenkexing with this set !
@yiling-recesses with this set !
@jiancheng with this set !
Please feel totally free to ignore this if you’ve already been tagged and don’t want to do it again!! <3
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If you don't mind me asking, what do you find so bad? I mean, I can see rushed and incomplete plots plus plot holes with my novice eyes, but what do the eyes of a master see? And on the flip, what good do you see? I'm curious because it seems to me that you are a meticulous, scrupulous type and I find it an experience to try and see something from someone else's pov, especially when said person has more skill or knowledge than me. I'm not saying they're always right though. Just, different.
Agreed–I definitely don’t want to go around suggesting that my way of viewing things is somehow better or more right than anyone else’s; everyone sees things differently, and obviously the Voltron writers have a very specific vision in mind for their own story. I’m sure they have a whole creative process and plan that we, the fans, are just not privy to. When the show is complete, I think it will be a lot easier for people to build a more accurate critique of its writing as a whole, more so than we can or probably should right now.
However, yes, there were big problems with season five for me. For me, all these problems are linked to the overarching issues that have been building with Voltron’s narrative since season 2, but in the interest of time (and the fact that I just don’t really have any), I can only talk about season five right now. I’ve put the details under a cut to avoid spoiling anyone who doesn’t want to see.
Long post is long, friends!
My Major Concerns with Voltron’s Season Five Writing:
My first, and biggest concern (the concern on which most of my other worrisome points hinge) is the absolutely rip-raging Idiot Plot we are currently building up to.
An Idiot Plot occurs when the events of a plot can only happen in the way they do because the characters–sometimes literally every single character in the show–are being absolute idiots. Pausing for even one moment to apply common sense to the situation would unravel the entire plot and completely undo any need for the complex, twisting, dramatic narrative the writers have planned. All it takes to destroy Idiot Plots is one character rubbing two brain cells together, which becomes particularly offensive when your show is supposed to feature multiple geniuses in its cast…
Idiot Plots frequently leave the audience sitting there, squinting at their TV screens, wondering “How in the world can these characters not see what’s going on here?” or “Why would they not just do X instead?” Anyone with any capability for deductive reasoning can see what is coming a mile away, but there’s nothing the audience can do with that knowledge, resulting in frustrated viewers who, despite recognizing the futility and stupidity of the characters’ actions, are powerless to change the characters’ pointless courses of action.
Sometimes this can be an example of great writing. Greek tragedies thrived on this trope. Tragedy as a genre almost entirely hinges on viewers recognizing the futility of a character’s struggle, and yet deeply sympathizing with that character even while watching their plot implode. Idiot Plots used for comedic effect can be extremely hilarious. And Idiot Plots do happen in real life–incredibly smart people miss obvious details all the time in real life. Everything is clearer in hindsight.
BUT. In a work of fiction, especially something like science fiction (which already requires a massive suspension of disbelief), Idiot Plots can feel beyond contrived–in fact, they can veer quickly into downright insulting to viewers–because there is simply no excuse for the characters to be so stupid. Let’s leave Keith’s inability to recognize his mother aside for a second. That moment in the show is actually the least offensive example of this happening in season five, given that there’s at least precedent for Keith not being able to pick up on obvious social and visual clues around him, whatever your personal headcanon for that reason. Let’s just talk about everyone else.
Even if we suggest that Lotor, Allura, Haggar, and Coran are all of simply average intellect (something which the Voltron writers go out of their way repeatedly to suggest is not true–at the very least, Lotor and Haggar are both implied to be geniuses, Allura is implied to have incredible intuition, and Coran has seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of the universe), there is no way that they should not have been able to put together the threads of events going on around them with all the glaringly obvious clues being flashed in front of their faces.
Let me just list some of this out:
1) Why was Allura surprised to find out that Haggar was Altean? Thanks to Coran’s backstory explanation at the end of season three, we know that both Allura and Coran know that Honerva was resurrected with Zarkon. There’s no way that they–or any Alteans around at the time–would have missed the fact that BOTH the Galra king and queen were seemingly miraculously resurrected postmortem. Furthermore, if Allura and Coran had any sort of knowledge of the Galra prior to the war–in fact, if they had any knowledge of their own people’s powers!!–they would have recognized that the things the Galra were doing (namely the Komar experiment) basically screamed “corrupted Altean.” The Komar experiment to draw out an entire planet’s quintessence? Harvesting quintessence in the first place, which season five tells us was a process specifically discovered by Honerva? Really guys?
Even worse: it’s not until season five that Allura even begins to HINT that she believes Haggar is Honerva. ALL the other Alteans are DEAD, who else could the living zombie-esque Altean at Zarkon’s right-hand POSSIBLY BE???
Then it just compounds from there:
2) How could Allura not immediately see that Lotor was Honerva’s son? She has every single piece of information she needed to draw this conclusion: 1) She knows that Honerva was married to Zarkon; 2) She knows that Honerva was resurrected with Zarkon; 3) She knows that Zarkon has an Altean woman at his right-hand; 4) She knows that people connected to Zarkon can be immortal; 5) She knows that Lotor has white hair, pointed ears, and is smaller in stature than normal Galra, suggesting at the bare minimum that he might be mixed; 6) She knows Lotor can read Altean (he uses the castle-ship’s computer system, which is written in Altean). If she could identify Haggar as Altean at a glance in the middle of a battle, it makes no sense that she looked at Lotor and didn’t immediately think “Altean.” There is no way that anyone in their right mind would mistake him for anyone else’s son. There’s just no excuse for this.
3) How could Lotor not recognize, after reviewing all of his mother’s research, that something went horribly wrong and he probably shouldn’t pursue the same path? Let’s just leave aside the issue of Lotor possibly not knowing that Haggar is his mother. I’m going to err on the side of friendliness to the writers and assume that they’re implying Lotor just has a serious case of denial, and that he does know that Haggar is his mother but refuses to accept it. It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s NOT the case, and the writers really DID write him as an incurable idiot who can’t draw a basic logical conclusion, but I’m trying to be nice here. So let’s look at a separate example of Lotor being outrageously dumb:
Via the laboratory on the Galra central command ship, Lotor has access to Honerva’s research, enough of it that he can actually read her descent into madness, which I presume means that he knows not only about the quintessence that was drawn from the rift–and its effects on Kova, for example–but also about the rift creatures that Honerva was working with, their violence, and (given the fact that he explicitly mentions Honerva’s notes becoming paranoid), likely also her fears about being stopped by Alfor or anyone else.
And seriously, he recognizes that his mother’s notes are growing increasingly twisted and paranoid but he still insists that Honerva and Haggar are not the same person, despite the fact that WE know he knows Haggar isn’t Galra? REALLY?
We viewers are honestly supposed to believe that, after reviewing all this material, armed with either the knowledge that his mother died trying to finish this research or the knowledge that the research turned her into the corrupted shell of a monster that is Haggar–that a genius like Lotor read these notes and thought “Finishing this research sounds like a great idea!” and “The quintessence in the rift couldn’t possibly have any negative effects on people; we should harvest it right away!” or even “There are horrific, inexplicable monsters in the rift. I think we should definitely go there!”
The only way that Lotor’s desire to continue his mother’s research (despite seeing how it drove her to madness) makes any sense is if he is doing it intentionally–that he knows the rift is evil and that its quintessence is utterly corrosive to the soul but he wants that power anyway.
The alternative is that he’s literally too stupid to look at Honerva’s sanity collapsing before his very eyes and recognize that there’s a connection between that and her quintessence research.
So either he’s evil or he’s an unspeakable idiot. Place your bets now!
4) Why would Allura LET Lotor try to follow in Honerva’s footsteps when she has guaranteed, for-sure knowledge that doing so is what destroyed the Galra home world, resulted in Zarkon becoming a zombie, and led to the war that wiped out her entire people? We know, from Coran’s story, that Coran at the very least had knowledge of what happened to spark the war and what Zarkon did, betraying his fellow paladins by dragging them into the rift in a desperate attempt to save Honerva from her own imminent quintessence-addicted collapse. We know that Allura, who listened to Coran’s story, also knows these things. Allura knows that Honerva’s research turned her cat immortal. Allura knows that Honerva became horrifically addicted to the quintessence. Allura knows that Zarkon going into the rift is what killed both he and Honerva. Allura knows there are unspeakable monsters in the rift that attacked the paladins of old. Allura knows that her father actually believed the ONLY way to stop the danger of the rift was to BLOW UP the entire Galra home world. And yet never, all in their season five bonding time together, did she bother to try to tell Lotor any of this? To find out how much he knows about the shared pasts of their people?
She didn’t at any point bother to tell him, “Yeah hey, your mom’s notes are growing more paranoid because she was a quintessence addict who became obsessed with the rift at the cost of her own life, her husband’s life, the Galra home planet, and what could have been the entire universe if the rift monsters were released!” ...Really?
She didn’t even bother to suggest that maybe they shouldn’t screw around with Honerva’s research and in her old laboratory at all, because HEY, MAYBE THIS STUFF IS DANGEROUS!
Anyone with any degree of reasoning should be able to connect these dots. Allura should be jumping the gun to stop Lotor from going down the destructive path that his mother followed–if only to save her own team’s skin.
There has to be a limit on how useless and unwilling to communicate a character can be.
5) How could Haggar not have drawn the assumption that Lotor is her son? Even if we work under the assumption that she has no memory of what happened in the early years, that she entirely forgot being pregnant, like… who else’s son could Lotor possibly be? Even before remembering that Lotor was her own son, she knew Lotor was a “half-breed.” She knew he was Zarkon’s son and that Zarkon apparently, at least from all the indications we’ve been given, spends time with no non-Galra women except for her. Furthermore, we see her remembering being Altean, we see her remembering being married to Zarkon… We know that Lotor, who has been repeatedly spied on by Haggar, claims he is Altean, researches his Altean heritage, and states out loud to multiple people that Honerva is his mother… And none of this sparks a single moment of “Oh crap, maybe Zarkon’s son who literally has my exact same hair color and other decidedly Altean traits could possibly also be MY son?” She had to have an entirely separate flashback just to make this connection? Come on Haggy, I thought you were supposed to be one of Altea’s best alchemists!
6) Was Alfor literally so much of a dick that he went to Oriande, learned all the secrets of ancient Altean alchemy… and then let all the other Altean alchemists struggle on without those secrets, believing that Oriande was a fairytale? Like, it’s one thing to suggest that he went to Oriande and realized the secrets were too precious or dangerous to share with others. That’s fine and would make sense. But for him to just never say anything about it at all to anyone else? Like he really just stood there and let the other Altean alchemists hunt for Oriande for years? All: >_> “Oh Oriande? Nah, nope, no way, neverrrrr heard of it.” Not only that, but there’s a guardian on Oriande that supposedly will protect the secrets from those who are unworthy. So why not tell ALL the Altean alchemists about it, let them all come to Oriande and give it a shot to see if they’re worthy of the secrets? It seems utterly nonsensical to not only deliberately handicap one’s own people but to actively mislead them about the mere existence of the place, to the point that his own daughter–who would presumably have one day walked in his shoes as Altea’s premier alchemist–thought the place was nothing but a fairy tale.
Seriously, think about: If Lotor hadn’t convinced Allura to look for Oriande, the secrets of Altean alchemy would be gone forever, because Alfor didn’t bother to tell his daughter--who he cyro-froze with the hope that she’d survive to achieve great things in the future--that the damn place wasn’t a fairy tale. ...Should the ancient Alteans really have entrusted this guy with the management of their super-special secrets?
It makes no sense, except as a plot device allowing them to suddenly power up Allura without having to foreshadow or give any actual, solid backstory for the power up.
7) Why would Lotor approach the white lion with the Galra “Victory or death!” mindset? On the surface, this one seems to make sense: he’s been raised with that mindset, it’s his natural flight-or-fight response kicking in, he panicked and defaulted to the only way of life he knew. And that’s all wonderfully tragic and traumatic and yes, yes, we love poor abused Lotor; he didn’t mean to kill the lion! He’s still worthy! Except… He states for himself that he’s spent centuries researching Altean history, beliefs, alchemy, etc. etc. He tells the whole heart-breaking story about trying to harvest quintessence responsibly from a planet and get to know their people, beliefs, and lifestyle right before approaching the white lion. Allura talks to him all about the “life givers,” the origins of Altean alchemy right before they confront the lion. He sees her stand up to the statue guard and come to no harm. Are you telling me, that after centuries of researching this people, centuries of learning about their hippy-esque peace and harmony first beliefs, Lotor couldn’t have possibly thought “Maybe this is a test and I shouldn’t attack the lion?” He even explicitly states himself that the lion is a guardian, not a monster.
I agree with the conclusion that Lotor attacked the lion because that’s what he knows. We’ve seen him panic and lash out to defend himself before. However, considering how horribly that one went for him last time, and considering that this is a situation in which he supposedly had hundreds of years to become more familiar with an Altean mindset, the fact that the writers didn’t give us any sign of him struggling with the idea that the Galra way is probably not the right way to approach this feels like a fumble to me. I think this scene would have been far more effective if we had seen Lotor recognize that he’s supposed to trust the lion–recognize that this ISN’T a victory or death moment–and then still not be able to turn off his ingrained fear and defense mechanisms. If he had lowered his sword–had a moment of trying give his life over to the lion, only to then panic and fight back at the last second because he’s still not quite capable of escaping his own cruel upbringing, that, to me, would have been far more realistic and effective.
To make a longgggg story even longer, even the Blade of Marmora plotline from season five wasn’t safe from this:
8) Why in the world did Team Voltron and the Blade of Marmora not communicate about their plans for the Kral Zera? This is probably the biggest plot hole in season five, to be honest. These two allied groups, both with a massive vested interest in taking down the Galra Empire, didn’t bother to get together to check that they didn’t have opposing plans for the Kral Zera? If Team Voltron had bothered to check in with the Blade of Marmora, they would have known that the Blade was planning to murder everyone who gathered for the Kral Zera, which would have resulted in essentially a total KO of all the evilest people in the empire at once, single-handedly removing all the largest threats to Lotor’s possible reign. After the destruction of all that competition, Lotor could have easily swept in and assumed command of a broken, leaderless people, WITHOUT sparking civil war or needing to bring the Black Lion and Voltron to the Galra.
It makes absolutely no sense–NO SENSE–that the Blade and Team Voltron wouldn’t work together at that point to find the best course of action. This is an absolute Idiot Plot in action. The only reason the entire Kral Zera episode happened is because every single one of the characters–including the four or five supposed geniuses on Team Voltron–were too stupid to pick up a comm and just call their supposedly close allies.
9) Does Kolivan know that Krolia is Keith’s mother–and if so, what did he gain by hiding that knowledge from Keith? I said I’d give Keith a free pass on not recognizing his own mother, but Kolivan will receive no such mercy from me. Either he’s an asshole who withheld information about Keith’s mother for seemingly no reason–or he’s an equally incurable idiot who, like everyone else this season, demonstrates an almost criminal inability to put two-and-two together. Kolivan is the leader of the Blades, so he should theoretically know or have access to information about: 1) Which Blades went on which missions; 2) Which Blades claim to have lost, given away, or otherwise came back from said missions without their luxite blades; 3) Which female Blades were away/out of contact with the Blade long enough to have given birth to a child; 4) Which female Blades match both criteria three and four: long enough to have had a child and came back without a blade; 5) What Krolia looks like compared to Keith–Keith might get a “face blindness” pass, but is Kolivan really blind enough to have missed the very, very visible clues?
And this is also assuming that Kolivan can’t just actually recognize the transformed blades of his members–given that they are all unique, it’s possible that he should have been able to go “Oh hey, you know what, that looks like Krolia’s blade now that I think about it” when Keith first transformed it…
All in all, there’s almost no situation in which it makes sense for Kolivan not to know that Krolia is Keith’s mother. The whole “Don’t let your feelings get in the way” warning before the mission also lends itself, at least in part, to the idea that Kolivan knew that Keith’s feelings might get personally invested in this mission because he knew that he was sending Keith after his own mother.
So why in the world would he withhold that information from Keith? There was nothing to be gained by that. If it was ensure Krolia’s safety, he could have just told Keith “I know who and where your mother is, but I can’t reunite you yet because she’s on a dangerous spy mission. When it’s time to extract her, I’ll send you so that you can be the first to welcome her home.” There was nothing Keith could have done to jeopardize Krolia’s mission without first receiving information on her specific coordinates from Kolivan, so choosing NOT to tell Keith about his mother just comes across as a completely asshole-ish move that serves no purpose.
And if there was some reason for maintaining Krolia’s secrecy, then where did it go all of the sudden after Kral Zera? Why would Kolivan suddenly change his mind and send Keith on a dangerous solo mission to retrieve his mom, after keeping the secret of her existence from him for months?
It makes no sense. So either Kolivan is a huge jerk for minimal reason… Or he’s as much of a glaring idiot as everyone else this season. More bets to place!
As I mentioned up at the top here, Idiot Plots can work. When writers trick the audience into missing something seemingly obvious, only to reveal it dramatically later on, it can make for a huge player punch that has a massive emotional payout. Idiot Plots can be funny and heartbreaking–when that’s what they were really and truly intended to be.
I don’t think that that’s the case with Voltron. Instead, I personally feel like we’re seeing the Idiot Plot for the worst possible reason: the writers have an end goal they want the plot to reach, and they’re willing to sacrifice the intelligence and integrity of their own characters to get there.
One of the primary causes of Idiot Plot is a central problem I’ve perceived occurring in the Voltron story since season two: instead of the plot being driven by the characters, the characters are being used as tools by the plot. The actions that the characters are taking aren’t realistic–they aren’t “true” to the characters the writers have built or to common sense. Instead, the characters’ actions are all taking place because the plot needs them to:
1) Lotor needs to pursue his mother’s research, so he will, even though a real man with his intellect in his place would realize something is wrong and stop.
2) Allura needs to not reveal any truth about the past to Lotor, despite the fact that any reasonable real woman in her position would immediately share the important information she has.
3) The Blade of Marmora and Team Voltron need to not communicate on this one particular occasion because Lotor needs to take the Black Lion to the Galra.
4) Kolivan needs to not tell Keith about his mother so that Keith can have a dramatic reveal scene on his own.
5) Lotor needs to fail the white lion’s challenge despite ostensibly knowing more about it and the legend of Oriande than Allura.
When logic is made a sacrifice on the altar so that one’s plot can proceed as planned, it can quickly become grating to fans. These slow reveals of “Who is Honerva’s son?” “What happened in the past with Zarkon?” and even “Are you my mother?” can start to feel entirely condescending to the audience–it’s almost like the creators don’t think the audience is smart enough to draw these connections on their own, and so they’re deliberately going out of their way and wasting precious screen time to make these things IMPOSSIBLE for any viewer to miss.
Voltron is supposedly a kids show. I get it. But are there really any 7+ year old children who aren’t smart enough to see the basic, blatant signs like Haggar being Lotor’s mother? Really? At this point, I would argue that the writers are (at best!) badly talking down to their audience, underestimating the intelligence of children. Like, compare the almost over-obvious nature of the reveals in Voltron to the writing of another similar kid’s show, say Trollhunters, and the sheer idiocy of the Voltron characters becomes stark and irritating. Even kids should be pointing at their screens in season five asking how Haggar couldn’t realize she’s Lotor’s mom.
At worst, the Voltron writers are now so beholden to their central plot line that they just don’t care how badly they have to compromise both logic and the characters they themselves created in order to ensure their Idiot Plot comes to fruition. It definitely feels like, at this point, the writers are willing to throw out any traits, any degree of intelligence, any amount of basic reasoning in order to pursue the series of events they want to occur. It doesn’t matter that characters are being flanderized left and right (seriously, Kolivan is a mere shadow of his season two self at this point). It doesn’t matter that the IQs of supposedly genius characters are leaping off of logic cliffs in the background. It doesn’t matter that basic laws of their own universe are being ignored (nigh unkillable centuries-old possessed zombie king in a suit of armor infused with the essence of life versus one (1) boy with one (1) stick–who will win?! The answer might surprise you! …Or it might not, since the plot needed Zarkon gone…) The plot HAS TO GO HERE because IT HAS TO, that’s that.
When characters become tools for the plot–rather than the plot being driven by actions that logically stem from the characters themselves–there’s no sense of authenticity or coherency to the narrative. Any character could do anything at any moment, and there’s no way to claim “That doesn’t seem like something this person would do…”
Because there are no real characters, just vehicles for moving a story along.
Like I said, I don’t want to claim I know better than the professional writers getting paid to put this show together. But making sure that your plot is driven by actions that feel genuine, reasonable, and don’t violently infringe on the personality and traits you’re trying to claim your characters have… This is something basic they teach you in year one of creative writing. Even in a situation where the plot has to drive a character’s actions to advance the story, it should be done in a subtle or at least clever enough way to evoke a willing suspension of disbelief, for the viewers to go “This was a bad choice on Character X’s behalf, but I can see why the character had to do that. It makes sense.”
Voltron is not at that point. The characters are just idly passing the Idiot Ball around and around so that the plot moves forward, undermining not only any sense of agency these characters might have had, but also just the basic traits the writers are trying to convince us the characters have: that these people are smart, capable, strong, etc. etc.
And that’s absolutely my biggest gripe with season five–and really every season since about season two.
There are definitely other very serious issues:
1) What do the writers have against interiority? Seriously, NONE of these characters are allowed to have any serious or meaningful emotional reactions to anything. We get about one emotional high point a season and then POOF, we’re back to everyone shrugging off everything that happens with zero discussion. Have you noticed that none of the characters ever think things? We almost never, ever get any voice-over interior monologues. The characters either speak out loud or they’re completely blank slates in the background of a scene. THEY DON’T HAVE THOUGHTS. This is bizarre and jarring and basically single-handedly the reason people claim Lance, Hunk, and others aren’t getting any “character development”–they have no interior life.
2) Oh lord that pacing. Why did they bother to draw Zarkon a whole new suit of armor to be used in two episodes? Sam Holt was there and gone in an eye-blink. Sendak came back for a dramatic, over-hyped fight scene that lasted five minutes and had zero impact on Lotor’s character. Lance got a sword that I’m sure will be important later but had absolutely no bearing on this season. The plot line with the super weapon monster popped into existence and ended in less than ten minutes. Yes, yes, I recognize that most of these things will surely be coming back in the future, and that especially the half-season type structure we’ve been getting is terrible for setting things up and then having to drop them until later (clone Shiro plot line, I AM looking at you…), but I think we all have enough experience with the writers by this point to know that sometimes when they drop things like this… They just drop them, period. They don’t come back. It’s not a set up for something bigger. It’s just poor pacing.
3) The story has too many characters. They need to stop introducing new people, badly. There’s just no more room for them in the story, and every season that goes by makes it clearer and clearer that the writers really don’t know how to handle the number of characters they signed themselves up for. Hunk was completely unnecessary in this season. Lance was reduced to a background annoyance. Does Kolivan like… have a reason for still being alive other than to grumpily remind Keith that “the mission is more important”? What ever happened to Slav? Because the characters are tools to move the plot, rather than the other way around, we’re getting to a point where everyone feels more like an action figure than a person–the writers pick them up out of the toy chest when they feel like using them, then discard them immediately afterward. It’s irritating.
Given that I think this post is approaching 5000 words already, I’m just going to stop there. That’s enough raging on my part already, I think, to get a good sense of my thought process while trying to watch this show. I love these characters–I love the IDEAS–but I hate that I watch the show and feel like there are ways the whole thing could be better. It’s an awful feeling to have, really.
As far as things that were good this season… Lotor’s ambiguity is one of the only things that is really keeping my interest at this point. The true shining achievement of season five is that, after all those episodes centered on him, it’s still not clear where his allegiances lie–and the way they’ve crafted it, it’s really going to be an all-or-nothing scenario. This plot line is hanging by a thread, very tightly wound: it’s either going to turn out that he is a tragic, overly-idealistic good boy who does care about Allura and does want to bring peace to the universe even though I’m sure his methods are going to turn out to be terribly wrong–OR he’s absolutely wickedly, wonderfully, unrepentingly evil and every soft smile and encouraging word he gave Allura this season was dripping in secret contempt, rife with the intention to manipulate her every move in a way that would actually be deeply disturbing for a children’s show. Now that’s some good shit right there. Mmhhmmm, A++++. This tension–and the fact that fans are convincingly building cases both for and against Lotor–is probably the only truly powerful thing to come out of season five.
But will the pay-off meet expectations? I’m honestly pretty doubtful.
Other than that, hoo-boy, Lotor/Allura is aesthetic goals, man. They look and feel good together. While I’m personally on Team “I actually hope he’s terribly evil because the alternative is that he’s a massive idiot,” I am definitely not immune to the classic siren song of a “beautiful prince meets beautiful princess and they live happily ever after” pairing. They are also some of the ONLY convincing romantic chemistry the show has managed to give us for Allura so far, at least in my opinion. Keith’s season two interactions with Allura, for example, are truly cringe-worthy in comparison.
Also, I would say the entire Lotor/Allura plot line is refreshing in the sense that it implies nothing the EPs say can actually be trusted. Their comment that they wanted to wait on romance, let it play out later, etc., and then hitting viewers with this season, gives me hope that many of their other comments (such as that Shiro was just supposed to be a vehicle to get Keith to leadership) are just sort of lead-ons and not really accurate indications of what is still to come in the show.
PHEW, TADA! My thoughts! Is anyone still actually reading? I’m sorry that was so long… I’m been sitting on a mountain of salt since season three. XD
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