Recently, Voltron: Legendary Defender executive producers Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery sat down with io9 to unpack some of the major revelations from the show’s sixth season and discuss where the paladins of Voltron are headed now. The seven-episode season that introduced new plot lines and neatly tied up others, but even dedicated fans were a little mystified by one major reveal — even if speculation had pinned it down months in advance.
[Warning: Major spoilers for season six of Voltron: Legendary Defender ahead.]
One subplot, seasons in the making, finally came to a head in season six. After disappearing from the Black Lion during a fight with Zarkon at the conclusion of the second season, Shiro returns after being presumably held captive by the Galra following the fight.
Since his return, he’s been acting strangely, most noticeably when he called out to Lance within Voltron’s spiritual realm (similar to what we see of the Black Lion’s consciousness) and then showed no memory of it after when Lance questioned him.
Shiro and Lance in Voltron’s spiritual realm.
Season six answered the questions and confirmed a major fan theory that has been floating around since Shiro’s return. The Shiro that’s been around since season three isn’t the real Shiro. Rather, he’s a clone that was allowed to escape with the purpose of infiltrating Team Voltron and eventually falling under total control of Haggar, the witch previously under the command of the now-deceased Emperor Zarkon. Even more shocking, however, was the fact that the real Shiro — our lovable, chivalrous, space dad and the Black Paladin of Voltron — physically died during the battle with Zarkon. His spirit has been trapped in the Black Lion’s consciousness since. Thankfully, Shiro was brought back into the physical world at the end of season six as Allura transferred his consciousness back into the clone’s body.
Aside from the confusion of clone Shiro (who fans referred to as “Kuron” while crafting theories) and real Shiro, questions still remained: was the clone actively conspiring against Voltron for four seasons? Why did the Black Lion accept it as its pilot, however temporarily?
Dos Santos and Montgomery cleared up this confusion. “I think what’s interesting about the Clone Shiro that we introduce is that he does have elements of a very genuine Shiro and he feels trapped by whatever darkness is surrounding him,” Dos Santos said. “When you see him in the previous series with Lance, that’s from a very genuinely confused place.”
Montgomery further clarifies that Clone Shiro never considered himself to be a duplicate and wasn’t aware at all of his clone status. “He wasn’t walking around with any ideas in the back of his head — he has no idea and he’s just living his life right up until the takeover happens.”
In short, Clone Shiro is just as genuine and motivated as the real Shiro and has no awareness of the fact that he’s, well … a clone. This explains why none of the paladins seemed to have any idea that Shiro had been replaced — aside from acting exactly like the real Shiro would, he genuinely believed that he was Shiro and was wholly dedicated to Voltron’s mission. Dos Santos raises an interesting point highlighting this: in season six’s one “filler” Dungeons & Dragons-esque episode, clone Shiro showcases the same goofy, straightforward nature we’ve come to expect from Shiro by choosing to play as a paladin over and over again despite the fact that he already is one in real life.
This explains why the Black Lion accepted clone Shiro as its pilot — while the Lion was able to sense that the clone wasn’t actually Shiro, it was able to sense his pure intentions that aligned with the original Shiro’s. Without other options for a pilot, the Black Lion accepted the clone. Montgomery elaborates, “Had Keith been there when the Black Lion needed a pilot, the Black Lion almost certainly would have chosen him, but because the team needed a Black Paladin, the Lion was able to make the decision to accept the clone because, well, he was available.”
In the interview, Dos Santos and Montgomery also discussed Pidge’s reveal in the first season — that she was a girl and not a boy — and unpacked Lotor’s villainous reveal that involved the biggest twist of the sixth season. Read the full interview for their answers.
Despite the new, condensed season structure (seasons three through six have been six- or seven-episode seasons as opposed thirteen like seasons one and two), the showrunners have been able to deftly balance a variety of storylines and subplots. And with the real Shiro back — even if he’s inhabiting the clone’s body — one thing is clear: Team Voltron is finally all together once again.