After my 8-year-old son and I finished watching NickToons’ Voltron Force (Episode 4: Coran, Coran) on Thursday, he said something to me that was very profound about the show, and true of a lot of shows in general. He concluded that there is a distinct formula in these shows that is simple, yet effective. (1.) The Evil Villain starts the show by hatching a diabolical plan to put an end to our hero. (2.) Our hero spends most of the show in turmoil, fighting insurmountable odds at every turn, as the Evil Villain continues to have the upper hand. (3.) Just as the Evil Villain appears to strike the final blow, our hero, through the use of teamwork, special skills or powers, and clever thinking, defeats the Evil Villain’s plan, but not permanently keeping the Evil Villain from doing more harm in the future. (4.) Our hero has triumphed over the Evil Villain, and our hero feels he has learned something and become better from the experience, but remains vigilant, knowing there will be more conflicts yet to come. So does this formula hold up over time? And will it work in tonight’s episode?
Of course, my son put it simply, “Daddy, the bad guys always seem to be winning in the beginning, but the good guys always win at the end.” He figured it out after only 4 episodes. It took me 30 episodes of the original Voltron: Defenders of the Universe series to figure that out when I was 16. If we apply that same formula to Voltron Force (Episode 4:Coran, Coran), this is how it played out on Thursday Night (form Spoiler Alert Warning!):
1. Voltron Force’s old friend Coran, Royal Advisor of Allura, crash-lands at the Castle, but survives, and warns them about Sky Marshall Wade’s Secret Moon Base on Tarvos. Voltron Force (original team) take off in the Lions to go to the Moon Base, while the Cadets stay behind with Coran left in charge, even in his weakened state. When the team arrives at the base, they form Voltron and start to “shake off the rust” (hacking up the moon base with Blazing Sword), only to find out that Coran is being held captive on the base by Wade, and as such, if they were to destroy it, they would destroy their friend. Thus, part of the Evil Villain’s diabolical plan is discovered (But wait! There’s more!). Now, they aren’t sure which Coran is the real Coran, and if the one back at the castle is an imposter, why is he there? Regardless, they determine they have to save the captive Coran before the Moon falls apart because the Lunar Core was destabilizing (of course).
2. Evil Villain Wade, acting remotely, continues to throw things at Voltron Force to keep them from reaching Coran in time. Meanwhile, our Cadets go searching through the catacombs of the castle, only to find that their Coran is NOT the real Coran, but a cyborg bent on destroying the castle. They soon learn that this Cyborg Coran is a bomb that, when detonated at just the right location, can bring down the entire castle. Back at the moon base, the Lions start using their cool new Tail Upgrades (which were never tested, of course) to fend off the booby trap obstacles, as the moon continues to crumble, and Wade keeps badgering them over the com.
3. At the castle, Daniel and Larmina are trying to fight off the Cyborg Coran, to keep it from reaching the detonation point, and Vince is distracted by King Alfor (as a “ghost hologram”). King Alfor tells Daniel only he can save them, and he gives Vince a key for his Voltcom. Daniel and Larmina look like they’ve lost, but at the last possible second, Vince appears, and magically moves strategic blocks from the walls, and covers the Cyborg, just as it explodes, saving them and the castle. On the moon base, just as it appears our team might get to Coran, a pack of rusty lions, leftover from Wade’s reverse-engineering of Black Lion, challenges our hero. The team is able to defeat them, blast another one to free Coran, and escape from the moon before it explodes, just in the nick of time.
4. Voltron Force returns to the castle to find the Cadets have managed to save the castle from the Cyborg bomb. They all learned a little bit about teamwork, improved their skills, and thwarted the Evil Villain Wade’s destructive plan. The Evil Villain will be back in future episodes to try to destroy Voltron Force, but they will be ready.
This formula still works with a lot of different shows because it uses themes that we have all seen time and again: Good vs. Evil, Teamwork, Young Apprentices and Veteran Masters, Thinking on your feet while in an anxious situation, Never giving up, and Good always wins in the end.