Taking Flight is the sixth episode of Season One.
Light of Hope
After the Castle of Lions is freed from Sendak's control and restored to power, Lance has been sleeping within a Sleep Pod to recuperate. His fellow Paladins impatiently wait outside of his pod, unsure of his status. Keith tries to awaken Lance from the pod, but Allura stops him because a few more "ticks" are needed. Keith does not understand how a few more "ticks" would even matter; this prompts a discussion of what a "tick" is compared to a "second" - a measurement the Alteans have never heard of. The team begins to compare the two very similar time-slices when Pidge brings out a clock and Coran brings out a "ticker".
While the team is huddled together watching the competition of which time-slice is faster, Lance awakens from the Sleep Pod and stumbles over in a daze and asks about what is happening. Hunk is initially annoyed that Lance ruined the competition by distracting everyone but embraces him strongly thereafter—The team is overjoyed to see Lance has recovered. The Blue Paladin has no recollection of the events after the Galra bomb drone exploded in the Castle, so Allura offers to tell him about everything once he has eaten. To her annoyance, Lance jokes that she is asking him out on a date. This leaves the team satisfied that Lance is well if he is exhibiting his usual behavior, albeit equally unimpressed by it.
The team moves to the Dining Hall to allow Lance to eat and to inform him of what transpired after the initial explosion knocked him unconscious. From what he is told, Lance is thankful for everyone's hard work, but is led to believe that Keith did little to assist defeating Sendak aside from delivering a punch after Lance "shot off" the Galra commander's prosthetic gauntlet when he temporarily awoke. (This is entirely untrue.) Keith appears indignant, and seems personally offended Lance does not remember their "bonding moment" where the Red Paladin claims he cradled his fellow teammate in his arms. Lance is dismissive of it ever happening and pushes the conversation to the fate of Sendak.
Allura explains that Sendak is frozen in a cryo-pod elsewhere in the Castle of Lions, as he is too dangerous to be set free and may have useful information about the Galra Empire that they can extract from him. Lance questions what their next step is, and Hunk declares they must return to the Balmera to save Shay and the Balmerans from Zarkon's rule. Lance is immediately impressed by Hunk's resolute demeanor that contrasts with his usual nervousness, but thinks it is only because of a girl. Hunk explains the severity of what he has witnessed, how the Balmerans have no concept of being free, and now he understands that being a Paladin of Voltron means setting things right. The Yellow Paladin believes it is time for them to "man up".
The phrase causes Pidge to frown. As the team begins to leave the Dining Hall, she stops them to reveal her true gender: that of a girl. She claims she cannot "man up" because of this, but corrects herself that it is just a phrase and that she need only be tough. Lance interrupts her rambling with an exclamation of sheer, flabbergasted disbelief as he had been completely fooled into thinking she was a boy. The rest of the team admits they all already figured out Pidge's gender beforehand or never believed she was a boy to begin with. Shiro tells Pidge that owning who she is will make her a better Paladin; Pidge sighs in relief from being accepted as her true self and runs off with the rest of the team to prepare for launch of the Castleship. Lance remains behind, perplexed by Pidge's reveal, and by how the Castle is suddenly also a ship.
The team their places in the Bridge of the Castle of Lions to begin the launch sequence. As the powerful Castleship launches from Arus, it seamlessly dislodges itself from the rocky cliffs encasing it, and takes off into the sky as a beautiful shining light seen by the Arusians happily watching Team Voltron leave to save the people of the Balmera.
A Divisive Empire
At Zarkon's Central Command, Prorok kneels before Zarkon and suggests sending the main fleet to Arus immediately in order to capture Voltron before it slips away. Haggar disagrees, as she has devised a method of gathering unimaginable quantities of Quintessence that should be tested before moving any fleets. Prorok argues against the lack of time, and Haggar argues no ships can withstand the Voltron's power so they must prepare to fight against it. The Emperor slams his hands on his throne to silence both of them, and explains he knows the power of Voltron better than anyone. Zarkon trusts Haggar's word and agrees to the experiment, much to the commander's frustration.
Prorok speaks disdainfully of the witch to Thace in the halls afterward. He instructs his subordinate to continue offering a reward for anyone, even low-life criminals, who will bring them Voltron or one of its Lions, as the commander plans to capture Voltron by his own means.
As the Castle of Lions travels to the Balmera, Hunk impatiently paces about the Bridge, wondering if the team should go in "blasting" on the attack or demand that the Galra surrender first. Keith instructs Hunk to calm himself, then agrees that "blasting" is the better option. Shiro suggests Hunk is just excited for their first big rescue mission, and Pidge takes this further to tease that Hunk is excited to see his "new girlfriend", Shay. Hunk immediately denies the idea, saying he simply admires Shay as a person.
Their jesting is interrupted by the sound of abnormal alarms indicating a distress beacon from a ship that lost power on a nearby moon. Hunk is reluctant to spend time aiding them when he promised to save Shay, but Allura reminds him of the Paladin Code that states they must help all those in need. Hunk is frustrated but does not press the issue. Lance, ignorant of the severe situation, thinks the Paladins are like a group of space cops and wonders if they have a siren to use. Coran admits they do not, but could record Lance making a siren noise to broadcast. Lance nearly takes up the offer before Shiro silences him with a hand over his mouth.
The Castle of Lions lands on the moon where Rolo and Nyma are waiting for assistance. Allura instructs Coran to stay aboard the Castleship and clear out any remaining energy from the Galra Crystal Sendak tried to power it with earlier. The Princess and her Paladins greet the two aliens on the moon's surface. Rolo openly admits his crew is on the run from the Galra Empire and fights against it, however small. He introduces his crew member Nyma and their cyber-unit Beezer. Lance is enamored by Nyma's beauty and introduces himself by kissing her hand; Pidge is equally amazed by the high-tech appearance of Beezer and begins inspecting it.
When questioned about how they became stranded, Rolo explains that his ship was damaged from fighting with the Galra, and without any parts for repairs they have been waiting on the moon for about a week hoping someone friendly would detect their distress signal. Allura is excited to formally introduce herself as the Princess of Altea, and tells Rolo his crew will now have the Paladins of Voltron fighting alongside them. Rolo compares the contrasting serious behavior of Shiro, Keith, and Hunk with Lance and Pidge, who are goofing off with Nyma and Beezer. He appears visibly underwhelmed, unfamiliar with Voltron or the Paladins because it has been 10,000 years since the last time the mighty robot appeared.
Lance awkwardly tries explaining Voltron, but it is clear Rolo does not quite understand. Hunk is impatient with all the small talk and suggests they move along to repairing the damaged spacecraft. [Rolo]] agrees and shows him the ship's inside, though he does not know what extra parts the Castleship could spare - he has never seen any spacecraft like it.
Allura suggests that Hunk be given a list of parts that Coran can help find. While she is speaking, Lance tries showing off his muscles and flirting with Nyma, who is entertained by him; Shiro smacks him on the shoulder so he will remain focused. Rolo offers his crew's assistance in finding parts and carrying them, but Hunk refuses to allow them on board the Castleship, reminding everyone what happened the last time they let anyone else on board: a bomb exploded and Lance was nearly killed.
This puts the situation into perspective and Shiro agrees that they should exercise caution. Rolo takes no personal offense and praises Hunk on looking out for his own, which is how the alien believes things should be in the void of space. He hands Hunk a list of parts from Beezer and the Yellow Paladin is impassively grateful for the praise as he begins his task.
As they wait for Hunk to find parts, Rolo speaks with Allura, Shiro, and Keith about his past. He explains how his planet was destroyed and he was taken captive; he managed to escape, but not before losing a leg. As proof, he displays his prosthetic limb. Shiro sympathizes because of the loss of his own arm some time during captivity. Pidge remains distracted by Beezer while Lance is talking with Nyma away from the group.
Hunk interrupts by dragging a hovercart full of parts over but Rolo is in no rush to start repairs. Allura asks for information about the Galra Empire, so Rolo begins informing them on how Zarkon manages his forces and how their location is on the very fringes of his reach. Hunk is disgruntled and interrupts again, explaining that the team is in the middle of a rescue mission, so they are in a hurry and Rolo should start on repairs. Rolo appears calm and understanding, apologizing for making them wait before he finally inspects the parts brought to him.
Shiro approaches Hunk and tells him with hushed words that they will leave soon, but suggests the alien may have useful information for them about Zarkon that they should take the time to listen to. Hunk admits he is extremely distrustful of Rolo and wants to leave the alien with the hovercraft of parts immediately. Rolo appears unaware of their whispers and asks Hunk for a specific length of thermal pipe. The Yellow Paladin reluctantly sets off to find it.
Shiro, Keith, and Allura speak with Rolo again, asking about any kind of organized resistance against the Galra Empire. Rolo does not know of anyone aside from those who have not been colonized or stragglers who escaped from captivity. Keith declares the Voltron team will change that. Rolo seems to appreciate the determination, but warns him that fledgling freedom fighters do not know the terrible state of the universe they are up against.
Meanwhile, Lance is bragging to Nyma about his status as a Paladin; she does not seem to comprehend the nature of the Lions or Voltron, and laments how she is not allowed inside the Castle of Lions to see everything for herself. Nyma implies Hunk is the one in charge, and Lance scoffs at the very thought of taking orders. His desire to show off leads him to bring her inside the Castleship despite the team's agreement on being cautious about strangers on board. Nyma is amazed at the sight of the Castle's Bridge and wonders about the time it must take to reach the Blue Lion. Lance proves her estimate wrong, bringing her directly to the Lion's cockpit in no time at all.
Nyma is further amazed by the Blue Lion and asks Lance to take her for a ride around the moon. The Blue Paladin finally hesitates and suggests they should return to the rest of the group. The female alien agrees, but dejectedly muses about Keith giving her a ride in the Red Lion instead. This triggers Lance's jealousy and he scrambles to get the Blue Lion activated, taking off with Nyma for a ride. Hunk witnesses the Lion leaving and is angered with Lance. Rolo tries to ease his concerns because their ship is almost repaired thank to the Yellow Paladin's work, so the will be able to leave soon. Rolo suggests the old part Hunk has replaced died from too much work over time. Hunk is suspicious about the look of the part held in his hand.
The Komar Experiment
The Galra Empire is undertaking Haggar's experiment for extracting Quintessence in unfathomable quantities. Zarkon's Command Ship orbits outside the atmosphere of an unnamed planet. On floating platforms powered by Galra Crystals, Haggar stands in the center of the Druids of the Four Directions and commands the ritual to begin. With the combination of the massive Command Ship's technology and her dark magic, the entire planet below is sapped of all its Quintessence in a matter of moments, leaving it barren and uninhabitable, its creatures left to fates unknown.
Haggar approaches Zarkon and calls the experiment a success, as previously the feat of obtaining a planet's worth of Quintessence would normally have taken years to achieve. Zarkon is pleased with her results; his Empire can now advance throughout the universe more efficiently than before with no need to mine and colonize planets. Most importantly, with so much power in his hands, he can put all his efforts and focus into capturing Voltron.
Back on the alien moon, Nyma directs Lance to land near a kinetic spring, telling him about how the minerals inside of it can reflect light as a rainbow; Lance flies the Blue Lion close enough to the spring to disturb the water and hold her words true. His infatuation with Nyma blinds him to her trickery: she activates a button on her bracelet to signal Rolo, who is wearing a similar bracelet.
Rolo suddenly leaves the engine room of his ship and suggests trying a test flight, commanding Robots#Beezer to join him as a co-pilot. The robot leaves Pidge in an instant to hop inside the ship with Rolo, who claims he will return shortly; Allura and her Paladins watch in confusion as the spacecraft takes flight with no issues at all.
Elsewhere, Lance and Nyma have exited the Blue Lion and stand by the kinetic spring. Lance suggests he show Nyma how fast he can climb a tree; the beautiful alien admits she finds the young Paladin cute and wants to show him something herself, asking for his hand. Lance is more than willing to comply, and thus is caught in her trap. In an instant, Nyma has Lance handcuffed by both hands to the tree too fast for him to process what is happening.
Rolo's spacecraft appears and abducts the Blue Lion - the true intention of his crew all along. Lance is angered by the trickery and Nyma apologizes as she is raised into her ship, albeit without much sincerity. She suggests they might meet again one day. Lance watches tearfully and helplessly as his Lion is stolen from him. Left abandoned, he searches for his helmet so he can contact the Voltron team. Unfortunately, it sits well out of reach.
Allura and the remaining Paladins are unaware of the theft, but sit outside the Castle of Lions questioning why Rolo has not returned. Hunk believes something is wrong; Lance confirms the bad news after using his long legs to reach his helmet and activate its communicator. This triggers Hunk to unleash a long rant declaring his suspicions were correct from the beginning, explaining his observations of the supposedly broken parts and his technical reasoning for how the damage could not have stranded the spacecraft, and more—no matter how many times Keith tries to stop him as the Paladins board their Lions. He relents when everyone in unison admits he was right, and the Paladins launch their Lions after Rolo and Nyma, leaving Lance chained to the tree.
Criminals and Lions
Rolo contacts Prorok to inform him of the Blue Lion's capture, revealing he had taken up Prorok's offer of a reward for anyone who assisted in capturing the Lions. Prorok agrees to provide the reward money once the Blue Lion is brought to him; Rolo makes an amendment to the offer: he asks for a full pardon for any past crimes on record by his crew against the Galra Empire. The commander accepts the request. Nyma reiterates that they want the reward money, and Prorok affirms that will be honored, then ends the transmission.
Rolo appears relaxed and pleased at their successful heist, albeit admitting he feels sorry for the Voltron team because of how kind they were. Nyma is not so empathetic, suggesting Rolo turn himself in and suffer a life sentence for stealing from Zarkon if he is feeling so guilty. Rolo is fearful of the thought and immediately recants his words. Unbeknownst to them, Prorok tells Thace to send a fighter squadron to Rolo's location, distrustful of allowing a bounty hunter to possess the Blue Lion.
The criminal aliens have celebrated too early; the remaining unexpectedly Lions close in on Rolo's spacecraft and he decides that since he cannot outrun them, he can lose them in the nearby Zorlar asteroid belt that he is well familiar with. His nimble spacecraft dodges in-between the cluttered mess of floating rock for cover, stalling the Paladins as they try to decide a course of action. Hunk tries "busting through" by slamming the Yellow Lion into one of the asteroids, but this causes the rock to ricochet off another, and creates a dangerous chain reaction of asteroids bumping into each other.
Shiro decides that Keith is the only one skilled enough to fly through the asteroid belt with the agile Red Lion, planning to flush the criminals out into the open. The Red Paladin readily takes up the task and pursues Rolo's spacecraft with high speed and focus, easily dodging the ricocheting asteroids and laser blasters from the alien's ship, much to Rolo's surprise. Rolo tries luring the Red Lion closer and deviating at the last second to trick Keith into crashing into an asteroid, but the Red Paladin is able to stop in time, circle the massive rock, and fling his Lion's jaw blade at the spacecraft. The attack renders Rolo's ship defenseless and heavily damaged.
In a panic, the criminals try fleeing as quickly as possible, but Keith fires the Red Lion's mouth cannon at their engines, sending the ship spinning out of the asteroid belt. Keith latches on to the spacecraft with the Red Lion's claws and uses its boosters to stabilize the damaged ship before it crashes into a nearby planet. With the criminals brought to a standstill, the other Lions arrive, ending the chase. Rolo and his crew lament their failure.
Keith is proud of his success and tells Lance that he has saved the Blue Lion. Lance is happy to hear this, and asks if Keith will come unchain him. Keith decides to tease the Blue Paladin, and pretends he cannot hear Lance clearly because of faulty transmission quality. Lance begins panicking, asking for help and receiving no answer.
A Criminal's Fate
The team finally recovers Lance from his predicament and returns the criminal crew to the alien moon, intending to leave them there with an actual broken ship until someone else rescues them. Rolo appreciates having his life and that of his crew spared after causing so much trouble and taking advantage of the Voltron team's kindness.
Although he thinks no one will believe him, the alien admits he does hope the Voltron team will defeat Zarkon, as he is only the desperate criminal he is because of his lifetime spent fighting the Galra Empire. The team appears considerate of that possibility, but does not respond as they return to the Castle of Lions and depart for the Balmera.
Deep in the Galra Empire, Haggar is preparing for her next attack on Voltron. She approaches a small reptilian creature and speaks of how the massive amount of Quintessence held in a small canister will be enough to turn the harmless animal into a terrifying Robeast - one that not even Voltron will be able to defeat.
- During the time competition, Shiro remains at a distance at first before peeking around the team from several locations to watch.
- It is heavily implied that Lance is told false information about his contribution to the fight against Sendak:
- He says his Bayard "apparently" "shot off" Sendak's prosthetic, but in reality it struck Sendak in the back, startling him enough to allow Pidge to escape the commander's grasp. Pidge is the one who severed Sendak's prosthetic arm, however neither she nor anyone else denies Lance's claim.
- While Keith claims he merely "punched" Sendak, the Red Paladin engaged in fierce combat with the Galra commander to force him into a trap and secure the team's victory.
- The purported "bonding moment" is inaccurate as well. The moment of camaraderie seen shared between Lance and Keith did not entail Keith cradling Lance in his arms. Keith only held Lance's hand to help him sit upright.
- When Lance suggests the Altean Mice did more work than Keith to defeat Sendak, one of the mice is shown gloating.
- The Castle of Lions launch sequence commands "Activate interlock. Dynotherms connected. Mega-thrusters are go." are a reference to the combining sequence of Voltron in Voltron: Defender of the Universe.