SPOILER ALERT: Warning, this article contains spoilers from the Season 5 of Voltron: Legendary Defenders. Proceed at your own risk.
For many fans of Voltron: Legendary Defender, the idea of Lance becoming the paladin of the Black Lion seems almost too good to be true. After all, he’s wanted the job before but it was always written off as not meant to be. Shiro and Keith have been there to fill the role, so why bother, right?
Season 5 of Voltron changes all that. There’s no explicit mention of Lance becoming the Black Paladin, but the character growth and circumstances in the season are enticing. It also means there’s a good chance that we may see Lance saying “Form Voltron!” soon.
It’s no secret that in earlier seasons Lance has been considered a goofball. His interest in celebratory parades discredits his validity as a potential leader. But Season 5 brings a lot of character development for Lance, and we see him more serious and mellow as a result. He steps up several times in crucial moments to lead the team, like when he tells Allura and Hunk to get to their lions to go save the rest of the team from Zarkon. He’s also finding his voice more in decision-making moments, like when he agrees with Allura that they should take their time planning for the Kral Zera.
But there’s one scene above all others that shows his growth: the training room scene. First, this is the first time we’ve seen Lance training by himself, which means that he’s taking his skills seriously and wants to prove himself. Second, in a moment of concentration, Lance’s bayard transforms into an Altean broadsword, like the one King Alfor used to carry. Allura comes in to say that this is a sign of what the whole team has been noticing: that Lance has greatness within. He’s not just settling into the role of Voltron’s right-hand man, he’s growing into his potential as a leader, one that the team acknowledges and his skills reflect.
A Shift In Alliance
Amid all the chaos of a fallen Galra Empire, there’s also something brewing within Team Voltron. As Allura puts it, Shiro “has been quite difficult” throughout the season. Whether it’s due to stress or Haggar activating Stage 4 of Operation Kuron, Shiro has been acting meaner and more possessive of his leadership role. In “Postmortem,” he lashes out at Lance, telling him that the decision is “not your call.” He also goes behind the team’s back several times when he arms Lotor with the black bayard and takes him to the Kral Zera in the Black Lion.
As a result, there’s a power shift forming. The team questions what’s up with Shiro. At one point, when Shiro says, “Form Voltron!” instead of yelling an enthusiastic “Yeah!,” the team stay completely silent. On the flip side, the team sides with Lance more on decisions and they follow his lead without a second thought. Allura even listens to Lance’s advice about Shiro. The last time we saw one paladin help another like that was when Keith told Lance not to worry about his role, and that’s when Keith was the leader. So if this scene is a parallel, and a change of alliance does occur within the team, then a Black Paladin Lance may very well happen.
The Reality of It All
Granted, the situation for Lance to actually become the Black Paladin will need to be just right. The most likely scenario for this is if Shiro goes off the rails due to Operation Kuron and becomes an outright enemy under Haggar’s control. Lance would need to step up into the role then, but he might have some competition.
For one, Keith could return from the Blade of Marmora to fill the role again, but he wasn’t exactly the best leader. More likely, Lotor would be Lance’s biggest competition. Now that he’s the new Galra emperor, Lotor might insist that he should pilot the Black Lion. He might even want Allura to become the Red Paladin (leaving Lance with the Blue Lion). Together they could fly the same lions that their fathers once did as a callback to the peace that existed when Voltron was created.
Yet Lance still has the best qualifications for the job. He’s accepting more responsibility and becoming a voice for his team. He’s earned this. Should the Black Lion have to choose a new paladin soon, it’s likely we’ll see Lance leading Team Voltron.