|Enter Merla: Queen of Darkness|
|Air date||November 6th of 1985|
"Enter Merla: Queen of Darkness" is the sixty-fourth episode of the lion series of Voltron: Defender of the Universe.
On planet Arus, Keith and company practice martial arts. After Pidge manages to throw down Hunk, they discuss how the Space Academy provides training, and Allura mentions that Arus has had combat training for ages. In mentioning the groups of warriors that had existed before the founding of the Galaxy Alliance, Lance mentions the Tiger Fighters and wonders if they are still around.
Just then, a robot tiger approaches Planet Doom. Commander Cossack informs Zarkon of this, and says he will shoot the tiger down. He orders the Cobra Blasters to fire on the tiger ship. Haggar mentions that the ship is that of Stride the Tiger Fighter. Zarkon replies that he knows, while Cossack does not. The tiger lands and a man steps out of the cockpit. Cossack orders the robots to fire, but Zarkon cancels the order. He then welcomes the man, who is Stride. Zarkon tells him that he must go to fight Arus. Stride mentions his father once fought side by side with King Alfor. Zarkon mentions the galaxy is divided, and Arus is the enemy. Stride then flies off.
Later, a spaceship lands at the Castle Doom spaceport. Some finely dressed people arrived, and Cossack mentions that someone named Merla was the guest of honor. An elderly human man with a white beard bows to Prince Lotor and informs him that he is Grand Vizier to Queen Merla. Another ship arrives, which resembles a manta ray; Lotor is pissed about it. One of the guests recognizes the ship as Merla's, and the vizier tells everyone to hail the queen.
The ship lands and the hatch opens, and a blue-skinned, red-haired woman appears. A bird sits on her left shoulder. She is identified as Merla. She and her escort set foot on Doom. Cossack begins to read the official greeting, but then simply tells them to come on in. As Merla approaches, Lotor thinks she will find him beautiful, but Merla thinks he is brutish and dim-witted. Lotor anticipates a bow, but Merla does not bow to him. He says she will pay, and Merla's bird attacks him. Merla mentions that the bird attacks persons who think bad thoughts of her.
She meets with Zarkon, and the king wants an alliance with her to destroy the Galaxy Alliance. Merla proposes that their empires merge equally, and Lotor is insulted. He accuses Merla of having her vulture attack him, and that was an act of war. Merla then contacts him telepathically, and tells him he cannot resist her mental powers. She tells him to say that he made a mistake. The Prince of Doom gives in and says so. Zarkon tells Merla that he sent Stride to Arus. She asks that she be sent to help Stride. Zarkon objects, as the Tiger Fighter prefers to work alone. But Merla uses her telepathic powers to change Zarkon's mind.
Sitting on an asteroid, Keith tells Stride to call of the duel, but the Tiger Fighter refuses. Keith and Stride duel one on one in their ships. Keith fires on Stride, but that just charges the tiger's batteries, and the tiger then fires on Black Lion, trapping it. Pidge and Hunk want to help, but Keith tells them to stay out of it. Stride tells him to give up, and Keith fires a harpoon at the tiger. Merla watches the battle from afar. She tells her crew that she will have to get rid of both of them. Black Lion crashes on a planet.
As Lance wonders where Keith is, Keith emerges from Black Lion. He confronts Stride, and they get in a sword duel. They clash swords for a while, and Stride knocks out Keith's sword. Stride looks into Keith's eyes, seeing courage. He sheaths his sword, claiming victory and saying it is over. The two warriors shake hands. Merla then appears, and Stride recognizes her. Merla's guards then aim their weapons at him and Keith. Stride reminds the queen that they had fought under the codes of chivalry, and Merla just laughs. Suddenly, there is a blast, and the other lions arrive to save the day. Keith and Stride escape to their respective robots and fly away.
The crew of Merla's star cutter deploy the Robeast.
As the tiger and the five lions fly through space, the robeast- a large, lizard-like creature- attacks, firing balls of energy. Stride tells the lions to take off, and then his tiger is hit. The lions form into Voltron and engage the robeast. They fire on the robeast, which then bumps into Voltron. The mighty robot forms the blazing sword, and quickly slices the monster apart. Merla is enraged about the defeat.
A few minutes later, Allura places a cloth bandage on Stride's left arm. Keith asks him to join the Galaxy Alliance, and the Tiger Fighter says it is not that simple-the galaxy is still divided and wounds take time to heal. He then flies off.
"Lotor makes lots of mistakes"
Notes and Goofs
- This is Queen Merla's first appearance.
- Lotor should have remembered that a sovereign would not bow to him.
- Apparently, the Tiger Fighters predated the Galaxy Alliance, and may have been involved in the events leading to the founding of the Alliance. The opening narration implies Voltron was involved in those events.
- Merla is apparently one of those opportunists trying to carve a new empire after the end of the Drule Empire.
- The planet on which Keith and Stride ended their duel is obviously habitable by humans at least part of the time, as neither of them needed an oxygen mask.
- The division of the galaxy Stride alluded to was probably the result of the war between the Galaxy Alliance and the Drule Empire.
- The animation of the Voltron Force meeting Stride is the same as the one used in their first meeting with Lotor. 
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