|The Buried Castle|
"The Buried Castle" is the nineteenth episode of the lion series of Voltron: Defender of the Universe.
Three Arusian children are exploring the forest when they come upon a castle in the mists. In the Castle of Lions, the appearance of this mysterious new castle does not go unnoticed. Keith comments that this other castle seemed to have suddenly sprung up, adding that he didn't know there was another castle on Arus. Princess Allura states that neither did she (apparently there can be only one).
Coran does a search for it on the computer, which after displaying a rather cryptic English message reveals that the castle was buried during the last Robot Wars. It was said to contain a great treasure, but was so dangerous that the warring kingdoms agreed that it must be destroyed. However, it could not be destroyed, and as such they banded together to bury it under a vast amount of earth, there to remain entombed...until now.
Lance voices his skepticism (as that is what Lance does), yet Pidge is quite excited by the possibility of treasure and wishes to investigate. Keith, too, is worried about possible danger, yet Allura finds the situation amusing and is happy to send the Space Mouse Suki who has just crawled up her back and onto her shoulder along with him.
The formerly-buried, mildly-ruined castle seems shrouded in perpetual storm, and a lightning bolt felling a tree before the children frightens them to the point at which they think they see monsters in the mist. Fortunately Pidge has landed the Green Lion nearby, and finding the children he recognizes them as ones who live near the Castle of Lions; he then comforts and encourages them. They all decide to continue their treasure hunt together.
Little do they know the castle is a trap set by Haggar, the Drule witch. However, for the time being the night hag seems content to toy with them, conjuring an undead hand which when severed is mistaken for a tree limb. Similarly, when the party enters the castle there is little to frighten them but cobwebs, darkness, and some nasty-looking bats. Pidge and the children enter a "treasure room" (perhaps a royal tomb) and set about pilfering everything but the royal cruciger.
It is then that Haggar springs her foul trap, as she turns the treasure the party has claimed into vicious snakes and disgusting toads. The outer doors are also magically locked, trapping Pidge and the children inside the castle inside until they can find another exit. They fail to, however, before the Witch reverses gravity in the chamber and sends them upside-down inside the bell in the castle's belfry. They are then locked in place by fetters which even Pidge's disintegrator blaster cannot damage.
Pidge sends the brave little Suki back to the other Castle to get help from the rest of the Voltron Force. They launch all their respective lions and disembark just outside the formerly-buried castle. Haggar then ups the ante by animating not only corpse hands but entire skeletons from beneath the earth, and disintegrator blasts impede these abominations for only seconds before some manner of dark techno-sorcery reassembles their shattered forms!
Keith takes this new development in stride, ordering Lance, Hunk, and Allura into the castle while he braves the assaults of the spear-wielding skeletons. They do not get far, however, before more bony hands again display that they are just as capable of erupting through castle stone as through forest soil and clutch the heroes' ankles in an inescapable grip. Lance's disintegrator proves as useless as the others, then Haggar again casts a powerful spell of reverse gravity upon the trio so that they join Pidge and the children in fetters inside the great bell. Then, for Doom, the bell tolls!While the rest of the Voltron Force are subject to deafening ringing in the bell tower, Keith is now among the crenelations and still fighting the HellBlack Skeleton Warriors. However, though they may be bad to the bone, Haggar no longer has use for them now that she has captured his subordinates, and she dispels them only to summon a far greater threat. Keith can only watch in horrified awe as, rising out of the earth like some Lovecraftian horror, comes the largest and perhaps most powerful foe he has ever faced.
The earth heaves and splits, trees fall away like (Matchbox?) match-sticks, and filling the gaping fissure is revealed to be a robeast so titanically colossal, so dread-inspiring in appearance, that even a punny name such as Armordillo cannot dull the effect of its frightful presence.
It speaks not a word, so to start its work soon, launching from its shoulders an octet of harpoons. Their tips pierce the castle walls as Keith cries, and the beast begins pulling it into the skies! Desperate to rescue himself and his friends, Keith grabs a steel cable and slowly ascends. Seeing to give up he'll always refuse, Armordillo from his gullet then spews a minimally-sized squadron of Doom Blasters which swoop into action to serve their dark masters. Keith loses his grip (and, quite nearly, his lunch) but he brings himself upright with a stomach crunch. He falls from the cable with another shot, yet luckily by a Doom Blaster he's caught! Bursting through its windshield, Keith will commandeer it, if only he can figure out how to steer it! He crashlands, boards his lion, and cuts the castle free, so to face the new obstacle of gravity!
Despite its height the castle lands harmlessly, the Princess and the others then too are free, and Haggar's order to her beast comes too late: all the humans are spared its breath's fiery fate. Voltron is formed with the usual spiel, and everyone knows it's about to get real!
Remembering Haggar's demon's narrow loss, Voltron opens with the Electro-Force Cross. Knowing such is the doom of the forces of Hell, Armordillo withdraws its head into its shell! It counters with a barrage of Rocket Scales, but against them Voltron's great heat shielding prevails. The Lion Lariat, used as nunchaku, allows Voltron in this assault to break through. Yet Armordillo has more tricks up its sleeves, as forth a raging inferno it breathes!
As through Voltron's heat shield the robeast's flames rend, the Princess laments that they're all near the end. As Voltron falls Keith demands that they win, and so Voltron stands to shoot off a whirlwind! The tornado scatters the flames of the fire, yet the monster remains, and it stands so much higher! The Blazing Sword is formed and promptly impales it, yet still a second stroke is needed to nail it!
At the other Castle, despite Lance's objections, Pidge gives all the children treasure-hunting lessons. To end this conflict the children mend the bridge by saying they've found a real treasure in Pidge.
Keith (after ordering the others inside even though it means fighting the Deathblack Skeletons alone): "I've got a bone to pick out here!"
Keith (seeing the Deathblack Skeletons reassemble after being blown apart by his disintegrator blasts): "Now that's getting yourself together!"
Witch Haggar: "Hehehehehe. Now that we've captured them, it's time to deliver them to King Zarkon. We'll take them, castle and all!"
"Let's get out of here, team!"
"I don't understand; Voltron won again...and that was some of my best magic!"
- Witch Haggar is flabbergasted by the defeat of the Armordillo
Notes and Goofs
- Perhaps due to the Western aesthetic of Arus, English appears to be the written language of the world and thus also the language in which the main computer of the Castle of Lions displays text (even if it still doesn't often make sense). This was also the case in Episode 7.
- This episode provides additional insight into Arus' technological history, both making mention of the "Robot Wars" and showing one of the types of aircraft employed therein.
- This is the first episode since his first appearance in which Prince Lotor does not show his desire to claim Princess Allura or actively attempt to obtain her. That is because this is a strictly Haggar-focused episode and thus he is Prince Not-appearing-in-this-film!
- More Christian imagery is used in the buried castle, which not only uses crosses in its most sacred and significant areas but also holds a treasure chest containing the sort of globus cruciger held by a Christian monarch.
- When the rest of the Voltron Force is alerted to Pidge's capture, they are all already in uniform, yet swiftly rush to their lions using the normal stock footage. Thus they appear to have changed from their uniforms to their civilian attire only to immediately change back into their uniforms!
- Pidge was able to sever the skeletal claw in the forest, yet Lance was unable to harm those in the castle?! They must have been made of sterner stuff....
- Princess Allura has been a damsel-in-distress in 11 of the 13 episodes thusfar since she first piloted the Blue Lion, albeit often accompanied by one or more other people at the time.
- Upon that subject, when Princess Allura is lifted from the ground she becomes subject to the am-I-wearing-high-heels-or-not editing which has affected female characters in works ranging from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Blade Runner. In one shot, the boots of her flight uniform appear to have high heels.
- Also upon that subject, given her and the other prisoners' positions relative to the bell's clapper, it was a miracle that they were merely deafened for a bit when it rang rather than bludgeoned to jelly!
- Keith failed to check the infracells before forming Voltron; unprofessional, but easily forgiven due to the stress under which he had just been.
- Despite his rookie mistake, the leader of the Voltron Force still knows his heat: after using the Electro-Force Cross to frighten the massive robeast into its shell, he activates Voltron's heat shield, "readying silicone rods for laser defense". As the Editrix actually has experience applying carbon-fiber heat shielding to the cockpit of a spacecraft to allow for its endurance of the ~3,000-degree temperatures experienced during atmospheric re-entry and said carbon-fiber can include silicon as a component, she is happy to add this episode to the growing list of times in which Voltron: Defender of the Universe was educational! Nevertheless, silicone alone is not so resistant, and as the Princess states the monster's fire breath weapon pierces through and brings Voltron down.
- At 475 ft. in height and weighing in at 6,250 short tons, this episode's robeast is by far the tallest and heaviest opponent thusfar encountered by Voltron. Including Lotron, it is the 5th-tallest and 4th-heaviest overall.
- This is the first episode in which Princess Allura wears her mainstay Aurora-from-Sleeping Beauty dress since Episode 13.