Nivea Serrao
January 05, 2017 AT 10:00 AM EST

Voltron: Legendary Defender‘s release date may be fast approaching, but that doesn’t mean Netflix doesn’t have another surprise for fans of the animated series. As you can see in the exclusive season 2 trailer above, the show’s return doesn’t just promise answers to the Paladin’s fates, it also teases new friends… and new foes.

This should be especially welcome news, considering the last season saw the Paladins defeated in their big battle against evil villain Zarkon and scattered across the galaxy. With the second season’s Jan. 20 release date only a few weeks away, EW caught up with executive producers Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery to talk about what fans can expect when the show finally hits streaming.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Now that the team has discovered that Zarkon was the Black Lion’s Paladin, how is that going to affect them as they go forward?
JOAQUIM DOS SANTOS: It speaks to the bigger picture, that there was a much bigger aspect to Voltron before our guys got involved. We obviously hinted at it and talked about it through Allura. All that stuff plays out in a much bigger, broader, and a much more in-depth way than we were able to do in the first season.
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: And just having a dynamic where you have two characters that are both linked to this one lion and ultimately, what does that mean for them? Does one person have a stronger link to this lion than the other? It’s an interesting problem that has to be solved.
DOS SANTOS: I will say, if I’m putting my fan hat on, why is the Black Lion still reacting to Zarkon if he’s the bad guy? There’s questions that you got to get to ask yourself and hope to get a little insight into as we move forward in the season.

And how is it affecting Zarkon?
MONTGOMERY: 
Him getting close to the Black Lion again fuels him to take his offense directly to the Paladins. He’s gotten a good taste of that lion, and he wants it back.
DOS SANTOS: One thing you have to take into consideration with Zarkon is that he rules the entire empire that controls a good portion of the universe. Now his focus becomes a little more Voltron-centric and other things are affected by that.

Having seen what a lion is capable of when Zarkon was controlling it, does it inspire the team in terms of what they might be able to do with their own lions?
MONTGOMERY: I think so. They’re always looking to improve upon what they can do with the lions. They know that they’re new to the whole thing and they’re still fledgling pilots. When they see someone that’s just a lot more masterful at it, it makes them want to be better at it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they can just turn around and do that. They still have to work for it and they still have to bond with their lion and just figure it out along the way.
DOS SANTOS: The other cool thing is that the lions being kind of semi-sentient in a way. You could work super hard at trying to master this one thing. [But] it might be this other occurrence in the Paladins’ life that actually forms a bond in a different way with the lion that they didn’t necessarily count on. There’s a cool element there where there’s this unknown, mysterious aspect to how and why they’re actually bonding with the lions.

Netflix

What will the team be focusing on going into this season?
MONTGOMERY: 
Each team member has to start the season dealing with their own problems. They’ve all been split off. We’re going to spend a little bit of time tackling problems on their own, but ultimately they do have to come back together in the end. They have to get back into solving the problem at hand, which is Zarkon has enslaved a large portion of the universe. You can’t let that just keep going for too long.
DOS SANTOS: We had that giant battle at the end of the season, but they just got away by the skin of their teeth.
MONTGOMERY: They really didn’t resolve anything.

Last season we saw that Voltron has been inspiring other people in the galaxy to possibly rise up against the Galra. Will that come into play as well?
DOS SANTOS: You’ll see that definitely evolve over the course of the series. That’s something that I think is interesting and a little bit unique to this version of Voltron. You see Voltron’s effect on the universe and how fame and notoriety starts affecting our characters. It’s definitely something that we’ll have to deal with moving forward. It’s cool, too, because, in the universe’s perception, Voltron is this lore and legend and now that the fact that people are getting to see that it’s real has some different ramifications, maybe some things you weren’t quite expecting.

The new trailer for the second season (above) teases new villains and allies. What can you say about that?
MONTGOMERY: We’ve still got our main villain, Zarkon, but he’s always got people helping him that are some of the enemies the team faces. [But] Voltron needs things to fight, too! So there’s always going to be some large monster or large threat that he’s going to have to take on. It’s just a matter of what presents itself to our guys and how they end up taking it down. Surprisingly, it’s not always coming directly from the Galra. Sometimes it’s just a threat to people that need to be helped. [As for allies] it’s a part of the mission that our guys have set out for themselves. They learned from the last fight with Zarkon that they can’t do this thing on their own. Now it’s a matter of ‘Who can help us?’ and ‘How can we ultimately rise up against Zarkon?’
DOS SANTOS: It’s an expansion of the universe, and it’s really where Legendary Defender starts distinguishing itself from some of the previous versions. There’s just more out there. The world just keeps getting bigger.

Of course, we have to talk about Shiro. The SDCC trailer was very ominous in terms of his fate. Is there anything you can tease in terms of that?
DOS SANTOS: The big thing to take into consideration is the fact that Shiro definitely has an arc in this upcoming season, but how he and the other Paladins were affected by the events of the previous season is yet to be determined. That’s our big tease. Don’t think he’s going to show up in the first episode of the new season as a tombstone. But yes, the events of the previous season have definitely left their mark.
MONTGOMERY: It’s affecting everyone in a different way. They’re all going to have to come back from that and solve their own problems through the season. We’re going to build it all up to an even crazier cliffhanger than the original. Be prepared.

And how about Princess Allura? She was in a very rough place at the end of last season.
MONTGOMERY: She definitely has a huge arc. She’s in a place where she’s just dealing with a lot of anger and frustration and loss at having lost her entire planet and her family to Zarkon. It’s something that she’s going to have to figure out and overcome to ultimately evolve into the leader that she wants to be for the team.
DOS SANTOS: She, specifically, gets put to the test. A lot of her buttons get pushed in a way that could really go either way. She could do good or bad.

The show is a reboot of an older series. How do you guys subvert those expectations while still honoring the source material? Is that something you guys are thinking about?
DOS SANTOS: When we first started development and started laying out the world, we were paying homage to what came before. As the stories evolved, it evolved in its own way. There’s still ways that we’re peppering in homages to what came before, but the story has taken on a life of its own now. That’s a cool thing to see happen.
MONTGOMERY: Because the original was made so long ago and it was made from a bunch of footage that they had to cut together and create their own story, it left a lot of room for, I think, improvement on our part. Because there was a lot of stuff that people didn’t remember. All we really had to do is make sure that we kept the memorable stuff, which actually wasn’t events during the show. It was a lot of the visual stuff and then some of the core elements like the teamwork aspect, the five lions, and Zarkon being the villain. We kept those things. But from here on out it’s not necessarily a story that we have to stick to strictly to remain true to the original. We have a lot of room to play with. The story is very different.

Voltron: Legendary Defender season 2 premieres on Netflix on Jan. 20.

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