Showrunners Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery preview the show's evolution in season 4

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The Voltron Coalition needs you!

Voltron: Legendary Defender is set to return for season 4 this October, and EW has your exclusive first look at the new season in the new trailer above, which reveals that the war effort continues in earnest.

“It’s razzle-dazzle time!” declares Lance (Jeremy Shada) in the exciting trailer. “…for the war effort.”

In season 4, the paladins get to work on strengthening the Voltron Coalition because they realize they won’t be able to fight the Galra empire on their own. As we see in the trailer, Team Voltron is in a pretty good place when the show returns; however, that doesn’t mean there won’t be some bumps along the way as they adjust to the team’s new configuration. With Shiro (Josh Keaton) back at the Castleship, Keith (Steven Yeun) makes a choice that causes a rift between him and the rest of Team Voltron. Meanwhile, a power struggle brews on the opposite side of the war after Lotor‘s (A.J. Locascio) father Zarkon (Neil Kaplan) awakens from his coma.

Ahead of the season premiere and the show’s upcoming New York Comic Con panel in October, EW hopped on the phone with showrunners Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery to discuss the show’s evolution, Allura’s (Kimberly Brooks) role on the team, and more.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In the new trailer, we see Team Voltron is devoting more effort to strengthening the coalition. Can you tease how the coalition becomes more important in the coming season?
JOAQUIM DOS SANTOS: I think it’s a bit of an evolution overall for the series. While at the beginning, it was literally just the five paladins and Allura and Coran soloing this entire thing, we’ve been building outwards. Now, it’s growing and it’s kind of getting to this fever pitch. This whole time Lotor is forwarding his plans. So, we’re sort of seeing the next evolution of the series where the legend of Voltron has gone out into the universe now and it’s amassing an army, a coalition against Lotor.

The trailer teases these Voltron events. Is that the paladins’ way of using Voltron to gain more support for the coalition?
LAUREN MONTGOMERY: Yeah, as Voltron goes around and helps and saves these planets and fights back against the Galra, he becomes a symbol to these people. So, just in him existing and doing what he does, his presence kind of just becomes this thing that people rally behind. They need to utilize that to call people to the cause and bring them into this coalition that they’re building, because they know they can’t fight this war alone. Something that we wanted to do from day one was make Voltron truly the Defender of the Universe and to have this huge world of aliens built out in space. In the first couple seasons, we were focusing so much on our paladins that we just got to see little glimpses of the rest of the world, or the rest of space, the universe. Now we really get to see a lot more of that. It’s been really fun to handle in the show.
DOS SANTOS: It’s that evolution. It’s that growing nature of the series, which I think we’re lucky to take a part of. The fact that it’s serialized, we’re able to sort of see this thing evolve.

Shiro returned at the end of season 3, but he’s no longer manning the Black Lion. How are the paladins adjusting to this new lineup?
DOS SANTOS: That’s the cool thing about this show. At this point, we’ve taken the original show and sort of internalized it and processed it and brought in as much as we felt this current iteration needed. Now it’s running on its own and it’s evolving in its own ways, so those character dynamics and how the characters deal with these new positions in this team dynamic and their relationships — all that stuff gets to kind of be the big surprise. We know Voltron is going to be there. We know all that stuff is going to happen, but now, how do the characters react to these new team dynamics? We don’t want to give any of that stuff away, obviously, but there are definitely repercussions to all of those things happening.

Credit: Dreamworks

How is Shiro handling being on the sidelines?
MONTGOMERY: I think he’s working through it. I think it’s a different dynamic for him, but being ever the team player that he is, I think he kind of understands that this is how things are for him now and that he’s going to have to adapt, and then we’ll just see how well that sticks.
DOS SANTOS: I think more so than his reaction, it’s almost about the people around him — how do they react to it? How do they deal with this situation?

The logline that we have for this season teased that Keith makes a choice that causes a rift between him and Team Voltron. What’s going on there?
DOS SANTOS: I think that is the tease. Keith, as we all know, is the most volatile of the characters, so it stands to reason that he might make some decisions that are a bit more rash than some of the others. We’ll just let that one hang out there. That’s as close as we’ll get to teasing it.

What does Allura add to the team now that she’s a paladin?
MONTGOMERY: I think it just kind of brings what Allura has always had to bring, but in a more immediate way. She struggled with it at first, but she is probably the closest to these ships as anyone is. She’s flown the captain ship all her life and her father was a paladin. It took her a little bit of time to adjust and figure out “Hey, these lions are totally different from the castle,” but once she figured that out, I think she has the potential to really increase at a much faster pace than a lot of the other characters do just because she’s been so close to it and she has that incredible kind of link to the quintessence, which we know is a huge part of what the lions are. I think a lot of what she has to bring to the team still remains to be seen.

Season 3 ended with Zarkon waking up. What does that mean for Lotor and his plans for the universe?
MONTGOMERY: Who knows? Maybe he was just like, “Oh, I like being asleep,” and now he’s going to go back to sleep.
DOS SANTOS: [Laughs] I doubt that’s going to happen.
MONTGOMERY: But it might!
DOS SANTOS: But it might! He might go right back to sleep. He’s on a staycation.
MONTGOMERY: I would. I’m just sayin’, I’d go back to sleep.
DOS SANTOS: Yeah, I think that’s the really cool thing, too, is along with our hero characters, we’ve also got this entire sort of imperial drama playing out on the other side of things. It is a really unique position to be in. Now, you’ve potentially got a bit of a power struggle that could take place sort of depending on what happens with Zarkon.
MONTGOMERY: Yeah, I think it’s an interesting mirror for our team where you have Shiro and Keith, two leaders, and that bringing a small bit of tension to the team, and then you also have the other side of things Lotor, who’s now stepped up to his leader position but then the original leader comes back. What kind of tension does that bring? It’s an interesting duality that’s happening on both sides.

Credit: Dreamworks

When you set out to introduce Lotor, did you always plan to go in this direction with having his situation mirror the paladins?
DOS SANTOS: We always knew that there would be an interesting dynamic between two leaders either vying or trying to figure out their role on the team, regardless of either side you’re talking about. It’s just interesting to see how those two things play.
MONTGOMERY: I don’t think we knew it from day one when we were thinking about Lotor and how we wanted to treat him, but as a lot of stuff happens in the show, the stories develop organically. So, things that we may have thought we wanted from day one, we ended up kind of phasing out, and things that we didn’t know we wanted, we ended up bringing in. As things started to take shape in the season, I think this interesting dynamic worked its way in. But day one when we were writing our bible, we weren’t like, “And then this is going to happen!” because we didn’t’ really have such specific details at that point.
DOS SANTOS: As we were pitching out Lotor as a character, I think the only real mandate that we had upfront was that he would just be a very different character than Zarkon.
MONTGOMERY: He’s remarkably less creepy than the original.
DOS SANTOS: Yeah, less creepy than original, but definitely differently than Zarkon. I think that sort of lends itself to interesting story lines.

The trailer hints that the paladins are in a pretty good place when the season starts. Is that a fair thing to take away from it?
DOS SANTOS: Yeah, I think they’ve, for the time being, worked things out?
MONTGOMERY: Yeah, they’re definitely not in a really tough place where they can’t function. They can certainly get along. I think there’s still a little bit of that Shiro settling into his position, Keith settling into his.
DOS SANTOS: They’re not where they were when Keith was super raging out.
MONTGOMERY: They’re figuring it out and they’re making it work, because ultimately, they’re a team and our heroes and they work through that stuff versus like getting caught up in their own [drama].
DOS SANTOS: And they’re evolving, too. Obviously, Keith went through that rage issue before whereas maybe now he wouldn’t be quite as bad at that.
MONTGOMERY: But yeah, I think it’s safe to say that they’re in a good position. They work together because they know they need to and they know what’s at stake, and there’s a much larger battle at stake. It’s not about your own personal feelings about something. It’s about the bigger picture.

Last thing: Will we see more of the multiverse this season?
MONTGOMERY: We’ll see more of Lotor’s plan this coming season and what he aims to do. That’s all we’re going to see.
DOS SANTOS: I think all things are on the table, so leave it open.

Voltron: Legendary Defender is heading to New York Comic Con on Oct. 7 at 11 a.m. Et, with Dos Santos, Montgomery, and cast members Josh Keaton and AJ LoCascio, all of whom will offer a sneak peek into the highly anticipated new season.

Voltron: Legendary Defender

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