As the third season of “Voltron: Legendary Defender” debuts on Netflix, you might assume that by this point, Voltron and the team are seasoned vets at joining and saving the universe. But the producers are taking a slower approach.

Instead, the new season of “Voltron” (available to stream Aug. 4) starts with the paladins (the pilots of the five Voltron lions) still reeling from the Season 2 finale showdown that saw Voltron barely able to defeat former black lion paladin Zarkon. The battle was not without a deep personal loss: the disappearance and possible death of black lion paladin Shiro.

Consequently, there is no Voltron at the beginning of Season 3. Instead, the remaining paladins are doing the best they can with the lions they have. Hunk (yellow lion) and Lance (blue lion) still run rescue missions to parts of the universe that need help. Pidge (green lion) is focused on finding her missing family. Keith (red lion) is devastated by the loss of Shiro, and searching for his lost leader and friend.

Voltron is literally in pieces. But with the help of Princess Allura and her trusty aide Coran, the team tries to bring the robot legend back to being. However, there’s a lot of soul-searching that has to take place first.

Voltron has inspired hope that Zarkon’s grip on the universe isn’t as ironclad as it once was. But that hope fades when people begin to realize the black lion is no longer around and the paladins can’t offer protection as the fully formed giant robot.

Getting Shiro’s black lion back online isn’t just a matter of giving it a new paladin. The lions share a psychic bond with whoever their pilot is and that person can only take control when a lion allows them to do so.

If you’re wondering if this is the moment that brings Keith to the black lion — a moment fans have anticipated, as it would make team Voltron look like the roster from the ’80s — it is. But don’t expect instantly successful results.

At the beginning of Season 3, Keith is far from a great leader. (Comic Riffs was provided the first two episodes from Netflix.) When the team comes to him many times wondering what they should do, he doesn’t have the answers.

While Voltron doesn’t form in the first two episodes, you get the feeling that if that did happen, the robot wouldn’t be the world defender seen at the end of Season 2. It helps to set up the eventual moment that when this new (and yet old-school) squad does form Voltron, it will feel like the first special time all over again.

There’s also the matter of the red lion needing a new paladin with Keith’s (temporary?) leader status. If you’re a fan of the original series, you’ll love how this gets resolved.

Not following the original series to the letter is what has made this series seem so fresh to Voltron fans. Voltron will surely rise again, but can Keith lead the team against the new threat of Zarkon’s son, the manipulative fan favorite, Prince Lotor?

Lotor, who makes his first appearance this season, is a step ahead of everyone in the first few episodes and doesn’t seem the least bit threatened by the possibility of Voltron’s return.

While it’s easy to keep waiting for “Voltron” to mirror what some watched as kids, the more it doesn’t, the better it gets. This may be the season that the show finally begins to lean more heavily on its animated ’80s roots, but the slow and steady journey to familiarity has made this show a must-watch streaming event.

The Season 2 finale — the Voltron/Zarkon battle — was one of the greatest moments in Voltron’s pop-culture history, with an episode so well produced you wonder if it could ever be topped. However, two episodes into this new season will make you realize this creative team is ready to produce the same kind of magic once again.

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