impulsors: lance (pic#10667417)
another stupid-looking kid. ([personal profile] impulsors) wrote in [personal profile] thenine 2016-12-04 09:24 am (UTC)

BASIC COMBAT | canonically, keith's punching sends four (deeply unprepared) adult doctors flying unconscious across the room. which suggests a certain level of cartoonish strength! it's hard to gauge hand-to-hand skill in a show where 90% of the action is giant robots pounding each other, but keith shows a practiced ease with blade and fists alike, using his bayard with some sense of actual technique. he isn't quick enough to dodge lasers as a good shounen protagonist might be, but he's consistent with his training, fastest on his team, and has good instincts and some physical skill. recklessness also makes him more open to dangerous moves that an opponent may not expect. call it a middling-level talent, probably, with plenty of room to improve.

PILOTING | possibly keith's one shining skill -- he's described as the most talented pilot of his generation, moves from acing garrison simulations to piloting a giant robot (and okay, sentient) lion with ease, and weaves through an asteroid belt without hitting a stone. practiced alien smugglers admire his skill with remarks like "this kid can flat-out fly." what this amounts to in practice: being able to handle most vehicles with some squiggling to figure out small differences between models, probably some knowledge of basic mechanical fixes, excellent at weaving through traffic and speeding without getting caught. definitely the guy you want as your getaway driver.

. . . PLOT-RELATED INTUITION | it's implied that keith has some galra affinity, which means he's done things like ~ sense ~ a connection to the blue lion's mystery, opened galra doors by putting his hand on an electronic handprint coded to acknowledge only galra soldiers, etc etc. i am assuming that all of this has to do with voltron-specific shenanigans, rather than general psychic powers, and will not be playing with it without further clarification, but y'know. in the interest of full disclosure, etc. he also has some kind of mental bond to the red lion, in that he can sense where it is if he focuses and tries, and the red lion will periodically show him new functions ~ in his mind ~ that'll get him through a battle. in conclusion: deus ex instincta.

Keith's a mess.

Enlisted at the Galaxy Garrison as the most talented pilot of his generation, he drops out. Stripped of the only position that's ever needed him, he wanders away from civilisation and chooses to spend months studying rocks in the desert. He gets angry when one of his team-mates suggests that she may leave the gang to go look for her lost family. His leader narrowly survives an encounter with their most dangerous enemy, a monster who's burned out galaxies and left millions in dread -- and Keith's first to ask, not whether he's okay, but if he accomplished the mission goal.

Put together, a pattern surfaces: Keith demands purpose. Keith is still young, a boy moved by anger and absolutes. And Keith is. . . not good with niceties, subtleties -- or any other kind of ties. Look, the boy clearly never learned to comb his hair. You can't expect him to know how to handle ties.

In an ensemble cast geared towards defending the universe, Keith's notable for being a contradiction in himself: he's the most devoted to the idea of working together, but the least connected to his team. He lacks the Garrison ties of Lance and Pidge and Hunk, who worked together as cadets, and never manages the princess's take-charge authority or Takashi Shirogane's king-next-door charisma. It isn't even that he likes groupwork and company. Supplementary materials tell us that Keith's a loner, and his actions in-series bear this out: he defaults to the vanguard position when the team walks out together, executes orders as he gets them, and defers to Shiro or Allura whenever an opportunity arises for him to contribute a serious opinion. Keith's idea of personal relationships borders on hilariously theoretical. "We had a bonding moment!" he tells Lance, his self-declared rival, in disbelief after the latter rejects him again. "I cradled you in my arms." Nevermind his awkwardness, his tendency to criticise others (mostly Lance) at the worst moments, his idealism which demands sacrifice of all else -- in Keith's world, physical closeness should be all you need to level up your social link. (Let all Persona-franchise characters take this opportunity to count their blessings that Keith's not one of theirs.) It isn't that he's afraid of intimacy or friendship, but ultimately, he gears towards cooperation because saving the universe demands it, and Keith isn't one for holding back.

Luckily, what Keith lacks in social heft, he makes up with grim sincerity. Keith's devotion is an absolute -- to the point of actual danger. With great instincts come. . . well, a total lack of self-preservatory intelligence. Cut loose from outside instructions, Keith's reckless and thoroughly disinterested in caring for himself: he charges headlong into the fray against an alien battalion, sets off bombs as distractions, chases conspiracy theories for months on end. This goes some way towards explaining the 'disciplinary problems' he had at the Garrison -- if the end's greater than the means, it's hard to see why he should follow a particularly stupid regulation just to get into space, where there are no rules.

His sole saving grace is perhaps when all that recklessness comes under control -- turns to loyalty and blind, undying belief. Where Keith commits himself, whether to saving the known universe or tobeing a little too good a friend, he does so without regard for little things like 'actual odds of success' or 'common sense'. It never seems to occur to him to ask, for example, whether Shiro's actually fit to lead with all of his equivocations, his midbattle breakdowns, and the uncontrolled alien prosthetic attached where his right arm used to be. This suggests an absolute trust -- and a striking bit of impractical blindness coming from the boy who'll tell a fourteen-year-old, with clear-eyed fury, that she has no right to put rescuing her lost father and brother (sent to a labor camp and an alien hunger games setup, respectively) before the fate of the universe.

Purpose and a good cause is everything to Keith, but not, it seems, without exceptions.

Call it instinct, maybe -- but Voltron seems to use that term very narrowly. Despite its vaunted penchant for pilots who rely on instinct more than skill alone, the Red Lion only chooses Keith after he bashes open a bay door to sweep out an unbeatable number of enemy soldiers into open space -- and himself nearly with them. When the plot doesn't call for Keith to drive it forward, instincts lead him to pull a blade on a small cuddly alien, to dive nosefirst and alone at an emperor who hasn't suffered defeat in ten thousand years -- and to say ". . . Voltron?" to a prompt of "When I say VOL, you say TRON. Vol--?!" Keith really isn't good at small cues; he's impulsive, wary when facing unknowns, reckless with everything that comes into his own hands. He's quick with a dry putdown and quicker to take his marching orders, the only main character ever to say yes, sir. His personal convictions shade towards black-or-white, and he relies on a few trusted others to pull him back when he's going too far.

And yet: when told to focus, an unguarded Keith dreams his way back to an empty cabin in the desert, where he had nothing to gain and nothing left to lose.

In short: Keith's a loner, inexperienced and blunt, bad at following rules and making friends and not taking things literally. He's brutal with his devotion, quick to flare when someone tramples on one of his broad ideals. He understands the world in terms of sacrifice, and the worst of him is this: that it's not quite clear whether he has a vision of his own. Keith talks a big game about saving the universe, but not about living in it after the fact. He never seems to think about going home.

But for a boy who's always moved from cause to cause, there's probably something dangerous in the idea of a universe that can't put him to good use anymore.

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