|Air date||December 14th, 2018|
|Written by||Lauren Montgomery|
Launch Date is the first episode of the 8th season of Voltron: Legendary Defender. Focusing on the Voltron and Earth Defense Force's preparations to take the war against the Galra to space, it involves a great deal of character development and a great many homages to Voltron: Defender of the Universe. It was released by Netflix along with the rest of the season on Friday, December 14th, 2018.
The 8th season of Voltron: Legendary Defender begins with the 8th episode of the original series, as Pidge is watching it in her room. As the screen shifts from a shot of the snake-robeast form of Bokar to one of the original Pidge exclaiming "I'm all shook up!" in his...iconic...voice, she asks whether she really sounds like that.
Meanwhile, Allura and Romelle are watching their Altean assailant from the previous episode in the hospital bay. She hasn't yet regained consciousness, but Romelle has identified her as a member of Lotor's colony.
Also meanwhile, Hunk meets with a sullen Lance to gush about how great it is to be heroes with their own TV show in what just might be the most meta-fictional display since the invention of the clip show. He describes Lance's depiction as being spot-on, Allura as being "...different", and Coran being close but too serious, but what strikes him as being most off is that Keith is happy, and there is a subtle subtext of a possible romance between him and Allura. This last bit rouses Lance from his state of despondency to one of fury; he is upset that he never worked up the courage to ask Allura out on a date. Hunk reminds him that he might never get another chance as they will all be shipping out tomorrow, and urges him to ask Allura. With Hunk's tacit (and sometimes very physical) help, Lance is successful (although the date is for dinner with him and his large family)!
Allura and Romelle seek out Pidge's help in finding proper Earth dress for such an occasion, and with some diplomacy her mother agrees to remove Pidge's grounding on this occasion (she was being punished for having flown off to save the universe without permission). They proceed to the "mall" which now looks much like the dilapidated bazaar Coran originally imagined so many episodes ago. There Pidge spots a copy of one of the last video games released before the Galra invasion, and as it is of her most-beloved RPG series she tries to purchase it. However, owing to the near-annihilation of all Terran civilization, only the barter system is in place and she has nothing to trade. When her friend points out that she is a Paladin of Voltron, the game's owner remarks that he loves that show, which prompts Pidge to adopt the voice, mannerisms, and eventually even the costume of her originator from long ago. Allura tries on several outfits - including the pink jumpsuit worn by her originatrix from long ago - before settling on a nice pink dress, for which the four-armed proprietor tries to immensely overcharge her (with agreements of indentured servitude!). Fortunately, he also is interested in the video game, which Pidge nobly gives up for Allura's happiness.
Meanwhile, Coran puts Lance through a rigorous process to become properly attired to have dinner with an Altean Princess, improvising the proper costume with whatever they can find around the house (such as pots, pans, and sausage links). Fortunately, Lance takes a break to find Keith atop Black Lion watching his last Earth sunset for awhile, and Keith reminds him that Allura agreed because she likes the Lance of Earth, who knows what he has to offer.
Lance and Allura have a laughter-filled dinner with the many members of the Red Paladin's family, but the toast to family itself leaves the Princess saddened that she is the only member of the team without one. The two take a walk through a desiccated wood, and Allura heals the greatest tree before explaining her feelings of sorrow to Lance. Lance offers to make Allura part of his family, confessing her love for her and being rewarded with a beautiful loving kiss.
Allura's thoughts must return to the mission, however, as she finds Coran and Romelle, the latter having witnessed the last moments of the Altean mecha pilot, which were full of accusations of betraying Lotor and assurances that Honerva would bring him back and destroy them all. Allura suggests changing their plan to Shiro, but he insists that their mission will lead them to Honerva (though Allura believes it will instead lead Honerva to them).
The episode ends as the space force is gathered together outside, and a stirring speech is delivered by Shiro, Keith, and Princess Allura.
"They got you...Allura is...different...Coran is OK, but too...serious...and Keith is happy! ..They got so much wrong!"
- Hunk offers an excited review of Voltron: Defender of the Universe to an especially-moody Lance
"If she were desperate for something to believe in, that may have made her susceptible to manipulation."
- Allura makes a statement that could be used by those pro- and anti-religion alike, but which actually refers to the Altean mecha-pilot's being duped to the point of violence by Honerva
- This episode's title is something of a triple-pun, referring to the imminent launch of the Voltron Force back into space, the episode's literal release on the launch date of the final season of Legendary Defender, and even the (more dinner than the homynymous "lunch") date between Lance and Allura.
- At the end of the end-of-episode credits, Pidge's voice is heard exclaiming, "I'm descended from ninjas!" This is a reference to a claim made by his Beast King GoLion counterpart, as he was not only from Earth but also Japanese!