The Sand People is the forty-second episode of the lion series of Voltron: Defender of the Universe.
After being alerted to more trouble from Planet Doom, Coran has received a distress signal from an old friend, Professor Zarwa. Who has been doing research on a planet covered in sand. It's a barren planet, but the native people are friendly. The professor wishes to prevent its friendly inhabitants from becoming unwilling pawns in Haggar's plan to make hundreds of them into Robeasts.
So the Voltron Force fly their Lions to the distant planet. After some difficulty flying through the atmosphere, the team splits up to scout for the professor. The Black lion finds some tracks, Blue lion scouts a dried up river bed, Red lion checks over some hills. Meanwhile the Yellow lion and Green lion's sensors pinpoint an enemy ship descending into a secret underground lair. Pidge moves in for a closer look but is attacked by several large snakes. They wrap themselves around Green lion's limbs and start unscrewing its joints. Pidge can't shake them loose until a mysterious stranger arrives and fires some bolts of electricity at them, the strategy works, vaporizing the robotic snakes. The stranger is then revealed to be Professor Zarwa.
Pidge thanks Zarwa, who introduces himself. The professor explains that Lotor's base is below and the snakes guard it, having injured a number of the local Sand People. Professor Zarwa then has Keith call the others to follow him into a cave.
Over a fire, the professor explains that he came to the planet to learn about the Sand People. Keith asks why the Sand People haven't fought back. Zarwa goes on, explaining that he led a failed attack that got many of them captured. Pidge is confident they will have more success this time. Zarwa however is against it, as the snakes would have reported the intrusion, and the captives are hostages. Zarwa suggests meeting the Sand People. Zarwa leads the team through the cave to an enclosed outdoor area. There's no sign of the sand people, until Zarwa calls out to them. They emerge from hiding beneath the dunes and Allura meets a crowd of them. Allura quickly befriends them, even giving one of them a gift in the form of her bracelet. The Voltron Force and the Sand People get along well.
The happiness of the moment is soon shattered when the shadow of Lotor's command ship looms overhead. The Sand People dig into the sand in order to hide. Lotor's ship then descends and it launches several tanks. The tanks start capturing the Sand People. The Lions arrive and attack the tanks. They destroy the tank forces so Lotor blasts all five lions. Lotor orders the Lions buried under the sand. His command ship fires and the Lions are buried under a massive tidal wave of sand.
Lotor picks out the bracelet wearing Sandy to be the first victim of the Robeast transformation. The transformation is successful, transforming Sandy into a monster.
Meanwhile, the Yellow lion is making a tunnel to help rest of the group escape the sand. Mogor learns of this. An alert sounds, heard even by Sand People kept in their cells. Mogor reports this to Lotor, who notices the base is shaking.
The Lions then break into the base and destroy the robot guards. Lotor's base rises out of the sand and explodes. Lotor flees in his command ship, while the Lions pursue, until Sandy leaps out of the base to attack. The Lions, now carrying the freed Sand People in their cockpits, prepare to fight. Allura recognizes her bracelet and the Robeast as Sandy. Sandy tries to tackle the Lions out of the air. The team at first tries to reason with him, which only seem to make things worse. When that fails the decide to form Voltron.
Voltron and Sandy grapple for a bit when Lance notices the glowing red S on Sandy's chest must be important. Allura tries to knock Sandy off-balance. Voltron then pins Sandy down and smashes the S, which turns out to be a control device. Without that, Sandy shrinks back to normal size. Lotor escapes, noting that he should not have sent a midget to do a giant's job.
Allura goes to Sandy who is in a "deep sleep" and will "recover soon". Despite the good news, Pidge is still angry and cries into the heavens for Lotor to get lost.
- Professor Zarwa
Allura: "Tell me, what's your name?"
Hunk: "Sandy, what else?"
— Allura tries to come up with a name for her new alien friend, Hunk comes up with one that's easy to remember
"A villain like Zarkon could capture 'em with lollipops."
— Keith, pointing out how the locals are no match for Zarkon's forces
Zarwa: "There are no snakes in this area."
Hunk: "Except maybe a few of Zarkon's two-legged kind."
— Hunk and the professor, discussing how duplicitous Zarkon and his forces can be
Notes and Goofs
- It is unknown if Sven had been transferred to Planet Pollux, or was still assigned to the Castle of Lions. In any event, if he was still assigned to the castle, he was obviously not deployed on this mission, even though Allura would have had the perfect excuse to do so, seeing as the Voltron Force had deployed in the middle of the night. Maybe she wanted an excuse to sleep in late?
- Some Doom soldiers were explicitly shown to be killed, or at least horribly burned (from the attack by Yellow Lions after it breached into the underground base).
- In the original source material, Sandy died. Since he had no obvious on-screen mortal injuries, the editors simply stated he survived.