Avatar: The Legend of Korra – 05

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Korra is certainly fundamentally different than the original Avatar on every level when it comes to the romantic side of the equation.

Bryke just aren’t messing about here, are they?  “The only guy she had eyes for” – right in the recap?  LOL – talk about getting to the point!  We’ve had more overt grist for the shipping mill thrown at us in five eps of Korra than we did in three seasons the first go-around.  That makes some sense in the context that the characters here are older, and not in a constant state of fighting for their lives.  But I also wonder if it isn’t a conscious decision on the part of Mike and Bryan to confront this issue head-on this time, rather than dancing around  it (and to tweak the hell out of the shipper community, just for the fun of it).

There’s no getting around the fact that I like Bolin better than Mako, but that’s not really a problem for me as a viewer because I find the global plot of much more interest than the romantic subplot anyway, and if that weren’t enough Bolin was eliminated as a potential partner for Korra so early that there was never time to get my hopes up.  What I’m really hoping for, though, is that the series delivers something more than what looks to be a supremely predictable triangle – the dark, brooding hunk is naturally the “serious” love interest, and the nice-guy goofball just someone to have fun with (as if that were a poor basis for a relationship).  What I’m hoping we don’t see is Bolin relegated to that kind of cage – the other guy, the comic relief, the likable loser who always screws up.  As the most engaging character in the cast so far (apart perhaps from Amon himself) he deserves a much better fate than that.

Given the overall strength of the canon plot as compared to the characters so far, you might have thought that an ep dedicated completely to shipping would be a weak one – but thankfully, it was quite good.  The dialogue was definitely a step up this time, with some very solid laugh lines, though the overall dynamic of the main quadrangle is still quite simplistic.  Korra loves Mako, Bolin loves Korra, and Mako isn’t sure who he loves.  He seems happy enough to be with Asami, but can’t stop thinking about Korra – and when she goes on her “date” with Bo, he’s insanely jealous.  Worse, he has the nerve to pretend he’s displeased because he’s trying to “protect his kid brother” – not Mako’s finest moment by a long stretch.  There’s too much ego involved in both he and Korra for me to have too much sympathy for either of them at this point – they deserve to be in this mess, based on the way they’ve behaved.

It is funny to see just how clueless Korra is about romance, despite her years – actually taking advice from Tenzin’s pre-teen daughters (definitely go with the volcano, Kiddo).  So she has an excuse for her insensitive behavior towards Bolin, at least – and she did get some advice from someone who’s actually been with a guy, Pema, to make her play for Mako because that’s what Pema did when she was competing for Tenzin (Lin Beifong, anyone?).  Free advice is worth what you pay for it, they say, and that’s about how well Pema’s worked out for the Fire Ferrets – but hey, at least it’s all out on the table.  Now what are we going to talk about for the next season and a half?

The tournament action was fun – as usual very nicely animated.  The notion of the tiebreaker round was a clever one, with the side winning the coin-flip choosing the bending discipline – and it was nice to see Bolin actually not made out to be useless for once (though this was corrected by the end of the ep, alas).   I wasn’t wild about the addition of Tahno (Rami Malek) to the cast – he seems like a stock cartoon villain if we’ve ever seen one.  And my hope is that the Fire Ferrets don’t win the tournament, because frankly that seems a little outrageous for their first go-around – though I can hardly imagine them losing to a stock enemy like Tahno and his team. I’d assume the final match is going to comprise the bulk of the next episode, after which things will probably re-focus on Amon and the Equalists.

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  1. E

    About Bolin – I remember Bryke saying that he was going to have a serious character arc, so I wouldn't worry about him being trapped as comic relief. Bolin's a favorite of mine, too, so I'm certainly looking forward to it.

  2. p

    Tahno the stock villain? Well maybe slightly but I rather liked him as an antagonistic character/rival considering all the shipping wank thrown into this ep (how on earth did nick allow all a character like Tahno? He literally drips with sexually charged innuendo xD).
    I hope with this Bryke are getting rid of ship preconception nonsense everyone had, and can now focus on plot/story. If you see any trailer/preview/leak, you can deduce that next week something huge is going down.
    Also its nice to see teenagers realistically portrayed, cause all teenagers make mistakes and most have messy relationships. Asami and Mako's relationship is in its early stages yet and its slightly more understandable for him to be confused about liking Korra as well (I wouldn't have liked it if they were already a established couple). Bolin has all this and next season to prove himself more than a comedic relief and useless. I just hope the Makorra (seems like the most probable end couple) happens later rather than sooner. It would be unhealthy at this point of time, and Masami needs to run its course. Mako needs to own up and confess to Asami though. And Korra being able to overlook her jealousy and thank Asami for her supporting of the team was mature. Asami needs more depth to her character before I can connect with her. There are some interesting theories about her floating around.

  3. p

    Oh and I'm definately more of a Bolin fan than Mako fan, but most of Mako's life must have been protecting and taking care of his brother while trying to crawl his way out of poverty and homelessness. In a way I get why he groped so much, he has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Bolin on the other hand seems to have been sheltered a lot by his brother and so is more naive/innocent/childish than his brother (seriously Bolin? You burst out crying with an adorable ugly and snot flowing face instead of just leaving silently? xD)
    Korra also seems to have no clue about boys and relationships. Her entire life has been sheltered and being taken care of by the White Lotus while learning the different styles of bending. Pema's advice was disastrous for a brash young girl who always acts before thinking things through.
    Btw I always lurk on your blog, and am always waiting for your posts on my fave shows, so this huge rant here is all my opinions based on the past 5 eps xD

  4. p

    Why he broods* so much (on Mako and responsibilities) xD Stupid typos

  5. I don't see Mako confessing to Asami solving anything, because he's obviously much more hung up on Korra. And while Asami is perfectly nice and a good catch, I hope she doesn't get shipped with Bo – because that implies he's only good to have Mako's rejects. No, thanks.

  6. Oh, and thanks for de-cloaking and posting!

  7. K

    I just hope Bolin gets a nice girl that realizes his worth. Personally if I was a teenage cartoon character living in the Avatar world he would be the guy I would choose in a second…but alas.

    Even though I have some issues with the way Mako talks to Korra at times, his confusion between Korra & Asami sort of reminds me of the discussions we had concerning Taichi & Chihaya and Taichi and his unnamed girl friend. Mako isn't tied to Asami (and either was Korra tied to Bolin) so I understand that teens can be confused and make mistakes in situations like this.

    Still I wouldn't say romance is a strong point in the series for me. I was never one for love triangles, especially when they are so in your face like this. I kind of wish the characters' relationship would grow outside of teenage romance.

    Now based on clips I saw in the season preview (I won't specify because I don't want to spoil) I have a feeling this episode was just the calm before the storm. Even though we are headed to the pro-bending finale next week, I think there will be much more to the episode than that. I am really hoping something will happen that will make Mako & Bolin; Korra's teammates in more than just pro-bending.

  8. A

    ''It is funny to see just how clueless Korra is about romance, despite her years''

    It's really due to just how sheltered she was all her life up to this point. I find this to be a really great detail, and actually the one aspect I think that separates Korra from Aang as the Avatar. All throughout the series so far we have been seeing just how clueless Korra really is thanks to her Trapped Princess upbringing and limited world knowledge. Great stuff.

    In other news, I should catch up soon …

  9. A

    hmmm to me it seems like korra is going to end of with none of those dudes, and bryke put this stupid romance out there to get it over with and not have it get in the way of the story (which would be nice for a change) and dude BO, I wish I could tell him to chill out, and focus and not fall in love with every pretty girl he sees. if he just foucused alone on improving his skills hed be so good that he would be famous and girls would be FALLING OVER to get to him.

  10. S

    Pema's advice wasn't actually bad, but she had an established relationship (non-romantic) before the confession, it would seem. That's kind of an important point that Korra wouldn't have noticed. Korra took it as battle orders, which is the interesting part of her personality.

    As for Bolin X Korra possibilities, frankly, Bolin (in his current make up) wouldn't ever stand up to her. A relationship wouldn't work without the ability to do that. His character could keep the humor, but he'd need to lose a lot of the childishness. If they planned to go that way, Bolin would probably need to stop Korra from saving an enemy or outright kill one himself, say Amon. He'd need a much harsher edge to deal with Korra's own tendency to make blockheaded decisions.

  11. On your first point, I think the reason that expression about "free advice" exists isn't because of the advice itself, but the context in which it's offered. And here, point proven.

    On the second, I don't see the need to judge romantic possibilities based on strategic concerns. Bolin doesn't have to be as strong as Korra to be a love partner (nor does anyone else, for that matter) – they just have to be personally compatible.

  12. e

    For sure Korra and Bo can burp so beautifully together :,D. But even if he matures a little I'd rather see him going for Asami as his partner in the end… he might enjoy her pampering and charm while still being his attentive and companionable funny knight self ;D, while she loosens up a bit and could keep him a bit more grounded.
    Basically within this series context so far in terms of potential couples I think that swapping partners and going the complementary personalities route would work best than going the affinity route. But that's just me and there are a lot of episodes to go and things that could change, my impressions included ;).
    In terms of plot, this seems to be the quiet before the storm. I wonder if Amon will find a way to strike during the tournament… a mass media-covered stage there for the (over)taking…

  13. E

    I love how they didn't just drop Pro-bending. They are balancing out the story line. Because all of this is in the context of a single city, we do not have to sacrifice character development with making sense of new characters with new problems.

    This episode was very strong in the shipping department. Bolin is so lovable in this episode, and I can sympathize with reaction to the kiss, drama and running and all. This series really makes me think that the producers have adapted the show to a broader audience, especially given all the fan material in this episode. I just hope we get to see more of the wisdom culture that made the first series so great.

  14. E

    Geez, I thought this was the weakest episode yet. :/

  15. A

    At the end of episode twelve, Korra and Mako kissed, which I was so glad! I love mako, but I think Bolin deserves someone like him, not Korra. He needs a girls who is just as funny as he is.

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