Avatar: The Legend of Korra – 08

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“When Extremes Meet”

MeeSami is born?

Smooth Man, smooth – “You’re pretty, can I have some of your hair?” is surely the perfect pickup line.  Will this beautiful lady be able to resist Meelo’s charms?   Indeed, I thought all of the Tenzin children were quite humorous and charming this week – I’d like to see more of them in fact.  Ikki, especially, made quite an impact this week by blurting out to Asami that Korra was sweet on Mako.  I don’t know if that came as a surprise to her or not, but Asami’s defenses certainly seemed to have jumped to Defcon 2 at the very least.

The conspiracy theories are flying fast and furious around the interwebs this week.  Asami is Amon.  Tarlok is Amon.  Asami is Tarlok (OK, I made that one up).  Personally I don’t buy into any of these theories, and I definitely hope that Tarlok and Amon are different people, because I think it sets up an interesting dynamic to have two extremists at opposite ends of the political spectrum, with Korra caught in the middle.  I do think there’s something more to Asami than meets the eye, though – her supportive act rang a little bit false this week.  I don’t think she’s Amon but she’s almost certainly hiding something, and something important.

One things that’s really jumping out at me is just how much faster things are happening with Korra than they did with the original Avatar.  How long did Aang search for a firebending teacher before he became discouraged at his progress, for example?  Korra has already reached that point and we’re only eight episodes in.  It goes without saying the romantic side of the equation (as dysfunctional as it is) has moved light-years faster than the original show did.  I think this has led to a certain lack of subtlety and occasional bouts of plot convenience, where characters say and do things because the plot required them to do it.  We have older characters, technology, shorter seasons – it’s all natural, but it’s quite a change.

This was certainly the week the plot kicked into full-on high gear.  Korra and Tarlok escalated into full-on enemy mode (her description of his task force as a “vanity project” was spot-on).  Tarlok continues to run rings around Tenzin politically, to the point where he seems to effectively be the absolute ruler of Republic City.  The new police chief Saikhan (Richard Epcar) is in his hip pocket.  And Korra’s gang officially becomes a team – although truth be told, I hope they come up with a more interesting name than the wholly unimaginative “Team Avatar”.  This new team is a far remove from the Aang Gaang – and you need look no further than the fact that they have their own Avatar-mobile with a police scanner to see just how much things have changed in the Avatar-verse.

What we have now is effectively two extremist axes at either end of the power struggle – Tarlok and his indefinite detention without charges, wholesale arrests of non-benders “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” big brother squad, and Amon’s terrorist cult of personality.  The political commentary isn’t subtle, but it’s effective – and if the last ten real-world years have shown us anything, it’s that people like Amon and Tarlok need each other in order to thrive.  Kudos to Bryke for playing off that, even in as broad a manner as this.  Personally I’m more than ready for the connections to the first series via the Spirit World to assert themselves, and we may finally be getting to that point.  Tenzin is pushing Korra to explore the connection, and things are certainly desperate enough in the material world – Mako, Bolin and Asami are prisoners of Tarlok, and he’s after revealing that he has blood-bending ability (in the absence of a full moon, no less) he’s defeated Korra and is “taking her where no one will ever find here”.  Where have you gone, Avatar Aang – Republic City turns it’s lonely eyes to you.

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  1. A

    Blood bending shows up this week, things is getting more interesting. It seems Korra knows about blood bending, but I am curious about did Katara teach her ? or just telling her the old story and telling her is forbidden or something? Btw, I dont think that both Tarlok and the guy in flashback have any connection with Hama. The question is, how the hell they learn this technique? Realistically, blood bending is really effective against those chi-blockers and benders.

  2. K

    Katara vowed not to use it again and hated it so I doubt she'd teach Korra how to do it.

  3. N

    Why do people think that there is only one person who can discover something?
    Like Hama, someone else might have discovered it as well… and it spread.

    Seeing as Korra knows about it and talks like it is common knowledge, I think we can assume that there are more than few Bloodbenders now… but all known Bloodbenders require the Full Moon.

  4. Yeah, the full moon is the key – I always assumed there were a few bloodbenders out there even in Katara's time, but they all needed the full moon.

    I'm certain Katara wouldn't have taught Korra a skill she found personally repugnant. More like told her scary stories about it around the family campfire.

  5. J

    Whoa, if they take a two week-break to air a beautiful episode as this one was, then by all means, take your two weeks more often.

    Don't get me wrong, though–It was only beautiful on the presentation. The slo-mos, dose expressions…Gorgeous! Hell, even the men transporting the luggage from the ship, at the beginning, was awesome.

    But on the narrative side, even if it was a step forward, it wasn't such a stark improvement. That council is a joke; they could put some dolls in those three's seats and it'd be the same thing. They only obey Tarlok. By now, any fool wouldn't believe Tarlok's ridiculous plans, and instead would hear more for Tenzin's opinions. Hell, you guys could come of with some solutions yourself, wouldn't you, Council?
    Also, the same plot advancement awkwardness as usual. That scene with Korra crying and getting a pep talk from her friends was pathetic. In a split second, tears dissapeared and a happy "Okay, let's do it!" appeared instead. *What?*

    Other than that, very good episode, much better than previous ones. Is the finale next week? It sure seemed so with Korra's first real cliffhanger and a change in credits format too. I'd be somewhat dissapointed though, given that this show is only now getting to the interesting stuff =/

  6. J


    Oh, and this was the first time that Korra's music really had an impact in me. More specifically, that transition scene where Team Avatar rode to their second case, to the black-out part of the city.

    Oh, and writers really aren't bothering in making Bolin the loudest bufoon in the show. Sokka was at least funny sometimes too, dammit…

  7. A

    totally agree, hopefully Korra gets some character development, so that she would do stupid chit like "Patrol the city" before learning her air bending, hell she should have been spending that time trying to get to spirit world. . .and confronting tarlok? yeah hopefully she loses her "plot stupidity disease" although she DOES remind me of Zuko lmao. But yeah hopefully she'll get some spirit world/Aang advice/development now that she has no choice but to meditate.

  8. N

    *sigh* The problem here is that no matter how much she practices and tries, Korra CAN'T use Airbending or be spiritual. It went like that for years and even Tenzin's trainign fails to help. THATS the problem here and why she is so depressed. Even weeks/months of training with Tenzin are not helping.

    And World will not wait years for her to master all the elements. She has to do her best with what she has at her disposal. You would need to be retarded to sit and do nothing while world crumbles around, especially when you know that training is not going well at all… and that you are already one of best benders out there (her only problem is lack of experience but you won't gain that by just sitting around).

    It is not like she is unable to fight. She is one of strongest Benders of her time and if not for Blood Bending, Tarrlok would have been dead by now (she judged Tarrlok as a problem that needs to be removed at all costs… which is correct because Tarrlok indirectly and intentionally makes the problem bigger just so he could gain power… and Avatars tend to kill such people… true, she would have been punished for that but not nearly as much as anyone else would due to her being the Avatar).

  9. A

    I was thinking that Asami was doin that on purpose. . .eggging Korra on to do the patrol because I'm pretty sure that Asami is pretty damn smart, and IF she were Amon, then she knew that Korra would do something stupid and basically defeat herself, while Amon could use that to his advantage in a LOT of ways!

  10. S

    They really have studied the 1920s and 1930s really well. They've nearly turned Tarlok into an expy of AG Palmer & President Wilson.

    Since this time period is normally glazed past in most history classes, it should be noted this was easily the low-point for personal rights in US history. Leading up to the Palmer Raids ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmer_Raids ) and everything that happened after that. So the history buff in me appreciates the solid understanding of the era.

    But what I'm really curious about is more of that vision we've gotten from Aang's experiences. We've been getting bits & pieces of it for a while now. Apparently almost handless Blood Bending is possible. Insanely powerful and not something easily gotten past. That would explain the Avatar Mode images we've seen before, as that was likely the only way to counteract the effect. They've definitely made the stakes really high.

  11. SQA, I think you're overthinking this, trying to make it fit into the anti-communist parable you see it is. I think Bryke was going for the Patriot Act here with Tarlok, plain and simple – he even uses the word "terrorist" like a blunt instrument.

  12. D

    Maybe the full moon is only needed for those whose bending is weak? That's the only explanation I can think of. Hama taught it to Katara, and she discovered it on her own by practicing when her bending was at its strongest. But then Katara, being stronger and more talented, easily overpowered Hama's bloodbending, and was able to subdue her quickly in their fight. Since Katara alone knew the technique and hated it, she probably didn't think to try it even once outside of finding her mother's killer (which happened to be on the night of a full moon). Others with more potential than Hama may have practiced and experimented with it after hearing stories and discovered it was possible to bloodbend without the full moon. Even Yakone looks like he's bloodbending everyone in the room with little effort in broad daylight, but that's a story we'll probably learn about next week.

    Not sure if I like the three-sided war we have here with Tarrlok and Amon's power struggle and Korra trying to keep the peace, but this breakneck pacing makes her look really incompetent, since she's always leaping into the fray but she can't handle her main foes for much longer than five minutes. But considering the next two titles are "Out of the Past" and "Turning the Tides", this might change hopefully.

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