Avatar: The Legend of Korra – 10

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“Turning the Tides”

I’m finding my reaction to “Korra” remarkably consistent.  I find the plot fascinating, and the character stuff tedious.  That’s usually a recipe for disaster for me, but in this case it’s working out OK because the plot has been the main focus about 80% of the time.  But really, it’s surprising to me that I like the series as much as I do when I find Korra, Mako and Asami as uninteresting as I do.  I think in hindsight Korra made a mistake in jumping right into the full-on shipping stuff before we ever really got to know the characters.  The main romance triangle has no spark whatsoever, and I don’t especially like any of them as characters either.  That’s a pretty major problem any way you slice it, but it’s not a deal-breaker in this case.

It’s definitely the supporting cast and the premise that make this a consistently entertaining show.  Hell, Bolin stealing food off Korra’s plate was more entertaining than anything the main trio did during the entire episode.  But the supporting players were busy doing a lot more than filching bao – even Tenzin’s kids got into the act.  And then there was that little blockbuster at the end, but we’ll get to that.

I was a little surprised – but only a little – to have Amon make his big move quite so soon.  It suggests the possibility that he might be just the S1 antagonist, and not the top boss of the entire series.  Really, nobody in Republic City has been a match for Amon – not the Avatar, not Tenzin or Tarrlok, not Lin Beifong or her successor, not even the White Lotus.  Tenzin is a helluva airbender, no doubt about it, but not much of an administrator.  The city has never seem prepared for Amon’s next move.  It doesn’t help that he has Sato-san’s money behind him and an army of moles inside the city government, but his abduction of the Council was just the latest example of his major initiatives coming off swimmingly.

Tenzin’s issues go a lot deeper than that, though – his wife is hanging out with his ex-sweetheart and about to have a baby, too.  There were some real signs of jealousy from Pema this week, and this triangle is generally much more interesting than the next gen one going on with Korra.  It can’t have been easy for Tenzin to beg Lin to watch over his family, or for her to say yes, but whether it was due to residual feelings for him or the fact that they’re the last Airbenders she fulfills the role as best she can.  She’s also no match for Amon’s forces despite her wicked bending skills, and it takes an intervention by Tenzin’s chibis to save the day.

Seems to me as if Tenzin probably made the only decision he could when he fled the city with his (now four) kids and wife, and ordered Korra to do the same – though I can’t imagine it’s going to win them much love from the citizenry they left behind.  His SOS does eventually bring the cavalry – a squadron of Fire Nation ships led by Genreal Iroh (voiced by none other then Dante Basco) – a grandson, perhaps, or a nephew or the now elderly Firelord Zuko?  But not before Lin herself is captured by Amon in the act of freeing Tenzin and his family from pursuit.  Amon appears to take Lin’s bending away – but I’m not sold that’s exactly what happened.  It looked different this time, somehow.

I suppose the big question now is whether next week’s double-episode finale wraps up the Amon arc altogether, or leaves him in command of Republic City, and the recapture of it the focus of S2.  Amon definitely has big plans that don’t stop at Republic City’s borders, and there remains the possibility that his energybending could be reversed, and bending powers restored.  In any event one thing Korra has lacked so far is the sense of global peril the first Avatar had – after all, Aang was trying to save the world, and Korra’s just trying to save a city.  I hope that either Amon’s Equalist rebellion expands to a global presence next season or the series moves on to a threat that does (we may get the answer next week) – but in any case, let’s keep the focus squarely on the plot and not get bogged down in the high-school romantic hijinks.

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  1. D

    Pretty sure Amon is just the S1 villain, but we'll know for sure next week. I would like him to be the villain throughout the entire series, since he's a pretty great foil for a large number of characters, but can't have everything.

    And I'm sort of with you on the romance angle, except that I do find sympathy/attachment with at least Korra and Asami as characters. I wish they'd focus more on Korra's airbending, or even her block with it, rather that this love triangle. It just paints the characters in a bad light because we rarely see them interacting outside of it, especially Mako, with his wishy-washiness by not committing his feelings to either girl and the fact that he pins blame on Bolin as the one who told Asami about his kiss with Korra rather than just confronting the issue.

    Also, Amon taking Lin's bending didn't look any different from the other times he's done it? Other than her dramatically falling, it's what he's always done. In fact, the very first time he did it was particularly dramatized since he took Zolt's bending while Zolt was actually bending, and we got to see it in action so yeah.

    Also, I nearly lost it seeing General Iroh at the ending holy shit it was a mixture of being happy and sad and proud.

    Really looking forward to the finale, especially since this episode was exciting to watch.

  2. q

    The only thing the romance angle is doing is making me loathe Mako more. He is seriously the most useless and annoying character. Unfortunately, it looks like Bolin has been relegated to the funny sidekick.
    Interesting how the show is called the Legend of Korra, but it really isn't about Korra, at all. As you said, it's the side characters. Lin is my hero too, Meelo *sobs uncontrollably*

  3. A

    The series shouldn't even be titled as "The Legend of Korra" when all the other characters that are not Korra seem to play more important roles than her. And Mako is turning out to be as big a douche as Amon.

    I hope they ditch the romance and focus on other matters.
    Saving a city is far more important than saving a relationship.

  4. h

    here here, they need to end the relationship stuff. I'm tired of watching pandering to the sh ipping fans, hell they should ha ve left the romance stuff at "mako is asamis boyfriend" and leave it at that. anything else is just using tired tired TIRED OLD cliches that makes me skip through parts of the episode

  5. D

    Could not agree with you more..even if team avatar was basically doing nothing here..it;d made them more credible character..well especially Mako if they had done that..and it'd send a good message as well.

  6. L

    I can't find it anywhere, but I remember Mike and Bryan saying they want a whole new villain in season 2, with nothing related to Amon and a new arc. Don't trust me on this, but considering Korra is moving so fast I wouldn't be surprised if the finale next week really is the end of Amon's arc.

    As for the shipping… I usually just ignore it.

    Bending really seems weaker than in TLA, since in Korra it's mostly wimpy little wisps of fire and water, or small blocks for earth. Lin may be the most impressive earthbender right now, but the others are (really) sorta lame… Just a couple bolas will down any bender, apparently. And I remember Mako generating lightning for the electricity factory, so why hasn't he used that against the equalists, who show time and time again they're weak to Asami's /power glove/? He redirected it this ep, but I know he can do better.

    All this bending being weak to modern weapons reminds me of The Last Samurai, where the samurai are clearly the more skilled force yet faced extinction when modern weapons and armies emerge. We don't need to see all the benders gunned down in slomo; on the contrary, I'd love to see them kick some equalist ass for once. But right now, it's kinda underwhelming, don't you guys think?

  7. N

    Equalists are specialized anti-benders and usually over-number their foes. Amon would not have started the Revolution if his Equalist soldiers were not stronger than average benders… well, besides the Lieutenant who last every one of his fights.

    And you really shouldn't compare bending to ATLA's: ATLA's benders lived in time of a war that has raged for more than a century while LoK's benders live in time of 70 years long peace with only one nation in the world.

  8. H

    Erm, four nations, both of the water tribes, Earth Kingdom, and Fire Nation still exist, Republic City is a new area formed from former Fire Nation colonies in the Earth Kingdom that needed it's own government.

  9. L

    I guess it's the lack of exposure to the world outside Republic City? We don't see a whole lot of benders who excel at their element, or the really powerful benders like the White Lotus guys who were liberating Ba Sing Se. If I can extrapolate from Nayreal's reply, the lack of powerful benders is because most are not in Republic City–we just haven't seen them. The only bending that does look stronger: Tarrlok's bloodbending.

    On the other hand, it does look like peacetime has been bad for bending. The weakened bending plus an army of chi-blocking, electrifying pseudo-Ty Lees probably would make bending look weaksauce… D:

  10. K

    I was also thinking that the benders in general seemed rather weak, but the fact that it's been over 70 years of peace seems to explain it. Although to be fair, Ty-Lee did fare quite well even against the stronger benders in TLA

  11. A

    This episode made me realize how laughable metal benders are. I once considered them one of the most powerful bending elements,which like earth benders they can tear up a floor section and like a HULK do some considerable damage, also considering the world is now industrialized they should find no problem obtaining metal, but its laughable because their armor and body can all be subdued by a super magnet and knowing now it makes sense. Another note, I think water benders are severely limited to their potentials. In both series there is not a strong supply of liquid for which water can be manipulated and shaped. As for liquids are waterbenders solely using hydrogen and oxygen molecules or could there be straight up oilbenders.

    Its a shame that this avatar whom a waterbender doesn't use the bending as explosive or frequently as she does with the other elements. Just saying?

  12. L

    Considering water covers so much of the world, it's just that they're in the wrong place for waterbending. They'd have no problems if the story were set near the ocean at all times, but that's where firebending would be at disadvantage. Same with earthbending, in certain places (desert, ocean, in the air). Air is always in excess, so it's probably the most reliable in terms of availability, but notice how there's no fatal finishing attacks, unlike the others. And remember, Hama showed Katara that water exists in plants and people and thin air.

    The elements in Avatar are from China and Japan, with 9 of 10 elements seen (I don't recall seeing woodbending, but maybe the swamp benders are close enough). Oil isn't one of them, and has no applications in other bending fields. The closest would be earthbending, since oil has a lot of carbon, but even that's pushing it.

  13. A

    Agreed, and I suppose air benders could create a concentrated closed vacuum to suffocate someone or just jettison their opponents 20ft into the air or off a cliff to prove fatal.

    As to the 10 elements you are referring to, Im intrigued, I've only come up with 8.

  14. L

    Ah sorry, I was adding them up, forgetting that Earth, Water, and Fire are shared between them. So that's 7 classical asian elements (6 of which we've seen: Earth/Water/Fire/Air and the less common Spirit/Metal)

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