The Legend of Korra, Episodes 1-6

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Right, so I keep telling myself that I’m going to do some awesome and amazing catch-up posts for every single episode that has aired so far. But then a funny thing happens: a new episode comes out every week, like magic. It’s quite obvious to me at this point that I don’t have time to do proper posts for each episode and the longer I put it off, the more this is going to stress me out because the pile just keeps getting bigger.

So, instead, I’m going to hit random highlights/thoughts for the first six episodes so I can get it out of the way. Maybe then I can keep up with the show. Please no spoilers for episode seven—I have to wait until Nick.com puts up the episode. But from here on out you should get a mid-week post about every episode. Shouldn’t that be fun?

I love Korra. Wholeheartedly, without reservation, from the very first moment we saw her. I love that she is the human incarnation of a bulldozer. I love that she tackles everything head on and never dreams of failure being a possibility. I love her immense physical strength and emotional vulnerability. I love that she’s been sheltered and taken care of her entire life and isn’t always aware of social niceties. I love that she isn’t afraid to have burping contests or kiss the guy she likes or (ill-advisedly) call out the evil man for a one-on-one fight. Most of all, I think I love how no one treats her as Aang Version 2—she is her own, complete person even if she yet one another incarnation of the Avatar Spirit.

I love Tenzin, Pema, and their children. The family dynamics had me in giggles from the start, and their kids are adorable. I like how the girls took to Korra straight away and how it took Tenzin a while to warm up. (But Tenzin still cares about her and cheers her on and advises her—even if she doesn’t always listen.) I love how serious he is in contrast to the Aang we all adored in the original series. It was so cool to see the kids do the air scooter and how they had a sky bison and everything. I love poor, frazzled Pema and her ability to keep everything together anyway.

I love Bolin and Mako. I have always and will forever adore siblings that get along well and have each other’s backs in an us-against-the-world mentality. I love that their brotherly bond is strong enough to withstand them both liking the same girl, and I love that they’re great teammates on the pro-bending field. It’s fun to watch them interact with each other, with Bolin’s goofy and warm personality and Mako’s awkward and reserved attitude. Oh, and let’s not forget Pabu, who is my favorite creature in this series so far. Sorry, Naga.

I love Amon and the Equalists. Amon is hands-down terrifying, and I love him for it. I love that he has an angsty backstory and valid gripes about the current status quo. I love that he has a huge group of well-funded, dangerous, people who are wholly devoted to him and his cause. His face off with Korra was brilliant and smart and I cannot wait to find out who he is and whether or not he can permanently strip people of their bending. Also? I love that for all the Equalists are nameless, faceless people, they’ve gone out of their way to make sure they’ve drawn some women in their ranks.

What I’m most excited about the Equalists is that they have some legitimate complains about the way the world is. They are extremists, but I’m still thrilled that the story is actually tackling social issues.

I love Republic City and this updated world. I’ve always had a fascination with the Roaring Twenties, and Republic City hits a lot of those same happy places: sprawling metropolis, organized crime, politics, social issues, etc. I love the Satomobiles and the radio (the announcer is amazing~) and electricity and the outfits. I was particularly excited about their actually being multi-racial families.

I love Lin Beifong. I love that she doesn’t care that Korra’s previous incarnation was BFFs with her mother and how she is rightfully annoyed at the Avatar’s appearance. And her metalbending is amazing. I love her and the rest of the Republic City metalbenders, though I’m a little annoyed at how easily she was manipulated and her people were taken down. But. That’s okay because then we got to see Lin be the most awesome person ever.

I enjoy pro-bending. It was fun while it lasted, but consider the arena just went kaboom and our heroes lost the finals, I’m guessing we’re done. I’ve always enjoyed playing sports more than I enjoyed watching them, so while the matches were fun, they weren’t as exciting as, you know, actual fights.

I’m intrigued by Asami. She has a pretty awesome character design, and it’s fun that there’s a non-bender that is/may be part of the main cast. I don’t really want her to be evil, but it’s looking like she or her father might be involved with the Equalists, if only because they’re named characters that are involved with our heroes who haven’t, you know, done much of anything plot significant. If she is an Equalist sympathizer, I hope she does end up on the side of good.

I’m intrigued by these flashbacks Korra keeps having. These flashbacks must be the key to solving the Amon problem—otherwise why would they be here at all?—but I’m getting impatient to know what happened.

I’m concerned that Korra is really the only main female character so far. Lin finally got some screen time in episode six (and was so amazing, I want to be here when I grow up), but Asami, Pema, Jinora, and Ikki have gotten very little. The series is threatening to be a “one amazing girl with a bunch of boys” show, which makes me sad. One of the things I loved most about ATLA in seasons two and three was that we got to see that there was more than one young woman who could be 1) powerful and 2) a driving force in the story. I also loved seeing the different female friendships and relationships, and right now LoK is lacking in that regard.

I’m a bit weirded out by how often Korra’s skin color changes. Sometimes the color change is to being under the lights in the pro-bending arena and having a plastic(?) face shield, which makes sense that she’d be a bit bleached out. But I think her skin color—and that of other ethnically Water Tribe characters—varies wildly. Which makes me sad. Korra has darker skin than all the other main characters thus far revealed. Please remember that, animators.

And to close it all out, here are some random thoughts/speculation:

  • As fun as it might be to speculate about Amon and Koh, I don’t think Koh stole Amon’s face. I’m more inclined to believe Amon’s version of the story. Also, we clearly saw one of Amon’s eyes through the eye holes in the mask, which means Koh couldn’t have stolen his face. Koh takes the entire face. Go back and look at the baboon with the stolen face in “The Siege of the North, Part 2.”
  • That said, I’m annoyed that firebenders are apparently still the only source of angsty backstory in this universe. Firebenders killed Kya, killed Jet’s family, burned Song, severely screwed up Zuko, etc. in the original series, and here they’re responsible for Amon’s disfigurement and Mako and Bolin’s parents’ death. Aren’t there any homicidally inclined earthbenders or waterbenders? C’mon, spread out the tragedy please.
  • I have a very special place in my heart for the pro-bending announcer. The guys is an absolute hoot, especially right before an Equalist took him down.
  • I really hope that they’re going to show us Zuko’s daughter, who is the new Fire Lord (Lady?). Also that we see Zuko, because he’s the only other original cast member we know for sure is alive. I want him and Katara to hang out and say hello or something.
  • The White Lotus has done a supremely horribly job of protecting the Avatar. I was hoping they’d show up and be like Korra’s emergency ninja squad or something. Otherwise they’re only glorified babysitters and really poor guards for Air Temple Island.
  • I want to see/learn more about the Air Acolytes. I also want them/their descendants to become airbenders. Alas, I’m unlikely to see that happen in this series unless Korra somehow gains the ability to grant bending to all people. Which would be an interesting, if impractical, way to solve the Amon problem.
  • Why haven’t guns been invented yet? You’d think with how concerned a significant portion of non-benders are about their safety/status in society, they’d be all over trying to figure out a way to defend themselves against aggressive benders. This world does have fireworks, and guns are a lot easier to train on than learning chi blocking.
  • The raid on the underground Equalist dojo left an awful feeling in my mouth. Way to let everyone know that, yeah, the Equalists are right and that benders will abuse their authority and throw you into jail for not breaking any laws. All they were doing was learning how to fight—you can’t possible keep those people under arrest for any significant length of time, right?

So yes, there’s my jumble of thoughts for the past six weeks. I love this show, and I can’t wait to see what they do with the rest of the season. Any points you think I should have commented on but didn’t? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

8 thoughts on “The Legend of Korra, Episodes 1-6

  1. I’m still recuperating from my loopy long hours at work this week (well, and for months now), but wanted to say I AGREE! All the way down.

    I have more to add later, but OMG I love this show.

    1. I hope work lets up on you! It’s no fun pulling long hours. I’m looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts!

  2. I actually really dislike some aspects of Korra’s character. I don’t like how she tries to solve all of her problems with bullheaded violence that too often escalates into causing problems for other people or property damage. From the way she assaulted the mob members (causing a lot of property damage) on the first episode to her bullying the anti-bending protester (which included terrifying him, destroying his stand and scattering his fliers, if I remember correctly) into telling her and Mako where the secret meeting was going to be. These things kind of disturbed me. Do we really want to promote bullying and violence as an acceptable way to get information or stop bad things from happening just because the people Korra is bullying are the “bad guys?” And is the anti-bender protester really a bad guy, or is it that he has a different opinion that makes him “bad?” Even if he is really a bad guy, is bullying him like that still ok? She totally got let off for all the shops she trashed in the first episode, just because she’s the Avatar and Lin is kind of friends with Tenzin. And she has run from the police on multiple occasions. In a lot of ways she’s setting up the anti-bender’s arguments for them; she gets a lot of advantage and breaks a lot of laws and rules other people have to live with because her bending gives her power. Fortunately, I’m pretty sure that this is all set up for her character arc to learn how to be a more balanced Avatar, but I’m set to give her the side-eye until that point when she decides to solve her problems with bullying and violence and then gets off scott free.

    I do really like the show! I just hope that it addresses these problematic parts of Korra’s character. On the bright side, I think it’s set up to be complex enough to be able to handle these themes and say something positive about them.

    1. Oh, I totally agree with you that Korra’s behavior leaves a lot to be desired. I cringed both times she interacted with the protester, especially since everything she did only served to prove his point: benders are used to powering their way through/over non-benders. As the Avatar–the most sheltered, most powerful bender alive, probably–she has this privilege is spades. I honestly think that Korra will be unable to solve this problem until she recognizes the privilege that she has and reconsiders the power structure of the world from the point of view of non-benders. Korra needs to realize that, if you strip away Amon and his crazy scary taking away people’s powers part, the Equalists have legitimate concerns.

      And Korra’s not getting a free pass for her actions. Every time she does these ill-conceived, reckless, casually cruel things, she makes enemies and loses ground. She got people to stand up for the protester, she played into Tarrlok’s hands not once but twice (the second of which had serious consequences for Lin), she gets into fights with Mako, etc. Just because the consequences for her bad behavior aren’t always immediate and haven’t resulted in a humiliation conga (so far) doesn’t mean that she’s coming away free and clear.

      I’m sure that, especially in the wake of episode seven, Korra is going to start learning these lessons that have thus far passed her by.

  3. I have to admit, that if I were a non bender in a bending world, I’d want to learn how to chi block, too. I’d be all over it for self defense. Especially since there do seem to be a whole lot of rogue fire benders going around hurting people. That raid also left a bad taste in my mouth. It was a “terrorist training camp” in one way, but it could have been a legitimate dojo in a more peaceful time.

    1. Same here! When you live in a world where someone can melt off your face, crush you, or drown you, I would definitely be all over my one defense against them.

      The raid was awful, and I sincerely hope it comes back to bite them. I can’t help but wonder what they did with the people they arrested–there don’t seem to be laws against learning to chi block, and I doubt any of them could give any information on who Amon really is.

  4. I’m having a lot of mixed feelings about the show. I don’t love it yet, because a lot of my love will depend entirely on what happens in the end. I love the main characters, but I’m concerned that none of them seems to think that Amon and the Equalists have valid concerns at all. I’m also sad that there aren’t any awesome, non-bending main characters, although Asami might become one.

    1. Right now I’m really enjoying the ride. I’m concerned like you are about how no one seems to be recognizing the valid underlying complaint that Amon has–they’re just reacting to his preferred way of fixing that problem. So far the show has been very smart, and I’m hoping that they’ll start to address this soon now that all the characters seem to have settled into place for the second half of the story.

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