Commentary

The Legend of Korra, Episodes 8, 9 & 10

So the season one finale is in about twelve hours from now. Nothing like procrastinating, is there? Anyhow, since I still have to do my weekly writing report on top of all this, you’re only going to get the highlights tonight.

First off, Tarrlok was an awesome mini villain and I adore him. He’s right up there with Long Feng in my book so far as secondary ATLA villains go. I was completely floored when he revealed himself as a bloodbender, and doubly thrilled when he kidnapped Korra and carted her off to his serial killer political prisoner basement. Though seriously, who really has a special box like that just ready and waiting? My personal theory: it was meant for Lin, if she ever seriously got in Tarrlok’s way.

I will always have a soft spot for a clever villain, and Tarrlok did an amazing job at being clever. He was brilliant at planning his cover up. His attention to detail was spot-on, though I wonder how he managed to get conscious again after electrocuting himself and take the glove off. We shall assume that he just played dead until someone else found him.

Actually, Long Feng and Tarrlok are quite similar now that I think about it. Theirs is a more banal, self-serving evil. It’s fun to remember that not all the people who will oppose your heroes are total psychos set on destroying the world/current society—and that’s just what makes Tarrlok even more frightening. He is the kind of evil that could/does/has cropped up before in this world, and it’s terrifying to realize how familiar he is. Indefinite detention, curfews, rounding up of peaceful protestors, etc.

Which reminds me, when Team Korra has their act together, they are awesome. It has been so much fun seeing them all fight together, and I love it whenever Asami is their driver. (She does an excellent job of calling commands to Bolin while they’re racing through Republic City, and he is brilliant at creating track/ramps/whatever it is she needs to do amazing things with the car.) Even though they’ve never fought like this before together, they meshed so well. Absolutely loved their patrolling and when they came to save Tenzin at the headquarters. Competence is sexy, folks, and Team Korra has it in spades. <3

Did anyone else jump for joy when we finally got the full flashback with our previous set of heroes? It seems as if all of fandom called the whole bloodbending thing and even correctly hypothesized that Tarrlok was Yakone’s son, so I don’t have a ton to say about that. I loved that we got to see Sokka, Toph, and Aang as adults, even though it left me craving the sight of Zuko, Katara, and Suki. Maybe the next time there’s a flashback?

(And it seems a bit weird to me that Aang would have been so desperate to let Korra know that Tarrlok was Yakone’s son. Why didn’t he expend his spiritual energy on helping her out with the whole Amon thing? Korra didn’t even end up having to face Tarrlok in the end, so that seems like kind of a waste. Perhaps the important part of that flashback wasn’t the Tarrlok-Yakone connection—maybe it was Sokka’s speech about how bending feats that were previous considered impossible don’t always stay impossible.

Also, huzzah for the shout-out to Combustion Man and Sokka’s boomerang.)

And speaking of the impossible, it’s about time that Korra came up with an anti-electricity tactic. Even if it’s unlikely she’ll be able to use that exact same trick again—hanging by some bars via cloth and pretending to be electrocuted by the Lieutenant—I was thrilled that she came up with it. Way to be smart, Korra!

Guys, the Equalists have precisely two tactics: chi-blocking and zapping. PLEASE STOP WEARING METAL ARMOR. I’m looking at you, metalbending police force. Please consider it now that the Equalists are officially armed with magnet-wielding mecha. Which I loved, not going to lie. I spent the first half of episode ten begging for the mecha to show up, and I about died of happiness when they did.

One thing that’s causing me equal frustration and happiness is the whole Korra/Mako/Asami love triangle fiasco. I’ve stated it numerous times before that I am not a shipper, but these last three episodes have made me rather anti-Mako. He’s being a jerk, and I don’t think he’s good enough for either Asami or Korra.

That said? Major points to Asami for not taking out her anger on jealousy on Korra. I’ve been anxious ever since Asami started giving suspicious looks at Mako and Korra, and I cannot tell you how relieved I am that she isn’t blaming Korra for this mess. Mako should not have started dating her if he had dubious/unresolved feelings for Korra, or at the very least he should have been honest about them. So, points to the show for not having the girls fight over a boy. If you disappoint me in this during the finale, we are going to have words, show.

I’m secretly hoping both girls dump Mako—or at least that they don’t resolve things during the finale. There are more interesting things that need to be dealt with besides teenage hormones.

I love Amon and the start of his coup. He did an amazing job of targeting strategic locations, and watching the city and its leadership fall apart was chilling and amazing. (I have always had a soft spot for a good fictional coup/terrorism plot, which is probably something I shouldn’t admit on the internet. Too late!) Once again, competence and smarts are sexy, and Amon and the Equalists have both of those things in spades. The finale should be awesome.

Tenzin was one of the stars of episode ten. He evaded his attackers with some insanely awesome skills. It was fun seeing Aang do airbending in ATLA, but Tenzin seemed a whole lot more dangerous than Aang did outside of his Avatar State. It was so very satisfying, watching him take down the Equalists, airbend a safe pocket of air during the gas attack, etc. And I loved seeing his leadership skills after the rest of the council members are taken down—he’s been appointed/elected to the council for a reason, folks.

And let’s not forget his family. Actually, we are going to forget Pema’s impeccably timed and speedy delivery (as my roommate said, no one on tv ever has 36-hour labor). Jenora, Ikki, and Melo were a delight to watch, and I cheered them on when they took out the Equalists to save Lin. It was a nice reminder that children can fight, too, even if I could have lived without the fartbending.

Also? Major points to Tenzin for realizing he needed to get his family out of the war zone ASAP. I’m glad he was self-aware enough to know that they would be targets and that he wouldn’t be able to split his focus on protecting him and on fighting the Equalists at the same time.

Which, of course, brings us directly to Lin’s sacrifice. It was pretty obvious from the start that Amon was going to have to strip a beloved character’s bending away in order for the show to take things to a much higher and more personal level, but still. I loved watching Lin take down one of the airships, but even more than that I loved her loyalty. She knew that getting the last airbenders away safely was more important than herself—and even if they hadn’t been the last airbenders I’m pretty sure she would have done it anyone simply because Tenzin was her lover and is her friend.

And I especially love that she rejected Amon’s offer to keep her bending in exchange for Tenzin’s family Korra. (Thank you, Pam. I am not allowed to blog after my normal bedtime.) Lin, you are amazing. And while I’m torn on whether or not I want you to get your bending back, I know you will still be amazing either way. Please show up again in the finale and join Asami in the ranks of the Badass Normal.

Oh, and then there was this nice little stinger about a General Iroh that apparently I everyone went crazy over. Here’s hoping that he and the United Nations Forces will be able to do some good in the finale.

Right, time to stop now considering how long I’ve already gone. Here’s what I’m hoping for in the finale:

  1. I need one of our heroes to legitimize some of the Equalists’ complaints. They have some very valid arguments, and I’m concerned that it’s all going to get lose in Amon and his extremism. This was particularly driven home for me when Mako was threatening a downed Equalist with a fistful of fire if he didn’t tell him where Korra was. Why didn’t Lin or Tenzin call him on his bullying, huh?
  2. Will a reconciliation between Asami and her father be possible? Also, can we please not have Asami driven away by this whole love triangle thing? I’d really rather she stay on the side of good than jump ship for team evil because of a boy. Really.
  3. What really is up with Amon? How can he resist bloodbending? (Which was awesome, by the way.) Is his equalizing trick permanent? How did he learn it? Will we ever see him without the mask?
  4. Will Korra finally reach the Avatar State? And/or will she get her bending stripped by Amon?

So what were your favorite parts that I missed? Please, share! I love geeking out with people. ^-^

(Please note, if you spoil the season finale for me, you will face my wrath.)

10 thoughts on “The Legend of Korra, Episodes 8, 9 & 10

  1. There’s still 10 hours until the finale for me, and here are my thoughts.

    I think there’s more we’re supposed to get from the flashback. There’s some other connection that we don’t know about yet. My pet theory is that Amon is actually another son of Yakone’s. That’s why he was able to shake off Tarrlok’s bloodbending, and that’s how he learned how to take away bending. I know that one’s a little out there, but like I said, it’s a pet theory. I do really think that Amon is a bender of some kind.

    no one on tv ever has 36-hour labor
    To be fair on that point, Pema was obviously in early labor previously in the episode. See, labor comes in two stages, early and active. Early labor is the one that lasts for a loooong time, sometimes days. When Pema had contractions earlier in the kitchen and tried to gloss over it, that was early labor. Active labor can last up to eight hours, and that’s when Pema finally gave up and realized the baby was coming whether there was a revolution on or not. Also, labor is often much shorter the more children a woman has, and this was Pema’s fourth. Still, dramatic baby timing!

    And I especially love that she rejected Amon’s offer to keep her bending in exchange for Tenzin’s family.
    Psst! It was in exchange for the Avatar, not Tenzin’s family.

    It was weird hearing Zuko’s voice out of somebody else’s face, but that brings me to another out there pet theory of mine: Mako and Bolin are somehow related to the Fire Nation’s royal family. I mean seriously, if one of Azula’s kids ran off with an earth bender I bet she would Not Have Been Happy. The kids run away to Republic City and make a life for themselves and never get a chance to tell their children about their heritage. Parents die, Fire Nation royals have no idea Mako and Bolin even exist so they end up on the street. This theory is based purely on Mako. He looks a lot like Zuko, and he has bright gold eyes that, if I’m not mistaken (and I could be), were peculiar to the Fire Nation royal family in the original series. …LET ME DREAM, OKAY?

  2. Seeing as I’m currently preparing for having a baby, I’m going to pretend to be something of an expert on the subject. While I’ll grant that Pema is extremely unlikely to have a really long labor and birth on her fourth baby, that baby did come REALLY fast. Labor, even a fast one, doesn’t start with two random really painful contractions like that, and the likelihood of a woman who has successfully gone through all the stages of labor three previous times not being aware that her body was about to kick out a child seems really unrealistic. Real labor is rhythmic and contractions increase in frequency and intensity within that rhythm. I wish that her labor and birth had been portrayed as one that she knew was coming and that she was in charge of pain management wise (having done it three times before and coming from a meditative family), no matter how terrible the timing. Sometimes you’d think that nobody in the media has ever actually experienced a birth before; it’s really bad for how women consider the whole labor and birth thing. And LoK is really not a terrible offender on this front, it just bugged me since I’ve been learning so much about birth recently.

    Also, I appreciated that Taarlok pointed out to Korra that she used her bending to bully people into doing what she wanted. “Isn’t that why you came here tonight?” Touche. I really liked his story line, too. Also, I want Korra’s visions of the past to wind up having something to do with Amon, too, since she got the initial flashes during conflicts with Amon (like when she challenged him to a duel). Be multi-purposed!

    I’m not going to lie, having worked with kids in primary in the last year, the fart-bending totally made me laugh. It was really realistic for a kid that age, especially one as annoying and attention-seeking as he is, to do it. Go Air-Kids!

    And Lin is totally my favorite character. I <3 her. I like how she accepted that she was going to lose her bending with a sort of peace right before Amon took it. Maybe this just shows that I'm more of a crotchety middle-aged lady than a teenage hero, but I'm ok with that.

    1. I should have given the caveat on my comment that I’ve never had a kid. Thanks for the further info! I still choose to believe she was trying to pretend (to herself as well) she wasn’t about to give birth since there was all this crap going on, but either way it was fast once she couldn’t deny active labor anymore.

      1. That’s very possible. What I wrote was just how I reacted to the depiction–it’s not like the event was given a whole lot of time in the episode. :)

  3. Tarrlok was an AWESOME villain. I agree with you that the box was probably meant for Lin. I think that the flashback was meant to tell Korra about energybending. When Aang energybends, he touches the person’s forehead and chest. Amon only touches the forehead (and sometimes the back of the neck), which implies that his energybending is either an advanced form of chi-blocking or that it can be reversed. I am now imagining Equalists trying to imitate Amon’s energybending by running around and poking benders VERY hard on the forehead ;).
    I detest the love triangle. I’m hoping that both girls dump Mako at the end of this season. Korra can hook up with Bolin and Asami can date General Iroh, who I’m hoping is a non-bender. I do like the fact that both girls do get along, though.
    I also hope that the heroes will realize the Equalists do have a legitimate reason to detest benders. No matter how you look at it, the average bender will always trump the average non-bender. And you’ll always have benders who use their ability to terrorize people. Maybe Season 2 will be all about Korra having to repair the bonds between benders and non-benders.
    Re Amon, here is my theory. There are spirits who are unhappy with the state of the world. For centuries, the Four Nations have always been separate. This is the way it’s always been. Now there is the United Republic Nation where Earth, Fire and Water intermingle and interbreed among each other. Some spirits disapprove of this. The Avatar cannot be trusted to repair this. After all, it was an Avatar who CREATED the U.R.N. However, they cannot interfere directly in this matter. Enter Amon, who is human and is now the representative of said spirits. Hey, maybe said spirits taught him how to do (fake?) energybending and made him resistant to bloodbending.

  4. Oh, no time, no time, I feel like the White Bloody Rabbit always.

    So. Much. Awesome.

    Lin. Tenzin. Team Avatar. Tarrlok. The coup. The kids! LIN, you magnificent warrior hero, you (I cried).

    I only didn’t like that Korra didn’t get out of the box. She had all kinds of time, and no one watching – she could have made a water-saw like Katara and Aang cut the massive support struts of the drill with, or earthbended some rocks to push the bars apart or punch holes in the box, or firebended a nice little plasma torch, or some combination of all three (fire to soften, water to weaken, earth to smash through)…just so many ways she could get out with lots of time and unobservedness. Given her usual creativity in her bending, I thought it was…plot-convenient stupidity/weakness. I understand, from a writer’s pov: trouble with creating Superman is, how do you realistically hold him without creating kryptonite?

    I liked her quick thinking about the zappers, and her fight to wipe out the chi-blockers was WICKED, but not getting out of the box was kinda sad.

    Argle. More when I can, time and buses wait for no woman.

    1. Also, I won’t get to see the final until this weekend, so if I don’t come back before then to this post, that’s why. Don’t wanna get spoilt.

      Also also, the metalbenders really bugged me here. Why doesn’t even *one* of them think to make a rock-suit like Toph and Aang used to wear? How the frak are the chi-blockers or bug-zappers going to do anything about that, huh?

      Which is probably why they didn’t, but plot-induced stupidity again. Hate that.

      1. I’m going by the theory that they are so used to using metalbending over earthbending that the idea just didn’t occur to them.

        1. Well, but that’s more or less what I’m saying, no? I’m disappointed that not One. Single. Earthbender. Police. Officer. thought to use plain old earthbending after all the shocking and magnetting and stuff. Surely there’s some rookie who’s not confident about his metalbending, and might reach for a bit of good old earth when things go bad?

          No? Not one? Not one earthbending police trainer with a bit of creativity? Not one rogue cop who doesn’t play by the rules and insists on earthbending as well as metalbending? Not one single cop who doesn’t think “Hey – metal suits aren’t great when they’re using electricity, maybe I should use something, y’know, insulating“?

          For me, stretches the credulity a little far to be much but Plot-Induced Stupidity. They made and distributed many, many Idiot Balls to the entire police force. :/

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