“Stay away from my Dad’s ex-girlfriend!”
Just when you thought the last The Legend of Korra episode was an emotional roller coaster, the 10th episode, “Turning the Tides,” proved to be equally as compelling and suspenseful.
As Korra attempts to recover from her recent imprisonment and escape from Tarrlock, she is interrupted as the Equalists launch a full-scale attack on Republic City. With the other Council members missing, Lin, Korra, Mako, Bolin and Asami take matters into their own hands as they try to protect Republic City from falling into the hands of Amon. Meanwhile, Pema suddenly goes into labor, right as the Equalists redirect their attacks onto Air Temple Island. However, with the help of the young airbending children, Lin is able to hold back the Equalists until Tenzin and the others return in time to witness the birth of Tenzin and Pema’s new son, Rohan.
Knowing that they are unable to stop Amon and his forces, Tenzin decides that he must protect his family first and asks Korra to retreat, for now.
While Tenzin’s family escapes on Oogi, the Equalists war balloons catch up, but Lin Beifong jumps onto the balloons and begins metalbending them. Despite succeeding in halting the balloons from catching up to Tenzin’s family, Lin is captured and loses her bending at the hands of Amon, which was probably the most dramatic and heart-breaking thing to witness throughout the whole series.
In another part of Republic City, Korra and the rest of Team Avatar go into hiding since Korra realizes that patience will be the only thing to help turn this battle around. The end of the episode features the United Forces, which were called by Tenzin earlier in the episode, with a young general named Iroh announcing that he will arrive to Republic City soon and will help the Avatar reclaim the city.
The episode served as a perfect penultimate event before the one-hour season finale next week. After having a whole season of build-up, we are finally going to see the ultimate cultivation of the different plots and how they are going to play off for next week. There were several aspects of the episode that really showcased the fantastic writing and animation we have come to expect of the Avatar creators, as well as differences in story that make Korra a truly unique experience.
As the episode features a full-scale attack by the Equalists, there was a variety of different fight and action scenes, which were all unique and truly excellent. First, the technique in which Amon gained control of the city was truly different from what we have previously seen on Avatar. Amon’s technique was a little mix of a direct assault and covert tactics as well as using modern technology to his advantage. While they attacked the from their war balloons from the sky in a direct assault, they also weakened the city from within by eliminating the council members, causing various sudden explosions, and taking control of the Police Station from within. The detail and preparation of the revolutionists helped make it believable that the entire police department, the council and Team Avatar failed to fight back.
The fighting was probably the best it has ever been in this episode, specifically Tenzin. While we have seen Tenzin airbend various times throughout the season, most of the time they were brief instances that usually ended up in Tenzin losing or being knocked out. For once, we got to see the full-extent of Tenzin’s airbending.
I have previously talked about Tenzin’s airbending being more fluid and reminiscent of waterbending as opposed to Aang’s quick, evasive style. In this episode, it was also nice to see a mature, seasoned airbender like Tenzin in action, especially since I find airbending the most interesting of all the bending arts.
The great detail in the animation of the fight scene between Team Avatar and the mecha tanks was truly breathtaking, showing the obvious advancement in animation quality from the original series. Also, the episode did a good job of incorporating classic mecha series elements into the martial arts based fighting style of the show, which made the fight scene excellent.
Another great fight sequence was the airbending kids helping Lin against the Equalists that invaded the Air Temple. Here, we got to see the same style of airbending used by Aang in the original series in the form of Jinora, Ikki and Meelo, as opposed to the more mature style of Tenzin. Seeing Jinora using a glider to defeat the Lieutenant and Ikki using the “Air Scooter” to incapacitate some of the other Equalists was a great reminder that they are descendants from two talented airbenders. However, it was Meelo’s disturbing yet highly effective use of “fartbending” that lightened the mood.
This scene was an excellent way to show that even though they are kids, the three can handle themselves, especially since they are not that much younger than some of the members in the Aang Gang and that they were taught well by Tenzin.
There were two main complaints I had with the episode, which really reflect the overall flaws I have been mentioning time and time again in these reviews, and that is the love triangle and the characterization of Mako and Bolin.
This episode followed the previous one in showing Mako’s obviously romantic feelings for the injured Korra, despite his relationship with Asami. While Asami does find out about Korra and Mako’s kiss and calls him out on it, Mako simply asks her wait until later to talk about their relationship because there were more important things to deal with.
Although Mako makes a point, I still feel he is being unfair to both Asami and Korra. He seems to have led both girls on at different points without being clear on his feelings, which have led to both girls (and Bolin) getting hurt. After several episodes of dealing with similar situations, I have grown to find Mako and his treatment of women both annoying and disrespectful. While there is much trouble going on in Republic City and Mako is entitled to be conflicted on his feelings, his uncommitting attitude and constant ignoring of the issue makes it seem as if Mako does not genuinely care for either Asami or Korra, but rather just follows whatever suits him at that specific time.
Also, the writing of the possible romantic relationship between Korra and Mako seems very forced and weak, which is surprising after witnessing how well the writers handled love stories in the original series. Despite the growing love triangle, it is made clear that Mako and Korra are meant to end up together or at least that is what other fans and I have noticed. However, nowhere in the show has a true foundation for their relationship been formed. While they admire their skill and share an obvious physical attraction, it seems that a true emotional connection is lacking, as opposed to the Bolin’s feelings for Korra which he reinforced by time spent with her and getting to know her better as a person. This complete lack of any basis to their relationship not only makes their romance unbelievable, but it also allows Mako to come off as unlikable, as I have previously explained.
Taking any relationship of the original series, they went through different stages that not only showed the growth of the characters but also the growth of their relationship. While all these relationships are very different, there is still a complete inconsistent way of writing the romantic relationships within the series. Rather than going through stages, Mako and Korra’s relationship seems to jump from highs and lows, without any real substantial basis for their apparent love. Overall, this specific relationship not only seems unbelievable, but is also hurting the characterizations of all the characters involved in the love triangle.
Which brings me to my next major complaint: the complete exclusion from Bolin within the writing and the plot.
Earlier in the season, Bolin was established as the comic relief character, but one who was caring and had genuine feelings for Korra. However, after agreeing to put his feelings aside, it seems Bolin has been reduced to the complete comic relief character without much substance. For example, in a previous episode, it is shown that Mako is more worried over Korra, despite Bolin having made it clear that he does care and worry over Korra. This sort of characterization of Bolin seemed to carry on into this episode through the complete lack of Bolin within the writing. He had a small handful of lines that were all used to serve as comedy and was shown briefly throughout the episode. Even if the series wanted to show Bolin’s acceptance of Korra’s platonic feelings, it still seems unfair and inconsistent to reduce Bolin to a simple comic relief background character with no real contribution to the plot.
These complaints are mainly to do with the overall problems I have with the writing and character development, which are likely caused by the limit of episodes. Korra only has 12 episodes this season, as opposed to the 20 episode season of A:TLA, which can cause many problems with the show. Fast-paced writing and unfocused character developments are likely to occur in a show that has to deal with so much plot in such a small time period. My main hope is that these problems get resolved nicely in the finale and that the production crew works on these major issues for the next season.
However, I cannot end this review without mentioning the brief inclusion of a new character in the form of General Iroh at the end. Bearing a resemblance to Zuko and his uncle to which he was named, seeing the young man leading the United Forces sent me, along with many other fans, on an emotional whirlwind, especially since he was voiced by the same voice actor as Zuko, Dante Basco.
This was the final way of attaching Korra to its parent series and keeping its fans on edge. Whatever this new Iroh’s story is and whatever happens, the finale is going to prove to be really exciting as everything heads towards the series’ climax.
GO Rating: 4.5/5