Beware of Spoilers ye who enter for Legend of Korra and Avatar the Last Airbender
So here’s the season finale, and in thinking about it, it helps a lot to remember that they thought this was going to be it. 1 season, 12 episodes and then the story is done. Since a lot of things make a lot more sense on a meta level when you keep this idea in mind. So without further ado let’s get started.
So it turns out that Team Avatar has been hanging out with the hobo from the park in Hoboville for lack of a better term. Which serves as a nice sequence since it really serves as a contrast between Asami and the others in a humorous way. It also really drives against Amon’s ideals, but I’ll do a review of the Equalists later on.
“WHERE DOES HIROSHI FIND THE TIME TO INVENT ALL OF THESE EVIL MACHINES?” Hang that lampshade, cause damn if that isn’t a part of the Equalist operating procedure is basically throw out new toys to win. And well this episode hasn’t broken that chain. This line also reaffirmed why Bolin is awesome.
And General Iroh the Younger and his fleet. First, the ship designs are awesome, if a bit impractical. Why do the guns channel firebending? Avatar had catapults with more than just fire. This action sequence was alright, it was forgettable more than anything else. The fog really didn’t help the visuals, since it wasn’t eerie or setting a depressing mood, it just made it harder to see things clearly and sup the surprise of the planes.
Back at hoboville it’s time to split the party, cause if RPGs have taught me anything this is the best way for shit to happen and by shit I mean bad things for the PCs.
I’m just going to cover this now: Mako and Asami as a relationship got screwed by the pacing, making the love triangle more awkward than anything else. Especially since the episode that was primarily about their love triangle wrapped it up rather well. it’s not a matter of Mako being a bad person, he just sucks at relationships, like a teenager. So it’s not a matter of hating either one of them,it’s just that their relationship is a definite dud. It’s not like Avatar had spectacular relationship stuff going on either so this is par for the course. Pacing of the relationship wasn’t all that good mainly because it needed to get to a certain point by the end of this episode but it feels more forced and less how an actual person would react. Seeing as how “I care about” is the shorthand for them effectively breaking up, Mako-Korra relationship is also incredibly forced and feels completely disconnected from the rest of the show.They just needed more time to actually show it instead of relying upon tv shorthands, but that can be said about a lot of this show unfortunately.
And we get to the heart of the episode, Tarrlok and Amon are brothers and Amon is actually a blood bender. On one hand, this really wasn’t all that unexpected since it explains why Tarrlok was so important as well as Yakone. There’s also the issue of the internet has predicted that, but the internet has predicted just about every outcome by the time this aired. It’s the kind of thing you expect from a miniseries. Again given my opening statement about how this was written as ending this week for good, it makes sense. It’s a good backstory, aside from Yakone getting plastic surgery. The bad part of this is that bending, and this super special blood blending is basically like the X-men and not something that has been the case. You can argue that Zuko had similar issues but that was far more spiritual in nature. Tarrlok is less living up to Yakone’s legacy and more he’s messed up by Yakone and dealing with the ghosts of the pasts; which is a major theme of the season(this might still be the case in season two but I don’t think so) I mean my biggest issue is that the whole blood blending issue is just used to set up the situation although it really feels like there should be a bigger explanation as to how they’ve refined blood bending into a total ‘I win” button. And then there’s the ancillary problem of Amon has been blood bending. Seeing as how everything else we’ve seen of blood bending is an ‘I win’ button, so it technically works. It could be something like physically blocking chi points or something closer to a lobotomy. At first it bothered me but again cardinal rule of this show: only meant to be a miniseries. And the thing is that blood bending is a big enough of an ‘I win’ button that it works in this role. Mainly since there are two things that do beat blood bending: better blood blending and the Avatar State. ANd with that info dump the episodes ends.
End game opens up with the others finding the airfield and walking into an electric fence. Given that Electricity is the main gimmick of the Equalists, I have to wonder how Asami at least didn’t see this coming. This episode also really likes to jump back and forward in following the two groups which means shorter paragraphs.
Back to the rally, Korra attempts to discredit Amon. Seeing as how his father had plastic surgery, why didn’t he do the same for the scars? And because we’re really cutting it close, Tenzin and his kids are next on Amon blood bend list. All I have to ask is why? Why did you feel the need to invalidate the last five minutes of Turning the Tides? Why rob yourselves of that? And after that we’re back to the airfield and then right back to Korra.
How does a direct blast of lightning not kill or severity wound Amon? Physics doesn’t work the same way in the Avatar universe, but we know what lightning does a person in this universe. Well that’s a bit of a recurring problem in that electricity can be lethal but gets used a lot. Anyway, cue nice action sequence and what most people were expecting with Korra getting debended.
This entire sequence with Iroh the Younger, Bolin and Asami is the best action sequence in the episode. And Hiroshi Sato is a 3rd place contestant for the Gendo Ikari Parenting Award, only being beaten by Ozai and Yakone. Make of that what you will. Iroh the Younger make take after Zuko in temperament but Azula in skill.
Cutting back to Korra we see the other thing that had to happen in that Korra can airbend. On one hand this is a bit of author fiat in that it can happen given she was debended. On the other hand, she is the Avatar, so normal rules don’t have to apply. Her bit of airbending is admittedly anti climatic but it does show something good about the show from an eye candy perspective. Aang is not Korra and vice versa, they have radically different fighting styles and application of bending. Since Amon just had paint for a scar, once it gets washed off he’s discredited and flees.
Now is as good a time as any to talk about the Equalists. When I started watching this show the Equalist as villains bothered me, and this post does a good job in explaining why. The other main thing is that the Equalists are objectively wrong on some level. There are benders in hoboville, Mako and Bolin were street urchins and Hiroshi Sato and the head of Cabbage Corp. are both non benders. On the other hand Tarrlok’s draconian measures were easily passed and the council is presumably made up of all benders. The politics never really got fleshed out, at all. The way I see it there needed to be at least one more episode dealing primarily with fleshing out the Equalists and making them more than faceless mooks, the lieutenant, and Amon. More concrete information on how Republic City works both internally and in relation to the other countries would be really helpful in lending credence to Amon or just as importantly not lending credence and establishing firmly that he’s just a traumatized man who’s exploiting social unrest.
Season two needs more Gen. Bumi. Given that tease of his intro and Tenzin’s reaction, more is needed.
Amon is discredited but he still has Tarrlok, so the two of them flee on an Equalist boat and then Tarrlok commits murder-suicide. if you haven’t seen the episode then I’ll repeat that part Tarrlok commits murder-suicide. On screen and unambiguously kills himself and Amon.This was unexpected to say the least but it works for Tarrlok. Ever since he became a bender his life sucked, and then his brother ran away changing his life to a different kind of suck. So he finally has his brother back, and while his bending is gone, it’s not like that was a gift as far he was concerned. So in order to preserve that emotional high he kills them both. Amon and Tarrlok are damaged people, and they can’t overcome the past. That’s the key point about this scene, like a lot of other people in this series the past trap them and they couldn’t escape it. The end product is that Tarrlok and Amon are incredibly well developed characters in a way that their initial presentation really didn’t allude to.
We cut back to the good guys as Katar can’t heal Korra. Then Korra goes off ot be alone after Mako confesses his love. And at first glance Korra breaks down , Aang appears and everything is better. Except the issue is that Tenzin is wrong, Korra wasn’t going ot spend anytime adapting. She was contemplating suicide. Which is the whole point of the tear falling down the cliff shot. Korra embraced being the Avatar, the first scene we have with her is her proudly proclaiming that fact that as she bends three elements,. Then the White Lotus take her to train. The whole reason why she went to Republic City was to force Tenzin to teach her, because she needed to know how to airbend to be the Avatar. Her comment to Mako about not being the Avatar so he can just leave really underscores this point, being the Avatar was Korra’s primary means of identification and self worth. But her inability is hers alone, her body is unable to bend but the Avatar can still break the rules and bend everything. Her life as she understood no longer exists because she is no longer that person. Aang’s appearance makes sense in that Korra is just really lost and hurt, she wants help but as far as she knows no one can help her. Aang’s statement of ‘when we hit our lowest point is when we are open to the greatest change.’ is that Korra can be the Avatar but not be defined as the Avatar. The show is about her personal growth and her becoming the Avatar, by being stripped of the Avatar’s most distinctive feature she hit her lowest point and found that she had more than that. This is why Mako has to be there, why their relationship has to be at that point. Her ‘I love you’ is essential to getting this point across.
The last scene is restoring Lin’s bending and a callback to the end of Last Airbender with Aang being called Avatar Aang. Which is alright. If anything I’m annoyed at how Lin got her shining moment of heroism and then had two lines after that. But it does get the point across that Amon’s debending is going to be undone.
All in all, Skeletons in the Closet was better than Endgame, since the former didn’t have to wrap everything up. While the season really needed at least two more episodes, one for political stuff and one for the falling act and resolution to not be 7 minutes long. I also really wasn’t expecting it to be that dark in a kid’s show. Not so much that kids can’t handle it but more I’m surprised that was greenlit to be aired. I found Legend of Korra to be a good and fun show. It’s very different from Last Airbender while at the same time being familiar. In ranking them I prefer it slightly to season one of Airbender but less so than the seasons two and three. Now there’s nothing to do but wait for season two.
And talk about Mass Effect 3’s new endings. Oh god the extended cut.