Thu
May 3 2012 11:00am

Psychology of Fear in The Legend of Korra: “The Voice in the Night”

We are four episodes into The Legend of Korra and as you might expect, I’m completely won over. Heck, I was won over before it started, but I count this as a milestone since four episodes is what I think it takes for Avatar: The Last Airbender to find its voice; the two-part beginning of “The Boy in the Iceberg” and “The Avatar Returns” to lay down the rules of the universe and the dramatis personae, the trip to “The Southern Air Temple” to establish the mythological roots, and then finally the glowingly perfect episode “The Warriors of Kyoshi.” Riding the unagi, kick-butt female warriors, Sokka’s character growth and a treatise on unintended consequences… capped off with the Avatar figuring out a way to help despite everyone telling him he can’t. You can draw a straight line from “The Warriors of Kyoshi” all the way to “Sozin’s Comet.”

In a lot of ways, “The Voice in the Night” is the spiritual reverse of this arc. The first two episodes establish the new Avatar and her supporting cast — the “Krew” as opposed to the “Gaang” — but they also present to us a brash, over-confident and stubborn Avatar Korra, as juxtaposed to the recalcitrant Aang who harbors a fundamental doubt and guilt. Aang starts his Hero’s Journey from the “Refusal of the Call” part of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth. Korra is a different kettle of fish entirely — while terms like the aforementioned “brash” and “stubborn” are often used as code words for “generally terrible,” in Korra’s case they aren’t exaggerated stereotypes, but they are her burden, they are what is holding her back. And so, we get to the theme of “The Voice in the Night”:  fear and denial. A downturn of good fortunes. Dark days for the Avatar.

The third episodes of both shows establish the antagonists in greater detail; in Avatar: The Last Airbender we see Zuko and Uncle Iroh in opposition to Commander Zhao; In The Legend of Korra, we have Amon and the Equalists in all their reasonable and terrifying glory. For my money, Amon is way scarier than Fire Lord Ozai; the whole Robespierre Guy Fawkes Rasputin thing is really intimidating and the threat of losing bending seems much more horrifying than death, as strange as that is to say. “The Voice in the Night” deals directly with the fallout of the previous episode; Korra’s nightmares and her sudden internal struggle with her uncertainty dominate the storyline. It is a psychological episode, but I can’t help but notice that the validity of the Equalists’ arguments are highlighted along the way; is it just me or is the Republic City Council all benders? The sleazy Tarlok and splendid Tenzin certainly are, and I thought it was implied at one point that the other representatives were as well. We’ve got a world where all the channels of advancement — from the political to professional sports — exclude non-benders.

The financial realm seems to be an exception, at least, as we’re introduced to two non-benders who have really risen to prominence: Hiroshi Sato, creator of Future Industries and the automobile analogue the “satomobile” and his moped riding daughter, Asami. Asami is destined to become part of the Krew, if I read the cards correctly. Am I crazy or does she look like June, the bounty hunter? Both of them have a similar sort of look to G.I Joe’s Baroness, which is…an all right look if you ask me. Asami and Mako strike up an affection right away, and so we’re introduced to yet another romantic entanglement. “Makorra” fans watch out now that “Masami” is on the case! I sort of wondered if Mako might end up fancying the gentlemen, but I think we’ve seen that isn’t the case, so c’est la vie. Now of course we get the conspiracy theories that one or both of the Satos is an Equalist. It certainly is possible, but without more to go on, who can say?

The heart of this episode is Korra and Tenzin. Aang’s son is really just a gem, a real highlight of the show whenever he’s on screen — he isn’t perfect, but he’s working on it. We even get to see him on his glider in this episode — despite his serious demeanor, he has elements of whimsy and he works as a great straight man with lines like “don’t bring my mother into this!” and “Meelo that isn’t a toilet!” In fact, his relationship with his wife and children is a great foundation for the “airbending” parts of the program, and it makes you the viewer root for Korra to confide in him as she struggles with her worries. When the episode descends into the nadir of horror, with Korra in the clutches of Amon in a real worst case scenario, and then Tenzin is there for her in her moment of catharsis, you feel it, too. You want her to bond with Tenzin; you can’t help but see him as a worthy mentor and a trustworthy figure.   

And of course, the big treat: when Korra gets bonked in the head at Aang’s statue, we get a reincarnation flashback. Perhaps dealing with the historical problem mentioned off-handedly in the council, Yakone? I don’t want to get too caught up in speculating, but might we follow the adult Gaang through flashbacks that shed light on the present situation of Republic City? That wouldn’t surprise me too much. We’ve already seen statues of adult Toph and adult Zuko, so when we see Toph in the flashback the first thought is “that is exactly what grown-up Toph would look like!” More neat visual storytelling.

I think when we see finally see Zuko, on the other hand, he won’t resemble the statue of Fire Lord Zuko; I think he’s going to be much more like Iroh. Uncle Zuko! I was sort of disappointed that a mature Sokka doesn’t have a ridiculous “Wang Fire” beard like he did when he pretending to be an old man in “The Headband,” but making him look like a cross between Hakoda and a young Sokka is probably more reasonable. As for adult Aang, I was incredibly relieved that he could pull of his facial hair. The chinstrap looked a little dubious in the opening credits but in action it was great.


Mordicai Knode can’t wait to see Korra talk to Aang in the spirit world but is even more excited for Uncle Zuko.  Tell him who you want to see from Avatar: the Last Airbender in The Legend of Korra on Twitter.

52 comments
Jlundy
1. Jlundy
A great episode and a sign that this show is heading towards a interesting story. I loved how Korra was manipulated, and showed both strengths and weaknesses in this show.

One thing I found very interesting is what we haven't seen yet. Korra has not entered the Avatar State yet, by this time in the show Aang had done some 2 times (not counting the iceburg). Korra being captured by Amon should have been more than sufficient to trigger the state. I wonder if this is part of the storytelling journey, Korra needs to gain the strengths that Aang started with.

The narrow focus to one city has allowed them to set the stage for a much more complicated narrative than the travels from the previous show.
Jlundy
2. Lsana
My observation about this episode is that while it was definitely about fear, I don't think Korra was the only one who was terrified. While it was her that we were focused on, I think the episode showed that Amon is just as afraid as she is, if not more so.

First, Amon refused Korra's challenge. While Korra, despite her fear, was willing to face Amon alone, Amon wasn't willing to get anywhere near Korra until she'd already been disabled by his army of Chi blockers. That's some real courage there, Amon, and I'm quite impressed by your confrontation with a teenage girl who couldn't fight back.

Second, Amon's decision not to try his removing bending technique on Korra. I don't believe that "it's not the right time" BS. I think he was afraid that either it wouldn't work on the Avatar or that it would work but that the White Lotus people would find a way to undo it, thereby showing it wasn't nearly as powerful as Amon had claimed. Either way, he loses a lot of status.

Finally, an unrelated point: I was kind of uncomfortable with Korra's raid on the Chi blocker training facility. I know that they're clearly supposed to be the bad guys, but if I were a non-bender in Republic City, I'd train in Chi blocking at the first opportunity. Not because I would resent those who could bend, but because if one of them attacked me, I would want a way to defend myself.
treebee72 _
3. treebee72
@2 Lsana - I think we're supposed to feel uncomfortable with the raid & the whole task force.

Considering the journey Zuko went through in ATLA, I feel like 'so what' if one of the Satos ends up being a Equalist. There is no way that Equalist equals automatically EVOL is this series.
Jlundy
4. DarthRachel
There is def a moment in council, when Tarlok calls that vote when someone says something confirming the entire council are benders, but without the episode in front of me I can't quote it. I immediately called shenanigans on that - more and more I'm becoming an equalist sympathizer.

I'm really enjoying LoK so far. Can't wait for more!
Mordicai Knode
5. mordicai
1. Jlundy

Well, I don't want to give short shrift to Avatar: the Last Airbender-- the aerial picaresque travels of that series laid the groundwork for the assumptions we take into Korra, & had a breadth & scope that a single city story lacks. Not to say that I'm not also excited about exploring the layers of complexity in Republic City! I'm just saying, credit where credit is due!

We haven't seen the Avatar state! I figure it is connected to Korra's struggles with the spiritual nature of being the Avatar & bending in general.
Mordicai Knode
6. mordicai
2. Lsana

I mean, a single duel is...stupid? Like, didn't Zuko teach us that? Don't agree to Agni Kai somebody! They'll cheat or burn your face off. Also, especially don't agree to single combat with the epic all powerful incarnation of balance in the world. I don't think it shows that Amon is afraid...I think it shows that he isn't stupid.

I rewatched this episode last night-- yeah, heck yeah I did!-- & I thought the same thing as you...I don't buy the "time isn't right" excuse, either. That is the strongest evidence yet that the removal of bending is...not what it appears to be. Whether it is temporary or can be reversed or whatever.

3. treebee72

Yeah, what you said. That raid is super sketchy, & you are supposed to be like "wait, so they just iced & slammed a bunch of people at their kung-fu lessons? Uncool, Korra." Because, right? If I was a non-bender I'd be all "lets learn chi-blocking & also I want a spacesword."

(Seriously I want a spacesword so bad.)
Mordicai Knode
7. mordicai
4. DarthRachel

Hashtag #OccupyAirbenderIsland? #OccupyDragonFlats? Or just plan old #OccupyRepublicCit?
treebee72 _
8. treebee72
@6 mordicai - I have always and will always believe Toph would have been able to use her super Earth/Metal bending senses to find the spacesword. I will not accept it being lost!

Or at worst case, that was a big frelling meteor. Sokka would totally have gone back & made another. Because spaceswords are cool!
Zayne Forehand
9. ShiningArmor
Another great post Mordicai (really like your name btw).

This episode didn't grab me right off the bat but on reflection I liked it a lot more. Sometimes I have to get over my childish "not enough bending!" (in comparison to say the second episode) and see the show for the amazing story that it is. I like the contrast between Aang and Korra in their journeys. I hadn't thought about how different they were until this episode. Aang had an impulsive side, but never a hostile side like Korra. Granted, a lot of Korra's hostility was coming from fear.

On a bending note, I feel like bending in this show is much more...visceral is the best word I can think of. For example, when the chi-blocker comes at Korra at the training grounds, and she desperately kicks her foot up and lifts that piece with earthbending, it just seemed so natural and defensive. I'm just constantly impressed with the evolving of the animation and choreography of this show.

While I think it would have been an incredible choice to make Mako like boys, can you imagine the uproar from parents? Nickelodeon would never hear the end of it. It's easy to forget who the "intended" audience for this show is sometimes because it's such age-blind writing.

@2 I agree that while I know in my head that those people were probably Equalists that would eventually use Chi-blocking to maybe kidnap someone perfectly innocent like Bolin, the way they were depicted training, seemingly to defend themselves made the way the raid played out hard to watch a little. It made me feel sorry for them to a point.
treebee72 _
10. treebee72
The whole 'the time isn't right' speech just felt so cheesy Bond villian to me. There has to be something more there.

The scene between Korra and Tenzin at the end was amazing.
Mordicai Knode
11. mordicai
8. treebee72

No, no, it is totally Excalibur! It fell from the heavens & got stuck in a rock or a tree or something, waiting for some new characters to stumble across it. That is my theory. There is no way Sokka got it back.

Now, his boomerang, that he got back. Boomerang ALWAYS comes back.
Jlundy
12. PRationality
@JLundy - I had assumed Korra didn't reach the 'Avatar State' because she's so blocked when it comes to her spirituality. That State is much more about your spiritual resonance than your 'strength'--something that Aang had over on Korra from the get-go being an Air-bender.

the whole raid made my skin crawl, but then the entire idea of the task force made my skin crawl. Bad, horrible things start from 'good' intentions like Tarlok is espousing (just look at Communism or the Nazi party--touted as 'helpful' to the people) and the Task Force jumped straight into it feet first.

I was wondering though, if it wasn't a set-up by Tarlok. I mean come on--if I was part of an underground movement like the Chi-Blockers of the Equalists I would NOT be hanging a huge poster of our secret leader in our not that secret brightly lit training room. These are the people who made their followers figure out how to get to the secret meeting by putting together four posters on a map!

oh Sokka ;-; He looks so mature--I wonder if he retained any of that carefreeness and absurdity. And yeah Asami looks like Jun...I don't *want* her or her dad to be evil or part of the Equalists. I don't want her with Mako either, but I want her to become friends with Korra 'cause Korra really needs female friends (like Katara needed Toph) who are strong like her.
Mordicai Knode
13. mordicai
9. ShiningArmor

Thanks for the name props; I like your internet handle! I was like "best Twilight Sparkle relative name ever."

I think-- from what I understand-- the strength in the animation comes from lots of different sources. Staff posing, Sifu Kisu, & also giving a free hand to their Korean animators. You're right though; I constantly marvel at all the visual flourishes. Just...so, so, so good.

As for potential Gay Panic...I mean at some point that has to...stop being a factor? & at some point, creators & networks are going to have to stand-up to bigotry. & I think that the creators of the Avatar-verse might have what it takes. Obviously there is no obligation to make Mako gay-- it was just my pet theory-- but fear of the intolerant would be a bad reason not to have a diverse portrayal of romantic options.
Zayne Forehand
14. ShiningArmor
@13 I agree 100% that bigotry has to end somewhere. I wholeheartedly agree that a show like Korra would be prime real estate for something like that. A series with the maturity to show it in a way that would be so agenda-free, just a representation of the world as it is.

@12 I would also really like to see a strong female friendship like Toph/Katara. I'm not totally on board with Asami right now but I'm sure I'll get there because by the time Avatar ended, there wasn't a single character I didn't like for one trait or another, even Ozai for being such a great "Mwahaha!" villain. Also, Ozai could monologue and fight at the same time, a rare gift for a villain.
Scott Silver
15. hihosilver28
I think it's pretty telling that before this summer hit I was almost equally anticipating Game of Thrones Season 2 and The Legend of Korra about equally, maybe GoT a little ahead. Now though, The Legend of Korra has so thoroughly trounced Game of Thrones as my most anticipated part of each weekend it's not even funny. Damn, this show is excellent!

I LOVE that we saw adult Aang in her "reincarnation flashback". That was incredible. As far as everyone commenting on Amon's whole "not right time" deal, I actually believed him. It is more important to him and to the equalists as a whole to tear down the bending society, and if Korra was "de-bended" now, it would look make the Equalists look VERY bad, and would cause people on the fence to go against the Equalists. All that to say, I felt that the threat and reasoning behind it made sense.

I'm also anxiously awaiting the Avatar State. Mainly because I think that Aang will play a large part in that scene. I'm also a little confused as to why it hasn't been brought up in the show at all...even as a question by Katara or Tenzin as to whether she has gone into the Avatar State, or even just talking about it. Was Aang's creating the ice ball around him and Appa the first time that he went into Avatar State? Maybe it takes a huge event to unconsciously activate for the first time.
Jlundy
16. DarthRachel
@mordicai

haha, i think #occupyairbenderisland is pretty good (this makes me think bout how easy it is for Bolin and Mako to get to the island but never any Press. is this a guard thing? A ferry thing? I NEED TO KNOW.) but long.

#occupyjerkbending ?

@hihosilver28

me too! i totally look forward to LoK more than GoT (which.. is basically blasphemy for me due to various reasons)
Jlundy
17. Teddard Snark
@DarthRachel

Heh. Jerkbending.

That's what they practice on the Island of Nunya, right?
Jlundy
18. elliesaurus
While I was entertained more by the previous episode, I really enjoyed this one for the storytelling. I mean, cool fight scenes are great, but plot and character development can never be underestimated! Poor Korra gets manipulated so easily by Tarlok, and Tenzin TRIED to warn her; you could tell she was very much regretting her impulsive outburst at the press meeting/party. I think her inability to admit her fear is very in-character, and while it was sad to see her so visibly broken down after her encounter with Amon, I think in the long run it will be good for her.

Speaking of Amon, he definitely struck a combat pragmatist note, here. Not only did he refuse to play by a bender's rules, rules which inherently favor the people who can control the elements, he managed to absolutely terrify and psychologically destroy the literal embodiment of all he's fighting against. I know we're supposed to root for Korra, but I'm getting a serious Grey and Grey Morality vibe here. It's hard to be unsympathetic to the Equalists when they have several really good points.

Overall, I really enjoyed this episode. I watched it three times, once by myself, a second time with my sister, and a third time with my brother. I'm looking forward to this coming Saturday's episode though; we're back to the arena! Pro-bending, yay!
Jlundy
19. Sarah Mac
I think this is the quote we were all remembering:“Amon is not going to stop with the bending triads. Eventually he will come for ALL us benders, our friends, our families.” - Tarlok

I find myself beginning to subscribe to the theory that Amon got his power from Koh, who we know has a 'thing' about Avatars. It is possible, I think, that the power was given with the express purpose of ending the Avatar cycle and that Amon is waiting for Korra to be ready- to have achieved the Avatar state or cross into the spirit world once- before her bending is taken away... I'm not sure what effects this would have but I'm sure they would be even more disasterous.

Asami could very well be an equalist or an equalist sympathizer. My theory is that she might very well have learned some of those Chi-blocking moves and might be able to use them to the Krew's advantage. I'm thinking she may be the Krew's Sokka, bringing in non-bender skills and perspective. And... I could definitely ship Masami and Kolin as our two main ships of the series, but we will certainly see.

Also, on a random note- Tarlok mentions that "42 years ago Republic City was threatend by another dangerous man, Yacom(?)..." I have to wonder if we'll see him at some point or learn more about him. I can't imagine why but little details like this often come back many episodes later.
Jlundy
20. elliesaurus
Anyone else notice the guy directly behind Aang in the screencap, and then directly behind and to the right of Tenzin in the screencap with him and Korra?
Mordicai Knode
21. mordicai
15. hihosilver28
&
16. DarthRachel

Oh yeah; I like Game of Thrones a lot, but Korra is the most important thing on television, fullstop. I am super excited that there is a generation of kids growing up watching this stuff, because that means when I'm old & retired, some of those kids will be making good television (or teleweb or holonet or whatever) for me to watch.
Mordicai Knode
22. mordicai
15. hihosilver28
&
18. elliesaurus

I mean, it could be just him avoiding making a martyr, sure...but then he's falling into some Villain 101 mistake territory. Why not put Korra in a deathtrap & leave without confirming the kill, Amon? Psh. Amateur!

That said, don't be so hard on Korra; she resisted being manipulated into it, but Tarlok out manuvered her!
Mordicai Knode
23. mordicai
I really hope Asami isn't a villain. I feel like that impulse is clumsy Hollywood femme fatale rearing its head; in other words, just weird cultural BS. Pretty girls aren't automatically evil! The way some "Makorra" fans are reacting to Asami is predictable & disappointing slutshaming.
Mordicai Knode
24. mordicai
19. Sarah Mac

"Yakone" is the name they mention, which-- if the internet can be believed-- means "blood on the snow" in Ahtna Athabascan, or like, the crimson borealis. Sounds like evidence of a North or South Water Tribe bloodbender, to me.
Jlundy
25. Lsana
@6 mordicai,

I could possibly accept Amon merely being smart and not cowardly for refusing to fight Korra 1-on-1 if it weren't for the fact that he essentially did fight 1-on-1 duels with the triad members whose bending he took away. He didn't have a problem there with the idea. It was only Korra he didn't want to face.

Also, symbolism matters, and Amon seems to understand that. Korra essentially called him a coward in front of everyone in Republic City, and by responding the way he did (not only refusing to face her alone but refusing to even participate in the battle until after she'd been taken dow), he has to wonder if some of his followers might start thinking she's right...

@15 hihosilver28,

I suppose he COULD just be trying to avoid creating a martyr, but I really don't think so. In addition to the "Villain stupidity" reason mordicai mentioned, there's also the fact that taking out the Avatar, the symbol of all he's fighting, would send a powerful message that this guy is for real and he's going to be on the winning side. Right now, a lot of people have to be thinking, "Okay he talks a good game, but he'll fall to the Avatar as soon as she's trained, the Avatar always wins." Taking Korra's bending might gain her some sympathy, but it would also convince those on the fence that he will likely be victorious.
Jlundy
26. realmcovet
I agree wholeheartedly with your stance on Asami, Mordicai. A pretty girl doesn't automatically = evil!

My initial take on the Makorra ship was that maybe Mako was just going to be development potentia lfor a possible relationship between Bolin & Korra. I couldn't help but wonder if some terrible fate is to be awaiting Mako, & that Bolin will wind up spending a lot of time chasing after Korra even though he knows that she has it bad for Mako, & that ultimately Korra will see Bolin for the awesome that he is. Not that I am hating on Mako at all, I think he's lovely. I just thought that maybe the romantic direction wouldn't take such an obvious route. But! Now that Asami is here, my mind is starting to go in all kinds of directions. WHAT IF SHE DOES WIND UP BEING THE ONE NOT TO ROOT FOR? Or, well, maybe her dad. Maybe she'll have to take a stand if he's an Equalist, & she does become a part of the "Krew" (gosh, I hope she does!) which wouldn' t surprise me one bit if this flies.

And my fav part of the episode of course was the breakdown scene with Korra & Tenzin. That threw me off guard & I got all teary eyed. Amon is great at being a catalyst to wanna fuck some shit up. The way he grabbed her face & everything. You know Korra is going to mess him up bad, but I just can't wait for what I think Tenzin will wind up doing to him ultimately. The whole, "Get away from her you BITCH" scenario is doing a fantasy replay in my head, even though I know Korra is perfectly capable of handling her own. I think an Amon/Tenzin showdown would be an excellent moment to anticipate.
Mordicai Knode
27. mordicai
25. Lsana

Hm, the duels are a good point. Again that brings up the aspect of showmanship; Amon is performing theater, ultimately, engaging in a war of ideas & propaganda. Which makes everything he says syspect. I mean, I still say-- I'm not fighting the Avatar in a duel, she's the Avatar-- but he did happily fight a lightningslinging ganglord, which...I also wouldn't do if I didn't have to.
Ashe Armstrong
28. AsheSaoirse
I agree with other points but one of my biggest things about this episode was Korra bursting into tears at the end. Given her personality and the stress of the situation, I feel like she would've been quiet at first and then as she and Tenzin returned to the temple, she would've lost it. Just seemed a bit off for her personality when so far, we've been shown that she's tough, strong, and determined. The emotional breakdown was needed but I just feel like it was unrealistic timing.
Mordicai Knode
29. mordicai
28. AsheSaoirse

Really? I mean, Korra has been...explosive in general? I mean, she's the kick down the door type, toss fireballs & ask questions later. I thought the moment of cathersis was the reverse of that; bottled, then pop!
Mordicai Knode
30. mordicai
26. realmcovet

Will Asami be the "Zuko" of this series? Like, it is...dun dun dun, revealed that she's an Equalist, but then...it is revealed that she's for non-violent reform, & she ends up being a major political foil to Amon? Could be.

As for a Tenzin showdown...people expected an Iroh showdown & they didn't get one, so I'm not sure...Avatar: the Last Airbender was really good at developing side characters but also fundamentally stayed focused on the core.
George Shirer
31. grshirer
Although I'm enjoying LOK, I also feel that the last two episodes have moved the narrative along too quickly. They've just felt rushed.
As for Amon's refusal to answer Korra's challenge? That wasn't cowardice, that was obviously a tactical choice. You don't let your opponents choose where and when a battle occurs. It gives them far too great an advantage.
As for his refusal to remove Korra's bending when he had her? Another tactical decision. Cripple the Avatar and you turn her into a martyr and rally the world's benders to crush the Equalist movement while it's still in its infancy. Best to leave her alive and stick to your own plan, your own timetable. I'm betting the Equalists have something nasty planned for the Pro-Bending Tournament.
Jlundy
32. Lsana
@25 mordicai,

I'm not sure how much difference there is between "I'm not fighting the Avatar in a duel, she's the Avatar" and "I'm afraid to fight the Avatar in a duel." I'm not saying that he has some kind of phobia or that he has nightmares about Korra like she does about him, but I think he does have a rational fear that his powers might not be strong enough to take on Korra, a fear strong enough that he was willing to risk losing a point in the propaganda wars (something we both agree he understands) in order to avoid fighting her himself.
Mordicai Knode
33. mordicai
32. Lsana

Well I mean, that is exactly my point? Like, Korra is having nightmares, she is breaking down into tears. Amon...like 31. grshirer says, he makes a tactical choice.
Jlundy
34. goonietunes
I am extremely grateful for this post and for these comments. Being primarily a lurker, I rarely come across a conversation I find worthy enough to join. But this...this is a breath of fresh air. Especially after floundering in a sea of...different view points (*coughcough* tumblr). The Avatar story is my favorite story, out of all the stories, ever. I think it's super fun to speculate about where things are headed (i have a theory of my own) and who will end up with whom (I had no idea what "shipping" was until I became an Atla fan). But, I trust the creators. I trust them so much that I, personally, would not dare question a single piece of this puzzle. Man, some of the stuff I've read, it's like a total stranger criticizing another persons parenting. It's inappropriate. Not that I read anything like that here. I'm just relieved to have a grown-up conversation after days of listening to 15 year olds. Wow, this comment is a lot less relevant to the post than I planned. Anyway, I'd love to read your take on future LoK episodes. Cheers.
Mordicai Knode
35. mordicai
34. goonietunes

I think with any fan community, you get bad apples; sadly, those apples can sometimes drown out the signal with noise. There are some toxic attitudes fluttering around, but the thing that keeps my chin up is that the show doesn't perpertrate them. I think "Kolin" & "Makorra" & "Masami" & whatever are all cute & fun in theory-- hey, talking about love triangles is like, a classic part of literature-- but the weird slagging off on stuff is just...no. Not fun or interesting. I sometimes like to think about what fandom was like for earlier people-- you know, like "Oh, I ship LeiLuke, Han Solo can go die!"-- & you know. In general I think people are people; there are going to be jerks in any group. But! I'm glad you don't think this little community of Korra fans here on Tor was welcoming & interesting; I hope you continue to lurk & comment! I sure plan to keep on giving my Korra opinions!
Jlundy
36. Galadriel
Hi fellow fans: just want to say I think we're going to find out it's Tenzin (pre-arrows) in the flashback, NOT SOKKA. Carefully compare Sokka and Tenzin to that flash of the young man and you might agree. He does have Sokka's hair, but Sokka was Tenzin's uncle and Tenzin is half Water Tribe, so it makes sense. Also, Sokka would be much older at that time; and even accounting for the fuzzy light of the flashback, the man's coloring is wrong for Sokka.

And I must jump into the Asami argument: I don't mistrust her because she's gorgeous and Korra's competitor... I mistrust her because of the way the story's being told, and I believe many other thoughtful-minded folks feel the same. She and her father are simply too good to be true in this Amon-shadowed world, since they're powerful non-benders who began their good fortunes with a mysterious loan, not to mention that Mako is publicly the Avatar's friend and a strong bender himself. I will, however, subscribe to the theory that Asami might become a Zuko character: she might really fall for Mako and change sides.
Mordicai Knode
37. mordicai
36. Galadriel

What, no way, that was totally old Sokka! I mean, I hear what you are saying & I like new theories, but it goes to the "visual storytelling" that I keep harping about. What we see communicates meaning; that shaven sides thing? All looking like Hakoda? Totally Sokka. Though the Waterbending thing is valid; I wondered at the whole "Air Nomads always have room at a table for a hungry guest" thing, like-- Tenzin's identity as an Air Nomad is based on...well, a monk & history books, & we haven't seen him identify as a Water Tribe guy. Oh, side bet: maybe Pema's baby will be a waterbender?

I dunno about too good to be true; I think the truth is somewhere in-between. In the world we've seen, the bender-non-bender tensions are jacked up so high that putting in "friendly" non-benders introduces the possibility of amends. I would guess that Hiroshi will be targeted by extremist Equalists as a "sympathizer."
Scott Silver
38. hihosilver28
Re: Asami- I can see why there is backlash to people thinking Asami is going to be a "bad" for the season. I'm somewhat neutral on the character but leaning towards nefarious. Don't really have much of a reason besides character design. And it's not because she's beautiful, there's a certain harshness to her beauty(someone else mentioned that she looks similar to Lust on Fullmetal Alchemist). That and things progressed quite quickly between her and Mako...it seems like there's going to be more to it than just setting up a love triangle. Now all this could definitely just be due to a compressed season and having to move the plot along. I'm open to see where her storyline goes, for sure, I'm just not commiting to a good or bad camp just yet.
Jlundy
39. Galadriel
Hi mordicai, great article. I agree with what you're saying about visual storytelling... but Mike and Bryan LOVE to mislead and throw in reversals and surprises! That's one reason why their work is so awesomely awesome. I hate being bored by easy-to-predict storytelling; the Avatar creators (and the other writers) seem to work hard at (and enjoy) making their stories complex and hard to predict. So for me, visual storytelling means that the shot of Sokka-or-Tenzin is ambiguous for a reason--if it was supposed to be clearly one or the other, it would've been easy to make the man obviously Sokka (boomerang, neck ornament, big blue eyes, dark skin, more like age 45, no Tenzin beard, squarer face like Hakoda) or obviously Tenzin. Also intriguing is the fact that Yakone seems to be a Water Tribe name... so does that have something to do with this ambiguous Water Tribe guy?

And speaking of misleads... I knew Amon wouldn't take Korra's bending away permanently because he CAN'T. He's just a chi-blocker who wants everyone, especially Korra, to THINK he can do it. It's interesting that he seems to have done his research on how Aang took Ozai's bending away, though...

AND... I just love how Bolin wears his fire ferret around his neck and Mako wears his dad's red scarf. So sweet!

So, do you all have theories as to who Bolin and Mako are related to? How about Korra? I sure do, but maybe we should keep quiet and not spoil anything for anyone, eh?
Jlundy
40. artspin
@Galadriel - It's not Tenzin, it's Sokka. Look at the eyebrows. Those are Sokka's eyebrows, fullstop. Tenzin has wonderful eyebrows that are shaggy and quirk up in the middle. I'll grant you, there could be facial similarities - Sokka is Tenzin's uncle, after all. But those are NOT Tenzin's eyebrows. They are Sokka's.

Speaking of incredible animation...did anyone catch the embroidered feather on the brim of Korra's hat that she wore last week? My daughter picked up on that right away. Such a little thing, not necessary at all to the plot - but it shows once again the amount of detail that makes this show so amazing.

Also - am I right in remembering that the only way to kill the Avatar permanently is to kill him/her in the Avatar State? If Amon takes Korra's bending away from her, then eventually she will die and another Avatar will be born, one that can bend. However, if he kills her in the Avatar state, then that's the end of the Avatar. I somehow think that perhaps that is playing into why he is letting her alone for now - he's waiting until she can achieve the Avatar State. (And she just as clearly ain't ready for that yet.)

I had not made the connection to Koh, and I read this and I got ALL EXCITED only to find out that my nine-year-old beat me to it and had already made the connection. Young whippersnapper!!
Mordicai Knode
41. mordicai
38. hihosilver28

I know what you mean about her design, but that is why I feel like she must not be evil. You say harshness, & mention Lust-- I read that comment somewhere too-- but I think it is a...sensuality? I think she is an adult & is romantically assertive, & too often that is code for "evil" in a female character. That is precisely why I think she isn't, & shouldn't be. Complicated, yes, but wicked no. Anyhow, I think a lot of what is going on is that the fandom went & built "headcanons" before the show came out, & are freaking out that it isn't going according to their whims.
Mordicai Knode
42. mordicai
39. Galadriel

Yeah, I mean-- a young Tenzin instead of a Sokka would be an interesting twist, & you argue it pretty well. You've moved me into the "plausible" camp anyway. Still, I think that a fifteen second flashback & possible c-plot is the wrong place to sprinkle in red herrings & plot twists, so I still think Sokka is the easy & obvious choice. Mostly I am just curious now if Tenzin's Water Tribe heritage will come up; I assume there will be a Kya episode & a Bumi episode, at least, right? But yeah, I feel like Yakone is totally going to be a bloodbender; that theory has the right ring to it.

40. artspin

Oh SNAP. Actually, Amon not killing/debending her because she wasn't in the Avatar state & he wants to make a clean end of the cycle is...that is super obvious & I totally missed it, yes. Yes. That makes a lot more sense than "Urg, I won't kill you now...uh...later showdown...maybe get your friends, train harder...kick my butt then....um, because...I don't...martyr?" rigamorale. As we've seen from Ozai's failure to kill the Avatar, if you don't break the cycle, you are kind of screwed. & ending the Avatar? What could be a more terrible & devastating coup for the Equalists?
George Brell
43. gbrell
@39.Galadriel/@42.mordicai:

Except we've never seen a non-baby airbending male with hair except for Aang when he was hiding out. Even pre-arrows, airbending men appear to shave their heads (see, e.g., Meelo; Gyatso from Roku's avatar training flashback).

His hairstyle is also exactly the same as Sokka's from the original series (the sides shaved clean with the rest pulled back severely).

Also, the Avatar wiki thinks its Sokka, though I give that fact little determinative weight.
Mordicai Knode
44. mordicai
43. gbrell

I mean, I agree with you, but I'm just playing devil advocate here when I say...what if Tenzin went through a rebellious phase when he was younger? "Screw you dad what if I don't wanna be the Adam to a new race of Air Nomads? I'm going to be a Southern Water Tribe warrior!" I mean, it is at least plausible, though like you I think it is overthinking the situation...that is totally Sokka.
treebee72 _
45. treebee72
Um, considering the person in the picture looks to be about the same age as adult Aang, there's no way it could be Tenzin. Don't forget, Sokka is only about 3-4 years older than Aang, so he wouldn't look 'much older' than Aang as an adult.
Also, the creators use many Anime 'tricks' in their storytelling - which includes hair color/style, eye color & clothing color/style to signify specific characters. Between the age, hair & clothing it's Sokka.
Jlundy
46. BCsmith
Another non-eventful, all-expositiony episode. What happened to the brisk pacing that the last show had. Or wait, let's do another comparison. Gundam Unicorn. great characters, great pacing, great writing, fluid animation. Could not wait for the next episode. This show while not bad, is still an example of why japanimation often tends to be five steps up from american animation.
Jlundy
47. phodyr
One aspect I didn't see addressed in the Amon not taking Korra's powers away is the fear factor. Having her immobilized and unable to fight back, about to lose her powers, and then let her know that really, he can take them away at any time, and that time will be at his choosing (this showdown was of her choosing), that "mercy" carries far more psychological terror for Korra. He wants her to remain afraid of him for as long as possible, because knowing she was at his mercy and remains so will undermine her actions against him in the future. It's very much the mentality that abusive spouses/parents have over their victims; holding them in a long thrall of terror.

Korra will only find release from her fear of Amon when she either kills Amon (which doesn't necessarily remove the possibility of someone else learning to unbend people) or acknowledges her fear (all fears, really as Aang had to do) and acts mindfully. But she's got to advance her spiritual nature first.
Mordicai Knode
48. mordicai
47. phodyr

I mean-- did Aang really embrace & move past his fears? He never let go of Katara, so he never really listened to the Guru. That said, he didn't kill Ozai either, despite his past lives...he found his own way. Korra clearly needs to work on her spiritual warfare stuff though, for sure.
Jlundy
49. phodyr
In the battle under Ba Sing Se, Aang learned to set his fears aside and trust that his friends would work things out while he was doing his Avatar State thing. I don't think the Guru was telling Aang that he's shouldn't form emotional attachments ever; just not to let them blind you when you need to be the Avatar and make hard decisions.
Mordicai Knode
50. mordicai
49. phodyr

...but the battle under Ba Sing Se was a failure. They lost, & they lost specifically because Aang was busy micromanaging Katara. Heck, he left precisely because-- like Luke in Empire-- he couldn't put his attachments aside. The end of season two is a down note; he almost died! & I would go on to say that Aang's whole raison d'être was in sidestepping "hard decisions," you know? He's the airbender, the lateral thinker, the one who, when faces with kill or be killed, kill or commit the world to war...finds a different way.
Jlundy
51. phodyr
Crap! You're right about the Ba Sing Se battle, I'm blending episodes. My bad.

I agree Aang's a lateral thinker, but I don't think he sidestepped hard decisions. He didn't choose from the obvious ones, but forging your own path isn't easy either. For instance, taking away Ozai's ability to bend was still immensely difficult to Aang, since he still harmed the man and left him in a state that by LOK standards would be considered cruel. Deserved? Yes, but nonetheless.
Mordicai Knode
52. mordicai
51. phodyr

Oh yeah, I think he definitely won! I don't mean to diminish Aang's accomplishments by any means; I mean it in the best possible way. He Kirk'd the no-win scenario!

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