Thu
Jun 14 2012 11:00am
I Told You Not to Underestimate Her! The Legend of Korra: “Out of the Past"

“Out of the Past” is more or less a two-parter with “When Extremes Meet,” as ending an episode with your protagonist tied up and being driven off to an unknown location might just as well have “To Be Continued!” written underneath it. Of course, it doesn’t, since The Legend of Korra trusts the audience to be smart enough not to need a sledgehammer of exposition and sloppy title cards. “Out of the Past” conveys a great deal of information through monologues, dialogues, flashbacks and character’s puzzling things out… and segues us nicely into the tide of the rising climax. And makes you really, really, really hate Tarrlok. As if you didn’t already.

Because, of course, Tarrlok blames the fight on an Equalist attack. Because of course he has a platinum box at his cabin in the woods. That guy is a budding little serial killer, isn’t he? In a way, it makes the revelation that he’s Yakone’s son even worse. Yakone may have been a sociopath, but he behaved in a very rational, logical way. Taking control of the underworld through bloodbending and other nefarious means, and then living high on the hog, immune from retribution… unless the Avatar gets in the way, that is. Tarrlok is a little Silence of the Lambs, what with his lair and his preparations, no matter how he rationalizes it. I think we can safely assume that Aang’s removal of Yakone’s ability to bend is at the root of Tarrlok’s escalating oppression of non-benders. Amon possesses the same skill Aang did; taking away bending is Tarrlock’s hot button. He goes wild on the Equalists because he’s frightened—a frightened megalomaniac.

We get Lin armoring up and tearing off her badge and for a second there I thought we were going to have to add Bat-Lin to her list of epithets. Instead she pulls on a heavy overcoat, and so en-trenched she busts Asami and the Brothers from the School of Hard Knocks out of the slammer. Asami’s reunion with Mako seems tender enough, but that’ll all be put to the test soon enough. Bolin is using the bathroom when they come in—or trying to anyway—leaving us with another piece of potty humor. Hey, Shakespeare played to the groundlings, I’m not complaining… and it was worth it for the punchline of Lin metalbending the zipper of his fly closed.

It’s hard not to grind your teeth while the Krewe infiltrate the Equalist base. Not because it stretches credulity—hey, they sleuth it out with a plausible mix of narrative coincidence—but because you know they are in the wrong place. Luckily, the Equalists are a bunch of extremists who have kidnapped Lin Beifong’s officers, so it isn’t like it is all for nothing. Of course, it provides a perfect place to… talk about feelings? Asami’s not wrong to be suspicious of Korra and Mako’s relationship, but poor Bolin to get put on the spot like that. After “The Spirit of Competition” I actually have high hopes that the love triangle—love triangles, if you include Bolin—will be handled by the characters in a reasonably mature way. Or you know, there might be an epic meltdown. Either way.

We get a bit of a call back to the chutes and slaloms of Omashu—“They do get their mail on time!”—with the Equalist’s underground railway, a couple of wisecracking Equalists and some nice lateral thinking from Lin, avoiding a showdown with the Lieutenant and a small army of chi-blockers. Which leads to their confrontation with Tarrlok—and I can’t help but notice that it doesn’t seem like Lin inherited Toph’s ability to act as a lie detector, which sure would come in handy with deciever like Tarrlock. Instead, the office assistant saves the day—well, at least until Tarrlock bloodbends everyone into unconsciousness.

Finally, Korra sits down and meditates like she means it. Avatar: the Last Airbender had a theme of the Avatar overcoming expectations, of finding ways when everyone said it was impossible, from putting out fires on Kiyoshi Island after everyone said the only way he could help was to leave, all the way to finding a way to defeat Phoenix King Ozai without killing him. The Legend of Korra has a related theme, but one much more related to the teenage tenor of the show: you should listen to those whose advice you trust. Tenzin has given reliable council to Korra and shown in “A Leaf in the Wind” that he was willing to let her find her own way; now she tries his way, and it pays off.

We’re rewarded with a coherent flashback! From a narrative standpoint, I’m glad they strung out our seeing Aang and the rest of them this long; this is The Legend of Korra, after all. That being said, Aang had entire episodes devoted to his past lives, and we are all curious to see our old friends again. Sokka as a Republic City Councilor is nice to see; the current crop of Councilors might all be bending milksops who vote whatever Tarrlok tells them to, but it is nice to know that the founding Council had non-benders with some backbone on it. Sokka’s speech only recalls his struggle with public speaking in Avatar: the Last Airbender—our little Sokka is all grown up! I can only assume that the Air Nation representative—I don’t think you can call them “nomads” when they all live on an island—is a non-bending Air Acolyte as well, as Tenzin would only be a child at this point.

Yakone is voiced by Clancy Brown! You know, we were just comparing Tarrlok to Long Feng in the comments of the last post. He is, in fact, a crimelord, and he does, in fact, bloodbend—facts surprising no one, as we started to think that with “And the Winner Is…,” but officially confirmed now. He doesn’t just bloodbend, but he bloodbends everyone, a room full of people, and he does it without a full moon. My pet theory? Bloodbending doesn’t work during a full moon anymore because Yue is coming into her own as the moon spirit. During a full moon her powers are at their zenith, and she is able to interfere with the bloodbenders. Still, even Yakone can’t stand against the Air Scooter of Justice; and when Aang removes his bending you’ll notice there are no glowing pyrotechnics.

The struggle between Aang and Ozai’s spirit was a point of contention for Amon’s ability to remove someone’s bending. Reading Aang and Ozai’s glowing light show as literal was plausible, but now we’ve seen that it was metaphorical—meaning that the absences of dazzling lights doesn’t undercut the legitimacy of what Amon does. One less leg for the “Amon is faking it” theory. We do still see Aang touch the chest as well as the head—perhaps Amon’s is a mental block, rather than a deeper severed connection? While I’m theorizing, I’ve noted before that Amon’s twisting, spinning, avoidance-focused style of fighting reminds me of an airbending style; the Air Acolyte on the council would probably be too old…unless he was a decrepit cyborg or something…

It is Amon to the “rescue!” Or at least, Amon attacking Tarrlok. How did Amon get there? That is… a perfectly reasonable question, actually. The conspiracy theorist in me will note that none of the Krewe seemed to know where Korra was, nor did we see anyone strangely absent, ruling them out. Did Amon and Tarrlok have an “arrangement?” It could be. We see that Amon is… if not immune to bloodbending, at least able to resist it. My first guess was that we were about to see a clockwork arm under those robes—given the technology we see in “The Aftermath” that would be credible—though the possibility exists that his clarity of purpose just gives him incredible willpower. I still sort of stick with my theory from “The Revelation” that Koh is behind everything, somehow. Amon tells his underlings not to underestimate Korra… but of course, they do. That trick is velociraptor smart, Korra—clever girl!—hanging from a piece of fabric to resist electrocution. She’s no damsel. Like Lin, she avoids a showdown—not out of fear, as you might expect from “A Voice in the Night” but just because she’s not in any shape to take him on. She snowbends away to be found by trusty Naga… and is carried home smack dab back into the middle of the romantic triangle.


Mordicai Knode is really stoked to see the colossal statue of Aang with a Guy Fawkes V for Vendetta Amon mask on it. What do you expect from the last episodes of the season? Tell him on Twitter or see lots of silly Korra gifs on his Tumblr.

40 comments
wcarter4
1. wcarter4
This is the episode I was waiting for. Korra finally starting to make some headway and proving that she is in fact a force to be reckoned with.

I also think there has to be something more to Amon than just 'incredible willpower or clarity of purpose' No one, not the strongest MMA fighter or solider to ever live could do a thing if the very blood in their veins was constricted. To try would be useless and success would be suicide as you would rupture your blood vessels (like all of them...completely...) and instantly bleed out internally.

Whether that something more in mechanical limbs or spiritial protection via Koh, Ozai's ghost or Lucky the Leperchaun remains to be seen.
Mordicai Knode
2. mordicai
1. wcarter4

I tend to agree with you, though a sort of...spirit-based energybending could theoretically be behind it? Or...a supernatural gusto derived from zealotry? It isn't beyond the logic of the show-- we've seen people consistantly break "the rules" as Councilor Sokka points out-- but I think you are right. There is something going on, & since we have no other information, I still think Amon's mention of spirits is the most likely, though clockwork cybernetics could also easily be involved.
Bob Seiter
3. kbob_o
I agree that the glowing pyrotechnics were just representative of the battle of wills and wasn't physically happening, so I still think that Amon has somehow found a way to learn energybending. I don't think he moves like an airbender though, reminds me more of the Kyoshi warriors style, or Jet... Amon is Jet.
Mordicai Knode
4. mordicai
3. kbob_o

I mean-- the theory that there had been a literal glowing soul-battle wasn't crazy, in a world with glowing Avatar Eyes & a Glowing Avatar Airbending Arrow! It just yeah, seems to be confirmed as metaphorical.

I think Amon does have a "circles" thing similiar to how Korra learned going through the spinning gates...& there is always the possibility that Aang taught Amon the technique, as well. You are right though, both the Kyoshi & Jet had similar "avoidance-based" fighting styles, the sort of "soft" martial arts. Still a possible clue though, if you ask me.
wcarter4
5. wcarter4
I think we're forgetting the Lion Turtle here.
"Before the Avatar...before man bended the elements, he learned to bend the energy within himself."
That alone tells me that Tenzin's assessment that only the Avatars could energy bend is patently false.
It also provides a potential teacher for Amon.
"In order to bend the energy in another, you must be unbendable or you will be corrupted"
Pet theory: Lion Turtle (or equivilent spirit) visits young Amon, teaches him to bend to take out evil firebenders what killed his parents. Young Amon takes them on but is corrupted in the process. Learning to energy bend within himself could also be an explaination on how he is resistant to blood bending per Mordicai's observation.
Mordicai Knode
6. mordicai
5. wcarter4

Does the Lion Turtle say "he learned" or "we learned"? I always thought the Lion Turtle was talking about something primal, something predating the Badgermoles & Dragons & Sky Bison & the Moon & Ocean?

As I alluded to, I agree with your assessment. & I think that the "equivilent spirit" that taught him is Koh the Facestealer. I know we see Amon's eyes, but that doesn't mean he has the rest of his face. The visual similarities are a strong link, I think. A pet theory & one that is increasingly less likely, but I still think that the spirit world will play a big part, & Yue's relationship to bloodbending & Koh's relationship to Amon could provide it.
Bob Seiter
7. kbob_o
There is definately something otherwordly about Amon though. How he never seems to be affected by bending. I want to do a re-watch to double check but off the top of my head I can remember when Amon is on the airship at the end of "And the winner is.." and all the other chi-blockers and equipment are blown aroung by Korra's fire blast but Amon isn't. Then the bloodbending resistance and ice shards that don't hit.

Also just found on tumblr, something to throw the wrench in the energy bending thoery...
http://shattered--colors.tumblr.com/post/25007816919/jhenne-bean-otherjasmen-miniyuna

Maybe he's just an advanced chi blocker and not doing any bending.
Mordicai Knode
8. mordicai
7. kbob_o

Yeah, I mentioned this above; we see Aang touch the chest & the forehead even in the flashback, which means that Amon's forehead-only technique is almost certainly different, given how detailed the show is about things like fighting styles & how the chi-blockers strikes line up with Ty Lee's moves, etc. Different, however, doesn't mean fake-- the idea that it was all a ruse was out there for a while-- & it could simply be that the things are two skills-- energy bending & bending removal-- with similar methods & outcomes.

The fact that it is just the brow charka leads me to think that it is a mental block, & that unlike Aang's-- involving both the brow & the heart chakra-- it can be overcome. or reversed Which also makes me think that somebody in the Krew is going to get the whammy from Amon...
Ashe Armstrong
9. AsheSaoirse
I kind of wonder if Amon is actually what he says he is. Theatrics can go a long way, afterall. A little misdirection, a little discord, a speech or two. But then, the show is only going to be 26 episodes so something to the effect of a "Palpatine" plan, especially with the way this series works, doesn't make sense so I'm probably wrong.
wcarter4
10. Lsana
On Yakone not bloodbending during a full moon...I don't think that he CAN'T (unless they said so in the episode and I missed it) but just that he DIDN'T. Because everyone "knew" that you could only bloodbend at night under a full moon, he figured that if he didn't use the ability during the full moon, no one would believe he had it.

Also, I think it's at least possible that Amon was Tarlokk's tool, or at least Tarlokk thought so. Tarlokk's comments about how he was going to "take over by becoming Republic City's savior" suggest to me that he set up the crisis. Only it turned out Amon had other plans.

Finally, it was good to see that non-benders can be on the Council, even though it seems there aren't any on there currently (otherwise I can't see Tarlokk's law taking affect without at least some comment from them). Nice to know that non-benders aren't (officially at least) excluded from rising in politics.
Jennifer B
11. JennB
My first thought was that Amon is some sort of cyborg. No blood to bend. He was disfigured. Maybe he lost a lot more than his good looks. Definitely the best episode yet. This one felt much more like what I was hoping for.

Not really liking Mako much.
Mordicai Knode
12. mordicai
9. AsheSaoirse

I think that is a strong theory, I just think that we're increasingly seeing that...it...isn't accurate? I mean, the resistance to bloodbending happened. He's stripped the bending from reliable witnesses. & also-- there is a strong chance his storyline will be wrapped up in the next three episodes, even!

11. JennB

I don't think it was my favorite too date, but I don't mean that as a criticism. I'm not sure which my favorite was, but this was such a middle ground? It answered questions, which is important, but ultimately not super fufilling. My favorite parts were Korra, especially her outwitting the Equalists. I'm ready for buttkicking Korra now, please.
Mordicai Knode
13. mordicai
10. Lsana

Rewatching it last night Yakone's lawyer does emphize that he is being accused of bloodbending every night except a full moon. I don't think those were extraneous lines. It could be as you say, but also...I think it would be a lovely way to bring back Yue in the spiritworld for an cameo that I don't think most people would expect.

The Yakone-Amon alliance is the one that makes the most sense, I'm starting to think. I know I argued against it-- I wanted Tarrlock to be doing the worst things for plausible reasons besides meglomania, because the people in the real world who do things restricting freedoms aren't chuckling villains, but people who are trying to do the right thing, no matter the consequences. Still; how else would Amon know where to go?
wcarter4
14. Kingtycoon
Uh, I don't have that much to say about this one. It was pretty good though!

So Tarlock - you know if he's got no connection to Amon then his plan is... He's just pretty stupid right? He wants to boss Korra so he... creates an oppressed underclass. I'm okay with him being a dummy and having some kind of mission of control with his bloodbending, but it sure didn't take much for his dumb plan to crumble and him to be shown up as kind of desperate and barely holding it together. Compare to the very similar role of the Dai Li in the first series- a nice opposition too - Mind Control vs. Body Control - and Long Feng was completely in command posing as a nobody and Tarlock is in a tenuous position but poses as a confident king. Maybe I'm seeing things that aren't there to be seen.

I'm still with my theory that Amon and Tarlock have the same derivation - but we'll see if it's true.

Amon said his people were killed by a firebender, but I do think that the firebender in question is going to have been... Amon. That's my latest prediction - he'll have abandoned bending in shame and learned how to defeat bending as a solution. Plus how proper was it for him to declare himself the solution. I was glad.
Mordicai Knode
15. mordicai
14. Kingtycoon

Wait, I mean-- isn't creating an oppressed underclass like, what rulers are all about? I just am looking at the spread of history & that seems to be a consequence-- intended or unintended-- of kings & plutocrats across the spread. The Mind-Body divide is a good one to point out though.

I don't think Amon & Tarrlok are brothers or anything; I think
JennB is on the right track, maybe-- that it was a firebender & that the firebender destroyed more than just Amon's face, but burned him to a crisp in general. The guilt theory is a good one, from a narrative standpoint, & it could tie in with the man who killed Mako & Bolin's father, but I am not seeing any clues-- in the story or in the construction of the story, if you get my drift-- that that is the case.
Scott Silver
16. hihosilver28
Just a few things to throw in my two cents.

First, I don't know that Tarrlok's "prison" in the basement is in fact platinum. Korra has never shown any affinity for metalbending, so it wouldn't have to be a platinum box to contain her. That said, it would make more sense for Tarrlok to have it made of platinum, just in case.

There is no information that Yue is taking anything back as the moon. Rather the opposite. She assumed the mantle of the moon so that balance and waterbending could come back. They reference the full moon during the trial to emphasize that bloodbending was possible "only" during a full moon; when the waterbender's powers were at their strongest. Like everyone here on earth, there people are born with different strengths. Yakone was just a ridiculously powerful waterbender, genetically. This allowed him to bloodbend without the assistance of the full moon. Tarrlok genetically inherited Yakone's waterbending strength.

I really felt sorry for Asami in this episode. I never thought that I would say this, but I do actually hope that Korra and Mako don't end up together. Part of that is due to the amount of empathy that the writers have made me feel towards Asami. So, props to them for that. But I truly do want her and Mako to end up together. I also think it would be pretty bold if Korra didn't end up with anyone this season. But, that's just kind of what I'd like to see, and not necessarily indicative of where the show will go. Foil ALL the shippers by having her end up with nobody! *evil laugh*

Lin is awesome. ALWAYS.
David Thomson
17. ZetaStriker
That Yue theory is really tenuous. Why would blocking it on a full moon make it work the rest of the time when it didn't beforehand? And if it DOES make bloodbending stronger, why the heck would Yue do it?
Mordicai Knode
18. mordicai
16. hihosilver28

Someone else pointed out that it wasn't explicitly platinum, either. Fair enough. On one hand, given that you can apparently get enough platinum to made a small army of giant robots with, why not have your metal cell made of platinum? On the other hand, the box explicitly being platinum would be a narrative link between Tarrlok & the Equalists, or at least Tarrlok & Hiroshi Sato, so we shouldn't assume too much that isn't in the corpus. So noted.

It was explicitly stated that the charges against Yakone were for bloodbending at every time that wasn't the full moon-- I'll admit that Yue's intervention is a theory out of left field, but I still think it would make a good scene, Korra & Yue in the spirit world-- so I stand by it, at least as far as a fringe hypothesis goes.

I don't know where the romance will go. I will point to the legions of Zutara fans & Kaang fans & warn-- don't get too obsessed! & I'll note Sokka-- who had chemistry with Suki, a romance with Yue, a relationship with Suki, a friendship with Toph & tension with Ty Lee-- as an example of the show not being slavishly devoted to some concept of "fate" or "true love." Who can say?

Lin & Tenzin rule.
Mordicai Knode
19. mordicai
17. ZetaStriker

Oh yeah, it is totally tenuous! It is more aspirational than anything-- I'd like to see Korra & Yue, I'd like more spiritworld. That said, I would imagine that being the Moon is hard work; Yue is perhaps just getting the hang of it?
Simon Southey-Davis
20. Glyph
It's pretty clear Tarrlok was in league with the Equalists, using them and manipulating the council's reaction to them to stir up chaos he could profit from (while unwittingly being used by Amon in turn). There was something early in the episode, though, that I expected to pay off later and didn't: the Equalist gauntlet Tarrlok was shown using to electrocute himself. What happened to it? He can't have been wearing it when the police showed up, so either he didn't fully zap himself (possible...) or he woke up before the police arrived (which seems an awful risk to take), or... an accomplice removed it?

Agreed that Yakone avoided bloodbending on the full moon as an alibi rather than because he couldn't. I plead complete ignorance on how he managed it at other times, though perhaps Sokka's specific callout to Combustion Man wasn't incidental. Hmm - is it too much of a stretch to note that CM was defeated by a blow to the forehead? And that the forehead-located light chakra (rewatching The Guru now) seems much related to the story of Republic City?

I had thought the the Air Acolyte on the flashback council was Young Tenzin, but on re-watching it doesn't look too much like him. The Earth, Fire and 'other Water' representative look like they could be the same people, though. (What is the makeup of the council? In Sokka's day it looks like one of each element plus a non-bender. Tarrlok appears to be filling in that fifth slot now - there's a Tribal-looking waterbender as well as the more urbane Tarrlok.)

Whose were the bugout eyes at Yakone's sentencing? In previous flashbacks I'd thought they were Aang's, but the cutting here made them look like Yakone's - except that his animation in medium shots didn't support that at all.

Amon certainly seemed to know where to find Tarrlok, and Tarrlok clearly knew him. Still think Amon's ability is (a) spirit-based, (b) related to the chakras and/or chi points, and (c) reversible. The most likely thing to me seems to be a forced locking of the victim's chakra, but eh, I dunno.

I have no pet theory on his resistance. The only way we've seen anyone overcome bloodbending before is through superior waterbending: Katara > Hama, Avatar State Aaang > Yakone. Amon > ...?

Much as I'd like Koh to be involved, I'm doubtful... But hey, I have an appalling track record at this game (Zutara to the bitter end!) so that may actually be a vote of support.

... And that's enough disjointed stream-of-consciousness from me.
Scott Silver
21. hihosilver28
@mordicai- I just don't really get where you're pulling the Yue stopping bloodbending during a full moon. We've never seen a spirit that affects bending specifically interfere in such a way. Also, the lawyer brought up the fact that Yakone hadn't bloodbent during a full moon to make the point that since it's "impossible" to bloodbend without a full moon, Yakone is innocent. That was the reason Yakone didn't ever bloodbend on a full moon, so that he could get away with it since bloodbending without one was "impossible". It's the same reason Korra was so shocked when Tarrlok did the same to her; it wasn't during a full moon and therefore should not have been possible. Which was why Sokka's verdict was worded the way that it was. He had seen "impossible" bending techniques performed. Both Yakone and Tarrlok have the ability to bloodbend during a full moon, the just didn't utilize it then; Yakone because the gig would be up then, and Tarrlok because he didn't want anyone to know that he was a bloodbender. I guess I just don't understand why you think this is a possibility or how that could be a good story beat. I do want to see the spirit world, though. Especially to see how it's existence may have changed with the onset of technology.
Ashe Armstrong
22. AsheSaoirse
@Mordicai - Yeah, that's the problem. I kind of want Amon to be who he says he is though because the Equalists have valid points. And I think that's very important for a series that has tried to be very mature while still being family friendly. It's important to show that sometimes, there aren't REALLY good guys vs. bad guys. Sometimes, it's just people who are on opposite sides. Still, Amon has been built up quite a bit...I hope the payoff isn't a let down.
Mordicai Knode
23. mordicai
20. Glyph

Yeah, I thought that "electrocute self" plan had a flaw in it, though theoretically he could have taken it off after he came too.

The Council is-- Earth Kingdom, Air "Nomad", Fire Nation, Northern Water Tribe, Southern Water Tribe.

No, I always thought the "bug out" eyes were Yakone-- that was why people thought there was another bloodbender in the mix, as in, him reacting in surprise. I think it is just his "mental concentration" face.

& also
21. hihosilver28

I am totally pulling the Yue theory out of thin air. I do think that the "doesn't bloodbend during a full moon" line is quite possibly significant; rewatching it is does seem again as an affirmation. An "inverted rules" bloodbending makes a certain kind of symmetrical sense. I don't think it is just an alibi thing, though it certainly could be.

& what has changed, in regards to the Moon, but Yue? Why do I think it would be a good story beat? Well, because...weird stuff happens in fairyland the spiritworld. Monkey Kings, Face Stealers, past lives...I just think it would be a nice link, continuity in the supernatural.
M O
24. shydra
I really appreciate the complexity that being "spiritually unadept" adds to Korra and her story. Unlike Aang, she can't make the direct narrative connection to the past. None of her past lives have come to her and explained what she needs to do and where she needs to go. She really does seem so much more *alone* than Aang, as the Avatar.

So, she's finally taking the time to meditate on the visions that Aang is sending her, but the visions are just that -- visions, text without context. The narrative framework is what Korra immediately puts onto it, and it shows her naivety. "Oh, that's what you were trying to tell me: Tarrlok is Yakone's son! Alright, visions solved!"

Well, there are a heck of a lot of messages you could take from what happened, and that... may be one of them. But it may not have even been the point. There are much bigger, more critical problems going on with Korra right now, Tarrlok was never much more than a distraction. Part of me really HOPES there's going to be a lot more to those visions.

The visions from Aang started well before Tarrlok had become a serious problem, and following confrontations with Amon/Equalists. Tarrlok's "bad points" didn't even have to do with him being a bloodbender, and in fact it's still not clear that he even utilized bloodbending before he got pushed over the edge with Korra's pushing and Amon raising the stakes.

Is it a crime to be the son of a bad man? I'm not saying he was a personally oustanding guy, but he seems to be liked and regarded, and apparently did his job well, as he's in his 40s and still doing it, without a lot of visible conflict from anyone but Tenzin. He fought to be the *opposite* of his father, to have ultimate power but to be the city's savior. Had the Equalist issue not been on the table, I daresay he would have been an ally -- a somewhat greasy one, but nevertheless. So if the main point was Aang was directing Korra to be hostile or mistrustful of him, back before he fully merited that distrust and when he was never the main problem, I would be disappointed. Since Bryke generally do not disappoint me, I assume this is not the case.

Korra doesn't really have the time or the intrapersonal skills to reflect on the timing of these visions or wheter the content may be more meaningful, of course. However, a much more natural conclusion to draw is "There are benders out there who can best Korra no matter what, you cannot act alone. You MUST make a connection with your Avatar state or you will not be able to face these duties as Avatar." Or... what? I wonder, will there be more to the visions that will expand the message?
Mordicai Knode
25. mordicai
24. shydra

Hey! I was just thinking about you yesterday, I haven't heard from you in forever.

I like the spiritual struggle too; not just for its own sake, but in contrast to Aang. Avatar: the Last Airbender showed us that there is a whole spiritual world of value out there; guidance from the Avatar's past lives, the Avatar's duties as the bridge between the spirit world & the material world, chakras, all that jazz. Korra being blocked off from it is an incredible difference...& probably the root of why all my pet theories involve Koh or Yue or whatever. I want spirit stuff!

I've been thinking & I've come to the conclusion that the reason I like Korra more than Aang-- & I think I might-- is because her doubts seem more legitimate. Aang's doubts were tangents, conceptual-- they were doubts that he could win a particular fight or defeat an entire nation. The answer to both questions seemed to be "believe in yourself & trust destiny!" Korra doesn't have easy answers; the situation is muddied, complicated, & I can understand her frustrations much better.

I too wanted a more complicated Tarrlok but I don't think we're going to get one. I think a Tarrlok who was trying to do the right thing-- govern well-- but was failing-- oppressing people-- & who then was pushed to the edge & snapped, falling back on his legacy as a bloodbender? Is an interesting figure, but I don't know if that is what we are seeing in the actual text of the show. As I noted, he had a murder lair & a cage ready to go. Those aren't marks of flailing desperation so much as marks of a psychopath preparing for a bloody retreat. I think the "in league with Amon" camp is looking most plausible.
wcarter4
26. wcarter4
@ Mordicai I rewatched the Lionturtle scenes. He was definitely said people bended energy.
On a side note I've been thinking I like the idea of an Amon Koh connection but is there really that much proof it's him?
Koh is creepy as hell and then there's the whole Koh stills faces/ Amon wears a mask thing, but we've never seen proof that Koh is a destructive force. At worst he's lawful evil. I would say lawful neutral would be more accurate though. The chaos and revolution Amon is spreading doesn't seem to fit Koh as we know him so far (although there's obviously a lot more to his story than the viewers know).
What we do know about him is he willingly helped Aang when the moon (and therefore balance in nature) was at risk. He didn't even seem to care that Aang's past life had tried to kill him--still was trying in fact. We know he steals faces, but that doesn't necessarily make him "bad."
The creatures in the spirit world sans faces are still there, and apparently function just fine. He even seems to have rules regarding when and why he steals someone/thing's face.
So then the question we have to ask is: Why would Koh--one of the oldest spirits there is-- do something that completely disrupts the balance of the living world when he has helped perserve it in the past?
wcarter4
27. Lsana
I too would have preferred to see a more well-meaning Tarlokk. I would have liked him to be the counterpart to Amon: you realize he's a bad guy, but there's this little voice in the back of your mind saying, "But he's got a point..." However, it's pretty clear that isn't the direction that the story is going. Nothing we've learned about him suggests "well-intentioned extremist" to me.

@26,

I think you may be assuming two facts not in evidence:

1) Koh is interested in preserving the balance of the living world. I'm not at all sure of this. Yes, he gave Aang a hint in the case of the moon spirit, but I don't think we know why he did it.

2) Amon's power to take away bending is a major disruption in the balance of the living world. According to the Lionturtle, at least, humans couldn't always bend, so I don't know that losing bending would necessarily cause an apocolypse. If anything, it may be that the presence of so many powerful varient benders (metalbenders, lightningbenders, and now bloodbenders) is more likely to cause a disruption in the balance.
Mordicai Knode
28. mordicai
27. Lsana

I mean, that being said, there is something to recommend a villain that Korra & Co. actually can punch-- the worldbuilding has set up so many complexities that it is nice to be able to move from slimeball to psychopath. Fantasy does contain an element of catharsis, right?

& with
26. wcarter4

Is removing everyone's ability to bend really disrupting the balance, or is it like, the nuclear option for achieving balance? The possibility does exist that Koh is "interested" in preserving the balance in a harmful & destructive way. It is an alien being, & its meddlesome attempts may be motivated by a mix of unknowable trickster malice or an actual indescipherable attempt to restore balance, regardless of human casualties.
wcarter4
29. wcarter4
Don't misunderstand, I'm not saying that Koh isn't the one behind Amon's energy bending. I'm not convinced he is yet, but even in my mind he's suspect number one.
What I am saying is good theories must be able to widthstand scrutiny.
That's why I'm posing questions with cited examples of Koh's past actions.
Like everyone points out we dont know much about Koh other than that he's dangerous but not necessarily outright evil. We don't know for sure that he cares about balance but we do know he has helped an Avatar keep it at least once.
M O
30. shydra
25. mordicai

Your posts here are the second best Korra-related thing of the week, after the show itself! I always read, comment occasionally although this is the first time it hasn't take it like an hour or so to be moderated in.

Speaking of, based on a clip I just saw for Saturday's episode
with Tenzin/Lin/Pema interacting, I want to reiterate what I said back to your post on The Aftermath: Pema is going to go Equalist, and soon enough that it will cause even more tension in their marriage.

The love triangle with our kids is actually being reflected with the
adults; everybody's spending all their time talking about Asami and how she's going to go Equalist, but I think Pema is the more clear choice. The non-bender is getting the short end of the stick in both of the love triangles. And as for Pema, she's already on the books as having gripes with not having any "non-bender" kids "like her," which implies she feels like an outsider in her own family. She's younger, and she already had to sort of "steal" Tenzin away from a Lin. She is in an incredibly insecure position, and with Tenzin increasingly going out and running around with his former lover, she probably feels more alone than ever. I wouldn't be surprised if Amon reached out for her personally, if she really started to feel abandoned by Tenzin. This might be the tipping point that gets Korra/Tenzin involved with the Equalists in the next season.
Mordicai Knode
31. mordicai
29. wcarter4

Well, my "logic," such as it is, is more based on narrative similarities than any actual clues in the show-- other than the fact of Amon saying the spirits were the one who chose him. It really is as tenuous as the mask looking Koh-ish & us never seeing Amon's face. I'm looking for hooks in the structure of the story more than the corpus of the story.
Mordicai Knode
32. mordicai
30. shydra

Nah, I think you are crazy. Pema & Asami as Equalist reformers, maybe-- "Your voices are heard & the council responds, vote Asami Sato for the new City representative on the Council!"-- but as "evil Equalists," no. I expect that Asami will feint that way-- "you were right daddy, the bad bender even stole my boyfriend"-- but she won't really flip on the Krew. Even if Mako is a bad boyfriend, Asami isn't going to betray Korra & the rest.
wcarter4
33. Bromo Sapien
I've never really been a fan of all weird "spirit war" theories out there ala Koh+Amon or Yue+bloodbending, to name the two prominent theories being discussed. The spirits always helped when needed, but to me, it was more about both the Boomeraang Gaang and the Krewe stepping up when needed and doing what had to be done. It was their actions that decided everything, not divine intervention helping out. Even the Lion Turtle only provided a tool while Aang figured out the solution. Not to mention that criminals often go masked simply to avoid giving away their identity, not because a spirit told them to or because they have no face.

To switch gears, I have my own little pet theory on Amon. I'm not very well connected to the Avatar forums/theories (this is really the only thing I read on either of the shows) so I don't know if this has been disproved, but I believe Amon to be Yakone himself. A crimelord attacking Republic City who has an abnormal bloodbending trait? Which one am I talking about? If Yakone was abnormally strong at bloodbending, he might have devised a way to beat it. If you spend enough time with something, you might see new and different things that others missed and he spent his entire life practicing bloodbending. It would also account for the Amon-Tarlokk connection as well as a possible cabin/box explination if Tarlokk inherited them from his father. Amon may seem more ambitious, striving for equality whereas Yakone just wanted power, but Amon is arguably the most powerful person in the world right now, exactly what Yakone wanted. We often see people push seemingly altruistic causes without believing them simply for power. He has a direct connection to energybending. Almost everything fits with more cohesiveness than believing that a spirit that appeared in one episode of the first season manipulated the man because of a mask.
Mordicai Knode
34. mordicai
33. Bromo Sapien

I think part of the reason "spirit theories" have such cache for this series is that Korra is so explicitly out of touch with them. I agree that a sloppy divine intervention would be bad, but I don't think that ignoring the possibility of divine meddling is right, either; the Moon & the Ocean featured largely in the Avatar: the Last Airbending season one finale, & as you point out the Lion Turtle played large in the climax of the whole show. I think they are part of the machinary of the setting, & need to be accounted for.

The biggest flaw in the Amon is Yakone theory is just a matter of age. Othere then Katara, we're explicitly a generation removed from that storyline. I mean, you could totally be right but I think it is purposefully moved in time so as to make people of that age cohort super rare.
Simon Southey-Davis
35. Glyph
So watching again, in lieu of commenting on today's episode (when did a 20-min cartoon last leave me drained?), and musing on the Amon = Yakone theory.

There were so many hints thrown into this ep that it seems either certain or a deliberate red herring. We have Yakone the unparallelled bloodbender, manipulating the city's underworld to gain control; Yakone the escaped criminal vowing to return one day and take Republic City for his own; Yakone the former bender with first-hand experience of Aang's energy bending. And then we have Amon, the master manipulator, bent on control, of uncertain age, familiar with and able to resist bloodbending, who moves like a bender, and is on a crusade against all benders everywhere.

I could see a post-Aang Yakone learning chi-blocking and somehow either finding or being found by a malicious spirit, giving him means, motive and opportunity to "equalise" the world: to do to all other benders what was done to him.

Age, of course, is the main flaw, but if we're invoking the spirit world that doesn't seem insurmountable. Yakone and Amon have different voice actors, but both in the same range. And of course we've seen formidable fighters of advanced age in the show: Lin's right there showing us how much ass older people can still kick, there's the White Lotus, and then there was the 112-or-so Bumi in Omashu. We're 70 years after A:TLA; Aang was 12 then, was 40 in the flashbacks, so the trial was 42 years ago. If Yakone was, what, 50? then, he'd be ~90 now: old, but in Avatar terms still a potential fighter, and that's not including the possibility of some kind of rejuvenation / empowerment.

Red herring?
Ashe Armstrong
36. AsheSaoirse
@Pema going Equalist: Today's episode pretty much put that to rest I think.
R B
37. MasterAlThor
Alright lets just get to it. Who is Amon? He can resist bloodbendiing, he knows the chi blocking style, and he has an axe to grind. I am sure that I am forgetting some other key clues but I will talk about the chi blocking as I believe this is a huge clue.

His ablility to remove someones ability to bend is a chi blocking feat. In one of the episodes of TLA we saw that Ang had problems with his ablilites to become a fully recognized Avatar because of blocks to his chakra. I think that Amon is doing something similar. Because we know (in our hearts) that this is not permanent.

How does this help us figure out who Amon is? Well everything in TLK is related to something in TLA. So that makes this theory plausible. Come on guys I am pretty sure if we all put our collective heads together we can figure this one out.

Dragon
Ashe Armstrong
38. AsheSaoirse
Or we could just enjoy the ride and find out when it's revealed haha. Not that we'll stop hypothesizing.
Mordicai Knode
39. mordicai
38. AsheSaoirse

But isn't wild speculation half the fun? The problem is when you let wild speculation & "head canon" start spoiling things for you, as is the case for a lot of the 'shippers. You know, I think the Kasami shippers have the right of it, actually; a Korra & Asami romantic storyline is unlikely to develop, & so those 'shippers have a vast swatch of imaginary space to play around in. People who are all twisted up with the main characters run the risk of actually getting twisted up, & forgetting that maybe-- for instance-- Mako is supposed to be a crummy boyfriend. That yes, his behavior is not admirable, & you are supposed to be seeing him & shaking your head.

So in that way, I think my goofy Koh & Yue theories are safe territory; they are so pie-in-the-sky that it is hard to really take them seriously.
Ashe Armstrong
40. AsheSaoirse
Mordicai: I don't disagree with any of that, sir. I will say that I need to see more adult Sokka though.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment