Wed
Jun 20 2012 6:00pm
Republic City is Burning: The Legend of Korra: “Turning the Tides”

Republic City is Burning: A review of The Legend of Korra episode Turning the Tides

The Legend of Korra seems to be entering the endgame and it looks like Amon is calling the shots. I was sort of dubious when Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko claimed that each season would have a clear resolution independent of each other, but it really is starting to look like things with the Equalists have come to a head. “Turning the Tides” takes the warfare out of the shadows and into the open. Not just content with bombings and terrorist attacks, Amon, Hiroshi Sato & the Equalists are in open revolt. I won’t call it a revolution—where are the people in the streets, where is the populist uprising promised in “The Revelation”?—but rather a coup, a systematic targeting of the leadership of Republic City.

Pinpoint strikes kidnapping the councilors that go off with military precision? That is a spookily well-orchestrated plan. It is fun watching all the schemes go in motion—like a montage sequence from a heist film like Ocean’s Eleven, only for the bad guys—and how hilarious is it to see The Lieutenant outside of his usual hood and goggles? That glorious mustache of his is even more ridiculous when he’s not in uniform. And he’s pretending to be a spider-rat exterminator? Spider-rats?  That I’ve got to see.

The Equalists plans do not come off without a hitch, however, and that hitch has a name. Tenzin. We get to see Aang’s son in an all-out air-brawl with a trio of Equalists, dodging sneak attacks, doing slow motion kung-fu, whirligigging two of them like tops, tossing them over rooftops. Just great, and with only the office assistant—the council page who exposed Tarrlok, from “When Extremes Meet” and “Out of the Past,” who is The Legend of Korra’s answer to Milhouse Van Houten—to witness. Tenzin is on the ball, here. Kill the power to the police headquarters? Too late, Amon, Tenzin has just sent the most important telegram of all time. Just a little message to the commander of the United Forces. Tenzin is an airbender; he sows the wind and reaps the whirlwind.

Flood the police station with gas? Did we not just mention how on point Tenzin is? He leads a crew of police out to…face a small army of the platinum mecha-tanks we first saw in “The Aftermath.”  You can really see the difference in strategy here; the Equalists are engaged in innovation, in an arms race with Republic City, and the status quo isn’t adapting. Sure, the inventions and advanced techniques of seventy years ago have been refined, giving us the metalbending cops and lightningbending in the city power plant, but the Equalists developed stun-gloves to negate the armored advantage of the police, they use platinum to stay safe from earthbending, and now they’ve got giant magnets? The establishment hasn’t even stopped wearing the metal armor, and that failure to adapt has kept them at a disadvantage.

It is Korra and the Krewe to the rescue! In a nice sequence that again shows that the group has good timing with each other. Despite the cracks in their interpersonal relationships, they have a natural teamwork. It is especially worth noting the Asami’s self-defense training and vehicles skills are crucial to the performance of the team, as the brief comedic aside of Korra’s inability to drive underscores. Watching Asami electrocuting people left and right it is pretty darn near impossible not root for her.

Hiroshi Sato must be an incredible genius to rival The Mechanist from Avatar: the Last Airbender. Sato-mobiles and zepplins, the aforementioned mecha, shockgloves and magnets…Sato seems to be responsible for dragging the world of the Four Nations into the future, whether they like it or not. We see by the photo he keeps of his family that he’s still human, just driven to a breaking point by his obsession with revenge. Perhaps he’ll be redeemed into a moderate voice for Equalism, hopefully working for the cause from a prison cell. Either way, I predict that there will be a moment of choice for Asami in the near future—either her dubious boyfriend and the Avatar or her father and the Equalists—and that she’ll choose her friends. Probably after a fake-out where she appears to side with Hiroshi and Amon, shortly followed by a double cross.

A lot of this episode deals with love triangles; both the Korra-Mako-Asami love triangle that spun out of “The Spirit of Competition” and the now largely defunct Lin-Tenzin-Pema dynamic that we were alerted to in “And the Winner Is...” Asami knows that Mako and Korra kissed and she’s dealing with it…pretty appropriately. She isn’t taking her anger out on Korra, but on Mako—Mako being the one who primarily deserves it—and she is attempting to address it with him, though not to any great effect. I hear occasional rumblings about Mako, that people feel like the show is setting up him and Korra being together but that they don’t like him in light of his recent behavior. I don’t think Mako’s behavior is aspirational. I don’t think you are supposed to like how Mako is acting. I think Mako is confused and he’s being a jerk…and I think that is going to backfire on him. There are consequences for your behavior in the world of The Legend of Korra.

The other love triangle is one that seems to have cooled to a mutual respect, though one fraught with perhaps a tinge of good natured antagonism. Tenzin asks Lin to stay to protect his family—the last airbenders, if you will—while he goes to the Council. That is one of my favorite under-used tropes in fiction—when characters actually act as though they expect to have a future. When they act in smart and believable ways. Tenzin prepares. He thinks ahead. What would be the worst possible scenario? For his family to be attacked. What does he do? Takes rational steps to circumvent that. He asks Lin to stay, and we are rewarded with babysitting Lin. Her coiling a loop of wire around Meelo and his dirty diaper is just to die for.

Tenzin’s caution is not not misplaced; the Equalists attack Air Temple Island, as I think we’ve expected them to do from day one. As the White Lotus Society members and Lin square off against the Equalists you have to wonder: is today the day we get a final showdown between Lin and the Lieutenant? Nope! Instead, we get a Naga showdown, as the polar bear dog swats the Lieutenant from the sky. Good girl, Naga. The appearance by Team Avatar isn’t what saves the day, however—we have the airbending kids for that. I’ve mentioned how great I think nerdy Jinora is; seeing her drop out of the sky on a glider was a definite “eff yeah!” moment for me. Ikki and Meelo too; Meelo’s farting is back on display and now I think...yes. Yes, we’ve played that hand. The fart jokes have had their moment in the sun. Time to put them away.

Of course this is when Pema goes into labor. The Laws of Dramatic Narrative practically require it. Still, it is the bright spot in an otherwise wretched day; Pema has a baby and she and Tenzin name it Rohan. You know you thought they were going to say Aang, just admit it. Not naming him after a famous character from the previous series is a nice piece of misdirection, given how the episode ends. This is followed by a bittersweet retreat from Air Temple Island. Run, hide, be patient. Really, regrouping is what they need, but the whole group—Korra and her friends, Tenzin and his family, lonesome Lin—has been reeling from defeat after defeat. Remember, though; Aang suffered countless setbacks and was always on the run, too. Still, the episode is called “Turning the Tides,” and while it may seem at first that the episode is referring to the reversal of fortunes Amon has brought to Republic City, the end of the episode hints at a more optimistic interpretation…

But first, heartbreaking heroism from Lin. If there is one thing we know, one thing that is true in the depths of our hearts, one thing written on the Stone Table of Narnia, it is this: Beifongs hate blimps. We know when Lin gives her “don’t look back” speech that things are going to be grim, but for a shining moment we get a Beifong doing what they do best: totally destroying airships. Just ripping them apart like wet paper, tearing them from the sky. She leaps from one to the next—metalbending the canopy itself to spring her across the gap—but we knew, as she did, that it was a one way trip. As I said; there are consequences to your choices. After “The Voice in the Night” we knew that Amon’s ability to take someone’s bending away would have to hit close to home for it to matter as something more than an abstraction…and Lin is the first real casualty. Whether or not she will be the only one remains to be see. I suspect that if she isn’t we can expect a “quest” arc for her next season, as she struggles to regain her bending.

The episode ends with a bang. General Iroh. General Iroh. Oh just let that sink in, the glorious dulcet voice of Dante Basco, the sharp military uniform, the name “Iroh,” the whole happy joy of him. You know what? If you look at the family tree diagram I posted at the very beginning of these reviews, you’ll see that Aang and Katara’s non-bending son Bumi has a similar collar to General Iroh…which could mean that they both simply serve as members of the United Forces…until you look at Zuko and Azula’s collars in Avatar: the Last Airbender. There is a strong design similarity and a real possibility that Bumi might…be the Fire Lord’s consort? That General Iroh might be the grandson of Zuko and Mai—almost certainly the case—as well as the grandson of Aang and Katara. I can just see him calling Tenzin “uncle” in the same voice that Zuko used to call the first Iroh “uncle,” can’t you?


Mordicai Knode isn’t sure how old General Iroh is supposed to be; he seems to be a full-grown adult, but younger than the rest of the adults on the show, which is probably for the best. If he was a legitimate romantic option for  any of the characters, all of the love triangles would spontaneously collapse. Oh, he has a Twitter and a Tumblr, too.

56 comments
Fade Manley
1. fadeaccompli
If there is one thing we know, one thing that is true in the depths of our hearts, one thing written on the Stone Table of Narnia, it is this: Beifongs hate blimps.

...so, so true.

I have nothing useful and articulate to say about this episode. Just hand-waving and gibbering enthusiasm, followed by a desire to curl up in a ball and twitch for a while until hope returns to the world. Lin Beifong is my favorite character of the two series combined, and by god, she shows why in this episode.
Mordicai Knode
2. mordicai
1. fadeaccompli

I have to say, Toph & Sokka tearing up that blimp? That still gets me a little teary. He loses his boomerang-- his tie to his past-- & he loses his spacesword-- his tie to the epic adventure-- but is saved by his girlfriend, his tie to the future. Oh man. Yes.

So, I am having people over to watch television tonight, & this episode is in the queue for them. I am...pretty excited about it, because...well, because...because of what we just watched!
Chris Lowrance
3. Chris Lowrance
My wife wants me to build her a set of Lin armor from cardboard by Halloween.

It's a testament to the power of this series that I can know things like "Dante Basco is voicing a character" and STILL get chills with General Iroh the Younger opens his mouth.
Mordicai Knode
4. mordicai
3. Chris Lowrance

I've never been a cosplayer-- I'm not even fully committed to Halloween-- but between The Legend of Korra & Homestuck I sort of get this itch...
Chris Lowrance
5. Lsana
Asami = awesome
Tenzin = awesome
Airbender kids = awesome
Lin = awesome with a side of incredible

Apologies to anyone I forgot. I'm sure you were awesome too.

A couple of points: first, I don't know if we can really blame the establishment for failing to adjust to the Amon/Sato innovations yet. How long has it been since the attack on the arena? A month? Less? It's no easy thing to toss out every tactic you know. I'm sure they would adjust, given time, but Amon's theory is not to give them time.

I remember reading a theory from the original series that the airbenders were the most powerful benders. This episode certainly seemed to support it. Tenzin was the only councilor able to put up a fight, and even his half-trained children were a match for a squad of fighters that were about to overwhelm Lin.

I don't know if I want Lin to go on a quest to regain her bending. I think I'd like to see if she can figure out how to do her job without it. Yes, she's probably going to need to learn how to put on her own armor in the morning, but I think the flying she does with the cords could be emulated with springs rather than bending. Perhaps that's a way Sato could redeem himself: invent ways for Lin to still do what she did before without bending.

Finally, one point in the episode that bugged me: it was established back in Episode 8 that Naga couldn't carry all 4 of the Krew. So how is it that she not only runs off the island with them, but swims all the way back to the city? Not buying it. A flaw in an otherwise terrific episode.
Fade Manley
6. fadeaccompli
Toph and Sokka at the blimp were such an amazing scene in so many ways. I love that this is a callback to that, and also Lin being amazing in her own regard. She's not greater or lesser than her mother; she's her own damn person, with related but distinct abilities, and...I love that. That the show is willing to let lots of people be awesome in different ways.

After finishing this episode, I went back and rewatched the first one, and was impressed all over again by Korra's firebending fight in that first episode. It matches something that I especially noticed with Tenzin's work against his would-be kidnappers in this one; all of these -bending skills are martial arts, not just magic ones. Tenzin's entirely physical dodges are as much a part of airbending as Korra's kick-in-the-leg to someone is part of her firebending. It really grounds the bending arts in a way I think is part of the depth of the whole show; they're not just sparkly magic on top of real stuff, but clearly practices that go through and through.

Lin is especially interesting to watch in this regard in that she has a much more finesse-heavy style of fighting, compared to her mother. When she gets jumped by Equalists on the island, she's going for a lot of metalbending fancywork first, and then doing chunks of rock as a secondary/backup approach, where I kinda see Toph doing it the other way around. I like how that blends in with the fact that she's generally a lawful, straightforward sort of person...but she's not stodgy by any means, or blinded by tradition. The physical is the magical is the philosophical, in bending.
Fade Manley
7. fadeaccompli
Lsana, I thought that in episode 8 it was being established that it was impractical for Naga to carry everyone; if you're chasing someone, and doing a lot of endurance-heavy work, carrying four people is hard. Which is a completely different setup from an emergency RUN AWAY RUN AWAY setup where you need to do something quickly and briefly with the resources at hand--and need to bring your polar bear dog along anyway.

Or so my Watsonian approach to favorite series chooses to read it.
Angela Korra'ti
8. annathepiper
This episode was AMAZING. I think I'm in awe of this team of writers for Korra even more than I was for the original series. They gut-punched us with what happened to Lin, but oh, it was the absolutely right thing to do.

Lin, just like her mother, is made ENTIRELY OF BADASSERY and if she doesn't get her bending back, I totally and fully expect her to steal a mecha and stomp all over every Equalist in sight.
Mordicai Knode
9. mordicai
5. Lsana

I mean, all they would have to do is take off their armor. I don't know if that is such an incredible adjustment to make! They can still earthbend, right? Sock 'em with some rocks!

I could see a "regain your skills" arc, & I can see a "no,
permanent means permanent" arc, & heck, I can see a "regain your skills" arc that ends in "no, permanent means permanent" outcome. I would be okay with either!

I think what we saw is that Naga won't carry all of the Krew. You know, unless it is an emergency.
Scott Silver
10. hihosilver28
@mordicai- Wait, so you're assuming that Sokka and Suki don't get together between A:TLA and Korra? Granted, if you've read The Promise: Part 2, there do seem to be hints toward that also that Suki has feelings towards Zuko. But I still don't know how I feel about all that. I guess I'd be pretty alright with it. Oh, wait, after rereading it, you were referring to Suki as Sokka's girlfriend who comes in and saves the day...not Toph. Disregard previous statement.

I love this episode. It is damn near perfect. I really want Asami to catch a break. It never ceases to surprise me how Bryan and Mike can make me care for a character that I never thought I would cheer for. (I shouldn't be surprised by that now since they've done the same thing with Zuko, Iroh, Jet, Lin, Bolin, and Asami; jeez, I should be expecting it by now.) Anyway, I'm glad that she's not taking the relationship stuff out on Korra. I'm done with catfights in fiction, so thank heavens the writers didn't go down that path.

Also, Tenzin being an undeniable badass...Yes. That is all. :)

@Lsana, Re:Naga- I always saw it as Naga didn't want to carry all four, not that she couldn't. Since it was necessary here, she went through with it.
Fade Manley
11. fadeaccompli
And as long as I just keep on talking about how awesome Lin is... Is it just me, or is this series being a lot less shy about implying that the heroes are outright killing people? In ATLA, you always sort of know that some people are dying when Aang takes out a battleship or what not, but some of Lin's "chunk of rock to the head" attacks looked pretty straightup murderous. Not to mention her "stabbing with giant metal spikes into a cockpit" approach from a few episodes back.

I approve, mind. But it's a reminder that this is YA to last series' MG, as well as an Empire Strikes Back to the last one's Star Wars.
Sean Fagan
12. sef
Let me just call out my favourite small moment: the few frames of Pem's face as she leaves the kitchen. I loved that the animators threw that in for such a brief period.
Jack Dowden
13. JDowds
I think it'll be interesting to see Lin's reaction to losing her bending. Every time someone loses their ability, from Lin's officers, to those Pro-Bending jerks, something seems to go out of them. It's like their soul is gone. It reminds me a lot of severing one from the One Power in WoT.

If that's the case, then I don't think Lin will be immune. How she copes with it is something I'm really looking forward to seeing. Especially if she comes to the realization that she will never be able to get it back. Now that's heartbreak.
Andrew Willett
14. AndrewWillett
@sef -- Yes yes yes exactly that.

I am pretty certain that at least one more major character is going to lose their bending before we're through, and I put Korra way toward the top of that list. Seeing the Avatar seek to restore balance to the world, WITHOUT the aid of her bending, would be a hell of an arc. Especially if it incorporates a quest for her own restoration along the way.
Mordicai Knode
15. mordicai
6. fadeaccompli

It really is a tight rope-- the show has to focus on the current generation(s) but not by overshadowing the previous series, while at the same time satisfying the appetite of the audiance to know "what happens next" for the original Gaang-- & The Legend of Korra has really nailed it. Up to & especially including General Iroh, though who knows where that will go!

People like to talk about "systems of magic" & the laws of a fictional setting...the Avatarverse doesn't work like that. There isn't a post hoc set of rules; it is seamlessly interwoven into the story. Drawing from such diverse consultants (like Sifu Kisu) has really paid off.
Mordicai Knode
16. mordicai
8. annathepiper

Oh woah, Lin the Mecha Pilot? Lin as Miriya Parina? Yeah...I could groove on that.

10. hihosilver28

I think it would be dishonest to Avatar: the Last Airbender not to assume that the romance of the show "lasted." I mean, it is the body of the text, you know? I realize that yeah, few "teenage love stories" actually become lasting relationships, but we are talking about a narrative thread; Sokka has a full emotional arc-- from flirting with Suki to Yue to a real relationship with Suki-- & we have to take that as the given. Now, we could always learn new information, but yeah; I say Suki & Sokka.

& like I said, I think "who is Lin's dad?" is the "what happened to Zuko's mom?" of this series.

If Asami had been some poorly concieved "oh she's an evil temptress! A seductress!" I would have been really disappointed in this show...but I learned after the last series to just lean back & trust the people involved with the show.
Mordicai Knode
17. mordicai
11. fadeaccompli

Less shy, perhaps, but I highly doubt we'll see any definitive "death," unless it is buffered by narrative tension & such. Which is fine; such is the nature of the genre, & to a lesser extend the medium.

12. sef

The fact that they made that face blurry, as though just out of camera shot, really sold it. I almost used a picture of it to annotate that paragraph!
Fade Manley
18. fadeaccompli
mordicai @17:

Oh, I agree. We're not going to see any mooks Definitively Die, though they might go ahead and give us a cast member death. It's part of the genre. As limitations of the genre (and what's considered "appropriate" for the target audience) go, it's not as big a deal as some. (Watch me not rant about how unlikely we are to see even hints at non-het romance on this show!) But I think the show is letting it be a little more obvious to the older watchers who are used to reading between the lines anyway.

People in the Avatarverse may be made of rubber, and never suffer brain damage from head injuries, but when you take a giant block of stone to the head, that is unlikely to end well.
Mordicai Knode
19. mordicai
18. fadeaccompli

As I mentioned once upon a time, I carried a secret hope that Mako would be gay. That would have been a really great "love triangle" twist.
David Goldfarb
20. David_Goldfarb
I remember reading a theory from the original series that the airbenders were the most powerful benders. This episode certainly seemed to support it.
Well, except...if that's the case, then how did the Fire Nation manage to commit genocide on them?
Chris Lowrance
21. Cain S. Latrani
I am predicting a new twist in the love triangle, and his name will be Iroh. Hello, Korra. Fate is calling.
George Brell
22. gbrell
Great episode. Incredibly excited for the conclusion.

@20.David_Goldfarb:

I seem to recall a pretty large comet. I think it was mentioned once or twice. Not sure I buy the theory of airbending superiority, though.
Chris Lowrance
23. wcarter4
Thus falls Spider Lin or should we say Hulk Lin this time what with the jumping? Either way Lin went out with a bang. She'd have made her momma proud.

Is it bad that after one 15 second scene I already want Asami and/or Korra to kick Mako's two timin' kiester to the curb and go after Iroh?
Simon Southey-Davis
24. Glyph
Oh, Lin...

Korra, you need to find a way to reverse this bending-block thing, stat. You get on that, mmkay?


I have friends wanting to come over & watch the series. My pitch: "You remember we watched the first two episodes, and they were really cool? Well, it got awesome. And then it got amazing."
Chris Lowrance
25. Chris Lowrance
Here's my pet theory about Amon's ability to "take" bending: It's just chi-blocking. Remember Combustion Man's demise? It was the result of a sharp poke to the exact same chakra Amon touches. In CB's case, that was enough to make his bending uncontrollable. Also, Aang was unable to use the Avatar state after a lighting bolt to a specific chakra on his back, and another sharp poke opened it back up.

If I'm right, Amon's basically "shutting" people's third eye. It should be possible to open it up again.
Chris Lowrance
26. artspin
What gets me, over and over, is that this is such quality television for children, as well. Don't get me wrong - I'm in my 40's, and I am chomping at the bit for Saturday to come around. But my nine-year-olds are completely engaged, and ask a lot of questions. We've talked about why the Equalists actually have some legitimate concerns (they are still talking about how unfair and wrong it was for Tarlokk to round up the innocent civilians), why Asami is doing the right thing even though she is going against her father, and why Tenzin would make saving his family his first priority. These are important things for kids to both think and talk about. It's pretty rare for children's television to have this kind of impact on kids. Most shows are just transparent advertisements for toys, you know? Not so with either Avatar or Korra.

All three of us burst into tears when Lin lost her bending, even though we knew it was coming when she jumped on the blimp. It was a five-hanky episode.
Chris Lowrance
27. Harkirat
First a confession... haven't seen even a single episode of Korra (not available in India, and only saw the first season of the first series)... since then following the series through plot summaries on Wikia and reviews on Tor... next is my gripe...

Why? Why in the name of all that is good did they ever pick M. Night Shyamalan to make the live action movie... why can't someone just copy this entire series frame for frame and create a live action movie that does justice to the people who created this...
Chris Lowrance
28. Hardcore
Lsana @ 5:

I don't think Airbenders are necessarily the most powerful (but I would be willing to discuss that possibility). My theory as to why Airbenders are perhaps the most effective against Equalists comes down to this: they are RARE. There are exactly FOUR Airbenders in the entire world (maybe five with the birth of Rohan)! How would it be possible to train against that? Waterbending, Firebending, or Earthbending masters are a dime a dozen, but how do you learn to counter Airbending?
Sure, you could study scrolls and historical texts, which are possibly in very short supply as well due to the whole "genocide-and-passing-out-of-all-knowledge-for-100-years" thing. Anybody can tell you, though, that book learning can't trump practical experience. The Equalists are essentially fighting blind when it comes to Airbending. I trust they’ll adapt pretty quickly, though.

David_Goldfarb @ 20:

As someone else mentioned, there was the power-boost granted by Sozin's Comet, which probably was the final nail in the coffin for the Airbenders. However, Airbending also seemed to be the most spiritual of the bending disciplines, so my theory is this: Maybe organized warfare goes against the Airbending philosophy. They will defend themselves in individual conflicts, sure, but carry out a prolonged, counter-offensive campaign which must involve being the aggressors at some point? Who knows? Maybe they were Gandhi-esque pacifists? "If it is written that we should pass from this world, that it how it must be" or some such?
Mordicai Knode
29. mordicai
As for the "airbending is the most powerful" discussion-- I don't think anything is the "most powerful." Not to say I don't enjoy geek gripe conversations-- the Enterprise versus the Death Star, Spider-Man versus Batman-- but in the world of the Four Nations, balance is the natural state of the world. All four elements, in harmony.
Mordicai Knode
30. mordicai
Unrelatedly, can I just say that I literally giggle everytime someone calls the new Fire Lord-- Zuko & Mai's daughter-- "Honora"? That is...that is a hilarious nickname, fandom. Slow Orson Welles golf clap, people. Take a victory lap-- "Honora" cracks me up like woah.
Chris Lowrance
31. Chris Lowrance
As to the "Why could some airbending kids wipe out a whole bunch of adult Equalists" question: Surprise. If you watch that scene close, the chi-blockers don't even move for most of the kids' ambush. The only start to actually attack after Meelo shows up (and seriously, boo to the Equalist that actually tries to KICK a toddler). I'm pretty sure most of what went through their heads was "Wait, kids? Are we supposed to attack kids? Did he just... fart in Bob's face? That's it, I'm kicking this kid's UMPHHFF!!!"

If they thought that was bad, wait until they try to round up the remaining sky bison....
Mordicai Knode
32. mordicai
27. Harkirat

What, I don't know about any live action movie. Joo Dee, do you know about any live action movie? There is no live action movie. Long Feng, have you heard about this live action movie? There is no live action movie.

THERE IS NO LIVE ACTION MOVIE.
Scott Silver
33. hihosilver28
@32. mordicai

That deserves a Bolin line. "Yes! Exactly what (s)He said! Yes!" It's pretty much my response to anyone who asks about the movie. "What movie?"

It breaks my heart to see M. Night interviewed on the special features disc of Book 2...I'm going to go weep softly to myself in a corner now.
E M
34. herewiss13
@28. Hardcore

That's exactly how I saw it. It's not that Tenzin is (necessarily) more powerful, it's that he's a wildcard because the Equalists are geared to combat the other, much more common, elements. Ditto his kids. No one was trained to counter air-bending.

...and now I'm wondering if Korra's eventual mastery of airbending is what gives her the edge in a final confrontation with Amon, et. al.
Mordicai Knode
35. mordicai
33. hihosilver28

Speaking of Bolin lines...I normally think that a lot of popular complaints about Korra are just that-- popular complaints, more used as a shibboleth to seperate people who consider themselves "true fans" from "new fans"-- but I do think Bolin could do with...a lot more screentime.
Jennifer B
36. JennB
This show has really come into its own. I am really beginning to love the characters just like in the original show. Such a bummer that there is only one episode left.
Mordicai Knode
37. mordicai
36. JennB

...but an hour long! & then another season! DO NOT DESPAIR!
Chris Lowrance
38. wcarter4
One...episode...left? o_O LIES! Lies and slander! Say isn't so...
Chris Lowrance
39. Bromo Sapien
Regarding the Bolin/Mako Fire Colonies connection, is anyone getting the feeling that Republic City is what ultimately becomes of Yu Dao and how Aang, Zuko, Kuei, and the Mayor solve their problem in The Promise?
M O
40. shydra
By the way, just as a random aside that occurred to me: boy, I wonder how panicked Aang and Katara got over really, literally, Aang being the last airbender. Spending all that time building a temple, trying to reconnect with the tradition, finding the air bison, etc... then faced with the fact that they had three kids, the first of whom was a waterbender, and the second of whom was a non-bender? Katara was getting up there in her late 30s when she finally had Tenzin, you almost have to wonder if they'd given up hope that it was possible for the Avatar to have kids from his own element.

I know genetics aren't everything and there's a good deal more to the nations than JUST bending. But with Tenzin's extreme consciousness about his family's importance, over the needs of Republic City and others, and Lin recognition of this as well (and you just KNOW the "oh shit I'm 41 and I have a responsibility to make airbender babies" thing is one of the reasons they broke up) that has to be something that Aang impressed on Tenzin. Wonder if the weight of that responsibility was one of the things that made him so serious!

And considering how conscious he *is* of that now, and the age thing, I wonder how disappointed Aang was not to have any airbender grandkids while he was still alive? Bet that was a point of tension!

I like all these implied adult problems sitting in the background, though for such a short show I hope they just keep them in the background. Actually, I think my ideal situation would be to have graphic novels or comic books as the medium to elaborate on the events before, after, and generally around Korra. That's one of the advantages of LoK being so punch, short, and filled with details: it's begging to have things fleshed out a little, and the comic book medium would be great for that.
Mordicai Knode
41. mordicai
39. Bromo Sapien

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that is exactly what Republic City is; a new united land, seperate from Fire Nation & Earth Kingdom-- & the Water Tribes, for that matter.

40. shydra

I wonder about their family dynamic a lot, especially since Kya & Bumi aren't airbenders. Kya-- going off only her artistic direction & her absence from the show to date-- seems to have bonded with her Water Tribe heritage. Bumi-- maybe he's more air acolyte in outlook, but that is over-ridden by his (possible) royal marriage? Either way, it fell to Tenzin to basically recreate an entire ethnicity. There are a few bits-- like when Tarrlok says "an Air Nomad never turns away a hungry guest, right?"-- where you can see that Tenzin is sort of winging it. Aang was a tween! With a tween's understanding of his culture. That & century old books, that is what Tenzin's family had to go off.
Chris Lowrance
42. Chris Lowrance
And clearly either Aang or Tenzin weren't prepared or didn't want to go through with everything they DID know. Otherwise Tenzin's family would be less... well, less of a family. I'm pretty sure all three kids would have tattoos by now, too.
Mordicai Knode
43. mordicai
42. Chris Lowrance

You get the tattoos with mastery, but yeah, they are a little bit nuclear...though what do we really know about practical Air Nomad life? Not a lot! Maybe Aang was an orphan or who even knows.
Fade Manley
44. fadeaccompli
Chris Lowrance @42, and mordicai @43: From what I recall from Word Of Creator, the air nomads had their kids split up by gender and raised separately during a particular period of life. Boarding school, as it were, with regular visits and all that.

But...honestly, I don't read it as "not going through with everything" nearly so much as "impossible to go through with everything." How do you send your kids off to learn with other peers from the old masters if neither peers nor masters exist for them? I mean, seriously, even if Tenzin wanted to do boarding school stuff for his girls... who else would they train with? They're the cultural equivalent of a family raised on a desert island; it looks awfully nuclear when the nuclear family is all there is.

That said, I do find it interesting that they stayed on the one island (presumably) instead of doing the nomad thing around. But...again, it seems like less of a cultural abandonment and more of a practical decision. It's one thing to travel the world with hundreds--or thousands--of your fellow nomads, and quite another to do so in a tiny family group. Or even a family group with people who want to learn about your culture tagging along.

It'll be interesting to see if, in another hundred years, there'd be enough 'native' Air Nomad culture again that they might revive some of the old practices.
Mordicai Knode
45. mordicai
44. fadeaccompli

They did mention a "boy's side" & a "girl's side" of Air Temple Island, yeah?

I have said in a couple of these posts that I don't particularly like the term "Air Nomad" as applied to the people of Air Temple Island, as it isn't really appropriate. I think there should be cultural drift; I don't think it is a bad thing for your country to evolve into something new. Especially after the Fire Nation genocide; it seems almost like "Air Nomad" is a term best used for the historical people, & that Tenzin, Pema, the kids & the acolytes-- Air Nomads couldn't have been all airbenders, so I think the acolytes are fully enfranchised members of their nation-- should be free to find their own way, a new path.

I mean this doesn't really factor into this series, but the next. I'm really curious about the next; I'll probably make a post about it during the break, about my (crazy) theories for the next Avatar series. We should be so lucky to get one! I'd like to get four series, one for each elemental incarnation.
Chris Lowrance
46. wcarter4
@Mordicai I thought the creators said at one point that the Air Nomads of old were all Air Benders? The statement was something to the effect of the percentage of benders in each population being directly related to how spiritular they were.
The Air Nomads were the most spiritual people so its entire population was composed of benders and potential benders. That being said, I doubt it will apply to future populations of Acolytes as you call them. For that matter, it's entirely possible if not probable that a universal dwindling of benders will occur throughout all nations regardless of whether the equalists win as the technology continues to grow.
Fade Manley
47. fadeaccompli
mordicai @44: Oo, good point. So they're still keeping up some of those cultural divisions, while still also clearly having a lot of common ground areas for training and eating and so forth.

I do think you're right about cultural evolution; it would be a mistake for them to try to slavishly recreate the old culture, given the transmission loss. Recapturing what they can--and what still works for them--seems to make a lot more sense.

wcarter4 @46: I'm not sure I'd see technology and spirituality as inherently opposed. They can be, but I really don't think this is a cyberpunk-style "contact with wicked technology makes your magic wither!" kind of setting. In a sense, the air nomads were pretty damn high-tech; they had gliders that were tech built to work with their bending, and pretty impressive upside-down city-in-cliff architecture, a hundred years before the first series even began.

If anything, I think the spiritual is being contrasted to the physical. Technology is largely in the physical realm, so it looks opposed to bending in that sense, but I'd say they're kinda orthogonal.
Chris Lowrance
48. Bromo Sapien
With the rise in inter-bending relations (if not great benders-nonbenders relations), has anyone given thought to training between benders, ie a firebender training with an Air Nomad like Tenzin? Obviously they couldn't learn the actual bending abilities but learning the martial arts aspects of the bending? Definitely useful. Air Nomad's evasion, Fire Nation aggressiveness, Water Tribe fluidity, Earth Nation solidness; all are qualities that could be applied to everyone, not just the Avatar. It probably won't show up in the series, but it's an interesting thought expirement none the less.
Mordicai Knode
49. mordicai
46. wcarter4

Really? I didn't know that; really? All of them as benders? Crazy! Huh. I am super interested in the world building of this show; I need more books about it-- anybody have recommendations? The art book is all I have, is there more?

48. Bromo Sapien

Uncle Iroh in the original series talked about training with other benders, in order to widen his repetoire. He learned to redirect lightning by studying waterbenders, for instance.
George Brell
50. gbrell
@48/49:

Also, Bolin's comments to Korra about mixing his earthbending with her waterbending (when he assumed she was just a waterbender) suggest that inter-bending training isn't completely unknown, but neither is it particularly common.
Scott Silver
51. hihosilver28
@49.mordicai

I would recommend reading The Promise graphic novel. The first two of three have been released and the story picks up directly after the end of Sozin's Comet and chronicles the start of Republic City. (At least I'm guessing that's what the end is going to be about) Both Bryan and Mike have given it their blessing so I'm pretty sure that it's canon and both volumes are quite enjoyable.

I haven't picked up the art book yet. Worth it?

Anyway, really looking forward to your review of the finale. I thought it was phenomenal and the first season of Korra easily holds its own against Avatar...which is high praise indeed.
Mordicai Knode
53. mordicai
51. hihosilver28

I'm waiting for a nice collection of The Promise, but yeah, I will read it. I liked American Born Chinese, so I have hopes for it, though in my head it will only ever be "semi-canon." They announced "The Search" too, recently, right?

The art book is pure gorgeous pleasure, I really like it. Plus, look at this Appa concept art!
Scott Silver
54. hihosilver28
53. @mordicai

Yeah, I think The Search was just announced right after Korra's Book 1 finale. I'm not sure if they'll release a collection of The Promise, I could see it go either way. The volumes are fairly short, but regardless, they wouldn't release the collection until Volume 3 has been out for a while and that isn't going to come out until September. I felt it was worth the 5-6bucks apiece. I also agree with you about the "semi-canon". It's interesting and fills in some of the pieces, but if it didn't happen on the show, Airbender or Korra, I have a hard time accepting it as hard fact. Truthfully, that's why I haven't read the Firefly comics. Since they didn't have Shepherd Book's backstory in the show or movie, I don't really want to find out. I kind of want to maintain that mystery in my life.

As a quick teaser for what I'm sure will come out later this week, were you satisfied by the finale to Book 1?
Sara H
56. LadyBelaine
Is it just me, or doesn't seem like that General Iroh is being introduced so he can serve as Asami's consolation prize when Mako ends up with Korra?
Mordicai Knode
57. mordicai
56. LadyBelaine

I don't think that is just you, but I dunno, if you ask yours truly, I'd pick Iroh over Mako any day of the week; all day, every day. On the flip side, I can understand Mako's waffling; both Korra & Asami clearly are way awesome.

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