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Vigilante Justice in The Legend of Korra: “The Aftermath”

Well ask and ye shall receive: I wanted more Asami from The Legend of Korra and in this week’s episode, “The Aftermath,” we got plenty. That’s not all we got; we got to see Tenzin throw down, we got another chance to see Lin Beifong just tear stuff up and we got to see Korra grow as a person. Oh, and mecha. We get to see crazy deep sea diver-esque mechs. I was starting to speculate that Asami might be the Krew’s Cordelia, a la Buffy the Vampire Slayer — no offense to Cordelia, who is also clearly awesome for her own reasons — but watching her burn rubber and kick butt I’m starting to think that she might be the group’s Han Solo. You know what that means…Tahno, it isn’t too late to get your act together and become the Cordelia!

Hiroshi Sato, Asami’s father, is revealed to be one of the Equalists, and not a “well, he has reasonable political opinions about bender privilege and non-bender oppression” kind, either. More of a “I’m from Buenos Aires Kirachu Island and I say kill ‘em all!” sort of guy. The Agni Kai gang killed his wife Asami’s mother and he wants bloody vengeance against all benders, now. Not only has he been (presumably) funding Amon and the Equalists — we’ve been wondering where the money has been coming from since at least “The Spirit of Competition” — but also inventing and constructing weapons for them. Most notably and manifestly he’s been building platinum exoskeletons, “Big Daddy”-like constructions with grappling hooks and crushing fists. Why platinum?  Because platinum is apparently so “pure” that even the metal benders can’t manipulate it.

We knew one of the Satos were going to be affiliated with the Equalists; it was too dramatically appropriate not to be true. I’m not entirely convinced that this episode exonerates Asami — the possibility of a double agent scenario is sort of plausible — but I am glad they didn’t play that card so soon. I’d prefer to see her step up and lead a faction in opposition to Amon, and it isn’t too late for her to do so. Well, to be quite honest with you, I’d like to see her go full on Miriya Parina, the ace mecha pilot from Robotech. I want to see Asami in a suit of power armor call it a “satomech, perhaps? bringing both her technical background, her self-defense skills and her knack for driving to a fever pitch. That’s just my personal hope for her.

Asami is a much more rounded out as a character now, thanks to this episode. Her playing in the pool with Mako and Bolin, her comments about asking for forgiveness being easier than asking for permission, her satomobile test driving, her choice to zap her father and then beat up some Equalists, all these things build up to add dimension to her. More than that; we get to see Korra compared to her, rather than contrasted, and they both come out the better for it.

Despite comments about prissiness and the gag with Korra powdering her nose, we start to see that Asami and Korra might have complimentary personalities, rather than conflicting ones. And how cute are those bathing suits — much more modest than the style during “The Beach” episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender — that they are wearing at their pool party?  That is another golden cosplay opportunity.

There are a number of call-backs and sight gags in this episode. Most notable of all of them is easily the reference to Cabbage Corp, featuring a statue of Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Cabbage Merchant and the president of Cabbage Corp Lao Gan Lan being dragged away beneath it screaming “Not my Cabbage Corp!” Lao Gan Lan roughly means “Honorable Green Vegetable” in Chinese, as I understand it, making the joke function on multiple levels. And come on — who didn’t sing-shout “Secret Tunnel!” when Korra and the metalbenders got onto the diagonal elevator?  Heck, I’m singing it now!

I’m increasingly curious about Republic City — rather than fade into the background, each successive episode of The Legend of Korra seems to deepen the mystique of the setting. What is with the…scaly pigeon-apes in the street?  Lizard crows, I guess they are called?  Those are…unsettling critters. Besides the fauna of the city, we also get a good look at some new architecture. The gorgeous and shiny pro-bending stadium may have burned, but we get to ogle new stuff in its place, like the Sato mansion, the Future Industries warehouse and the outstanding Silk Road Bridge. I could look at Republic City all day long.

After “And the Winner Is…” I called Lin Beifong “Spider-Lin,” and I wasn’t alone in that. It was as if millions of voices suddenly cried out, you know?  Having seen this episode, though, I’m going to have to add “WolverLine” to her list of epithets. Did you see her metal-bend claws out of her armor, jump on one of those Bioshock-looking mechs and start wailing on it?  How incredible was that?  It was, to repurpose some local sports terminology, “Lincredible.”  We’re just a couple episodes away from Korra throwing her in a ”Fastball Special,“ at this rate. We see incontrovertible earthbending from the metalbender cops, too; there were some theories that they have overspecialized and lost the ability to earthbend, but we see proof that isn’t the case. Beyond that is her final grimacing promise to bring vigilante justice to Amon and the Equalists. As her mother Toph would say: “Yes!  Let’s break some rules!” The awesome Beifong inheritance doesn’t stop there either — unsheathing her bare foot and using seismic senses like her mother?  So she’s Dare DeviLin, too?  So cool.

Mordicai Knode thinks that “The Agni Kai” is a pretty tough name for a post-colonial crime syndicate. And he’s still singing “Secret Tunnel.” Is it in your head now, too? You could try to give him another ear worm by tweeting him on Twitter and you can follow his ”Linsanity” on Tumblr if you want to be exposed to other infectious memes.


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