I’m going to throw caution to the wind and just start out of the gate with spoilers for The Legend of Korra’s “The Sting.” Heck, you’ve already seen it and nothing I’m going to say is going to shock you, though it sure was an eventful episode. Okay, so, here goes. Well, well, well; a heel turn from Varrick. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming, but then, I could have seen him staying strictly patriotic, as well.
The Legend of Korra seems to be getting very soap operatic, which I don’t mind…but it does bear keeping in mind. It colors expectations, so that when Asami goes in for a kiss, well, of course she did; and when Korra wakes up with amnesia, of course she does. For those of us keeping track for Team Asami—which I’m pretty sure means everyone—she at least waits till Mako is clear and free, which you can’t say for Korra last season.
Let’s talk big picture. We see Unalaq step out of the Spirit Portal, right? My first thought was “uh-oh, looks like the transporter to the Northern Water Tribe is working…” but on second thought, maybe he was just in there getting his marching orders? I know people have guessed that Koh is behind everything—I was bitten by that bug first season—but we’ve got other options besides Koh. We know Wan Shi Tong is in The Legend of Korra, so just by dint of appearing in a trailer, he’s in the running. The first Avatar, Wan, is too, for the same reason. While we’re there at the Portal, Eska, and Desna do seem to suggest that their father is in—was in—control of the spirits, so maybe he was just rallying troops, but I sense a chain of command…
…But how far does it go? Is Varrick just another arrow in the arsenal, or is Varrick an opportunist who sees a chance to make a move on Future Industries while stealing some mecha and selling some movies, as icing on the cake? To get conspiratorial for a second, what do all the villains from Legend of Korra have in common? Well, they’re all Water Tribe. Northern Water Tribe. You know, where the portal to the Spirit World is still open. It would be a big retcon, and maybe I’ve just been watching too much Scandal, but I’d even be open to flashbacks showing Noatak and Tarrlock being moved like pieces on a Pai Sho board by some nefarious spirit, just like Varrick and Unalaq.
The elephant in the room is: this was a pretty good episode—a pretty good episode without Korra. I think a lot of viewers feel the same way I do, which is to say, tired of seeing Korra make the same mistakes again and again. It has been a bit relentless, and I’m ready for the worm to turn. Korra’s character conflict first season was a combination of trust and peace, of knowing who to believe and who to doubt, of knowing herself and being able to let go and “be the leaf.” I’m not saying this second season is as bad at hitting the “reset” button as say, second season of Veronica Mars, but I’m ready for the heroic turnabout, please. This amnesia thing? I’m dubious.
We get more Triad here, which is interesting, very interesting. Did you know Shady Shin is voiced by Fisher Stevens? Hack the planet! Which answers one question—did Korra restore everybody’s bending? Nope; at least some people, like Shady Shin, who had their bending taken away, still don’t have it back. It is no surprise that the Triple Threats betray everyone, seeing as how they are gangsters, but I almost hoped we would get more history on Mako and Bolin. Seems like a missed opportunity. I am always wondering who is the new “Jet’s gang” or “Foggy Swamp tribe” and maybe the Triads will continue to be reoccurring?
Bolin, of course, remains strictly comedic relief. You’d think his association with the “movers” would mean he was ideally positioned, from a narrative viewpoint, to be the one who figures out the use of theater pyrotechnical devices in the arson, but nope, Mako gets it. To be fair; Mako has been much more likable this season, hasn’t he? He was a little vapid first season. Still, I feel like he’s grown at Bolin’s expense.
What do we have instead? Bolin failing to understand the “pretending” part of acting, fails to understand that he isn’t really Nuktuk. He is a good “movie star” but this “rube we’re gonna make a star” plot needs to subvert my expectations, soon, please. Bolin going off book, improvising a kiss. I’ve seen discussion on the kiss with Ginger, and on consent, and I’m curious to here what others have to say.
So; the villain, the amnesia, the kiss. Personally, I’m ready for the dramatic turn. I’m ready for Team Avatar to kick butt. Soon, please.