Great news everybody: the sad times on The Legend of Korra are over! Well, for now, anyway. Thanks to the Amazing Airbending Kids setting out last episode, and thanks to Toph playing Iroh and, ultimately, thanks to Korra. I was glad to see the “recovery story” take a sideways turn in the second episode and become its own weird story about Korra seeking for answers, for help, for her own path. I appreciated that but I’m pretty much always glad for a gloomy plotline to wrap up in television. Now it has.
I wish Toph could be telling this story— “…and Sokka fell in a hole.”— but you’ve got yours truly instead. Alright! Korra learned important lessons! She overcame her own conflicts! Now let’s get out of this swamp and have Korra go solve some external conflicts. In sweet glorious bending battle and what have you.
Jinora may have inherited her grandparents’ prodigious talents, and Meelo might have the most visible resemblance to Aang, but this episode convinced me that Ikki is the one who inherited his attitude, his disposition. Watching her go all Wendy Bird on Earthbending Norm from Cheers and his buddy really charmed me. That’s Aang’s story writ small; the bedrock that leads to him showing mercy sparing the Firelord. It’s the epitome of Aang: “Oh, hey, did you guys kidnap me? Let’s talk through your problems!” I half expected it to turn into an homage to the scene in beginning of the Avengers, where a tied-up Black Widow is interrogating her target while pretending to be a damsel; either way, Ikki taking her arms out of the ropes every so often was classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Classic “Aang in the stockades.”
So no, this wasn’t a Jinora episode, but okay, if you want to get technical about it I suppose she had plenty of time to shine in the last book. Making this an Ikki episode was a smart call and it paid off; Ikki is a great character to get to know. Plus, a little pet-like Nausicaä! Meelo…I wish Meelo would…talk less. This whole “boys vs. girls” thing is something Sokka got slapped out of him in like, four episodes, and the scatalogical humor…is becoming tiresome, frankly. Watching him Blair Witch Project their food into the river…let’s just say I’m ready for his character to pivot into something less…annoying.
I don’t find him cute. Jinora functioned as a dowsing rod, and it was Ikki’s episode, but Meelo’s bits just rubbed me wrong. Except the bits with the berries; that I actually found spot on, pretty funny. I almost wonder if Kai and Meelo are characters that exist to mollify studio executives. “Okay, look, we have a young male character, so we hit that demo, can we get on with the show now?” I don’t know, I’m a believer in the idea that studios and teams can help tell stories, but we’ve all seen them meddle with or cancel shows, too, so maybe I’m a little overly suspicious, looking for bloody fingerprints.
I have to say, the last thirty seconds of this episode I was convinced that my idle fancy of Toph being a g-g-ghost was definitely going to be confirmed. I thought the kids and Korra would fly off on Pepper, Toph would walk back inside, and then we’d see a skeleton in the bed. Dun dun dun! No dice but I’m not counting out the possibility of it happening later: Suyin and Lin reconcile with their erstwhile and estranged mother, and the: skellington! Or not. You know me, I like crazy theories.
Speaking of theories, explaining them seems to be Toph’s role, and I’m glad for it: she was the person who made plot metaphors clear to Korra. We readers have been talking about the upsides of the philosophies of Amon, Unalaq and Zaheer; Toph lays it out for Korra. Amon cared about Equality, Unalaq cared about Spirits, Zaheer cared about Freedom. Each noble goals, but their actions compromised their agenda, their ideology. Korra has a lesson to learn from each of them. If anything, it makes me think a peaceful—well, an ultimately peaceful, I’m sure it will be a hard road to get there—resolution with Kuvira may be in the cards.
It’s a cliche to talk about a setting as a character, but the Foggy Swamp really hangs over the episodes where it appears, in both The Legend of Korra and in Avatar: The Last Airbender. It’s the swamp that becomes Dagobah and turns Toph into Yoda, shows Korra her deepest fears. It’s the swamp that grabs Katara and Aang’s grandkids the same way it once grabbed them. Jinora, Ikki and Meelo are mid-montage, mid-argument even, when the swamp intervenes. We see the vast banyan tree at the heart of it and I’m left wondering about the world-tree in the Spirit Realm, and Varrick’s experiments with Republic City’s spirit-vines. What’s next, Legend of Korra?