One consistent theme in The Legend of Korra is: Korra trains. It’s a motif consistent with Avatar: The Last Airbender, in fact. Aang traveled the world looking for bending teachers, and Korra has been doing the very same thing, right under our noses, learning from both friends and enemies. Airbending from Tenzin, pro-bending from Bolin and Mako. She’s learned spiritbending from Unalaq, she’s learned metalbending from Suyin, she’s studied with Toph…and now Zaheer. Korra’s problems stem from her being cut off from the Spirit World, which is ultimately caused by the anxiety caused by trauma, and with Zaheer’s guidance—as crazy as that sounds—she accepts what he did to her, and accepts that she survived it. The what is, not what might have been.
A quick word on last week’s episode, “Remembrances.” I don’t get angry about clip shows. I skip clip shows, sure, but I don’t get angry about them. Some weeks a baseball game or the network’s schedule will result in me not getting to see a television show I like, right? I don’t get angry about there not being a show that week; that’s the reality of television scheduling. It’s a business and there are business conventions like “seasons” and “sports” that are factors. I shrug and move on, or put the clip show on while I eat dinner or do chores just to have it in the background where I can half pay attention to it. I’m not disappointed, because I just consider it a bye-week. Given Nick’s treatment of The Legend of Korra, however, I can’t say I’m surprised that this had to happen.
So Zaheer just…helped? No…strings attached? I saw three plausible ways Zaheer could go after being captured. One, full Azula, all screaming and ruin, madness inspired by frustration; two, Captain Regret, where defeat led to him seeing the error of his ways…and three, the Zaheer we got. Hannibal Lecter, sitting in his cage, not as much of a prisoner as we’d like him to be, but more than he would like to be. As soon as they showed him floating there in chains, I figured it was the latter option. Unfettered by earthly concerns…except literal earthly fetters. What a great image: Zaheer really is a home run as a villain. He seems to regret paving the way for Kuvira; I wonder just how incarcerated Zaheer is, and just what he gets up to in the Spirit World. We also have the blue and white glow of Raava with Korra engaged in high level spiritbending in the Spirit World, despite thinking she had no powers there. Could be more cobblestones on the road to re-unifying Raava and Vaatu, if you ask me.
Everyone seems ready to accept Bolin back with open arms…except Opal. It is great to see the original Team Avatar back together, hugging it out. Bolin is apologetic, and the others are understanding. I would be too; Bolin escaped with crucial top secret information, spurred by the first injustice he sees. Papu is more than eager to help Bolin with his half-baked plot to woo Opal; while I sympathize with his intention, there’s no way a cute protestation of affection is going to win her over. Opal is a Beifong; they don’t take crap like that sitting down…but Opal is a good enough communicator that she’s the one who tells Bolin that he should make a grand gesture and come with her and Lin to rescue their families. It’s a good sign that she and Bolin are a good couple; Bolin needs someone who can clarify what he is supposed to do next.
Is there a single greater moment in this episode then when Asami flips Varrick’s handshake into a joint lock? I do not think there is. Not even seeing hipster Ryu again. Not even Jinora’s backflip landing. As a side note, regarding Jinora being abducted by the spirit vines, I can only respond: “So Dawn’s in trouble? Must be Tuesday.” Korra using earthbending to play with Naga was another standout for me; this was a good episode for reminding us that the critters exist and that they have distinct personalities.
I guess the other moment is hearing Fire Lord
Honora—I mean, Izumi—finally speak up. Look at those glasses. Look at the glower. Don’t tell me Mai isn’t her mother. It is yet another meeting where President Raiko demonstrates how useless he is as a leader—I sure don’t like that guy—but the scene is handled deftly. Having everyone unite to take down Kuvira would be too easy; having Fire Lord Izumi decline to go on the offensive given the Fire Nation’s history? Well that’s downright plausible! As is Tenzin’s reluctance to escalate things to a military solution, I suppose. But…giving Wu a seat at the table, while excluding the Avatar? I told you I hated Raiko.