Jinora is mid-teens now and because the kids were originally three of the four existing air benders (Avatar excluded), they received intensive training as air benders. Jinora was about 12 when she was granted recognition as a master air bender. Maturity-wise, they are still kids, but in terms of protecting themselves and fighting as benders, they’re probably some of the best trained air benders alive.
And gawds…finally have a chance to write, granted hours from watching, so I apologize if I skim past something or forget to add something.
The Korra and Toph dynamic was excellent, set off immediately by Korra’s attempt to give Toph a hug and the earth pillar instead. The characterization of Toph is incredible, from her movements such as cracking her knuckles to the voice acting by Philece Sampler, who is perfectly imitating the speech patterns of Jesse Flower, who played the younger Toph. I need a bib every time I watch the scenes with her, as I simply glaze over with delight and become a drooling fan zombie.
At least my tinfoil idea of Suyin purposefully leaving metal in Korra was hopefully dashed by this episode by Toph’s declaration that Suyin simply wasn’t that great a metal bender (or Lin!). It does appear that the writers are going to force Korra to confront her fears of becoming the Avatar again, unconscious or not. What Toph said about her emotionally/mentally not feeling safe, still fearful, directly echoed what Katara had told Korra about her physical body – that it didn’t feel safe, yet. So what we have in this situation are the two elder women from ATLA helping Korra heal both body and mind/soul. I dig this aspect that Aang’s reincarnation is being helped and restored to Avatar by two of the people who loved him most.
This also cast another glance at the evil doppelganger from our previous episode. The fact that it dragged Korra into a pool of metal/mecury could definitely imply that it’s Raava trying to reach out to Korra, to reveal to her that there remains metal in her blocking them from making the Avatar State.
My current fear is that we will be losing Toph too soon. Fanboy wants his fan service to keep going!
Cutting back to Republic City, we have another Asami-less episode, but not one absent strong women. In this case, a woman who has essentially declared herself emperor of the Earth Lands, and by decree, abolished the Earth Kingdon, Kuvira, the Great Uniter.
I was kind of taken back by Tenzin’s sudden change with concern to Kuvira. In the premier episode, Tenzin dismisses Kuvira as just doing her job. Then within the matter of a few days, maybe a couple weeks, suddenly has concerns…just as the time comes for her to hand over the reigns. This was a major flag combined with Kuvira’s dismissal of Prince Wu, which pretty much screamed that Kuvira was not going to cede her power.
A key thing that leapt out at me was her declaration that she was going to bring prosperity to her people. In our own history, bringing prosperity was uniquely tied to the Japanese Empire of the 20th Century. In the world of the Avatar, however, spreading prosperity through the gospel of one’s culture was one of the key arguments given by the Fire Nation for it’s expansionist wars. Now the end of the present Avatar show is setting up one more possibly malevolent nation, a threat which began the original Avatar show. An even cooler perspective is that Aang’s greatest failure was running away from being the Avatar, which would have required him facing the Fire Nation before it became the threat it did and wipe out the air nomad nation. Here we have Korra, running away from being the Avatar while a nation like the Fire Nation from ATLA is building up in the same manner. Korra is being faced with the question that Aang initially refused to accept, be the Avatar and keep balance in the world. My presumption is that Korra will accept her place as Avatar, not disappear for 100 years, and stop the Earth Lands Empire.
Speaking of reaping what you sow, Suyin was provided a front row seat in seeing her philosophy and beliefs twisted into the rationalization of staging a slow motion coup and the declaration of an empire. It’s her own words and acts reflected back at her through a fun house mirror. What Kuvira is building in the Earth Kingdom is not what Suyin built in Zhao Fu, but it was born of Zhao Fu and the Metal Clan. We also had another case of someone refusing to accept a great task requested of them, Suyin refusing to take the Metal Clan and restore order in the Earth Kingdom. What happens? A freakin’ techno-fascist dictator! The confrontation between her and Kuvira was splendid, especially when Suyin called Kuvira out for being as much a tyrant as the dictator Kuvira is claiming to replace. This was the first time that someone asked that question in the episode, as it was mirrored by Bolin and Mako later, except Mako didn’t have the retort after Bolin argued that Kuvira was better than Wu, at least.
Bolin, poor Bolin, a fellow wrapped up in the good being perpetuated in the shadow of something awful. I appreciated that they had him question Kuvira, instead of completely blindly following her. It does seem that there has been a lot of great things accomplished, such as helping out the slums of Ba Sing Se, but in the shiny gloss of all these good things, Kuvira has become slowly tarnished. In this case, this does reflect a lot of the fascist and dictatorial movements in the 20th Century. The Communists in China succeeded in part because they did improve the life of the peasants of China. The Nazis of Germany took steps and actions to make Germans feel better about themselves in the wake of the global Depression (which knocked the recovery under the Republic out cold). Virtually every revolution. I’m not saying that Kuvira is Hitler or Mao, but she is a woman who set out to perform good things, earnestly, but has been seduced by the power placed in her hands to make things happen. She believes she is the answer, and when you stop asking yourself if what you’re doing is wrong, and all you can do is right, that’s when you start punishing those who do question your actions. I think the next episode or two will result in Bolin’s eyes being opened and Kuvira turning on Bolin when he objects or takes some action against her will.
The wonderful middle area of Kuvira’s dictatorship as the alternative to another Earth Kingdom monarchy which cares little about ruling the people is one of the things that makes this show so fantastic. It’s the argument between Mako and Bolin in which Mako is left admitting that he doesn’t know who should be in charge of the Earth Kingdom. On the Republic City Dispatch, the aspect of dictator was addressed briefly, about temporarily giving individuals power. This is definitely the Roman Republic style, which is best illustrated by Cincinnatus, who was asked to assume dictatorial powers to save the Republic, and when it was done, he retired back to a farm. The slip into dictator as someone unwilling to let go of power came later, such with the reigns of Marius and Sulla (who both basically inspired a young man named Julius Caesar…) Specifically, Sulla was declared dictator and ended up turning the streets of Rome red with blood of those who had supported his political rival.
Sulla was a general of Rome and he also believed his violation of Roman law and the people he had murdered was done for the betterment of the Republic, despite the irony that it only helped bring the end of the Republic about so much sooner. Kuvira, to a very basic degree, appears to be on the same path. She appears to be a bit of a zealot with regard to technology and innovation, and has probably passed the point of no return to realize that what she’s doing in the name of good is actually quite evil.
I loved Little Ba Sing Se, complete with its “walls” and the royal palace residence and Bosco the Bear statue (It’s Bosco!). Obviously the creators the mall favored the Queen’s father, not her. There were so many little things in this episode that made me love it from an animated view, be it the defaced poster of Wu on the wall behind his head, the girls with their t-shirts, the voice shouting, “I have juice all over me!” after Wu threw his cup, to other nearly completely background characters and touches in the various scenes.
The music in this episode continued to rock, so hat’s off to Jeremy Zuckerman. I had to grin when he echoed the Chinese operatic music from the Wan episode when Wan is being chased by the brothers in the scene where Mako and Wu were being chased. The music was just dang awesome. Every book, every episode, it seems Zuckerman is raising his game.
I loved the fact that there’s obviously this one classy hotel in Republic City where the people with the fame, riches, and power all stay, just as most cities today and in the past possessed. You want to see famous people? Sit in the lobby and watch them cross paths, hence, Bolin and Desna. “Girlfriend? Boss? Same thing…” “He sleeps in the bathub…” “I look in a mirror and think I’m in trouble, but then realize, it’s me!”
Spirit Vine power. Yup. Powers the Mechs. Varrick will make it so.
Boo at the cameo of the Firelord and her father Zuko. We need more!
I enjoyed this episode, and it’s one of the episodes, if not something that all Korra episodes posses, which I watch and realize it’s the longest 20 some minutes in the week. I’m definitely already waiting for next week. Bring it!