First off, I have to say that we have some mad bending skills showing up in this episode. Apparently you can use firebending like your own personal jetpack now, or maybe that’s just Iroh being Iroh. Oh, and they’re fighting against Avatarverse biplanes in this episode, with firebending-powered anti-aircraft guns. This is seriously some top-notch worldbuilding.
But enough about that, and just about everything else that happened in this episode: let’s talk about Tarrlok’s flashback and heel-face turn. Just when you thought Tarrlok was the worst character next to Amon out of this entire biz, it turns out they’re brothers, their dad was Yakone, and Yakone’s quest for vengeance against the Avatar had really screwed with both their heads as children. Can’t believe it’s only been one episode, Tarrlok’s really gone and redeemed himself and is actually sympathetic.
I was also getting serious Mako and Bolin vibes off Noatak and Tarrlok (and if you had any doubts, just look at those eyebrows!) Could this be some foreshadowing for season two? Out of all the characters on the show, it’s definitely seemed like Mako and Bolin have been getting the short end of the stick with regards to characterization, so there’s definitely still room for backstory.
One thing I will say about that sequence though: the parts where Yakone makes his sons practice bloodbending on animals was upsetting. I had to mute the thing for a second, because they actually manage to cross the line several times. You thought the creaky, squishy sound effects that go with human bloodbending were horrifying? Try it with a whimpering animal who has no idea what’s going on, or like when Noatak bloodbends a pack of wolves into some kind of ghoulish chorus line. And then they moved to the point where Yakone was having his sons practice bloodbending on each other and I was ready to reach through the screen and throttle a 2D character. It’s nice that this show doesn’t talk down to its audience, but I know I would have been one seriously scarred kid back in the day if that had been on my TV. And we’re not even at the point where Tarrlok takes Noatak out in the end, which is basically Tarrlok killing them both with a sneak kamikaze strike.
Oh, and there’s other stuff happening too. The whole story with Asami and her father forms a nice little parallel to the revenge story headlined by Amon, and it finally gets some closure in this episode. The mechatank showdown between those two is pretty excellent in showing just how much an obsession for revenge can tear close relationships apart. With one small difference: Asami doesn’t let her father’s quest for revenge compromise her morals, as can be seen with how she fights with Team Avatar for justice. Tarrlok and Amon have played into their father’s plan for them without really wanting or meaning to.
But of course, Korra loses her bending in the final boss fight against Amon, but through that manages to work her latent airbending abilities to kick Amon’s behind. But don’t worry, because apparently this finally gets her in touch with the Avatar state and she gets all of her bending back after Aang shows up and does the glowy thing. Plus, she manages to get Lin her bending back in the meantime, which means we’re totally getting more Spider-Lin later on. Although I do have to wonder, if Lin didn’t have her metalbending, how was she able to wear the metalbending police uniform, which apparently you had to bend your way into to wear?
- I’m still not entirely sold on the Korra and Mako romance. Sure, he proved his worth a bit with standing up to Amon’s bloodbending in this episode, but that whole setup’s still a little bit “hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number, so call me maybe.” Perhaps this will get better next season.
- Also, it was probably implied, but it totally didn’t look like Mako broke up with Asami before kissing Korra. Because he is a terrible golddigger.
- I know it had to happen eventually, but it’s really sad that we just got, like, a fourth dimension added onto Amon’s character and then he died. All the backstory was very much appreciated, though.
- The Tarrlok/Noatak backstory was nice fanfuel for one of Avatar’s more intriguing villains.
- LIN. The boss is back. Check her out, bending all those boulders.
- It’s very cool how all the mini stories within the series really came together thematically. You don’t have to dumb stuff down to appeal to a younger audience, and this show is proof.
- For the second we see him, Bumi is just as great as you’d expect from a guy who’s both a son of Aang and named after a guy who could earthbend with his face.
Wishlist for Season 2:
- Word on the street is that Asami won’t be figuring as much in season two, but please please please give her a good end. It would be highly annoying if, after all the press this show’s gotten about writing good female characters, one of their female characters was basically just a romantic plot device for a terrible love triangle.
- Tahno and a triumphantly fabulous return. Tahno was basically the most anime thing to ever anime in that first episode with him, and it was hilarious. Maybe he gets his bending back and, now a hell of a lot more humble, plays support in one or two episodes. They could go visit his family in the swamp, because that’s one piece of fanon I’m definitely taking and running with.
- More of Bumi, and introduce Kya too please. All the hints at what happened between the two series are so intriguing.
- ………..they have to finally let us in on the whole Zuko’s mom thing. It’s been years already. Although, calling it, the mystery of Lin’s father’s identity will be the what happened to Ursa of Legend of Korra. Then we’ll have to wait for the series about the next Avatar to find out that secret, and the cycle continues.
- And it’s been said elsewhere, but Iroh II needs to sit down for a cup of tea at least once. Or maybe be offered a cup of coffee and say: “No, I’d prefer tea instead”?