The Legend of Korra Book 1, Episode 10: Turning the Tides
As each week passes, the threat posed by Amon becomes greater and his connection to the message of “equality” becomes more tenuous. In the third episode, he debended known criminals who actively used their bending to oppress others (including other benders). In the sixth episode, he destroyed the Pro Bending arena, a shrine dedicated to the glorification of the bending arts. Never mind that non-benders were present and enjoyed the sport. Now, he commands a fleet of airships to lay siege to Republic City. He tells Hiroshi that the destruction will lead to a change in the balance of power, but I fail to see how destroying the very place he says he wants to make safer for non-benders will achieve his goal. Like many real life despots, the more that time passes, the more we realize that Amon’s true goal is not equality but power and anarchy. He has won people to his cause through charismatic speeches promising them some measure of power in a society that holds them powerless, but at the end of the day, the only person he’ll achieve power for is himself. Even Team Avatar definitely believes that he is a much bigger threat than Tarrlok, a “crazy bloodbender” who successfully captured the Avatar and nearly took control of Republic City through “legal” means.
“Turning of the Tides” balances a story of the breakout of an all-out war with very personal stories for the main characters. Two love triangles are forced to address the issues between them, with Asami accusing Mako of having romantic feelings for Korra and Pema having to deal with Lin as her only protector while Tenzin and Team Avatar are on the mainland. Both situations would be tough under normal circumstances, but now, the characters’ lives depend on each other, and in-fighting will only make it easier for the Equalists to take them down. Fortunately for our heroes, things never get so heated that they can’t defend themselves (although Lin does get saddled with Meelo by a rather upset Pema). Lin even finds a way to cause Pema to get over any lingering romantic rivalry feelings (more on that later). Asami, Mako, and Korra on the other hand will be in for some tough times while they are hiding out together next week. Poor Bolin will probably have to be the mediator.
The best character moments, however, are directly tied in with the scenes of war. War inevitably requires sacrifice, and watching as the characters fail to defend their allies or are forced to make strategic decisions which will inevitably lead to misfortune for their friends make for incredibly compelling television. Tenzin, despite being an incredibly powerful airbender (just look at how forceful his air blasts are), and the metalbending cops ultimately failed to stop the Equalists and all were captured. Although Team Avatar was able to rescue Tenzin, the rest of the police force will likely be debended. Then, after the Equalists invade Air Temple Island, everyone is forced to evacuate. Lin and Tenzin’s kids are able to hold off the first wave, but the Equalists’ numbers are too great. The characters then have to make a choice: where do we go and what do we do to ensure a victory in the long run? They conclude that the safety of Tenzin’s family is the priority because the world can’t afford to lose the only 4 (or now possibly 5) airbenders in existence, so Lin and Tenzin’s family decide to go into hiding while Team Avatar returns to Republic City to stage guerrilla resistance strikes against Amon. But Amon’s airships pursue Tenzin, forcing Lin to make a choice. She sacrifices herself (or a part of herself) to ensure that her former lover and his family will be safe.
So with two episodes (but just one week) left, what choices will the characters of The Legend of Korra make? Will Hiroshi Sato sacrifice his daughter for his cause, or will he sacrifice his cause for his daughter? Will the non-benders of Republic City realize that their savior cares only about himself, or is the damage to their psyches from decades of oppression too deep? And is Korra ready to make the tough choices necessitated by war? Is she ready to lose everything to do what’s right, or is she still too immature to see past her own desires?
· The Legend of Korra is in many ways the Angel to Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer; it’s more “adult,” involves a cast that can’t get along more than they get along, and is ultimately darker. But the scenes of Lin and Team Avatar being forced to live together on Air Temple Island reminded me of the end of Buffy’s fourth season, when everyone, including Giles, was living in Xander’s basement. When Korra gave a speech at the beginning, I was wondering where her Yummy Sushi! pajamas were.
· On the Angel side, let me paraphrase one of Wesley’s lines from the end of Season 2: Try not to get anyone debended and you’ll end up getting everyone debended.
· Poor Fire Nation council member. She finally gets a line, only to be captured by some painfully obvious Equalists.
· “Ah! Car! Oh, we’re good.” Never change, Bolin.
· The scene of Mako holding Korra’s hand at her bedside as Asami looked on, holding back tears was just heartbreaking. As was Lin’s final scene, when I was holding back tears.
· “That lady is my hero.” “Yes, she is.”
· GENERAL IROH!