Sunday, 29 April 2012

Avatar: Legend of Korra - Episode 4 Review and Recap!

A Voice in the Dark

- Recap: The episode begins at night, with the moon in full and Korra sleeping in her bed. Suddenly three Equalist chi-blockers burst into the room, she tries to fight them off, but they paralyse her with a series of punches to the spine. Then Amon comes into the room, declaring that when he takes her bending away, she will be nothing... Korra then awakes with a start. It was a nightmare. Naga is there to make her feel better though, which is a nice touch.

Next scene, we are at the Republic City town hall thing, where a man is complaining about how there is a mad man running around the city, threatening to tear down everything that they hold dear. The man talking turns out to be Tarrlok, the representative of the Northern Water Tribe community in the city, who suggests that he head a taskforce dedicated solely to taking down Amon and his organisation, but Tenzin disagrees with this idea as a move that aggressive would just divide benders and nonbenders even further, and that it just seems like another one of Tarrlok's moves to gain more power within the city itself.

Tarrlok says that he's just willing to do what's necessary, and decides to pull the Aang Card by saying that 42 years ago another powerful bender threatened the city, but Tenzin's father was more than willing to step forward to do what was necessary to stop him. This gets Tenzin even more annoyed, as he says that the situations are completely different and that he's offended that Tarrlok would dare compare himself to Avatar Aang. The waterbender then appeals to the other members of the council's sense of fear and duty, by saying that Amon could target their friends and family members next, and his proposal is carried forward, to Tenzin's chagrin.

Later on Avatar Island, Korra is practicing her airbending moves to the sound of some sweet jazz, when Amon hijacks the radio signal. He talks about the council's decision to make him Public Enemy Number One, and how they will stop at nothing to stop his revolution. But he says that they have nothing to fear, as their numbers are growing every day, and that it is the benders who are the ones who will be afraid now. And Korra does look scared, in fact she looks flat out terrified, eek.

The next day, Mako is crossing a busy street when he is hit by a girl on a moped. He's not too badly hurt, but his initial list of complaints about this stop when the girl takes off her helmet and she sees just how hot she is. The motorist apologises repeatedly for hitting the firebender, but after a while she recognises that he's Mako, a member of her favourite pro-bending team. To make up for running him over, she offers to buy him dinner at one of the city's fanciest restaurants, even offering to buy him some posher clothes when he says he doesn't really have anything that'll make him fit in there. They declare it a date, and Mako is left somewhat bemused and love struck by the entire experience.

That evening, Korra and Tenzin's family are sitting around about to eat dinner, with Tenzin saying the Air Nomad version of grace, when Tarrlok shows up and interrupts in the rudest way possible.

Tenzin tries to explain that they're just about to have their dinner in an attempt to turn the waterbender away, but he again proves what a dick he is by saying that he's actually really hungry, and that Air Nomads traditionally can't refuse to give food to a hungry guest. Tenzin grudgingly allows the councilman to stay, but Pema doesn't seem that happy about this, resulting in Tenzin making a "sorry, nothing I can do" gesture. Tarrlok then slimes he way across the room to Korra, attempting to butter her up as he introduces himself. Tenzin's youngest daughter, Ikki, continues her family's tradition of bashing Tarrlok by asking why he has three ponytails and "why do you smell like a lady?", a remark that Tarrlok ignores as he sits himself beside Korra.

Tenzin tells Tarrlok to get to the point, after he spends some time making it seem that he's the only one of RC's authority figures that is happy she's here. The councilman explains that he intends for Korra to join the anti-Equalist taskforce that he's put together, and that she's just the brave sort he needs to lead the charge against Amon. He is, therefore kind of shocked when Korra politely turns him down, as is Tenzin. She explains that she came to Republic City to learn how to airbend, and that's what she has to focus on right now. Tarrlok states that he's not going to give up on her yet, and that she'll be hearing from him later. Tenzin then gently but firmly pushes him out of the door as Tarrlok grumbles.

Meanwhile, Mako has arrived at the fancy restaurant, and after looking at his shabby clothes, goes inside, where he is surprised that a member of staff is there that greets him by name, and bows deeply. Mako is then dressed in a new suit of fancy clothes, firmly telling the tailor that the scarf is going to stay, and goes forth with his dinner with Asami. She turns out to be both really nice and a huge fan of pro-bending, and tells Mako how much she's looking forward to seeing the Fire Ferrets perform in the Championship, but Mako sadly admits that they don't really have the money to enter into the prize pot at the moment, so they may have to leave it to next year. Mako is then suprised to hear that Asami is the daughter of Hiroshi Sato, the inventor of the car in this universe and possibly the richest man in the world. Asami asks if Mako would like to meet him, and the firebender happily accepts.

The next day, Bolin shows up at Avatar Island to ask why Korra hasn't been to pro-bending practise lately. She apologises, but Bolin says that it's okay because they're probably out of the tournament by this point unless some money magically appears. Anyways, he gives Korra a flower and a bit of cake as a thank you gift for saving him from Amon. She tries to say that it was no big deal, but Bolin's attempts to explain why he thought that it WAS one, ie Amon is freaking scary, but it seems that all he's doing is making her feel worse, despite Bolin admitting that he'd been having trouble sleeping since the kidnapping. Then a deliveryman from Tarrlok arrives with a huge basket of flowers, cake and fruit, saying that the councilman asks her to reconsider his offer, but she bluntly says that her answer is still no. Bolin, not knowing who Tarrlok is, asks if he's been bothering Korra and offers to beat him up, but the Avatar says that it's not a problem, just how old guy that works with Tenzin.

Later on, Mako is meeting Asami's dad at his car factory, who basically begins the conversation with "So I understand you're dirt poor", which is a level of bluntness that takes Mako back for a second. Hiroshi explains that being poor is nothing to be ashamed of though, as when he was Mako's age he was just a shoeshine boy with an idea, but thanks to a someone who believed in him and offered him a load, he was able to get the entire Future Industries corporation off the ground. All due to one selfless act. Asami breaks the mood though by telling him to stop bragging and tell Mako the good news. It seems that Hiroshi has decided to sponsor the Fire Ferrets, covering their entry into the competition, and all he asks in return is that they wear his logo on their uniforms. The ecstatic Mako says that he'll tattoo it on his chest if he wants, and he thanks the wealthy pair for doing this for him.

Back on the island, it seems that Tarrlok has sent Korra a car as another present to get her to join his team, but since she's not interested Tenzin's kids are playing in it instead. Tenzin, knowing that something up with the Avatar, asks if she's doing okay. She repeats that just just wants to focus on her airbending right now, and although Tenzin says he's glad she turned Tarrlok down, he's just hoping that she doing it for the right reason. Tenzin says that it's okay if Korra is scared, the entire city is scared, but it's best to admit when we are otherwise it would throw you off of balance. He reminds her that he's always there if she needs to talk, and walks away.

Later, the deliveryman appears once again, causing Korra to earthbend him 18 degrees and kicking him in the bum while declaring that she's not interested. The deliveryman says that it isn't a gift he's dropping off this time, but an invitation, to a gala that Tarrlok is holding in Korra's honour, which will have all of Republic City's movers and shakers there to meet her. This, Korra doesn't turn out, and shows up with Tenzin's family to some applause. Handily they have banners outside with pictures of Korra on, so they know what she looks like. As does anyone else who might want to get her, say any random Equalist. Whoops.

Tarrlok hijacks Korra after Tenzin warns her to keep her guard up, but he's unable to accompany her as his son is apparently urinating on something. The councilman introduces Korra to Hiroshi Sato, who then introduces her to his daughter who is being accompanied by Mako and Bolin. Korra is told about the sponsorship deal, but although she's been happy that the team's financial troubles seem to be over, a hint of jealous begins to emerge regarding Mako's relationship with Asami. Tarrlok then does wonders to improve Korra's mood by calling Chief Lin Bei Fong over, who tells Korra that she shouldn't feel that she's special because this party has been thrown for her, because she's done nothing to deserve it. Yikes, Toph's daughter is horrible!

It's shortly after this, that Tarrlok springs his trap. Namely, causing her to be guilted into jumping his squad by cornering her with a bunch of journalists, who first make her admit that Amon poses a real threat to the people of Republic City and then ask why she isn't actively trying to stop him by, say, joining Tarrlok's taskforce, does she think that pro-bending is more important that the Revolution, isn't NOT joining the attempt to capture Amon going back on the promise she made to serve the city? Etc. etc. Basically she ends up caving to their demands and joins the taskforce.

Shortly afterwards Korra's going on a raid with the taskforce, raiding a training ground underneath a book shop. The raid is carried out with more than a little excessive force on the part of the taskforce, who freeze the nonpowered people or just flat out squash them with earthbending. Korra rushes after the Equalists escaping through a sideroom, but a chi-blocker drops on her from the ceiling. She manages to smash them away with earthbending, while another that appears is taken out by Tarrlok. The raid is a success, with Tarrlok making sure that he appears in all the good publicity resulting is directed at himself. It appears that his taskforce is taking up the time she would have used to practise with the Fire Ferrets too, whoops.

Some time later, at another press conference, Tarrlok is talking about how Republic City have nothing to fear with Korra and himself leading the charge against Amon. This leads to a journalist asking Korra that, if she's REALLY doing everything she says she's doing, why hasn't she caught Amon yet. Korra promptly says that it's because Amon's a coward who is just hiding in the shadows, and declares loudly that she's challenging him to a duel. Hm. This won't end well.

Meanwhile, romantic time with Asami and Mako (cue anguished screams from Makorra shippers). Asami asks him why he isn't wearing the silk scarf she bought for him, and Mako explains that the scarf is the only thing that he has left from his dad, which kind of makes sense. The pair bond over their dead parents, as it seems that Asami's mum died when she was very young too. 

Later, Korra is preparing to go out to Aang Memorial Island, the one with the giant statue, to go and fight Amon. Tenzin tries to stop her, but Tarrlok says that he's already tried to stop her, but "the Avatar has made up her mind", paraphrasing what Tenzin said to him after Korra turned him down the first time. As she speeds away towards the island, Tarrlok tells Tenzin that he has a fleet of police airships on standby in case anything was to go wrong.

Korra waits on the island, below the statue of her predecessor, for Amon to show. Midnight, the time of the duel, comes and goes, and Korra mutters to herself that it must mean that Amon is actually afraid of her after all. However, just as she walks after an open doorway on her way down to the dock, a bolas is thrown at her from the dark, which ties up her feet, dragging her into a circle of chi-blockers. Korra manages to get free, but they restrain her arms and pressure point her back to temporarily take her powers away while she's tied up.

It's at this point that Amon himself appears. He says although he knows that they will end up fighting each other at some point, this current meeting is a premature one. He grasps her face as she hangs loosely between two of his goons, and continues, saying that although he can take away Korra's bending right now, and admits that it would even be the most sensible solution, he won't do it because he doesn't want her to become a martyr. Benders of every nation would rally behind her death, but he has a plan to take care of them first, and then, when she is the only bender in the world left, he will come and destroy her. Amon then knocks her out by karate chopping her to the face, which actually sounded like it hurt.

As Korra lays upon the floor dazed, Korra has a flashback to some of Aang's past, seeing Toph, Sokka, and Aang as adults and mysterious man, who presumably was the threat to the city 42 years ago that Tarrlok mentioned. Tenzin runs over to the barely conscious Avatar, obviously concerned for her. They confirm that Amon didn't take her bending away, but then as Tenzin breathes a sigh of relief Korra bursts into tears. She admits that she's been terrified this entire time, that she's never felt this way before and that she doesn't know what to do. Tenzin hugs her, and says that admitting your fears is the first and most difficult step towards overcoming them...

- Review: The series continues at a quick pace, managing to introduce new characters, introduce some character development for Korra and Mako, reinforce what a threat Amon is the city (even if his powers are fake), AND introduce an intriguing mystery involving Aang and Co. into the bargin.

This really was a gem of an episode, with just so much going on despite only a marginally longer running time than usual. The Satos were both fun, and it's nice to see an industrialist who isn't a complete jerk these days, especially considering who Hiroshi is apparently based upon, Henry Ford, who... wasn't a nice person. Tarrlok is impressively slimy, though I do wonder whether his deciding to just let Korra face Amon alone was her actually being determined, him seeing Korra as expendable, or just being overconfident in Korra's abilities.

The fact that Korra actually faces the twin demons of fear and self doubt in this episode go a long way to making her more of an actual human being, as opposed to an unstoppable god person that she was initially introduced as. Whether her being fallible will be seen as character development or not in the eyes of the fandom will be interesting to see or not, as there are a number who seem to think that her having to work to gain her happy ending to sexist. *sigh* Still, those people in the minority compared to the rage being spewed forth against Asami for getting in the way of the Korra/Mako "romance", which is a shame as she's actually, thus far, a perfectly nice young woman. If more than a little spoilt.

Looking forward to what comes next, and hoping that the hiatus that people have been talking about after the next episode isn't actually going to happen. Because if it does, then after next friday's episode, we might not be getting any more Korra until SEPTEMBER if some people are to be believed.


  1. Gonna call it now, Asami's an Equalist and Tarrlok is actually Amon. That's what my money's on.

    1. Dunno, seems too obvious. I think that Amon is definitely related the previous threat to Republic City that Aang dealt with in some way though. As for Asami... I'm going to keep an open mind in regards to her at present, if only because her turning out to be evil would kind of be a bit of a cliche.

  2. Oh, dear. The fandom hasn't gotten better since the Kataang/Zutara thing, has it? I don't find the speculation to really help much - I'm enjoying the ride, and hoping that it works out as brilliantly as the first series (I'm pretty sure it will). Plus, I'm really awful as speculating and being anywhere close to correct.