Sunday, 22 April 2012

Legend of Korra - Episode 3 Review and Recap!

- Recap
The episode starts off with a new, shorter title sequence, presumably meaning that the episode will be longer than average, so they had to make space... ANYWAY, the episode actually begins with an awesomely retro recap of the previous two episodes, complete with news reel-style narration and film grain. Oh, I already knew this, but this series is going to be FUN.

The story starts off at the Pro-Bending Arena, where Korra and Co. are training, despite her protests that it's too early and that "morning is evil!" Mako explains that since they're the rookie team in the tournament they get the worst slot in the training schedule, and since Korra is the rookieish one of them all, they still have a lot of training to get through before they can compete in the Championship.

A new character appears, in the form of Bo Taka, who is the owner of the Pro-Bending Arena. He gives Mako his winnings from the previous episode's match, but then establishes the kind of guy he is by taking all of the money back to pay for the rent on their apartment, Korra equipment etc. etc. Then telling them that they need 30,000 yuans (their form of currency) to enter into the Championship to place in the winnings pot. This understandably shocks the brothers, as Probending is their only means of income, and at present they're not really making a profit from it. Also, Aang is on the banknotes, HA!

Taka leaves, and Bolin asks Korra if she's got any secret piles of cash that they can use in this situation, getting a response of Korra's empty pockets. She explains that she's never really ever had to use money, as she's always had someone there to take care of her, be it her parents, the Order of the White Lotus or Tenzin and his family. Mako, sensitive poor orphan that he is, goes off in a sulk at this, taking it as Korra boasting. Also, Pabu the Fire Ferret's fire ferret appears. And he's adorable, aww.

Mako asks the other two if they have any ideas of how to raise the money that they need, getting the response from Bolin that he's been training Pabu to do circus tricks, and that people would pay good money to see them. This gets a put down from his older brother, who sighs and says that he'll have to think of something, after all it's always him that has to. Taking offense at this, the scene immediately cuts to Bolin sat in front of a statue putting his Serious Plan into action. It goes about as well as you'd think.

After earning the princely sum of one yuan, a sportscar rolls up and an old friend of Bolin's, under the name of Shady Shin (yeah, you can probably tell where this is going) get out, telling him that he has some friends that would like to meet the prizewinning pro-bender. Shin explains that he's working for one of the Triple Threat Triads, and is looking for more muscle. Bolin is initially wary of this, as his brother had warned him away from the Triads, but the promise of bags and bags of money sways him.

Later, Mako is finishing off his work for the day (working at one of the powerstations and keeping it charged with lightning bending). He goes home, and finding that Bolin isn't there, he goes over to Avatar Island to ask Korra if she's seen him. Turns out that she hasn't, but Tenzin's daughters seem to be aware that Korra has something of a crush on Mako. She offers to help look for him, but is rebuffed by Mako, until she suggests taking Naga, who is Korra's best friend. Leading Mako to meet the polar beardog in person, remarking that somehow the fact that she's best friends with one of the creatures somehow manages to be completely unsuprising.

Their search leads them back to the statue that Bolin was hanging out at earlier, where an obnoxious urchin by the name of Skoochy tells them where Bolin was, after holding out for a bribe first. Skoochy explains that Bolin was there performing some kind of "monkey rat" circus trick, before he was picked up by Shady Shin. He goes on to say that all the local gangs seem to be gearing up for some kind of turfwar, and that Bolin seems to have gotten himself stuck right in the middle of it. This understandably worries Mako and Korra, and they ride off to the Triple Threat Triad's HQ to see if they can fetch Bolin before anything kicks off.

On the way though they come across Pabu, who Naga decides to chase/attempt to eat. Arriving at the HQ, Mako is suprised to find that there are no thugs hanging around outside like there normally is, and Korra interprets "procede with caution" as "kick the doors in". They find the hangout deserted, with tables and the like kicked over or smashed. The heroes head to the back door where they see a bunch of Equalists driving off with the Triads, and Bolin, tied up and stuffed into the back of a truck.

Thus beings an actually very good action sequence, with Naga chasing the motorbike riding Equalists, the bikers dodging the various attempts at bending that the heroes throw at them, before breaking into a fight scene, where it's revealled that the Equalists are adept at the paralysis chi-blocking fighting style that Ty Lee used in the original series. The heroes put up a good fight, but they are eventually are knocked to the floor, paralysed. Naga and Pabu come to the rescue though, and the Equalists, unsure if they can beat up a polar beardog, decide to just book it.

Korra is shocked that she's unable to bend after the pummeling she received, but Mako explains that the henchmen were chi-blockers and that they work for Amon. Mako curses himself for letting Bolin get into this mess, but Korra promises that they're going to rescue him. They wander the city for a bit, before Korra has the idea of waiting in the park for the jerkass Equalist protestor from the first episode to show up again. Which they do. Until early in the next morning.

While they're waiting, Korra asks where Mako and Bolin know the Triple Threats from, and it turns out that before they got a home in the Pro-Bending Arena, they used to hang around with them. This shocks Korra, who asks if that means they're criminals, causing Mako to angrily say that they just ran numbers for them and the like, and they as homeless orphans, they couldn't really be choosy as to where their money came from. The Avatar apologises, and asks what happened to their parents. This is the point that Mako reveals that they were murdered in front of him when he was eight by a firebending mugger (He's BATMAN!). Mako then says that he doesn't know what he'd do if he didn't have Bolin, as he's the only one that he has left...

The next day, the pair are awakened by the jerkass protestor yelling EQUALITY NOW!, causing them to rapidly seperate each other from the embarassing position they'd fallen asleep in. That is, leaning on each other. They go up to the protestor, whose annoying behaviour hasn't been improved any by the fact that he knows that Korra is the Avatar now. Korra steps into action, smashing the guy's megaphone and sending his table flying a hundred feet up in the air, spilling leaflets all over the place. Mako picks one up, and asks what the "Revelation" Amon is promising on it is. The protestor responds with some vaguely racist comments about the pair, so Korra picks him up with one hand and asks again, more firmly. The guy then says he doesn't know what the revelation is, but if their kidnapped friend is a bender then "he probably deserves what's going to happen to him". The park policeman from the first episode arrives to break up Korra's shakedown, and after the protestor complains that the Avatar's oppressing him, she casually tosses him aside and heads off with Mako, who grabs one of each four kinds of Amon leaflets.

Later, the two are trying to work out where the Revelation rally is taking place, what with no address being printed on the leaflets. Mako's Batman gene kicks in though, and he twigs that the four leaflets placed together like a puzzle make a map, which when super-imposed over one of the many maps on Republic City's... Bus stops(?) they show the location of the rally. Which is actually pretty smart. That evening, the pair go to the rally, wearing cunny disguises, and manage to blag their way in as it turns out that the leaflets also double as invites. The pair are suprised how many regular people are there, as they didn't know so many people hated benders.

The rally kicks off in a manner more fitting to an evangelist show or rock concert than a political meeting. And with that, Amon, voiced by Cowboy Bebop's Steve Blum, appears and goes into full swing into what could either be a motive rant, propaganda or his actual backstory. He claims that he grew up on a small farm to a family of nonbenders, and as a result they were open to being extorted by a firebender running a protection racket. One day his father refused to pay though, and this resulted in him and the rest of Amon's family being burnt to death, while Amon survived with only his face being burned off. Korra and Mako exchange a glance at this, as they know that this is actually plausible.

Amon continues, reminding the audience how the Avatar has returned (the audience boo), and say that if she were here she'd say that bending brings balance to the world. But, he says, in reality bending is only a cause of suffering, as it resulted in every war in every era of the planet's history (technically true, but ideology played a heavy part in the last one too). Amon says that he now has a way to fight back against the Avatar and her sort, as the Spirits have contacted him, saying that the Avatar has failed in her mission of bringing Balance to the world, and have chosen him to be her replacement. He says that the Revelation that he's been given is the ability to take away a bender's power... permanently.

Korra says that that's impossible, but considering that's how Aang beat the Firelord at the end of season three... Mako just concludes that Amon's nuts. The head of the Triple Threat Triad, Lightningbolt Zolt, is brought forth for a demonstration of Amon's revelation. The fact that Amon targeted one of the main reason why regular folk hate benders was a smart move on his part, and the fact that he arrogantly doesn't see the threat that he's in doesn't help matters. Bolin is also on the stage with the rest of the Triad, looking terrified out of his mind.

Amon then let's Zolt loose to give him the opportunity to fight for his bending, resulting in the gangster promptly blasting the revolutionary with both fire and lightning. Amon calmly sidesteps the attacks though, and swiftly removes Zolt's power. He then declares that the revolution against bending has finally begun! Shin is then selected and shoved towards Amon to get his bending taken away too, protesting all the while.

Mako has a plan to rescue Bolin though, he asks Korra to cause a distraction by smooshing a bunch of steam-powered generators, allowing Mako to grab his brother in the chaos. Korra dodges down a corridor to enact the plan, while Amon works his way along the line of gangsters towards Bolin. The guard from earlier catches Korra though, and attacks her with a wench, but Korra dodges him and with the help of her massive strength and Mako's borrowed scarf, she throws him against the generator, causing the cloud of steam she was after.

Just as Bolin is about to be depowered, Korra blasts the arena with a cloud of steam, which causes the audience to scream and run off. Bolin is momentarily tackled by a chi-blocker, but Mako grabs them and throws them off the stage. The brothers escape out a side-door, Amon having vanished into the steam, but they are followed by one of Amon's henchmen. This man is the Lieutenant.

While the brothers attempt to escape down a metal ladder, the Lieutenant electrifies it with his taser-batons, causing Mako and Bolin to ground, hard. They put up a good fight, but they are beaten by the electric ninja racist. "You benders need to understand," he says, "there is no place in the world for you any more". Then he's thrown against a wall and knocked out, via earthbending. It's Korra to the rescue, complete with heroic backlighting!

She summons Naga, who grabs Bolin in her mouth while Korra hoist Mako onto her back, and the heroes make their escape. The Lieutenant tries to get a swarm of chi-blockers to go after Korra and Co. but they are called off by Amon, who says that Korra is the perfect messenger to tell the City about his power... 

Later, on Avatar Island, Tenzin is in a meeting with some OWL guards when Korra lets her presence be known. He's relieved that she's safe, but she's not exactly happy about the turn of events. She explains what happened, and Tenzin says that's impossible because only the Avatar has been able to take away people's bending away in the past. He does clarify that he does believe her though, and this means that not only is the Revolution more dangerous than they thought, but not no bender in Republic City is safe...

- Review
Blimey, this is a show that just keep on giving isn't it? Animation continues to be top notch, the voice acting, if anything seems to be improving, and they have crafted a compelling villain for the show as well. It does seem interesting, in that people assumed that, what with the "bringing everyone down to normal!" propaganda and scary mask, Amon actually seems to be actually less of a clear cut villain than Ozai was. Oh, Amon still does terrible things, but he actually seems to have a valid point regarding how benders push regular people around, as noted by Mako's backstory, and if Amon's backstory is true, then he's at least sympathetic... sort of.

It was also a good thing how the brothers were built up a bit more as well, and Mako actually seems to have more going on than just being the "brooding jerk with scarf" deal he previously seemed to have going. His growing friendship with Korra was also a nice thing to see, and the fact that he assumed that it was Bolin who Korra may be crushing on was kind of amusing considering what they're implying. Don't trust that urchin Skoochy though. He looked like he was up to something.

In all, a well put together episode, but from a technical and storytelling perspective. Really looking forward to what the Equalists and their leader are going to get up to in upcoming episodes.

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