Sunday, 13 May 2012

Legend of Korra: Recap and Review - Episode 6

And The Winner Is...

- Recap: The episode opens up with the FIFFs practicing their bending for the upcoming Finals match against the Wolfbats. Amusingly the jazz radio station that they're listening too is sponsored by Cabbage Corp, a reference to the unfortunate cabbage merchant from the original show and a possible wave to Apple. Korra says that she's got a good feeling about the match tonight, despite their competitors having won the Championships three years in a row.

But the team spirit attitude that has continued over from the last episode is broken, when Amon appears once again over the radio.The villain says that the city has to stop treating bending athletes like heroes, and that if the ruling council of the city don't ban pro-bending and cancel the finals, then something horrible is going to happen. This understandibly worries our three main protagonists.

They rush to City Hall, and burst into their meeting. Tenzin tells her that she shouldn't be there as it's a closed meeting, but she argues that since she's the Avatar as well as a probender, she has a right to be heard. But it seems that for once Tenzin and Tarrlok are in agreement, and that they both want to shut down the arena for the forseeable future until the threat has been sorted out. Tarrlok says that he's going to close the arena because he's not going to put innocent people's lives at risk so that Korra and her friends can play "a game". This denouncing of his sport as frivelless offends Mako, who argues that pro-bending is important to the city as a whole, as it's the one place in the city where benders and nonbenders can go peacefully to watch a sport together. A sport where people beat each other up "for peace!" yells Bolin.

Tarrlok says that he appreciates their naive idealism, but the council has made their decision and that probending has been cancelled... but just before he can bang the official gavel, a wire snakes it's way across the room and chops the little hammer in half. It's Chief Lin Beifong! She says that, for once, she agrees with Korra. Lin goes on to say that she expected "This kind of cut and run behaviour from Tenzin", a phase that appears to hurt his feelings, but she asks the rest of the council to show a little more backbone in this situation. Lin says that she and her metalbending cops will provide extra security for the arena, a suggestion that appears to cause Tarrlok's interest to be piqued. He asks her if she's willing to take total responsiblity for the event, and when she agrees smugly talks about how they can't argue with her track record (Why do I get the feeling that he's setting her up for a fall here?), and says that he's changing his vote to keeping the arena open. The rest of the council, barr Tenzin, follow Tarrlok's lead, and they agree to let the arena stay open, to the trio's delight.

Tenzin angrily says that he needs to talk to Lin in private, where he tells her that he suspects that Tarrlok is playing her, and that he doesn't want her to get hurt. Lin stubbornly says that she knows what she's doing and the risks that go with it, but Tenzin says that he's going to come along too which annoys Lin as she feels like he's babysitting her. He corrects her, saying that he's going to be there for Korra, causing Lin to angrily say that he can do what he likes and stomps off past Korra as she attempts to thank Lin for her support.

The miffed Korra asks what her problem is, and whether Aang was responsible for making her hate the Avatar so much. Tenzin admits that Lin's issues aren't really with Korra, they're infact ones with him, which coupled with the comment from Pema last episode makes Korra twig that Lin was the woman that Tenzin was with when Pema made her move on him (knew it!). Korra says that she's suprised that Lin didn't throw Pema in jail, and Tenzin said that she tried, but really at the time Lin and him were moving apart as they had different goals... which is the point where he catches himself, and asks himself why he's telling her this. He stomps off as Korra starts to tease him about it some more.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the city, Amon is watching some of his henchmen load equipment into trucks. Amon seems pleased at this, as it means that everything is going according to plan. Interesting... Presumably his plans require the arena to stay open in some manner. Hm.

Cut forward in time to the match itself, and everyone is super revved up for it. But first, Lin has organised her men to patrol the bay around the arena by boat, while others watch by airship. Inside the arena itself, Lin is overseeing the metalbenders within the arena conducting an extremely thorough such of the premises. Tenzin approaches her, and asks her if she's done this and that, showing once again how thoroughly Lin is doing her job. She snaps at him, and Tenzin asks her if, what with everything on the line, whether they can actually work together on this. This make the Chief soften a little, and she agrees to be less abrasive for the rest of the evening, which Tenzin says he appreciates.

A little later, and the match is actually about to begin. The FIFFs are introduced to the crowd, complete with Pabu in an outfit (aww). Their fans, some of whom are in cosplay, go nuts, Hiroshi and Asami are watching from their private box. She blows Mako a kiss, and he sends one back, which makes Korra rolls her eyes. Once in the ring, Pabu performs his little dance routine for the crowd, who respond with modest applause. The Whitefalls Wolfbat's entrance is a bit spectacular though, with fireworks and costumes and the like. Bolin isn't impressed, and neither is Korra.

The match begins, and it becomes immediately apparent that the Wolfbats aren't exactly playing by the standard rules, ie borderline cheating, which is something that the commentator immediately picks up on. They perform a series of blatant fouls that are apparently being ignored by the referees, but not the commentator nor Mako, the latter of which shouts at the ref because of it. Even Tenzin starts shouting at the referee, to Lin's amusement, as it appears that he's been brushing up on the rules prior to match, so he knows an illegal move when he sees one. Anyways, the FIFFs are knocked out of the ring with a combination of dirty moves, meaning that the Wolfbats have won in just the first round.

...Or it appears not, as Korra grabbed hold of the edge of the ring at the last minute, and chucks Mako back into the ring. He then promptly shoots Tahno in the back with some firebending, which gets a look of crazy at him in response from the waterbender. But, with Mako and Korra back in the ring, the game not continues into Round Two. The FIFFs have a huddle, and Mako has come to the conclusion that the referees have been bribed by someone to look the other way to the Wolfbats blatant cheating. Korra argues that since the other side isn't fighting fairly, they shouldn't either, but Mako says that since the referees have it out for them in this match, the only way that they'll be able to win the match is if they do so fair and square. Korra reluctantly agrees.

Round two begins, and quickly ends in a draw, as despite the Wolfbats tricks (including illegal use of ice and deliberate aiming at people's heads with firebending) one side can't seem to defeat the other. The ref decides to make them do a one on one tie-breaker, and since the FIFFs win the coin toss, Korra decides to challenge Tahno directly, which he smugly accepts. She promptly wins via hitting him in the face (knocking off his helmet) while he attempted to hit her from behind with his own waterbendering. The FIFFs win the round, but both their own fans (one of whom catches Tahno's helmet) and the Wolfbats' are stunned by the move.

Lin expresses some amusement that Tenzin's "sweet tempered father was reincarnated into that little girl", which causes the airbender to say that she and Korra have a lot in common, and that they'd really get along if they gave each other the chance. Round Three begins, with Tahno muttering to his teammates about sending the FIFFs to a watery grave. Both sides pelt each other with volleys of their chosen element, but despite their efforts the FIFFs loose, mainly because Tahno teamed up with his Earthbender to bend water with rocks in at the faces of the opposing team. The ref calls it a win for the Wolfbats, though neither Tenzin nor the commentator seem happy about this. Tahno smugly declares that he bearly broke a sweat, and asks if anyone else wants to have a scrap with the champs... which apparently was the cue for Equalists hidden in the crowd to don their masks, grab the weapons that they'd hidden in their food and start attacking people.

Tenzin sees the Equalists, but isn't fast enough to stop one from first incapacitating Lin and then himself with their taser gloves. Evidently the metalbending cops being used to defend the arena being part of Amon's plan not makes sense, as their metal suits act as the perfect conductors for the terrorists' electrical attacks. With the two senior bending masters out of the way, the Equalists begin targetting the metalbenders exclusively, taking advantage of the post-match chaos. Even Korra and the FIFFs aren't spared, as the Lieutenant appears to shock them into uselessness as they float in the water surrounding the ring. And from the looks of it, it really goddamn hurt the heroes in the process.

The commentator continues to narrate what's going on, apparently shocked as everyone else about what's going on... He then shows a suprising amount of grit by continuing to narrate even as an Equalist appears in the booth with him, and tazes him as well. Aw. The Wolfbats finally notice what's going on and look concerned, but when Amon and some chi-blockers appear in the ring with them, that concern very rapidly turns to absolute terror...

With Korra floating in the water unconscious, someone with a cable begins to fish her and her team out with a cable... hm, who could that be. Tahno seems confused as to what's going on, as he asks the ref to explain the situation, but finds no answers there. He and his group, who only moments before were willing to attack the Avatar and her team with near lethal force start backing away from the Equalists as they advance on them. The Wolfbats decide to start using their bending to attack Amon, only he easily dodges their moves and chiblocks Tahno, while his henchmen restain the other two benders with bolas. Tahno begs the Equalist to not take his bending, but Amon depowers them, and chuck them into the water, while the Lieutenant ties Korra and her friends to one of the support columns of the ring. While Korra struggles to get awake, she has another flashback to Aang and Toph when they were older, possibly another reference to whatever threat that Aang had to deal with some forty odd years ago. Amusingly Toph seems to have lost her enormous chin, but has gained an extra finger. Ah, animation errors.

His more active goal complete, and with the arena decked with Equalist banners, Amon decides to make use of the announcers dropped mic to start speechifying to the people in the arena as well as those listening on the radio. He proceeds to tell off the listeners for cheering for the Wolfbats, three bullies who cheated their way to victory in, in his mind, the exact same way that  benders bully and cheat nonbenders on a regular basis. He then says that the Wolfbats were meant to be the best in the world, but he was still able to defeat and cleanse them of their "impurity" in a few moments. Amon says that they should take this as a warning, as anyone else who stands in his way will meet the same fate, and he then says to any of his followers that are listening that the Equalists now have the strength and numbers to form their own Republic City, and that he's going to overthrow the government and replace it with one that's "fairminded".

Meanwhile, Bolin has managed to talk Pabu into chewing them free of their ropes. Because apparently he's worked out a language to talk to Fire Ferrets in. Hee. Anyway, Amon rounds off his speech by saying that thanks to modern technology anybody can hold the power of a chi-block in the palm of their hand, and that after they have "freed" Republic City of bending, they're going to go on to do the same to the rest of the world. This is the official start of the Revolution that he's been talking about for so long. This is followed by an explosion, as an Equalist airship blows a hole in the ceiling and lets down ropes for Amon and his troupe to make their exit.

Then the Equalists set off bombs that they'd planted around the building, causing the ring to collapse and explode, presumably to squash the FIFFs underneath as well as to mark an official end to probending. They manage to get free due to the efforts of Pabu though, and Korra runs off after Amon. She fires herself up into the air via water jet, but she's unable to catch up with them. But just as she's about to fall to her presumed death, Lin comes in to save the day by grabbing her with a cable as she herself swings after Amon like Spider-Man. Lin then swings Korra up further with enough momentum to catch up with the Equalists, where she blasts most of them off of their platforms with firebending (some of which appear to die via slamming into the glass roof below, but we won't dwell on that).

Korra sees Amon looking directly at her, so she angrily blasts him too, but he calmly steps out of the way while his followers are knocked aside from the force of the blast. The Avatar takes time to look down, finding that not only is she actually really high up by this point, but that the Equalists have also blown up the metalbenders' boats and airships, while lie in flames around the arena. Lin makes it up onto the roof finally, and smashes an Equalist into the roof after lassooing him with a cable. The Lieutenant and some chi-blockers swing down after Lin attempts to anchor Amon's airship with her cables, and they punch her in the spine. But before the Lieutenant can start electrocuting her, Korra comes back for the rescue, blasting him with firebending. Korra and the Lieutenant start fighting each other, while Lin, who quickly recovered, disposes of the remaining chi-blockers and cables her way back onto the airship's ropes. Korra, meanwhile, manages to finally beat the Lieutenant, but falls back into the arena after the glass she's standing on shatters. Lin then dives in to save Korra, again, abandoning her pursuit of Amon to do so.

Korra thanks Lin for saving her life, and the metalbender tells her not to mention it. They both watch as Amon's airship makes its escape, and Lin admits that they've lost this one. The FIFFs come and give Korra a hug, while Lin curses herself for playing right into Amon's hands, and that she can't believe that Amon managed to do all of the damage that he did. Tenzin admits that now, thanks to tonight Republic City is now officially at war...

- Review: This episode, man... I had a feeling that the last episode was intended to be a breather one prior to some big attack in this one, but I had no idea just how much was going to happen here. We had the conclusion to the Probending plot, we had character development for both Tenzin and Lin, we had humour, action, an actual legitimate terrorist attack in an animated kids show... In an already good series, this was easily the best one so far.

Not bad for an episode that appears to be at least partially framed as a sports version of the Phantom of the Opera in basic details...

The acting was great, the animation was great, the music was great... Virtually no misteps in the entire thing, save for six fingered Toph. The fact that the entire thing managed to feel much, much longer than it's twenty minutes or so running time is real testament to what's going on here.

The hints into Tenzin and Lin's relationship were interesting, as where the flashbacks to Aang and co. I am kind of bemused as to where the show can go from here though. Oh, and special props go out to Jeff Bennett as the Announcer, aka Shiro Shinobi, who managed to make something of a joke character into a suprisingly likable supporting role... sort of. He was definately treated better than someone in his basic role normally is in such a show.

Overall, great episode, eager to see where the next episode, aptly called 'the Aftermath' goes with this. Hopefully not something involving Tarrlok holding Lin responsible for the whole mess, though if so I guess it can't be said to come out of left field, and replacing them with his taskforce, with him in central command, in an attempt to grab more power. We'll have to see, I guess.

And as a last bonus, here's a gif of the rather unfortunate advert that happened while Korra was in the midst of falling to her death...



  1. Actually, that's not an animation goof with Toph. She's holding out her fist, and what looks like an extra long pointy finger is actually the highlight of her right shoulder armor.

    Those cosplayers were pretty cute. And I guarantee you there will be people cosplaying as those cosplayers at a convention somewhere.

    Wow, we went from shipping episode with hilarious girly-running Bolin to terrorist attack with probably a lot of dead cops and the show's heroine knocking some mooks to their deaths. This isn't a bad thing, since the writing is so good.

  2. I really can't believe that there's anyone claiming that Amon isn't evil, even if of the "Well-Intentioned Extremist" sort; I'll be quite disappointed if they don't bring up how many non-benders would have to have been hurt and/or killed in his attack on the arena. (Which, of course, would be something that Tenzin should publicize the HELL out of, as evidence that Amon doesn't really care about nonbenders... but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't.)

    I do detect a budding bromance between Lin and Korra, though. And nice catch on the flashback; I didn't even see it at all watching live. Are the flashbacks being done as little single-frame inserts, like in the last episode of Evangelion?