Friday, August 9, 2013

Legend of Korra (Episodes 3-4)

(Catch up on previous episodes here)

When I last left off the saga of the new Avatar, Korra had experienced her first boost of confidence stemming from her success with the professional bending team The Fire Ferrets. But in the world of Avatars, adversity is never far away. For Korra, the third episode of the show reveals just how sinister a threat she faces, and hints at how trying her journey will become.

The episode opens with some bad news for The Fire Ferrets. Having made the championships, the organizer of the league informs them that they must come up with a share of the prize money. Mako and Bolin have no way of coming up with it, and neither does Korra, who has never had need for money. In order to help the team, Bolin ends up taking a job with The Triple Threats, one of the many triad gang of benders that roam Republic City, using their bending gifts to extort others. These gangs, and the pro-bending promoter, are great examples of how Republic City is based on New York during the 1930's and 1940's. These are the kind of nuanced touches that the show, and its predecessor, have always done so well, and which transcend it far beyond being just a children's cartoon.

After a day of work, Mako grows concerned that Bolin has not returned and seeks out Korra's help to find him. They discover Bolin has been taken by Amon's equalist soldiers. As they engage them, we discover the true terror behind Amon. His soldiers have been trained in a technique known as "chi blocking" which can temporarily nuetralize bending. However, this is nothing compared to the real threat that is to be revealed when Korra and Mako infiltrate an equalist rally being billed as The Revelation. It is there that viewers first learn Amon's terrifying secret--his ability to take away a bender's power permenantly.

Though Korra succeeds in rescuing Bolin before it's too late, she is obviously traumatized by what she's seen. As episode four opens, she is haunted by the fear of losing her bending. This fear is strong enough to prevent her from joining Councilmen Tarrlok's task force established to put an end to Amon's reign of terror. Tarrlok eventually bullies her into joining, using the press to ambush her into making a decision. After a successful raid on a chi blocker training camp, Korra publically challenges Amon to a duel. Foolishly trusting his honor, she is ambushed by a squad of his henchman. Once her bending is disabled, Amon threatens to take away her bending, but lets her ago, claiming to have a more devious fate in store for her. 

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