Review: The Legend of Korra – Book 3, Episode 8

Okay, show of hands: Who else screamed when the end credits started to roll?

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After a trio of fairly low-key, character-focused episodes (none of which followed Team Korra, interestingly enough), LoK kicked it into high gear again this week, hammering us with a fluidly animated and genuinely suspenseful action sequence followed by an investigation, a conspiracy, and the setup for what looks to be an explosive ninth episode.

Truthfully, I like LoK a little better during its quieter moments, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the heck out of an epic Bender Battle, too. And it’s always a treat when this show goes all hard-boiled detective on us. Anytime Mako puts on his Inspector Hat is a good one in my book – I like him best when he’s cool-headed and logical, developing strategies, spotting inconsistencies, and working to make sense of what he sees, rather than simply agreeing with what his elders tell him.

He’s a good friend (yes, friend, and I’m so glad for that) for Korra to have around, since she (and Bolin, AND Asami) are all generally pretty trusting of the people around them, particularly the people they like. Korra is much less hardheaded than she used to be, it’s true (look how she backed down when both Lin and Su reasoned with her to return to Republic City), but I’m starting to think her greatest weakness was never her stubbornness or pride: Rather, it’s that she keeps putting her faith in the wrong people.

Lin has proven time and again that she’s trustworthy and, while prickly about it, really does have Korra’s best interests at heart. Meanwhile, Su had a traitor working as her right-hand man and supposedly knew nothing about it. If nothing else, this doesn’t speak well of her judgment (and I think it speaks to a whole lot more than that). And yet when Su arrives at Korra’s door urging her to run off into the wilderness and dish out some good old-fashioned Avatar justice, the gang doesn’t think twice about doing it.

Now don’t get me wrong. Su is friendly, accommodating, reasonable, and a good teacher. I think Korra likes Su for the right reasons (as opposed to Tarlock, whom she liked because he stroked her ego). It also doesn’t help that Lin is basically rolling crit fails on all of her Charisma checks. But even so, it’s frustrating that Korra doesn’t look past that and pause to think about who’s really looking out for her, here. It’s understandable, mind you (who wouldn’t be more inclined to listen to the person who treats you like an adult, rather than like a child in need of protection?), but it’s still frustrating.

Ultimately I think Korra’s greatest challenge as the Avatar (and as an adult) will be finding a way to look past her personal biases and see things as they are, rather than taking them at face value or the way she wants them to be. The entirety of Team Korra could use some leveling up with that, Mako included (he’s good with facts but less so with feelings). Korra’s gotten a lot better, but she still has a long way to go.

All of which is to say that I’ve felt a little antsy about Su since Day One, and now I’m just about convinced that we’re in for a major reveal in the coming weeks. I’ve made the mistake of overanalyzing LoK’s characters and plot points in the past (too much Game of Thrones and Orphan Black have my Conspiracy-O-Meter on constant high alert), so I may be way off base here, but Su’s Shifty Eyes when Korra told her about Aiwei set off about a dozen alarm bells, and it strikes me as more than a little suspicious that Varrick just HAPPENED to overhear Mako second-guessing the evidence.

Did Su and Varrick plan to throw Aiwei under the bus if the time came? Or was Aiwei in on it the whole time, escaping solely so that Su could send Korra after him on a pretense of “justice,” when really she just wanted to lure Korra into a trap? Or am I just way, way overthinking this story line, and Su is actually a nice lady who truly thinks Korra can capture a traitor while still managing to evade and/or defeat a gang of hardened criminals? Because honestly, that last one sounds the most unbelievable to me right now. My Admiral Ackbar Senses are definitely tingling.

Why Su (or Aiwei, for that matter) would work with the Criminal Quartet is anyone’s guess. What Zaheer actually wants with Korra is anyone’s guess, too. All I know is, this web is getting mighty tangled, and it looks like Team Korra just threw themselves right into the middle of it. I suspect we’ll be in for some major revelations next week, and I for one can’t wait to see just how deep this whole mess goes.

This, That, and The Other

  • …AND WHILE WE’RE AT IT, how did Su know that hitting P’Li in her third eye would momentarily stop her from bending!? Am I crazy? Please, tell me I’m not crazy. 
  • “We’ll always have kale.” I love how the Bolin/Opal relationship is growing at a gradual, organic pace. It’s not LoK’s most electric relationship, but it may just be the easiest one to ‘ship. 
  • Sitting Mako on the far side of the dinner table was a pretty clever (not to mention hilarious) way for the creators to acknowledge the way he’s been on the fringes of this entire Book. He had plenty of screen time the past two seasons, so it doesn’t really bother me, but it was nice to see him actually getting to do stuff this week. 
  • And speaking of Mako, did anyone else notice how, when the bomb went off, he threw himself on top of Asami to protect her from the blast? (Meanwhile, Korra shielded the entire party. Like a Boss.) Interesting bit of nonverbal character development, there. 
  • Lavabending feels like the kind of thing only the Avatar should be able to do. Maybe the increased rate of intermarriage between the different nations has created new specialized forms of bending? One of these days Bryke have got to come out with a Mendel Chart of Bending Inheritance.

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