Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Legend Of Korra: “The Aftermath”

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Straight from the opening announcer (get well soon!) being replaced by Tarrlok at a press conference beating up on Chief Beifong—a much-appreciated condensation of the Republic City political stuff, which is probably necessary but not always fun—“The Aftermath” declares that the second half of Legend Of Korra is going to be different. Most obviously, there’s gonna be FUCKING GUNDAM. Or “mecha-tanks,” as Hiroshi calls them; they’re made out of platinum, which metalbenders can’t affect because it’s… really pure, or something. (Or because if they could, this whole “beat bending with technology” plot would be over with pretty fast.)

The fight scene in the factory was my favorite to date of the series—particularly the minimal score at the beginning, which reminded me a lot of the Zuko-Azula Agni Kai in "Sozin's Comet." The mecha-tanks kept rolling out well-designed surprises, like that nasty electrocution trick that got the metalbending cops, and we finally got some Tenzin action! (My boyfriend, who has seen some of the original series but none of Korra, came home from a bar while I was watching the mecha-fight scene, drunkenly pointed and said, “He has a different scoot! His scoot’s much better than Aang’s ball scoot.”) Aang didn’t use air offensively very much, especially once he started getting all the other elements down, so it was fun to see how a non-Avatar airbender would fight. We also keep finding out new things about metalbending every time Beifong dives into a fight. I’m glad we’ll get more of that with her going all Batman, particularly with all the interesting things the writers have come up with like the suit’s retractable sole for Toph-style seeing with your feet (liked how Beifong had to have her eyes closed to do it) and big stabby arm-spikes, another thing reminiscent of Full Metal Alchemist.

Speaking of, it turns out that Asami’s not bad—she’s just drawn that way. I’m really, really glad she didn’t turn out to be the femme fatale a lot of people speculated she was, because the femme fatale archetype is so goddamn trite. She’s practically been a blank slate until now, but once we start seeing more of her than nauseating teen-couple Eskimo kisses, she’s actually a whole lot like Korra—her competitive grin driving the racecar echoed the one Korra sometimes gets when she’s sparring, she barges right in on important meetings, she sasses the chief of police. And of course there’s her stone-cold takedown of her dad and the lieutenant. With a few more washes of character, I could see her and Korra ending up as friends, especially now that she, Mako, Bolin, and Korra aren’t going to be going back to separate homes at the end of the day, a living situation I could see resulting in a tighter group vibe more like the original show’s.

So hypotheticals: I was a guest on this podcast the other week, and late in it came up that one of the hosts is convinced that the writers are going to kill at least one of the main characters, specifically Bolin. My immediate reaction was along the lines of “Oh my god, you guys have been watching way too much Whedon and Game Of Thrones.”Adults can sometimes analyze this show like it has access to the same toolbox as Breaking Bad, in an era where a common hallmark of being a Very Serious TV Show is the moment where the writers sacrifice a well-liked character on the altar of “LOOK, SHIT JUST GOT REAL.”

If you’re watching Korra online without all the commercials for sugary cereal (as many of you are), it’s easy to forget that it airs on Nickelodeon at the end of a Saturday-morning-cartoon block. It’s a sequel to a show that, while comparatively serious and complex, is hardly dark—no main characters died or were permanently damaged (Jet doesn’t count as a main character and besides, it was really unclear), all but two of the villains came around to the side of good, and even the two ones who wouldn’t weren’t killed by the victorious heroes. Killing someone big would be a disservice to the actual Nickelodeon audience — if Bolin died, for example, the show would have to turn into a huge, huge bummer for a significant amount of time if the characters are to have any continuity. Froot Loops didn’t advertise on Season 6 of Buffy for a reason. But what do you think?

  • Despite it having been pointedly set up for a couple episodes now and being the purest of fan service, the Cabbage Corp. punch line and statue were delightful.
  • I really liked watching how comfortable Mako and Bolin are as a team — the wordless glance before they do the perfectly coordinated sneeze-trip-tackle is a neat look at what their lives must have been like before moving into the stadium.
  • “Do you think your dad knows about this tunnel?”
  • Aw, even poor Tahno’s hair is droopy now. After losing his bending, they’re drawing him like a human being rather than an anime villain.
  • Swimwear’s gotten really modest since  “The Beach.”
  • Funniest moment of the week: the loud metal clunk when Mako and Bolin drop the unconscious Beifong, followed by Bolin using Tenzin’s limp arms to gesticulate along with his nervous “Oh, hello, Mr. Sato!” babbling.
  • Tastiest visual of the week: The metalbender cops silhouetted against white as they walk from the dark tunnel into the bright mecha-tank factory, then the “camera” adjusting to the bright light to reveal all the Amon banners.
  • I had a friend translate the slogan on the banners, as a shot lingered on it for a while in a way that seemed significant at the time, but all it says is “Ah Mung Is The Answer.” Before I got hold of that friend, all I can say about my efforts to figure it out for myself using this site, which tries to translate a user’s crappy, MS-Paint-esque attempts at drawing Chinese characters, is that my notes for this week include “OH FUCK TRACKPAD CALLIGRAPHY I GIVE UP.”
  • Korra gets knocked out when she’s thrown against a pipe, but no flashbacks like the previous two times when she was knocked out by electricity and getting chi-punched in the neck. Significant?
  • Nick doesn't supply stills, as I suppose they're worried about leaks, and the DVDs they send me are guarded against screenshots. I usually grab something from the previous NEXT WEEK ON KORRA, but they didn't have one last week. I have to be out of the house all afternoon, but if anyone wants to start a thread of screenshots of the moments that best embody the episode, you will have my gratitude tonight when I return home to swap out the crappy clip art image.