While the excerpt for this review may not be accurate from an episode standpoint, both “In Harm’s Way” and “The Metal Clan” really felt like the season started turning the gears towards what this season will become. True, we already knew about the effects of Harmonic Convergence, and the rebirth of the Airbenders, but these two episodes hammered them home, and set up what will hopefully be an eventful final eight episodes.
“In Harm’s Way” concluded the story we started in the “The Earth Queen” two weeks ago (has it really been that long?). The Earth Queen had apparently been snatching up the emerging Airbenders, and forcing them to train and become loyal to her in order to be a part of her army! That’s nuts, and mean! And let’s not forget, the Dai Li (still hate them!) kidnapped Kai at the end of the last episode, so now time was truly of the essence.
Many have noted how differently the Earth Queen is from how her father was when we met him in The Last Airbender. This episode showed how things have changed, as she not only used the guise of helping her to get rid of Korra and crew, but also more-or-less declared war on the Avatar!…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Sorry!
A very interesting part of the story focused on Kai’s “training” to be a soldier for the Earth Queen. And by training, I mean lessons in brutality, and basically brainwashing. This is dark stuff in any cartoon, but here it was not only believable, but you truly sympathized with every Airbender there. I especially was rooting for Kai, and was waiting for him to deck his trainer.
This episode raised some interesting questions, intentional or not. What is the range of power a ruler should have? (Not trying to start an anarchy here, just here me out…) As Bumi pointed out, The Earth Queen did have the right to conscript her citizens. And technically, all the Airbenders were born in the Earth Kingdom. Though her abuse of power was evident, was she truly in the wrong for wanting her citizens to defend her? What of the rights of the Airbenders themselves? Shouldn’t they have a say in what they do and who they serve? Food for thought.
Returning to the story at hand, Mako and Bolin delivered the news to Korra (sadly, leaving their family behind), and the question soon became…where are they? It was fun to see the new Team Avatar retread where old Team Avatar went in their series, and when you think about it, it made sense where they went first. And it was through here we learned more about Jinora’s….”superpower”.
What “power” you ask? Well, remember in Harmonic Convergence happened, and Jinora floated out of the sky to save Korra? You do? Good, well we learned that wasn’t a one time deal. Jinora can use an astral projection to go to places her body can’t go. And, she can find people she’s made a connection with. So that’s one half of the mystery solved. Now if only they’d explain how she got the power and why it somehow revived Korra….
But that’ll be explained later I’m sure…hopefully….shall we move on? Anyway, when the old Dai Li base turned up a bust, Jinora used her connection to Kai to find out where the captured Airbenders were. And boy where they close!
Just when the episode (and the upcoming jailbreak) was about to hit full power aweseomeness, we get a world-building story courtesy of Lin!
Apparently, the reason Korra was sheltered in the South Pole as a child was because Zaheer and his crew tried to kidnap her. It was only due to the efforts of Tonraq, Zuko, and Chief Sokka (name drop!) that the plot was foiled, and they were locked up. All nice and tidy right? Except, no one knows why they wanted Korra in the first place. How much do you want to bet we’re going to find out?
Back on track, the ending of the episode dealt with the freeing of the Airbenders. Equal parts hilarity and epic fights, we saw both Team Avatar vs. the Dai Li, and the true madness of the Earth Queen. The escape was excellent, especially seeing Bolin rocket the team onto the air bison.
The ending was touching, as Tenzin not only released all the captives, but said that he and Korra would transport anyone who didn’t want to go to the Northern Air Temple. That they weren’t “someone’s property”, and that they “had a choice”. This goes back to what I was talking about earlier. Though simple, it meant a lot, and it showed, as everyone agreed to go to the temple. The Airbenders are coming back!
…what’s that? Oh, what about Zaheer and crew? Did they save the fourth person of their crew? Yes, yes they did. In easily the biggest battle of the season, we saw all elements on display as each side tried to thwart the other. There was dragons, and mind explosions, and showing off, and Zaheer and P’Li rejoicing that they were reunited. “Really? Now?”?
All in all, a fantastic episode. And not the only one we got that!
“The Metal Clan” was much simpler in nature. With Tenzin going to the Nothern Air Temple to train his new acolytes, Korra and crew remained on the hunt for new Airbenders. This led them to Zaofu, a city entirely made of metal (sound familiar?), and a city that made Lin very uncomfortable.
The city itself was a marvel to see. The Legend of Korra became famous early on for its Steampunk approach to Republic City. And Zaofu easily is the closet thing we’ve seen to our modern world in the series. Maybe an indication of things to come in their world?
Zaofu had metal houses, elevators, metal art, and the birth of magnets…courtesy of an old friend. Here come the magnet trains!
The real twist was the reveal that the city leader, and mother of the new Airbender, was Lin’s half-sister, Suyin. And boy do they not get along! Throughout the episode, we saw Lin’s discomfort at being in the presence of her sister. And though we get Suyin’s depiction of events, and how she believes things went down, I think Lin has a different side that needs to be told. Hopefully it’ll be told soon!
Character building is a very complicated thing, you have to do it in a way that doesn’t come off as forced. Thankfully, Suyin’s was masterfully handled. A woman of many skills, and a mother of five, in the course of 22 odd minutes we learned a great deal about her, and how different she is from Lin. Syurin believes in second chances, and not being fixed to one spot. Whereas Lin isn’t so flexible as we’ve all learned.
Another new addition is Suyin’s daughter, Opal, who is also an Airbender. Kind, gentle, humble, and timid, Opal makes another good addition to the team. And one that catches the eye of Bolin…yeah.
I’ll make this quick, Bolin is the comedy of Legend of Korra, and that’s fine! Who doesn’t love Bolin? But last season he was really mishandled in my opinion. One of the key reasons for this was his “relationships” with, as Mako said so elegantly, “a dumb mover star”, and “a cold, psychotic, ice princess”. While Opal is easily the best them all, I wish they picked a different story for Bolin.
…and now I’ll move on.
The whole Zaofu storyline focused on the strained relationship between Suyin and Lin. Which came to a head in multiple ways. Lin bursting out at the dinner party was very interesting, but the end scene between her and Opal was what sealed this deal that more is going on here. Lin’s cold and downright heartless interaction with her niece Opal was a shocker, and had I believe many of us shouting “WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!?!?!” Especially when that last image crossed our televisions.
Not everything was about Lin and Suyin. As we got an update on Meelo and Ikki and their training of the new Airbenders. Who continue to grow with a *ahem* curious new addition….ok let’s cut right to it, it was ZAHEER!!!!
While some may see his infiltration as a simple attempt to get to Korra, those who pay close attention will see something more. I define it as an obsession, an obsession with Airbenders and their culture. From the way he moved through the training, to the way he said the proverb, and his focus on getting the Airbending staff before leaving, everything points to him being somewhat obsessed with this culture. The question now is, “why is he obsessed?”
Oh, and Zaheer vs. Kya? AWESOME! Kya didn’t get to show off her moves much last season, I’m glad to see she’s getting her time in the spotlight.
In the end, “In Harm’s Way” and “The Metal Clan” truly furthered the story for this season. In my review of the first three episodes, I talked about how they were doing a slow burn season this time around. They’re still doing it, and it totally works. We’re getting crumbs and hints and question abound that’ll hopefully all be answered by seasons end.
Between the epic battles, the great deal of worldbuilding, new characters, new relationship to explore, and a potential epic story, season 3 really is “Change”-ing things for Legend of Korra. And I couldn’t be happier.
Oh yeah, oh yeah, TOPH’S ALIVE!!!!!….most likely….that is all.