Friday, October 18, 2013

Why the Last Episode of Korra was Damn Great Enough That I Am Writing a Post About It - Jarys


     Have you been watching Season 2 of The Legend of Korra? I highly recommend it. After a narratively self contained first season, Korra and the gang are off, going to interesting locales (mostly around the South Pole) and getting tangled in politics. Which is also family affairs.

      It's complicated.

      There are a handful of new characters, most notably Unalaq, his twin children, and Verrick. Unalaq, Korra's uncle and the leader of the Northern Water Tribe comes in to teach Korra spirit manipulating water bending, but little of that is done before he unpacks a political plot development: Unalaq wants to unite the Southern and Northern Water tribes for the spiritual good of the world. There's some good moral greys here, with Korra torn over who's side she should support, her uncle or her independence loving father. Unfortunately most of those details quickly collapse in a plot twist many could see coming, though not an inappropriate one.

     Unalaq is an interesting character. He starts cold, but wise, as much removed from the world as the spirits he represents. He seems incredibly focused on spirits and the price of his dedication is slowly revealed. Until Korra finds such misdeeds that she must oppose him, he never seems to be wrong. In fact, even after that point it's easy to see his side of things. I get the sense that his depth as an "bad guy" will not come solely from his blood relation with Korra. His turn to antagonist was a cool twist,  but not unexpected.

     But there's more of a twist here, that comes out in the last episode, "The Sting". On the wake of Unalaq's troops is the eccentric businessman named Verrick. Verrick up until this episode is played for either laughs or as the source of monumental bad ideas that spark the plot to further conflict. He pushes the Southern Water Tribe to revolt, he offers Korra and her allies escape, he pushes Asami to make risky business decisions, all the while smiling and giving a carefree and overconfident attitude. He seems the clown.

     Not so. For Verrick, early in the episode attempts to push Asami to trade by saying "if you can't make money in war, you just can't make money." And if you don't catch that, the evidence Mako finds revealing Verrick to be behind a number of conflict rousing crimes, all pushing for war, will really take you by surprise. his last appearance in the episode is one of incredibly more intelligence and malice than he has ever shown before. He squints and smiles as Asami signs away a controlling share in here company to him. His plan is revealed......he is entirely behind the war, has been weakening Asami's business through bad advice. He is all the more malicious than Unalaq as his is a position without idealism or principle, he manipulates only for personal profit.

     I rather hope they make him into the main antagonist......

     Before I go, let's talk about Bolin. I like Bolin, he's a dynamic fool, both silly and wise, and he has some strong characterization in the first season. Much of that came from his courtship of Korra, which gave much reason to cheer. Bolin is upfront about his desire to date Korra and keeps this distinct from his loyalty to her as a friend. He directly asks her out and when she says no due to feeling less then presentable he argues for her inalienable virtues. I especially appreciate that at least two of the virtues he extols refer to her physical strength and general prowess, showing that he is attracted to her for more than her looks or other male on female compliments I find tired. They go out and the date is not resolved. 

So I feel Bolin is well in his rights to be upset when he walks in on Mako and Korra kissing. He cries, he tosses sass at his brother, and even references his brown heart when Korra next tries to heal him. But he accepts the healing and is very mature when they talk things out about their friendship. Bolin doesn't blame Korra for not liking him and liking Mako anymore than he blames himself for liking her. He brings a point of maturity to a typically bitter comedic role as spurned suitor. I appreciated that because it shows a bit healthier take on dating than the shows I watched as a kid depicted. [EDIT: I am now wondering if I am rembering the details of the date correctly. I'll get back to you and correct any mistakes.]

But that is not the Bolin in the last episode. I was quite dissapoinyed. I will not spoil the details, but if you watched, please feel free to discuss in the comments. It's all out spoilers in here, folks. 

I'll keep watching and I hope you enjoy the show as much as I do. 

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