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The Legend of Korra — Operation Beifong Review

"Behold, I Become Beifong Destroyer of Paternity Theories"

The Legend of Korra continued this week with the excitingly titled “Operation Beifong”. This episode had a bunch of solid earth bending, a reappearance of an old character, and a reveal most of us should have seen coming a mile away. Was it especially good or especially bad? I don’t know. It was just… more of the same? If you’ve loved the rest of the season, you’ll love this. If you’ve had some problems with the rest of the season, you’ll have problems here too.

Let’s break it down.

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Plot

In what I assume is Operation Beifong, Bolin, Lin, and Opal head into enemy territory to retrieve Su and her family. Luckily, Toph shows up to help out. How did she get from the swamp to Zaofu so quickly? I’m not sure, it was never explained. Meanwhile, Kuvira is about to test her new “Spirit Ray”, a superweapon capable of destroying an entire city.

Meanwhile meanwhile, Korra searches for a way to get the spirits on her side and help her defend Republic City against Kuvira’s inevitable attack.

Spiritual Turmoil

So as I said, Korra is looking to the spirits for help against Kuvira. They ignore her in the Spirit Wilds of Republic City so she heads into the Spirit World to try and win them over. They listen to her, but refuse to help her. They make it a point to keep out of human wars and, by helping Korra, they’d do the same thing that Kuvira is doing.

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Which is a valid point. The spirits have been pretty neutral throughout the series, I mean, Aang barely had any help from spirits. They were more of a sounding board than a fighting force. Sure, they’re closer to the material world now, but their function remains more or less the same.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully expect them to fight. We’ve already seen how the spirit vines in the Spirit Wilds can be a formidable enemy when provoked. Plus, when the spirits were corrupted into fighting during Book 2, they were gigantic monsters. Who’s to say they couldn’t do that on their own?

Maybe it’ll be cool. Kuvira’s highly trained, mechanized army versus an army of spirits. I can see the battles now. It’d also be a pretty good metaphor for the world they’re in. As technology gains a bigger and bigger foothold in the world, the people’s need for spirituality lessens and lessens.

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I just have this niggling fear that the spirit’s switch from of noninterference to interference will be super inorganic. They have enough episodes left that they could develop it more. Kuvira’s not attacking for two whole weeks and Korra sure isn’t doing anything in the meantime. I just want something more than a last minute impassioned speech to change their mind. Give me development. Give me something real.

Zhu Li Never Makes Mistakes…

When Zhu Li “betrayed” Varrick, we all assumed she was doing it to sabotage Kuvira, right? I mean, sure, she had some solid complaints about Varrick, but we didn’t really think she was going to fully betray him. Although, how cool would that have been? Wouldn’t have seen it coming, that’s for sure.

Anyway, in this episode Zhu Li’s betrayal comes to bear. Surprise! The thing is, this was like the worst betrayal in the history of sabotage. Think about it. She’s obviously suspect number one when any sabotage becomes apparent. Then, in the end, when a part is removed to make the machine unsafe, she still has it on her. Maybe it’s not all her fault. Maybe Varrick is the idea guy, and she’s just the best at making it work. HOWEVER, we’re told by Bolin that “Zhu Li never makes mistakes”, so… either Bolin doesn’t know her too well, or Zhu Li just is the worst at sabotage.

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It’s a bit nitpicky, I know. She may not have had time to dispose of that pin. It’s just so weirdly inconsistent to me for the show to build her up as this paragon of planning, this lady capable of pretty much anything, and then have her make a really obvious mistake. This smacks of wanting to get this storyline wrapped up as soon as possible. Which, is, I hate to say it… a bit lazy.

Questionable Tactics

So when the participants of Operation Beifong are forced to fight Kuvira’s forces at the foot of her superweapon, some questionable tactics are had. By that I mean they knock the gun off course, but they don’t destroy it. Most of this conflict could be avoided if that gun was out of commission for even a little while.

It’s not like they were up against a wall, they had a couple of opportunities to mess it up at least. Su had enough room to fight Kuvira on her own, no one else could spare a second or two to break this thing? Su and Lin are supposed to be some of the best metal benders in the world, you’re telling me neither one had enough time to bend the barrel? Drive a metal panel through the wiring? Hell, Toph shows up and takes out a bunch of soldiers. She couldn’t have pulled that giant land-based gun into a hole? Come on, you guys. This is war.

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Other Thoughts

I like the parallel they’re drawing between the Spirit Ray and our world’s WMDs. It’s a big idea to play with, that of “just because we can, doesn’t mean we should”. I’m kind of sad they didn’t go further with Republic City wanting a ray of their own. After all, that’s kind of what happened to us after the invention of nuclear weapons. Once you let the genie out of the bottle, it’s impossible to get it back in. It would have a cool conflict to see play out.

I’m a little sad that Opal patched things up with Bolin so fast. I mean, at the end of the last episode she seemed really hurt. It would’ve been cool to see him to try and repair their relation over the rest of the reason. It made me invested. I cared what happened to them. When Bolin had to split off to try and save Zhu Li, I was into it! Bolin and Opal had to get back together. What would happen if Bolin didn’t make it? Well forget all that, because at the end that conflict is all wrapped up. They’re back together again! No worries!

Well there you go guys! Lin’s father is some random guy! Things didn’t work out! I actually loved this part. So many people have tried to speculate for so long on the identity of her father. So many theories on who it could be from the original show. When it turns out to be such a mundane explanation, well it’s great. Kudos to the creators for that.

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Rating
7.0
Pros
  • Solid Su vs. Kuvira Fight
  • The Reveal of Lin's Father
  • Prison Break
  • Surly Toph
Cons
  • Fanboy Bolin
  • Lame Zhu Li Mistake
  • Refusal to Take Out the Weapon

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