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The Legend of Korra – “In Harm’s Way” and “The Metal Clan” Review: On Shakey Ground

The Legend of Korra Book 3 continued this week with two more episodes: “In Harm’s Way” and “The Metal Clan”. Like last week, I’ll be reviewing these two episodes together as one. Let’s get started, shall we?

SPOILERBENDING BELOW, MY FRIENDS.

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PLOTS!

In the North, Zuko, Korra’s Dad, and her cousins attempt fend off an attack by Zaheer and his gang. What follows is a fantastic fight sequence that ends with Zaheer springing his main squeeze from her elaborate ice prison.

MEANWHILE, Korra is upset because the Earth Kingdom’s Queen lied to her, using her for her own ends. Which, again, is a little frustrating because the same thing has happened to her a bunch. Literally every authority figure besides Tenzin, Lin, and arguably Turlock and her dad has done this to her. She keeps falling for it!

However, they eventually learn the Earth Kingdom is kidnapping the new airbenders to use as some kind of elite army (including Kai, the new thief airbender Jinora is sweet on) and they undertake a covert mission to get them back. Halfway through, Lin shows up from Republic City on a mission to hide Korra from Zaheer’s gang. Korra refuses to go with her, forcing Lin to join the rescue mission, and… they do that. Airbenders are saved! They join the Air Temples! Tenzin tears up! Emotions!

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Free of the Earth Kingdom, the group heads on over to the Metal Clan, a city made entirely of, you guessed it, metal. Home to what appears to be most of the world’s metal benders, it’s actually a pretty cool and refreshing setting. Anyway, we find out that the city was constructed almost entirely by Lin’s half sister, Su. There’s a sea of animosity between her and Lin and it appears the Bei Fong household was not a completely happy one. Anyway, Su’s family are real close and seem too good to be true, which tells me they’ll eventually be outed as up to some reaaal unsavory business.

Speaking of, Varrick has apparently escaped prison and now lives amongst the Metal Clan, helping to build to a magnetic rail system. And, just… ugh. I’ll get to that in a second.

HOWEVER, more interestingly, Zaheer — having shaved his head and beard (looking more like Henry Rollins by the minute) infiltrates Tenzin’s Air Temple at Republic City under the guise of a villager suddenly struck with airbending. He passes himself off for a while, getting close to the kids, until he’s discovered by Tenzin’s sister. There’s another fantastic fight sequence and Zaheer escapes yet again.

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Villain Sublot Needs to be Plot Plot

Man, Korra is getting less interesting by the episode. I think it’s because her goals are losing focus with each passing conflict. First it was to save Republic City from the spirits, then find the airbenders around the world, then save a specific group of airbenders, now it’s teaching Lin’s niece about airbending. And I don’t really care if she learns it, it’s not that interesting. To add to it, the Bei Fong family troubles are going to get old real quick. I feel like its only merit would be finding out who Lin and Su’s dads were (they have different fathers, Toph didn’t need no man around). However they said specifically that neither know who their fathers were, so even that’s out.

There’s a solid belief in storytelling that says its best to have your protagonist as close to the main conflict as possible. The main conflict here being Zaheer and his gang hunting down the Avatar for mysterious reasons no one but they understand. It’s interesting, its a good mystery, and it’s the best thing so far in the season.

However, Korra feels miles away from it. It feels like she’s goofing off until Zaheer catches up with her. I hate to keep comparing it to Avatar: The Last Airbender, but the conflict was always on top of them in that show. If it wasn’t the Fire Nation ruthlessly hunting them down, it was evil spirits, or people out to make Aang a weapon, or something else. With Korra, it’s always just semi-forced emotional stuff and I constantly find myself wishing we’d see more Zaheer. At least that plot is interesting.

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Oh. Hey. Varrick’s back. Cooool?

Literally, out of no where, Varrick (the war profiteer and master manipulator from the previous season for you guys not in the know) comes walking into dinner and back into our lives. The characters seem far less shocked and/or angry than they should be about a known escaped fugitive who nearly orchestrated a bloody war amongst Korra’s people and directly caused them incredible pain hanging around like nothing happened.

That’s not my point though. Why is Varrick back? It’s not for comic relief, we have about a dozen of those characters. I thought his story was done. It felt done. Although, who knows, maybe he’s behind even more conflict again. Or maybe he never stopped. He’s obviously up to something with the Metal Clan. We’ll have to see.

I just have a bad feeling the writers liked writing him so much and that certain members of the fandom loved his non sequitur behavior to such a degree they brought him back for more gags. Gags on gags on gags.

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The villains subplot is still the best part of the story so far. The action holds up nicely and the animation is great on the whole. My biggest gripe so far would be that they’re not really doing anything with Korra or the others. They really need them closer to the conflict. You wouldn’t need to force family drama or artificial situations. Your juicy parts of the story will flow naturally out of all that conflict.  I’d give “In Harm’s Way” a 6/10 and “The Metal Clan” a 7/10 for pushing the more interesting subplot forward. In total we get.

Rating
6.5
Pros
  • The Action is Still Amazing
  • The Animation is Great
  • Villain Subplot is Moving Along
  • Some Genuine Funny Moments
Cons
  • Korra Plot Feels Like it Stalled
  • Forced Emotional Drama
  • Seemingly Random Inclusion of Varrick

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