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Korra continued with “Long Live the Queen”. Did it continue the show’s upswing in quality or are we faced with another step back?
Korra and Asami are being transported in chains across a vast desert back to the Earth Kingdom. Meanwhile, Zaheer brings Mako and Bolin in to the Earth Queen herself, looking to trade the Avatar for the location of her “stolen” airbenders.
First off, they finally gave Asami something to do besides handing Korra free things. It was great seeing her engineer the escape and be the one to save the day. I mean, Korra then promptly caused the airship to crash and refused to own up to it, but that’s beside the point.
After the airship crashes, Korra and her captors (Kaptors?) are forced to work together to first repair the ship then build a “sand sailor” after the ship is destroyed by a sandshark. It’s an interesting plot B with a lot of potential. They needed each other to survive, blurring the line between prisoner and jailer.
Obviously they didn’t have a ton of time to spend on it, but I do wish they had done more. It seemed too clean. The Captain would disagree with Korra, Korra would say something back, and then the Captain would agree. Everyone pretty much trusted one another right off the bat. Which is weird. The way the rest of the Kingdom is, you’d think the soldiers would be a little more indoctrinated. They’re told the Avatar is an enemy of the Kingdom, they treat her as such. Not to mention, Korra and Asami should’ve been the most on guard as these guys had orders to bring them in.
The only other issue I had with the subplot, is that this was a golden opportunity to showcase what Asami brings to the table and they kind of skimped on it. They started good but lost it when the ship crashed. They showed her suggesting and constructing things, which I guess is nice. It would just have had a bigger impact if she had taken command of the situation. Been their whole reason for salvation.
All-in-all, I think they did a decent job with the time they were given, they just didn’t push it beyond “decent”.
We’re now spending more time with the Red Lotus and with most of the group’s mystery gone, this is normally where interesting characters take over. The Avatar franchise has long been rife with interesting characters above and beyond the realm of “kid’s show”. Zaheer is a good example of this. His group, however, is not.
We get a little bit of characterization to be sure. Ghazan seems to be more lighthearted and loyal, Ming-Hua is quick to violence, and P’Li is… Zaheer’s girlfriend? Wife? But that’s pretty much it. Not exactly three dimensional (so far). Most of their characterization is their relation to other characters, and that’s about as weak a characterization as you can get.
We haven’t spent a ton of time with them, sure, but I don’t think it’s a matter of having enough time. After all, we learned pretty much everything we need to know about Zaheer in the first minute or so of his introduction. We’ve had that time and more with the others.
To be fair, Bolin had a one-on-two with Ghazan and Ming-Hua this episode, and we learned Ghazan may have been raised by his sister and maybe, just maybe, has an unacknowledged romance between he and Ming-Hua. It’s definitely a start, but come on, he has a family and these two might like each other? That’s not really above and beyond.
Yes, it’s a bit nitpicky, but The Legend of Korra has the double edged sword of coming after Avatar: The Last Airbender. If this was its own show, I don’t think I’d be as hard as on it. The Red Lotus’ character development isn’t bad, but I want Azulas, Irohs, and Jets. Deep, complex characters who are more than their station or allegiances. The first series had that in spades, but here we have only a couple.
I hope to see this soon change.
The Red Lotus storms the Earth Queen’s court room and easily dispatch her guards. Zaheer, in a pretty badass move, bends the air from the Queen’s lungs and creates a vacuum around her head, suffocating her as, in pure zealot fashion, he starts in on his powerful diatribe.
Forgetting for a minute that the Earth Queen couldn’t hear him due to the vacuum he created around her, I had a few questions about this speech. Now, it’s very well written and fits the character of Zaheer very well, but that’s not my problem.
My problem is that it mostly pertains to how she’s abused her power and wantonly deprived her people of freedom. I mean, that’s not really a strike against Queens, it’s a strike against one specific Queen.
This man, so driven by his anarchistic, anti-government rhetoric, a man who wants to see the world thrown into complete disorder, berates her for being a bad Queen. It felt a little out of place to me, I was expecting a stirring pro-citizen, anti-establishment speech.
After all, he’s killing her because he was always going to kill her. That’s his goal, to bring down the power structures of the world. It’s not like he’s going to just force the leaders away, because after he had struck down her guards he went straight to asphyxiation without offering to spare her should she step down. Plus, it’s not like he feared military retaliation because I’m sure killing the Queen would have a worse punishment than merely threatening her.
So if he was always going to kill her to bring down Ba Sing Se’s government, you’re doing this mostly because you don’t believe in Queens, not because she was a bad one. I suppose it could be because he feels no one is free under government and that her prisons are a grotesque example of that, but he’d definitely kill her even if she was benevolent.
I’m glad Bolin didn’t pull out metalbending to bust out of prison, although we may see it in the future. The Last Airbender played a lot with overcoming obstacles and that still has a place in Legend of Korra.
Metalbending isn’t present in all earthbenders and, in fact, it’s kind of rare. I’d like to see Bolin be unable to metalbend and overcome it regardless. To see him be able to kick ass because he works hard at tradition earthbending and not because he gets a special power (just because he’s a central character of course).
However, they’re bringing up believing in yourself as the theme to his metalbending, so he’ll probably pull it out when he most needs it. When he really believes. It’s a good enough message, but it’s still a bit worn and predictable.