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The Legend of Korra – The Calling Review

"Child's Play"
The Legend of Korra aired its new episode, "The Calling", this week. I'm of two minds about it. On one hand, it wasn't a bad episode and had a pretty strong payoff at the end, but the kids. The kids seemed to ruin it a little for me (I'll get into it), but it's tough for me to mark that against the show because kids are the target audience. I grew up with Avatar: The Last Airbender, but I'm now older than I think they're aiming for. It's a tough one. In any case, lets get on with it: Screen shot 2014-10-25 at 2.55.55 PM


So with Korra missing and the trouble Kuvira is stirring up, Tenzin sends his three kids, Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo, out to find the Avatar. In the process, they run afoul of the new Earth Empire. Meanwhile, Toph's unconventional training starts to sink in and Korra finally begins to understand how to get her Avatar groove back.

Quality Time With the Children

So as I said at the start, the biggest problem I had with the episode was that we spent most of it with Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo. The childlike humor, the repeated gags ("Meelo thinks he's in charge, ha!" times 100), and the insistent bickering weighed the whole episode down. And again, it's hard for me to blame this entirely on the show. Certainly these kids work best as side characters and aren't really ones to hang an episode on, but they're not bad characters. There's depth to them and their dynamic makes sense. The main issue I believe is that I've simply outgrown this kind of thing. In Avatar: The Last Airbender, I think I would have been fine with this kid's quest, but that was almost a decade ago. I've grown up and my tastes have matured. Fart jokes need context for me to laugh at them. Farts alone don't do it for me. I don't really want to brush it off either. I've rewatched Batman: The Animated Series and the rest of Bruce Timm's DCAU and while it's rough in some parts, it's still really watchable. It doesn't seem to pander to an age range, it just entertains everyone. That's the kind of thing Avatar: The Last Airbender was known for and the kind of caliber I hold Korra to as well. I get writing for an audience, but that audience includes a lot of non-tweens. After all, Nickelodeon, isn't that reason you started showing it on the Internet? Screen shot 2014-10-25 at 2.59.41 PM

On Toph's Final Lesson

So Toph's final lesson is that there are things that Korra can learn from her enemies. After all, Amon was for equality, Unalaq brought back the spirits, and Zaheer wanted freedom. They just went about it in an unbalanced way. Korra wasn't taking those lessons and moving on. She was keeping those fights with her, constantly battling them. How could she face the future while being stuck in the past? Outside of the obvious need for closure, this also brings up something that has been sorely missed in the series. The enemies weren't technically wrong. Amon had a good point. From what we've seen, benders do get a favored position in society. Look at all the jobs only benders can do. The police are made up almost entirely of benders and they're tasked with keeping the non-benders in check (most of whom may be poor, downtrodden, and prone to crime in order to make ends meet, re: the jobs thing). Not to mention how you stuck you'd be in the military. Can't bend? Well you can labor on these airships, I guess. The good jobs go to the magic people! But after Amon was defeated that point was never raised again. Sure, Amon being a bender might discredit him, but his message is still true. The same goes for Unalaq, the world was spiritually imbalanced, and Zaheer, the world leaders were horrible at their jobs. However, after Korra defeats them society mostly goes back to the status quo. Even after the spirits came back, Korra was searching for a way to get them out of Republic City, away from human life. The show doesn't tread on this much, seemingly ignoring the complex issues it brings up, and it suffered a little for it. Screen shot 2014-10-25 at 3.03.21 PM Here, we finally see a character admit it. It's great and I hope that they do more with it later on in the season. I hope it's a whole theme. After all, if this is the last season, that'd be one hell of a complex message to go out on. Sometimes people do bad things for good reasons, but that doesn't necessarily makes it right. Man. That's the kind of storytelling I expect out of the franchise. If I had one issue, it's that I wished Korra pushed it harder. The one time I want her to argue and she doesn't. Figures. The whole scene plays out with Korra shrugging off the idea, Toph going "no really thinking about it", and Korra accepting it. I mean, Korra is keeping all that fear and anger inside, right? Wouldn't she hate to hear that the men who tortured her "may have had a point"? Not only that, but it would have been an awesome opportunity to really dig into this issue. An angry Korra would have been the last four seasons, fighting against this aspect the show has tried to ignore. Toph would have been the voice of reason, a spotlight. It would be a climatic, thematic turning point for the whole show. Suddenly, we see this huge arc that the universe as a show has been going through. It'd be awesome. Screen shot 2014-10-25 at 3.04.52 PM

The Payoff

So after Korra and the kids reunite, she has to bend the last of the poison from her system. She struggles at first, but eventually she's able to face her demons. Of course she's able to bend out the poison, I never once thought she wouldn't be able to. However, what surprised me was how emotionally invested I was in it. It felt like a good closure to the events of the last season and kind of the others as well. I'm not sure what it was exactly. Maybe the validation that the villains weren't just Bad Guys Doing Bad Things, maybe it was that Korra finally seemed to learn something, I don't know. When Toph praised Korra, you felt it. It was an accomplishment. The past has been put behind us. To be fair, we've been told that before, but now I'm praying that it stays that way. This show needs it to stay that way. This is final season lets move forward. Screen shot 2014-10-25 at 3.06.44 PM
  • Lost Korra's Arc Closure
  • Emotional Payoff
  • The Kids can be tiresome
  • Light on the Action


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