The Legend of Korra – Coronation Review
"The Piece Move into Place"
The Legend of Korra
marched on this week with its third episode, 'Coronation'. Overall, it was an interesting episode, but not really one of surprises or revelations. The highlight was definitely in the character development, as it was light on pretty much everything else.
This week's plot was fairly cut and dry. Korra's training begins with Toph in the swamp as Prince Wu's coronation is derailed by an announcement from Kuvira that we were all pretty much expecting.
Korra's Training and All-Seeing Toph
So this week Korra begins her Luke Skywalker-esque training with Yoda-esque Toph, and already the relationship is the best dynamic that it could be. Toph isn't patient and courteous like Katara or Tenzin, she shoots from the hip! Tells it like it is! She's chock-full of sass. Swamp sass. It's great to see her put Korra in her place. There hasn't been a lot of that in the show. I mean, sure, Korra learns the error of her ways through her actions, but we really haven't seen a character that'll call Korra out on her bullshit. Or should I say, call her out and have Korra listen.
Which is the second reason why this dynamic works. Korra listens. See, for pretty much all of The Legend of Korra
, when Korra would meet a no-nonsense authoritarian, she'd immediately butt heads with them. Even if they were making sense. With Toph, she's like an actual student, she doesn't think she knows best, as with Tenzin, or that her teacher is useless, as with Katara. She still lets anger get the best of her, yes, but deep down Korra still desperately needs her.
Maybe she's finally beat down to where she's willing to get help. Maybe not have the full power of the Avatar scares her because that was
her identity. Maybe Toph is just an important enough character to force Korra to let her guard down. I don't know. It'll be awesome to see how this training will turn out, especially with Toph basically telling her she'll help as much as Korra is willing to work.
Let's talk about Toph for a minute. In this episode, it's said that she lives in the swamp because its roots go all over the world (I'll just... let that one slide...) and so she can see, presumably, everyone and everything touching the ground. So, in a sense, she can see 95% of people the world over. It's brushed upon in the episode, Toph using it as a reason why she didn't "abandon" everyone and drop off the face of the planet. However, that little factoid took me out of the episode a bit because I had so many -- so many
So, obviously, her tactile echolocation technique or what have you no longer has a limit (or the planet in the Avatar
universe is pretty small) and she can see everything and everyone at any time as long as they're not in an airship or levitating. She should be seeing crimes the world over and be stopping them via earth bending, right? She was chief of police for Rava's sake. Does Earthbending have a range? It can't be "eye sight" because she's blind, and if it compensates for it by her tactile echolocation we've already established that's world wide. Imagine thieves being stopped by the ground itself, everywhere and anywhere. People would start worshiping gods or creating new vengeful spirits.
Not only that, but there were plenty of times in the show Korra could have used Toph's help. Amon was a formidable opponent, but what could he do against an Earth bender thousands of miles away? Korra's uncle could spirit bend all her wanted, but Toph could have sent huge pillars of earth to rip apart of the Spirit Forest, destroying the portal. I mean, there were a ton of time when she could have taken out most, if not all, of the Red Lotus. Especially early on.
Although, there may be some kind of limitation. The vibration or whatever she's using to "see" isn't instantaneous. It's certainly fast, as it's shown moving so fast everyone seems to be standing still, but we're talking about a planet here. She may not see the other side for hours, maybe days, after she sent out the vibration. By then, it's too late to do anything. She's just an observer.
Regardless, that's a heavy piece of universe to drop on someone and not really get into.
Kuvira the Hypocritical Ruler
So it finally happened. As anyone who watched the last two episodes could tell, Kuvira turns out to want the Earth Kingdom for herself. Surprise? She dresses it up, saying that Wu is a horrible leader and that, as she learned from Su, notions like kings and queens were archaic. She then announces the creation of the Earth Empire with her as its leader. An Earth Empress, I guess?
I don't have any issue with this direction in the story. It seems more-or-less organic. I just have two problems with how it's going. The first is the whole Empire thing, with her as the leader. It's basically the same thing she's trying to get rid of. I know this most likely the point, as Su confronts her about it, but the execution doesn't make any sense. Kuvira refuses to acknowledge it. She never once states a reason for creating an Empire instead of a republic or a democracy. Remember, those mostly exist. Republic City has a President, one I assume who was duly elected. It'd be one thing if they set up Kuvira as a power-hungry megalomaniac or just flat-out crazy, but they haven't (or at least not yet).
Which brings us to my second issue. Kuvira just seems to be a domineering tyrant because the plot needs her to be. There's no real ideology behind it, she's not -- as far as we know -- twisted by her past, and she's not really misunderstood. Maybe it's too early to tell, maybe they'll get it to later, but this kinda annoys me. The Airbender
franchise has always had such great villains. Look at last season for one of the best examples. Here, or at least in this episode, she feels tyrant-y just because and that's simply lazy.
It's not like they had no choice. It's super easy to humanize Kuvira and make her a more fleshed-out villain in this case. Have the bandits be so much worse! So much worse that she's driven to totalitarianism out of necessity. She wishes there was another way, but there isn't. I know that this is what some characters say, but we never really see it. Hell, Kuvira takes on a whole group of bandits by herself and wins. They beg her
for mercy. The bandits seem bad
for the regular people, but Kuvira seems so much worse. It makes them feel like a big bad army for no reason then they need one.
Prince Wu is still probably my least favorite character. However, in this episode we see some actual character development! Which means I dislike him a little bit
less. It's also great to see from this show, where we're steeped in comic relief. So much relief via comedy, you guys.
When Wu stormed the fake Earth Kingdom throne, shouting to the kid about how he'll never get his (ruined) coronation day back again, you feel something for him. He's petulant, spoiled, and annoying
, but he's not a bad guy. He's just a product of his upbringing, he doesn't know any better. It's almost... kind of sad.
So now, I'm expecting Mako to help him realize his mistakes and become a better leader. That way, when Kuvira is overthrown, he can take her place and be an actual king. Maybe he'll hand the nation to its people, I'm not sure. Regardless, I'm just happy to see more dimensions to this character.
Haha! Asami wasn't even in this one. I feel like I talk about her too much, she's not my favorite character by any means. It's just that for being a main supporting character, a member of Korra's team no less, she gets almost no air-time.
What government does
work in this franchise? Maybe it's too nit-picky, but man, almost every system of power turns out to be the worst. The show obviously looks down upon monarchies, as the Earth Queen was just the worse and there was something about the Fire Nation and a hundred year war. Anarchy obviously didn't work and Republic City's President has been shown as incompetent a couple times. Does it work when an Avatar rules? A theocracy of some kind? Guys?
I hope Varrick's spirit vine power-source turns into some kind of nuclear bomb analogue. That'd be one hell of a left turn and would ramp up this season dramatically. If Kuvira had that kind of power, if the stakes were that high, that'd be amazing. Then we may actually put an end to Varrick himself too. Finally.