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This episode reveals conflicts I expected to see much later in the season - I love when shows do that! We’re only four episodes into this 14-episode season and the plot is moving swiftly. Who would have thought that the eponymous civil war would be started by the direct actions of the Avatar! Plus, we even get a great moral - and I hate morals! This is another quality episode proving Korra is the best animated drama on TV.
Alright, back up. When we left Korra last week, her Uncle Unalaq arrested her parents for treason. This week, they’re put on trial - and found guilty! The judge calls for death, but Unalaq talks him down to life in prison. Now, Korra is fully suspicious of her uncle. She confronts the judge as he’s driving on a lonely road. After threatening to feed him to her polar bear dog, the judge finally says what everybody’s been thinking: Unalaq is a power hungry fascist. Tonraq (Korra’s dad) was banished because of Unalaq’s meddling. Korra then goes to save her father from the enemy navy.
That’s this week's action-packed plot. But don’t take my word, go watch the episode! It both solved and progressed all the conflicts set up in last week’s first part. We saw action from start to finish and understand the season's overall progression. But we’re left with a lot of interesting questions; namely, is it okay for the Avatar to start a war?
The short answer is: no. Unalaq warns that the spirits will destroy the mortal world if there’s a water tribe civil war. Korra’s father, Tonraq, hardly supports the idea, and insists Korra go to the UN (ok, not the United Nations, but the leaders of all governments) and try to solve the conflict diplomatically. The Avatar starting a war would be turmoil to both political and spiritual life in this universe; the Avatar’s primary (and perhaps only) job is to keep peace. Can you ever win peace with a war? This is an interesting question, especially living in a century of perpetual-war. While Aang did get caught up in a global war, he was trying to stop it. And in many ways, it seems like Korra is trying to stop it too, but she’s aggressive and headstrong. One of the most assertive characters in the Avatar universe. To her credit, Korra is fighting to stop tyranny and maintain balance - this does sound spiritual. But as the season’s book title tells us, the major conflict of this year will not be in the corporal realm. It’s about spirits.
While Aang might be a better peacekeeper, the resolution to Tenzin and Ikki’s plot is the episode’s touching, and actually useful, moral. Last week, I thought it was Jinora who got lost; how wrong I was. It’s Ikki. And Tenzin, her dad, leaves his brother and sister, Boomy and Kya, to find her. The father and daughter bond over a tea party with a pack of young sky bison (bison that fly). They agree that being in a family is hard, as people will often do things to hurt you, sometimes even intentionally. However, at its core, family can be nice if the members really love each other. In the case of these cartoon families, they really do. But the real take away here is, being in a family is hard. Tenzin admits to his brother and sister that their father Aang made a lot of mistakes. Even the god that walks on earth isn’t perfect in Avatar.
We get more development into the rebel troupes (seems they have a financial incentive to start war) Also, Bolin and Eska’s cold relationship fails to heat up - even as Eska forces Bolin to marry her. This plot is just getting more and more uncomfortable; however, I’m starting to love it. A boy getting wrapped in a forced marriage is pretty funny, and where else have you seen that on TV? Also, it seems like Bolin will be on the run for a while, so hopefully the story doesn’t start getting annoying. I also liked seeing Bolin in androgynous water tribe garb. Those two water-twins are very creepy.
The episode ends with an epic battle scene comparable to any in Avatar. Taking advantage of battle ships, fighter planes, and of course, airbending, the Avatar is able to escape her uncle, track down her father’s captors, and free him from prison. This is an act of obvious treason. The war has begun. The next episode, “Peacekeepers,” will likely be about how the Avatar tries to stop it.
This show is so exciting, with such well-developed characters, it’s reminiscent of Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, or FLCL (all the anime that’s so fun to binge watch). Also, take note that all the images in this post are Avatar fan art. This show has such a creative audience. I'm only going to use fan art in these posts from now on!