With so much happening last episode, it’s kind of surprising to see even more story jam-packed into this week’s episode, too.
We start back where we left off last time, with Korra and Asami. They’re getting transported to Ba Sing Se via airship by the Earth Queen’s forces. The good news is that Asami knows how shoddy the workmanship on the Cabbage Corp airships are, and escaping is relatively easy. The bad news is Korra doesn’t really do subtle escapes, and the airship crashes into the desert.
While it sucks for them, this is the beginning of one of the better Asami/Korra team-ups of the season. With Asami’s brains for engineering and Korra’s bending brawn we get to see both of them shine by doing what they do best. The Air Captain and his crew were also great to see, as it’s not often we see a commanding leader actually work with their captives and crew in dire situations. Too often leaders like the Air Captain would do nothing but yell, sulk about staying put, and make viewers question why they were leaders in the first place. A level-headed guy like the Air Captain was a pleasant surprise to see on-screen, and I’d personally like to see more like him.
While Korra and Asami are digging themselves out of the desert, Mako and Bolin are on the road to Ba Sing Se via the Red Lotus express. We’re treated to a scene where Bolin does what he does best, making friends. Ghazan and Ming Wa talk with him about what they did to keep busy while in prison. Bolin tries Ming Wa’s backstory game on his captors to comedic effect. “Two out of three. Not bad!” Now… which two were they? Hmmm.
The fun is short-lived once The Red Lotus enter into Ba Sing Se. Mako and Bolin are unceremoniously dumped in front of the Earth Queen and stick around long enough to overhear an exchange take place. Zaheer offers the Earth Queen information on the whereabouts of her airbenders, but only if she hands the Avatar to them. After some thought, the Earth Queen finds these terms acceptable, and the boys are tossed in prison. The only real action we get from the bending bothers after this point is Mako
yelling at encouraging Bolin to metalbend them out of prison. Unfortunately, Mako’s cheerleading has little effect on Bolin’s abilities. Things only get interesting when Zaheer shows up to release them and sends the boys off with a message for Korra.
Again, The Red Lotus steal the spotlight in this episode. While the four are chilling out waiting for their prize to arrive, Zaheer finds out that Korra’s ship crashed. When they confront the Queen about it, things quickly go south… for the Queen. It almost makes you wonder if this is what the Red Lotus had in mind to begin with. It plays out like a sudden, off-the-cuff kind of decision, but when you think about it isn’t this what they wanted in the first place?
Fans have speculated for years about what the ‘dark side’ of airbending could look like, and Zaheer delivers on those ideas in a chilling way. In one of the more disturbing scenes since the Tarrlok suicide murder in season one, you gotta wonder if Nick perhaps dodged a bullet by not airing this episode on TV. I will say that the ambiguity of the Queen’s death is kind of irksome. If she’s dead, it’d be really nice to have that said, not just danced around. Considering the show is made by Nick, I understand why they have to do it, but it comes across as awkward. Either way, the result of this is catastrophic chaos as Ghazan singlehandedly brings part of the middle ring wall to the ground. After Zaheer announces the Earth Queen’s fate, freeing the citizens to lead themselves, people begin rioting and looting the palace. You know, like you do.
Back in the desert Asami, Korra, and the airship crew arrive at the Misty Palms Oasis thanks to Asami building a sand sailer. After seeing them nearly eaten alive by a
nightmare sand worm sand shark, it’s good to see a familiar place. It’s also nice to see a dragon parked outside the city, as that means ZUKO’S BACK! YAY!
The episode ends with Korra and Asami meeting up with her father, Lin, and Zuko at a bar. They overhear a broadcast on the events in Ba Sing Se. This leaves Korra convinced things are only going to get worse before they get better.
I’m left wondering where Bryke and company are heading with Zaheer. While the Red Lotus obviously has some honor and respect for people about them, their methods really don’t seem to mesh with the practice of making a better world. Though it’s hard to like Zaheer’s methods, I do enjoy that people can sympathize with, or at least understand, his motives. He’s not the mustache twirling, evil laughing bad guy of the Saturday Morning Cartoons from long ago. I like that he’s complicated. I like that he’s interesting. I like that my anxiety and worry for Korra skyrockets whenever he’s around, because he actually feels like a threat. This may seem silly at first glance, but looking at other villains in animated properties these qualities are hard to find.
Next week is sure to be another action-packed episode, but until then feel free to discuss and theorize in the comments below. What do you think the Red Lotus is going to do with Korra once they get her? Who is going to save Ba Sing Se from itself? Will Bolin ever metalbend? Where the heck are those airbenders?!
By day, Carrie is the co-creator, artist, and production coordinator for the webcomic Kamikaze . By night she’s a writer, budding comic nerd, and passionate feminist. Feel free to follow her on Twitter.
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