The Legend of Korra Newbie Recap: Season 1 Finale
In which Naga is the uncontested MVP.
A two-fer this week: “Skeletons in the Closet” and “Endgame.” Let’s get to it!
Since last week’s episode, Korra, Asami, Bolin, and Mako have been hiding in the sewers with Gommu—the “wise and noble hobo” (per Bolin) whom Korra met in the pilot—in a shantytown underneath Republic City. Korra and Mako venture aboveground, disguised as Equalist guards, to stay updated on what Amon’s been doing. Namely, that’s banning bending and talking smack about how he has Korra “on the run.”
Asami is suspicious of all the time Korra and Mako are spending together, and well she should be: Later, the “friends” have an emotional chat about how each of them thinks the other is the best ever. It’s hardcore flirting, even though Mako’s A) dating Asami and B) knows Asami is aware of his feelings towards Korra and is made really, really uncomfortable by them. If he’s going to attempt to further his decidedly-not-platonic relationship with Korra, fine, but he needs to have a conversation with Asami first, either to break off their relationship or discuss polyamory or something. The excuse he made last episode when Asami wanted to talk—”Now’s really not the time, considering the whole war thing”—is fine, but it also means he should cool his jets and not pursue Korra until he and Asami have the chance to discuss their relationship.
Mako is, essentially, cheating on his girlfriend and being really callous about setting his feelings above hers besides. Do the writers seriously expect us to swoon over his starcrossed relationship with Korra when he’s being such a dick? It’s a watered-down version of season three of Battlestar Galactica, where Lee straight-up cheated on his wife with Starbuck, but the show kept trying to pretend he was still some bastion of moral superiority.
Putting love triangle malarkey aside for a bit, Team Avatar spots General Iroh and his incoming ships; both groups are concerned about the lack of defenses mounted by the Equalists, considering they had to have known Iroh was coming. Alack, Hiroshi Sato’s been busy: There are sea mines and old-school airplanes, which manage to bust up the ships pretty well despite Korra, Iroh, and the latter’s fire-bending buds immediately jumping into action. Korra’s unable to save the fleet, but she does rescue Iroh when his plan to FIRE PUNCH A MISSILE OUT OF THE SKY somehow doesn’t work.
Good to know he’s inherited some of his grandfather’s stellar decision-making skills.
Back in the hobo camp, Korra heals Iroh, and Gommu helps him send a message to Tenzin’s brother Bumi—second commander of the United Forces—to chill his heels and not bring his fleet to Republic City until Iroh sends word that Amon’s defenses are taken care of. To do that, Team Avatar will have to go up into the mountains, where Hiroshi Sato’s airfield must be located.
Korra, on the other hand, feels like it’s time to confront Amon. Mako decides to go with her, and Iroh—saying he respects the Avatar’s instincts just like his grandfather would—OKs the plan.
Zuko/Aang BFFs. Still not over it.
Again disguised as Equalist guards, Mako and Korra go to Air Temple Island and proceed to the attic to hide… only to discover that Tarrlok is being kept there as a prisoner. From here, we take a jaunt into backstory land.
Turns out, Amon’s real name is Noatak… and he’s Tarrlok’s brother:
They both grew up in Northern Water Tribe, where they were trained from a young age by their father Yakone to become expert bloodbenders, so they could eventually take control of Republic City, destroy the Avatar, and avenge their father. Tarrlok, like Zuko in Avatar, was the lesser of the two siblings in terms of bending ability; but Noatak was more a Sokka than a Azula, looking out for his sibling instead of perpetuating a rivalry.
Tarrlok, a soft-hearted little kid, hated bloodbending, though Noatak took to it immediately and eventually became cruel and hard-hearted. All the family drama comes to a head when Yakone orders the brothers to bloodbend one another; Noatak does it, but Tarrlok refuses. A enraged Yakone says he’s going to “teach [Tarrlok] a lesson,” but Noatak steps in to defend his brother, bloodbending Yakone and telling him that they don’t exist just to exact his revenge.
Noatak asks Tarrlok to run away with him, but Tarrlok refuses to abandon his mother; Noatak, calling his little brother “weak,” runs away alone (more like Pops than he thought), leaving his little brother with their abusive dad. Yakone abandons his hopes for revenge and dies a few years later. Tarrlok only realized Amon was his brother when his bending was taken away; Tarrlok recognized the sensation from when his brother bloodbent him.
Still don’t feel sorry for Tarrlok, though. Kid Tarrlok, yeah. Adult Tarrlok, who kidnapped Korra, persecuted non-benders, and tried to take over Republic City? Not so much. He was an adult who knew what he was doing. This is no Jet situation.
The fact that the source of Amon’s power is bloodbending makes him an even more formidable enemy, but it also means that he’s been deceiving his followers. If Korra can only expose him at that night’s rally, all the non-benders will abandon him. Which brings us to…
I thought Korra might come up with a better plan than shouting “LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE” at the rally when Amon starts talking about how a firebender killed his family, but… no. That’s all she does. It goes about as expected.
To be fair, Amon also pulled out some faked facial scarring, but even if he hadn’t… how did you expect this to go, Korra? Not your finest moment.
Amon, however, is doing pretty damn well for himself: The main event of the rally is that he’ll take away the bending of Tenzin and his family, whom he managed to capture even after Lin’s heroic sacrifice.
Speaking of captured… Bolin, Iroh, and Asami’s attack on Hiroshi’s airfield was cut short by a well-placed electric fence. They get locked in a jail cell, and all looks lost… until Naga, told to stay behind by Bolin, decides FUCK THAT, I’M NAGA and pushes through the bars.
I’m pretty sure Naga is the most impressive character in this show so far.
Iroh takes after the airplanes—which have just taken off, en route to Bumi’s location after Hiroshi intercepted Iroh’s message—while Bolin stays behind to tear up the runways and Asami hops into a Jaeger, which of course she figures out how to drive in like 2 seconds. She and her father, both in Jaegers, square off, with Bolin providing assistance in the form of rocks and verbal barbs. (“MR. SATO, YOU ARE A HORRIBLE FATHER.”) Asami, recognizing Bolin’s supreme wisdom in all things, captures her dad and then tasers him.
Meanwhile, Iroh uses firebending to hop around between planes—OH, NO BIG—and takes down the planes that would have destroyed Bumi’s fleet. Near the end of the episode, we briefly meet Bumi when he shows up at Air Temple Island, and he behaves exactly as you’d expect him to, given his Avatar namesake.
Back at the rally, Korra and Mako start to rumble with Amon, and the hoi polloi GTFO. Korra frees Tenzin and the kids, and Amon comes after them, cornering Korra and Mako in the gymnasium and bloodbending them both.
The Lieutenant Moustache Guy sees the whole thing and calls Amon out for the traitor he is before being knocked out himself.
Then Amon takes Korra’s bending.
I did not see that coming.
Maybe the remaining three seasons are Bolin teaching Pabu magic tricks?
Before Amon can take Mako’s bending, my least favorite love triangle fulcrum breaks free of the bloodbending and electrocutes the big bad. Again: Mako is hardcore and a man of action, and I like him when the show’s not making him a brooder who cheats on his girlfriend. He runs away with Korra, but they’re both caught soon enough… until Korra manages to break through Amon’s bloodbending and airbend him through a window and into the river below.
BECAUSE SHE COULDN’T AIRBEND BEFORE, SO AMON COULDN’T TAKE IT AWAY. BUT NOW SHE CAN.
Amon (his scars revealed to be a handy bloodbending disguise, and oh no, he’s hot), waterbends out of the river, outing himself to the assembled crowd and proving Korra right. He books it to Tarrlok’s cell, where they have a bit of brotherly bonding before escaping on a boat. Tarrlok, presumably realizing his brother won’t stop his quest against the Avatar and regretting his own past foul deeds, uses a taser glove to zap some electricity in to the boat’s fuel tank, killing them both.
First murder/suicide on Nickelodeon? Y/N?
The season then goes full circle, with Korra going back to the White Lotus training compound, where Katara tries but fails to restore her ability to bend fire, water, and earth. Mako says that he doesn’t care whether she’s the Avatar any more, he still loves her, to which her response is “WTF, NOT FUCKING NOW! TIMING.” She runs away on Naga and cries a single perfect tear down a cliff, which ends up summoning Aang and all the other past Avatars, who give her a mulligan by restoring all her bending. Korra confesses her love to Mako, who followed her, and they kiss.
Still dating Asami, though. Stilllllllll dating Asami.
And most importantly: In a reverse of the Avatar finale, where Aang discovered the ability to remove bending, Korra now gains the ability to restore it. KORRA GIVES LIN HER BENDING BACK. Bolin’s subsequent reaction to Lin taking her newfound powers on a test drive gives me this recap’s MVP screencap:
Rebecca has newbie recapped Avatar and Battlestar Galactica for The Mary Sue before. She photoshopped The Rock’s head on a dolphin once. You can find her at Film Journal International, Pajiba, or on Twitter.
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