Legend of Korra, Season 2 Episode 5

Right. So, when last we left our “heroes”, Korra shoved a judge into her polar bear’s mouth and happened to find out her uncle was evil afterward.

The narrator clarifies that the issue is the south has a smaller army. Then we cut to Korra returning to Republic City, where we see Lin’s people rounding up some people in the blue water tribe outfits. Lin then yells at Korra for starting a war. Dammit, Lin.

Also, there’s already a peace march scheduled. Korra intends to show up, and Mako’s all oh no.

“I just think having you there blatantly supporting one side will only make things worse. You could at least try to seem neutral.”

This after last episode which was nothing but THE NORTH ARE NOT-SO-SECRETLY-EVIL.

You know, it seemed like with the love triangle removed and Mako’s personality reset down to extra bland, he’d stop being so hateable. But no!

Korra, THAT BITCH, unreasonably points out that no shit she’s not neutral on the topic of people invading her home in a power grab.

We learn that Obviously Evil Guy actually is protecting the spirit portal and has most of his troops around there. Also, waterbender twins are ruined with the girl being still covered in teary mascara.

Also, her POV on this is that Korra stole her husband, so I’m still arguing no malice there. Bolin never said he didn’t want to marry her, he’s just dragged along by the avatar, no doubt against his will!

But totally not what they’re going for since her dad has to tell her that outright murdering the avatar would be bad.

Anyway, there’s all this tension, which seems hard to believe. The southern peace march seems like a minority compared to the northerners, who all support invading the south and blockading it. Really?

You know what’d help here? Demographics knowledge. We know the south was almost wiped out in Katara’s time, while the north was almost completely left alone. So maybe the north vastly outnumbers the southerners! That would also better explain why there’s so little respect for their sovereignty.

Even that wouldn’t really explain it, because these are all Republic citizens first. The southerners would easily be upset at their families being attacked, but the northerner’s only tie is the rule of some guy they’re no longer under.

Also, someone yells at Korra to get a real dog, which is both random and doesn’t make sense because all animals are fusions now.

Then, two fishy guys in red set off a bomb. Mako nicely firebends away the flames around him to nothing, so I guess firebenders are better firefighters than waterbenders (although then Korra deals with it by waterbending – maybe firebending can’t pull away heat as effectively from the coals?)

Korra assumes it was the work of the northerners. Mako corrects her by saying that no, it was a firebender running away. Korra does not slap him upside the head and point out that those guys were obviously hired so it doesn’t matter what their personal bending is, and moreover the very basis of crime in Republic City is mixed benders so firebenders being used by the water tribe is not a big deal.

But at least she sticks to her guns that no stupid it’s the northerners. Therefore fucking Mako will be right.

The worst part is that it’s not like this plot had to be stupid, or even like they had to think for more than five seconds to figure out how to do that given it’s a stock plot! The people conspicuously setting off the bomb dress in just as conspicuous northern water tribe outfits, but when Mako pursues them one of them firebends his blast away, giving away that they’re not water tribe members!

Then rich guy goes with Korra to see the president, where he explains he’s sure he’ll take them seriously because he gave the guy lots of money during the election. Yeah sure. We’ve been running on tribal bullshit for a while now, at least now it’s semi-merit based. Also, at least the president actually was elected! I wasn’t sure.

But obviously it’s going to be bad because he wants to take a photo of shaking her hand.

Anyway, he doesn’t wanna get involved in an internal dispute, and Korra just confirms that by saying that but the guy doing this isn’t the rightful ruler! Korra WTF do you think internal dispute means? Also, waiting for someone to assume this is just straight up power abuse from her given it’s her dad she thinks deserves to be ruler.

“Now, I know that when you’re young it’s hard to keep perspective…” he says, and I’m not even sure if he’s supposed to be evil given he’s right about the bombing not being northern water tribe.

Now Mako’s defending the action saying that Republic City’s people shouldn’t be involved in something that “has nothing to do with them” but minutes ago supposedly they have huge numbers of people who currently claim allegiance to one or the other water tribe. Is this an independent state or not?

Now Korra’s yelling at poor Mako just because her job is objectively more important than his and also her dad could be killed at any time, resulting in him saying it’s only because of her screwups the world’s always in peril in the first place.

So Varrik says they should bypass the president and just ask the troops to ignore their elected leader and just invade who they want. Great idea, Korra enthuses, she can use the fact the general is the kid of a friend of her previous incarnation! Also, propoganda films.

Bolin tells Mako, who says this is all stupid. Fuck you Mako. Meanwhile, Mako has continued to work on the correct thing, and in return his fuck with him and undermine him every way they can, which continues to mean that by extension, Lin is also incompetent since she can’t run this place properly.

Then Mako tells the president what the plan is.

Cut to Korra, and we learn General Iroh doesn’t believe in the chain of command either.

“Suppose I were to take the fleet south on some routine training maneuvers. And let’s say we were to accidentally run into a hostile northern blockage…We’d have no choice but to defend ourselves, wouldn’t we?”

No, you would be deliberately violating the sovereignty of another nation. Thank god probably going to be evil president guy shows up in time to evilly remind the general that Republic City’s standing army cannot just attack whoever the fuck they want.

Anyway, Iroh then suggests that hey, she’s still got plenty of other nepotism to fall back on! Go talk to his mom and dad and maybe they’ll lend troops just for knowing your previous reincarnation.

Then Korra goes to yell at Mako for warning their elected leader about her treasonous plan to get the military to go to war in the middle of the police station, then she smashes his desk. Lin pokes her head in to say that yeah, she was even more of a destructive hysterical harpy when Tenzin broke up with her! LOL BITCHES BE CRAZY

That’s seriously this season’s theme. Last season was YAY CHEATING and this is GIRLS ARE IRRATIONAL PSYCHO BITCHES.

In case you missed that, we immediately cut to Korra being attacked by the waterbender twins while the girl screams about how Korra ruined her wedding.

Then giant monster. Thank god, please, giant monster, suck less than the rest of this.

Korra attempts to purify it, and even uses the avatar state boost, and still can’t do it right, because Korra sucks. Fucking show. At least then it eats her, so maybe next episode will be interesting.

Tenzin’s plot has now gone to utter pointlessness. It’s all about teaching his son who already gets too much screentime about training lemur in ways that don’t fit at all with Aang’s behavior or airbender philosophy at large.

Good: Bolin’s sort of amusing as an announcer. And…that’s it.


  1. cecamire says:
    This is sad. :(

    Off-topic: have you seen Despicable Me 2 yet?

    1. Farla says:
      Yeah. No strong opinions on it, though.
      1. cecamire says:
        I was really surprised by how overtly antifeminist it is. There’s the nosey/naggy suburban mum, and Natalie who’s too clumsy or fat and looks too weird for Gru to consider liking her, and Lucy ends up being a non-character who gives up her career in Australia to choose Gru and is then actually strapped to a rocket while he tried to save her. I was pretty disappointed, since for I’d expected her to be way more of a person from the trailer.

        Oh and there’s that date with the empty-headed self-centred blonde where she’s literally carted around like a piece of meat.

        1. Farla says:
          Well, it’s a story with a male main character that’s largely been about how hard it is merely being powerful and privileged but not the most powerful and privileged. We managed one adult female character who was about as competent as anyone in the movie – having her outright removed from the action at the end was a particularly poor move, admittedly.

          Oh and there’s that date with the empty-headed self-centred blonde where she’s literally carted around like a piece of meat.

          You know, I’m not entirely sure how to judge all that. I mean, was the incompetent way they moved the body to make the joke being how shitty they are at this, or just to allow for bad things to happen to the woman? I thought the main thrust of the date was just how poor a fit she was for him personally, but in practice the horrible blind date joke usually is just that the other person is terrible and shouldn’t be inflicted on anyone.

  2. aa says:
    You forgot to mention that there was a side-plan for Asami to sell her leftover mecha robots and planes to the Southern Army. Because what we really need is for our main characters to become war profiteers. For fuck’s sake.
    1. Farla says:
      Eh. The negative meaning comes from selling substandard goods, bribery to get an exclusive contract or jacking up prices. Also sometimes selling to both sides. The south does in fact need weapons, weapon production costs money, it’s not unethical to want money in return for goods.

      Now, Asami providing stuff to the mob…

      1. aa says:
        Pretty sure the negative meaning also comes from the fact that the only utility weapons provide is hurting/killing people, or threatening to hurt/kill people. Additionally, war always has civilian casualties, supplying either side will lead to escalation and make it all the more inevitable that the crossfire harms bystanders. I don’t see how this isn’t unethical on Asami’s part.
        1. Farla says:
          It’s “profiteer” because they tended to profit at everyone else’s loss. Like canning rotten meat because they already had the contract so why bother with quality control? Or price gouging.

          If the problem is simply providing weapons, then Asami’s already evil just for having a company that makes the tanks. And saying the real evil is any form of war means that there’s nothing special about being a war profiteer because every last person involved in the war is evil.

          supplying either side will lead to escalation and make it all the more inevitable that the crossfire harms bystanders.

          That’s would mean the real evil is fighting back – that the only morally acceptable response is appeasement to whoever is currently stomping their way across the globe, because stopping them might mean you hurt some bystanders. And it’s assuming that these bystanders will be safe from the invaders somehow.

          1. aa says:
            Wow, okay, we really disagree on this. I think “Asami is evil for owning a company that makes tanks” isn’t a logical stretch, even hypothetically. She wasn’t in charge of the company when the mecha robot things were made, so she had no choice in the matter. She DID make the conscious decision to sell them as weapons when shipping them off as heavy-lifting building aides didn’t work.

            But we seem to be working from very different premises here. I found Asami and Korra supporting Varrick’s suggestion to be very shocking and counter to the themes ATLA so painstakingly developed (and LOK is so painstakingly grinding to pieces). I assumed this was a common complaint.

            1. Farla says:
              ATLA had the guy manufacturing weapons for the bad guys then switch over to using his weapons to fight the bad guys. Then there was the early season episode that was all about how the imprisoned earthbenders should fight back against the fire nation instead of keeping their heads down, and a late episode which was about how the fire nation was extra evil for deliberately trying to remove benders from the southern water tribe so they couldn’t fight back.

              And in terms of real world stuff…I’m not really remembering any conflicts where supplying weapons to the just side of a conflict is looked upon negatively, except when it’s for not also offering armed forces.

              1. aa says:
                The inventor who was blackmailed into manufacturing those weapons because otherwise his whole community would be massacred? Those earth- and waterbenders fighting to not be kept half starved in cages? Aang trying to end a century-long war that already resulted in one genocide, and still choosing mercy at the end of it all?

                Yeah, I’m sorry if that blows the North-South “civil war” out of proportion, considering the latter has lasted all of, what, a month, and has to date involved a naval blockade, crowd control, a very inept attempt at kidnapping, some street fights and secret meetings, a handful of political prisoners who escaped almost the very night of their sentencing, and a non-violent government take-over.

                Ferrying more weapons into the region is obviously a fool-proof way to end this grave conflict as soon as possible, which is why Asami plans to do this out of the goodness of her heart and deeply-held belief in the cause of Southern independence! Profit and the survival of Future Industries plays absolutely no role in this! I’m sure given enough time she’d travel there herself along with her products, to stand on the front lines and put herself in danger, just as all of those ATLA characters did.

              2. Farla says:
                They have the right to decide they’re willing to fight back, and they have. The moral culpability is on the side that invaded, not the people who want to fight back or the people who support them in that. Considering Asami has been willing to go out and fight people with another weapon her dad invented, yes, she’s willing to put herself in danger. She was there in the jailbreak.

                Giving the southern water tribe better weapons before the fire nation had been winnowing them down for a hundred years would not have been wrong. You don’t have to wait until most people are dead before it’s morally acceptable to arm the survivors.

              3. aa says:
                She’s not rightfully arming a people crushingly oppressed by an insurmountable foe, she’s selling robot tanks designed for continental urban warfare to an area of sub-zero temperatures made entirely out of ice. For profit, even if it’s probably not exorbitant profit, at a time when nothing worse than street fighting has as of yet broken out, and the enemy is hyperfocused on protecting a far-off spirit portal and living out a family vendetta fueled by an inferiority complex.

                “You don’t have to wait until most people are dead before it’s morally acceptable to arm the survivors.”

                I agree! Except no one’s died! And no one probably will, as long as a third party doesn’t flood this ideologically divided region with weapons before even a handful of other options have been exhausted. A 5 minute audience with one brand-new head of state doesn’t count.

              4. Farla says:
                Okay, so for it to be moral they have to be “crushingly oppressed by an insurmountable foe” and for there to be some deaths, just not most people being dead? If, given Korra’s dad was the only one calling for peace and stopping fights, there’s been outbreaks of violence leading to crushing oppression from the north and a couple deaths by now, is it okay then? How many deaths should Asami wait for before it being acceptable to give them weapons?

                The fact the tanks should not work, sure, but the show doesn’t seem aware of this and it’s not like it’d be moral to sell false goods so long as there wasn’t a war on. If Asami had responded with, “But why would they buy the tanks when they’re only good against metalbenders?” and he’s told her not to worry, he knows who to bribe to get her an exclusive supply contract anyway, sure. But she seems to think they’ll help the south win, the south has no contract so they could say they don’t want the useless things if they were actually useless, and Varrick’s takeover of her company would seem to mean that they are legitimately useful things – if he was planning to profit in wartime by the usual manner of just supplying crap, he could just shovel the crap he already has out.

              5. aa says:
                This isn’t a question of precise numbers! I freely admit I don’t have the faculties needed to answer it and any attempt would be pedantry at its worst, but I also think it would be beside the point. My stance on the morality of the situation, for all it’s worth, is this:

                The people of the Southern Tribe have a right to fight back against the Northern invasion. Since deadly force hasn’t been used against the South, deadly force shouldn’t be used to fight the North. Selling mecha robots and planes (volatile and fairly unprecedented weapons technologies that have existed for all of half a year in the Avatarverse, one of which is likely to malfunction in the new climate and terrain conditions) to either side will almost inevitably lead to – otherwise avoidable- fatal casualties. Doing this as a third party, before all other options have been exhausted, and with profit as a factor, is all the more unethical. You don’t think all this makes Asami a war profiteer, fine, but it undeniably does make her a war PROFITER (and personally I don’t see too large a difference).

                Sure, selling inferior or unsafe products is always a douchebag and/or rightfully illegal thing to do, but war changes the context. Asami knows those mechas will be going into a potential war-zone, people’s lives will depend on their not malfunctioning by, say, skidding over the ice into a building and exploding, or falling into one of the many water sources and electrocuting half the city. Even without Varrick schmoozing about how functionality doesn’t matter as long as F.I. sells lots of output, it would be incompetence bordering on criminal negligence to send such goods off without considering the unforeseen dangerous consequences (in contrast to all the other FOREseen, but equally dangerous, consequences!)

                And assuming she sells the weapons, they don’t all malfunction, and tip the scales to the South’s favour, there would be mecha tanks and planes strewn all over. Setting up a new (interim) government will take time, re-instating whatever is left of the police force even longer, sifting through the chaos and administrative holes could take years. How are all the units going to be found and accounted for, let alone de-commissioned, after the fighting’s done? The most likely outcome is that the criminal underbelly of the tribe will gorge itself on all these weapons and other spoils of all-out war, and the authorities may not have enough clout to stop them for decades.

                Yes, giving mecha-tanks to mobsters as a personal favour is an incredibly dumbass and immoral thing to do, but at least Asami could have turned around and reported everything (from design spec to serial number) to an organized police force. Sure, they metalbenders are really (L)incompetent and antagonistically mustached this season, but almost everything is better than having these brand-new weapons disappear through the cracks while the South’s judicial infrastructure doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

              6. Farla says:
                I would say deadly force came into play when the surprisingly nonviolent rebels and one unrelated guy almost got executed on the spot for being rebels and ended up merely getting imprisoned for life because he wanted to make the avatar like him. The only thing that was keeping a lid on this was her dad, the soldiers seem fine attacking anyone who gives them shit.

                Moreover, this is again holding the victims to a higher standard – they’re only good if they let the aggressor make every move first.

                On top of that, I really don’t think you can say that because it’s a new technology, it’s automatically going to lead to causalities and also, somehow would be the only cause of those casualties because otherwise the people declaring war on each other wouldn’t have had a single fatality.

                Doing this as a third party, before all other options have been exhausted, and with profit as a factor, is all the more unethical. You don’t think all this makes Asami a war profiteer, fine, but it undeniably does make her a war PROFITER

                All other options for peace were exhausted in the episode where Korra’s dad decides it’s war time. If you mean “all other options for sending an army of people to help kill everyone”, then again, really don’t see how it’s morally better to send guys in ships to blow up other ships but just tanks is evil. Also, what, if Asami made their planes and boats that’d be okay?

                Furthermore, actually, she’s not profiting in the standard sense. Her company is going under and she needs to recoup the money spent designing and building them. If it’s solely that it’s unethical to receive money for goods when there’s a war on, well, for one that’s insane but for another, if Asami’s company wasn’t going under and she donated them, which I think that yes, she’d do, she’s been quite generous whenever she had the ability to do so, does giving them weapons become ethical?

                And there’s no sign in the show that they’re actually bad. If they were, Varrick wouldn’t have bothered getting them because if he has some way of unloading any old crap on the southern tribe, he’d just have done that. If you want to say it makes no sense for them to work, it makes no sense for Asami not to just melt down the platinumbots and get even more money that way, so if we’re trying to be rational profit can’t be her highest motive there either.

                Setting up a new (interim) government will take time, re-instating
                whatever is left of the police force even longer, sifting through the
                chaos and administrative holes could take years.

                They already had an actual government, Evil Guy just kicked everyone out. It’s one of the early complaints. And unlike guns, giant mechabots are relatively easy to keep track of, since you can’t smuggle one under your coat (plus, if they’re so useless and untested, how long do you expect them to last?)

                Selling people things that are actually bad is wrong, but there’s no sign here that the show thinks her mechabots won’t work. Jacking up the prices just so she can eat caviar is wrong, but all she’s trying to do is get a fair exchange of money for goods so she can keep the lights on in the factory. Deliberately inflaming tensions is bad, but Asami had no part in Korra’s dad deciding to declare war, she’s just supporting that after the fact, nor did she try to inflame things for personal gain like Varrick.

                Not all wars are wrong and it’s entirely possible to sell people things for those wars without getting rich at the expense of the citizens being all you care about.

  3. TheTrueOrder says:
    See, I never kept up with TLOK even though I wanted to initially, and now I’m not regretting it. The thing that irks me about female characters in these works is the fact that the writers feel like they have to make them loud and aggressive to be feminist but it just comes off as them being unreasonable and irrational. It’s not helping the “strong females are bitches” stereotype at all.

    With guys the writers seemingly tend to focus on making them humorous and compassionate. With girls they overcompensate as though they’re scared to seem sexist. What’s wrong with a calm, intelligent female character who isn’t afraid to put her foot down, maybe even physically if need be? Females don’t have to be honorary male caricatures to get a point across about female strength.

    It reminds me of your Hunger Games reviews (which I loved) where Katniss’ status as a powerful female comes from the admiration and approval of males. The other female characters are treated like un-feminist female stock characters present in other works and only the main female character is set aside to be powerful. It’s like how Katniss’ father was the best thing since “Cats” and her mother was useless.

    I’m just saying, maybe they should stop defining what makes good female character and what makes a good male character seperately and just focus on making well rounded, complex characters.

    1. Farla says:
      But we do have a female character who’s more traditionally feminine in Asami! Granted, she’s pretty sidelined. And they seem to really hate Korra for being an honorary male. I can’t tell what they’re trying to do.

      You’re right that there’s a definite divide, though. Mako gets to be levelheaded and competent, to the point that in Lin/Mako clashes, she’s got to be incompetent and emotional. Asami can be rational, but it doesn’t get her anywhere, while Korra should be able to power through problems, but she’s stuck as irrational.

      1. TheTrueOrder says:
        Hmm, I guess it has to do with them trying to implement character flaws lest Korra be a dreaded sue. Nonetheless I think they should think a little more critically when they contrive these plot elements. I get they’re marketing this to pre-teens and young teens but the plot is something along the lines of what would be in a show like Scandal or something, but they can’t take it that far because it’s on Nick. Not to mention these plot elements are obviously not being presented with the sophistication they would if the show were marketed for older audiences like an anime.

        I’m wondering if there’s a clash between the story they want to tell and the audience they actually have but maybe I’m overreacting.

        1. Ember says:
          “I’m wondering if there’s a clash between the story they want to tell and
          the audience they actually have but maybe I’m overreacting.”

          I really doubt it. ATLA managed to tell some pretty sophisticated stories with only occasional moments of awkwardness created by that tension. That was a show that really knew how to not talk down to kids. As has been said in the comments before, the big problem seems to be the loss of the episode writers from ATLA. Mike and Bryan just aren’t detail people.

        2. Farla says:
          Hm. Actually – well, there’s definite incompetence here, but what if it’s the incompetence that comes of not wanting to write about adults in the first place? Everyone wanted a more grown up version, the fans of the original series are older now, so we’ve got that grown up version that fits the demographic the original fans are in now…and it’s written with the same kiddie plotting as the first show.
  4. Hadithi says:
    I forgot to comment this on earlier posts, but I have to ask…have you noticed how, er, rapey a lot of the fight scenes in Korra have been?

    I mean, almost every fight involves Korra being pinned, an obscene amount of tentacles wrapping her up, and the monster leaning into uncomfortable kissing distance near her face.

    The first one that breaks the trend was when Korra fought the “assassins”, and now the one where the spirit swallows her whole. Watching the first couple of episodes was actually starting to make me uncomfortable after a while.

    1. Farla says:
      I’ve just been chalking it up to them being squidmonsters, although I admit the snakes in the second episode were a bit much. I’ll keep an eye on it as we continue.
      1. Hadithi says:
        I’m up to date on the series, and I haven’t seen too much of it, but, then again, the next few episodes have Korra in them for a total of three minutes, except for the most recent one, which has Korra but is still about Tenzin. She only fights once (for about two seconds) over the next four episodes.

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