Welcome to installment four of the Legend of Korra watch through, in which for the first time I will be discussing two episodes where I actually liked both of them. That’s right folks, I think I’m finally getting into this series, although there will be things I nitpick at. Lots of things.
Episode six, ‘And The Winner Is…’ follows the narrative momentum built up by ‘The Spirit of Competition’ and the Fire Ferrets’ attempt on the championship. Just one more match, against that douchebag with the douche hair, and they win it all! There’s just one wrinkle. Amon tells them to shut the match down, or bad things will happen. The town council is all ready to shut it down and not take the risk, until Korra and Police Chief Lin Beifong convince them otherwise.
So there’s two parts to this, with a subplot around Korra’s antagonism with Lin Beifong. Part one is the championship match. Part two is the Equalists’ inevitable attack.
Part One is the most depth we’ve seen given to pro-bending. We learn there’s attacks you can’t make for being too rough, which gives added variety to the visuals. We get more sense of one-two tactics. And in terms of storytelling decisions, we get the first one that makes me go ‘Ooh’. The expectation is the good guys win by dramatic comeback after getting a bad time from the skillful antagonists, right? Well, wrong. The Fire Ferrets are getting beat, but only due to a bent ref. Not only does it freshen up the dramatic comeback stuff, and keeps the protagonists’ skill level come back, but it ties neatly into the Equalists’ attack as it shows Bender society in a bad light. What better showing of Benders breaking the rules to push others down could there be?
Unfortunately, having decided to retain the protagonists’ competence in the pro-bending, the writers are happy to have them look like useless numpties in Amon’s attack. Lin Beifong, the council, the police force – they all know it’s coming, but they’re all busy watching the final. Nobody’s found the weapons the Equalists sneak in. A giant fucking airship can just fly over with no retaliation. A five year old could have designed a better defence plan. A five year old would have also worked out that if you have a whole arena at your mercy, the correct targets for stripping away bending abilities aren’t the three champions, it’s the council member/police chief/Avatar. I hope there’s a thin moustache good for twirling under that mask. Which, as I said before, is fine in the right place. Just not when trying to present complexity and nuance.
However, the action scene here makes up for it. It looks good – it’s exciting – and it makes good on a reconciliation between Korra and Lin. Incidentally, we’ve found out that’s partially because Tenzin and Lin had a thing (a little added Tenzin depth isn’t bad) and it went bad, leaving Lin with a grudge against things Tenzin-y. And, of course, partially because Korra and Lin are very similar. The complexity and nuance is present here, and it provides emotional impact. So – despite my groans about the above – I completely enjoyed this episode.
‘The Aftermath’ features Mako and Bolin moving into the Sato mansion with Asami. Korra goes to visit, despite her jealousy of Asami, and stumbles onto evidence that Asami’s father Hiroshi is on the Equalists’ side.
I think this was the best episode so far, as it is the strongest in the character dynamics. That bloody love triangle does actually work well here – Korra’s initial reluctance to visit the Satos and misconceptions about Asami, then Mako’s and Asami’s suspicion when Korra accuses Hiroshi. Lin’s blunt, straight forwards nature helps explain why they plough right in rather than trying anything undercover or sneaky. Does it make sense that Hiroshi would be on the Equalists’ side? It makes enough sense, although I had spoilers on this so maybe it wouldn’t if I didn’t know.
Really, other than that, I have little to say. Most of the episode is bickering or action, and both are executed well. I wasn’t wowed, and I can still snipe at how unprepared the Republic City police are for anything, but it’s good fun TV.
And that’s all for now folks.