Legend of Korra
Episode 3: The Revelation
Episode 4: The Voice in the Night
Episode 3 of Legend of Korra wastes no time in developing the main conflict of the series: Amon and his anti-bending Equalists. The primary function of this group is to knock down benders, who do nothing but oppress those weaker than themselves. “The Revelation” reveals the key weapon of the Equalists- Chi-bending, previously sported by Ty Lee in Avatar the Last Airbender- and the secret weapon, held only by Amon, their leader. Amon’s technique, the revelation the episode title refers to, is simple, but profound and leaves quite a shock on the heroes. Amon can remove someone’s bending: permanently.
So far, I like what they are doing with Amon; he is not a two dimensional villain. One of the weaknesses of Avatar the Last Airbender was that Ozai was boring. His motivation was a bit weak as most of us can’t relate to wanting to take over the world, and while a relatable villain is not required, it makes the storyline more interesting. Amon is easier to empathize with. While not all benders are evil there are more than a few in Republic City that use the gifts for shady purposes. These groups have formed various gangs and regularly terrorize the city’s non-bending inhabitants. Amon wants to put a stop to it, he’s just not going about it in the nicest or the most legal way.
In the previous episode, Korra joins a pro bending team- pro bending is a sport that utilizes a fire, water, and earth bender on each team. Korra water-bends, while the brothers Mako and Bolin fire and earth-bend respectively. Their team- the Fire Ferrets- have made it to the big tournament… the only catch is that they need to come up with enough money for the championship pot. Mako, the more serious brother, gets a legit job to earn the money; Bolin, the clown of the group, opts to help one of the previously mentioned bending gangs- albeit reluctantly- that he and his brother once belonged to. End result? Bolin gets captured by the Equalists and Mako and Korra have to rescue him before Amon makes an example of him.
The aftereffects of this episode are what lead us into the next one, “A Voice in the Night.” It is bad enough that Amon has trained Chi-blockers, but the fact that he can remove a person’s bending would be beyond terrifying to most adults, let alone a teenager. Korra, in her true bull headed fashion, refuses to acknowledge this fear and lets her pride get in the way.
“A Voice in the Night” gives the viewer their first glimpse of Councilman Tarrlok. Both Tarrlok and Amon use manipulation and subtlety to achieve their ends, while Korra uses her fist and takes a more straightforward approach. Both of these men play Korra like a violin for the episode which culminates in a very powerful ending scene. Absolutely excellent writing for this episode!
As is often unavoidable in these sorts of shows, the writers included the potential for romance. Normally, I’m not a fan of romance in shows to begin with. I don’t hate, it, I just don’t love it. Avatar: the Last Airbender pretty much bungled the romance aspect. Sokka was the only one who got serious development in his relationships, but Aang and Katara’s was a near train wreck. Even though it was predictable, it was rushed and poorly developed. The writers appeared to have learned from that, however, as Legend of Korra has already set up two love triangles.
“A Voice in the Night” introduces a love interest for Mako. I am severely underwhelmed by Asami at this point, but am curious to the writer’s plan. In this episode, she runs Mako over with her motorcycle, treats him to dinner to make up for it, and solves the team’s tournament funding problems. Very convenient; at the moment she appears to be nothing but a shallow love interest for Mako to add some tension to the Mako/Korra romance hinted at in prior episodes. I hope that Asami is not just a throwaway character, as it would a be a shame for the writers to resort to such a tactic, but I suspect there is more to Asami that meets the eye.
In addition to the Mako/ Asami/ Korra triangle, previous episodes also showed that Bolin has a crush on Korra. So we have a triangle set up with Mako, Bolin, and Korra as well. Thankfully, the romantic bits make up the secondary story and do not take away from the character development of Korra coming to grips with the idea of fear being an acceptable emotion, which really is the key highlight of this episode.