By: Tim Hedrick (story)

The Story: It’s always best to not argue with your girlfriend—especially if she’s the Avatar.

The Review: Alright, folks, I’m officially starting to feel concerned.  I admit that I’ve never been much taken with Korra as a character, but I thought over time she might at least grow on me a little.  Instead, I find myself very much on the verge of outright hating her, which is not a good situation for a viewer and is even worse for a reviewer.  A critic can’t exactly do his job properly if his instinct is to fast-forward through every scene the protagonist is in.

I suspect even the most ardent Korra fans have to admit that lately, the Avatar has been letting her inner child run wild.  It sure explains how the other characters’ tolerance for her seems to weaken proportionately to their maturity levels, leaving Tenzin, Asami, Mako, and the President of the United Republic exasperated with her behavior and only the impulsive Varrick and dimwitted Bolin still in her camp.  At least the characters’ reactions to Korra are logical enough to prove that Hedrick and the other writers are very well aware of their lead’s flaws.

This gives us hope that Korra can’t remain willfully blind to her self-made problems forever.  Her refusal to accept any perspective other than her own has in many ways been the source of the show’s narrative thrust (see Korra’s refusal to accept the President’s hesitation to intervene in her tribe’s civil war or Mako’s insistence that the Northerners are not responsible for crashing a Southern protest in Republic City), causing complications for others while she sees herself as the victim, but it’s her inability to evolve that becomes her most critical failing.  When you think about it, she’s not all that different now from the character she started this series as, which makes her actions and their consequences all too easy to read.

For evidence of this point, you need look no further than her breakup with Mako, which—let’s be honest here—feels inevitable.  Unlike his brother, Mako’s not naturally inclined to accept his girlfriend pushing him around, so the fact that he’s put up with Korra’s cycle of neediness and undeserved resentment for this long means he’s been repressing himself for a while.  At some point, Korra was doomed to run up against a boundary Mako would not let her cross, and his duty as an officer of his homeland seems the right one.  The moment she decides to angrily and irrationally confront him in his workplace pretty much guarantees their split.  The pathetic thing is even though you saw all this coming several episodes ago, Korra never thought to look that far, bringing pain most especially upon herself.

Meanwhile, you’re secretly almost rejoicing in her emotional suffering.  Since Korra doesn’t learn things even the hard way, it stands to reason that the only way to force her into growing as a character is to make things even harder.  Maybe between the civil war, the breakup, and the swallowing by a massive spirit creature out on the high seas, she will finally get her act together and become worthy of the Avatar succession—and stop being so gosh dang predictable.

Outside of the Korra drama, we don’t get much entertainment from the other parts of the episode.  Tenzin and Meelo’s taming of the lemurs is sweet, but a mostly underdeveloped chapter in the Aang family’s ongoing struggle to achieve closeness.  Meanwhile, Bolin realizes that he’s just spinning his wheels on the show now, looking for someone, anyone, who will tell him what he should do to make himself matter.  It does seem like the show is losing steam fast this season.  Even the voice-acting, which is usually dependable on this series, sounds a bit lethargic and unconvincing.*

Conclusion: While the execution is flat and predictable, the content of the episode is sound, even necessary.  Let’s all hope the writers take this opportunity to jump-start some real growth for the show and its heroine.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * I was especially struck by Dante Basco’s vocals coming out of General Iroh’s mouth.  There’s definitely a weird contrast between that grown man’s square-jawed appearance and his thin, barely post-pubescent tenor.  On a similar note, I was not affected at all by Aubrey Plaza’s attempts to sound like a passionate, jilted bride.  The idea of Aubrey expressing any emotional level beyond vague interest just seems unnatural and wrong.