The Legend of Korra: “In Harm’s Way” and “The Metal Clan” Review

book-3-changeAfter a week’s hiatus, Korra returned to our television screens for two more episodes. And to my surprise and pleasure, the awesomeness of the premiere was not a fluke: “In Harm’s Way” and “The Metal Clan” were both excellent.

Spoilers below the jump!

Last episode ended with Kai kidnapped by the Dai Li and Mako and Bolin stuck in Ba Sing Se’s third ring. The latter problem gets solved first: one of the brothers’ many cousins manages to scrounge up some viable passports so that the pair of them can get back to Korra and company. They bring Korra the news about the Earth Queen’s airbender army. Korra, who was already pissed about being used by the Queen to collect those taxes, is even more enraged by this, and they begin trying to form an escape plan. Jinora uses her astral projection ability to discover where Kai is being kept, and they bust him and all the other airbenders out. Unfortunately for them, the Earth Queen considers this an act of war against her kingdom.

Firebender confirmed for Sparky Sparky Boom Lady. I guess it'd be a bit much to have Azula as a villain again. *sigh*

Firebender confirmed for Sparky Sparky Boom Lady. I guess it’d be a bit much to have Azula as a villain again. *sigh*

Meanwhile, Lin Beifong has followed them to Ba Sing Se to warn them about the escaped criminal Zaheer and his comrades. It turns out the reason Korra grew up in the seclusion she did (and the reason those four were imprisoned so securely) was that they had attempted to kidnap Korra when she was very young. Now that the firebender of the four has also escaped, despite Zuko, Tonraq, Desna, and Eska’s best efforts, Lin insists that Korra return to Republic City where she can be safely guarded. Korra refuses, naturally.

Once they’ve been freed, Tenzin offers the conscripted airbenders the option of becoming Air Nomads. Bless his heart, he even phrases it as a choice rather than a god-given duty. They all take him up on it. At this point the gang splits up: Korra, Mako, Bolin, Asami, and Lin head to find the next reported airbender, and Tenzin and co. take their first crop of initiates off to the Northern Air Temple.

the-legend-of-korra-season-3-episode-5-sujinSaid next airbender turns out to be the daughter of the esteemed Metal Clan, who rule over the secure and remote metal city of Zao Fu. Lin seems reluctant to show her face there, and it turns out that it’s because the titular Metal Clan is the Beifong family, headed by her half-sister Suyin. Korra spends most of this episode trying to get Lin to reconcile with her long-estranged sister, but is unsuccessful. She also starts to train Suyin’s daughter Opal in airbending in the city, since Opal only wants to learn how to use and control her powers, not to leave her home.

Meanwhile, Zaheer has infiltrated the Air Nomad compound in Republic City, where the local airbending newbs have all gathered for lessons. He tries to blend in and get intel about where Korra and company are, but is mostly unsuccessful. He’s too clearly good at airbending already and Kya realizes who he is after calling him out on his sudden expertise. They fight and he escapes.

The first episode of this pair was pleasant in that we got to see the uppity Earth Queen laid low, but I’m interested to see if there will be any fallout from the liberation of the airbenders. The Earth Kingdom is huge; is Korra persona non grata in the whole country now or just in Ba Sing Se? This episode also tied up the Jinora/Kai pairing in a sweet preteen bow, as Jinora was able to pinpoint Kai with her projections because of their ‘special connection’, and she plants a kiss on him when they find him. Although I’ve been annoyed in the past with Legend of Korra’s insistence on pairing people up, these two are cute in a puppy love sort of way.

lin beifong watching you

I’m watching you, Suyin. (x)

I have a lot more to say about “The Metal Clan”. First of all, I think Suyin is up to no good, especially since she doesn’t seem like she’s in the wrong at all in her fight with Lin, and because it’s revealed she’s harboring Varyk despite knowing his history. It’s too easy to rely on the dichotomy of the sweet, artistic sister versus the repressed, regimented sister and paint the latter as the villain, and I don’t believe that the Avatar creative team would dally in simplistic tropes that way.

The-Metal-Clan-Bolin-and-OpalBolin immediately hit it off with Opal upon meeting her, and while, as I said, I’m kind of bored with LoK-shipping at this point (oh, the heteronormativity), I think this potential relationship could be good for him. For the first time when he tried to put his moves on a girl, she called him out for being a weirdo about it and told him to just keep being himself. Given that most of Bolin’s personal plotline last season was “Bolin is confused about the friendzone and consent”, this is a big step forward and a relief to watch.

I’m excited that Toph is out wandering the world rather than dead, because it gives us the opportunity for badass old Toph to show up at some point. I’m also surprised and impressed that the creative team was able to sneak in that line about neither of her daughters knowing their fathers—which means that a) Toph was a sexually liberated woman who didn’t need no man, and b) my theory about Lin springing fully formed from Toph’s forehead like Athena from Zeus is not Jossed!

Finally, I’m excited to have a bit of a motive for why Zaheer et al were imprisoned and what they’re after, but I am looking forward to learning the “why”. Did they want to brainwash Korra? Kill her? Ransom her? We still don’t know and I’m looking forward to a shocking reveal or two there.

I expect the next pair of episodes will give us the real truth about what is up with Suyin, because I just know something’s going on there. Other than that, I’m not sure what else to speculate about. Opal and Bolin will hit it off and maybe Opal will come with them after all? Zaheer will infiltrate the famously secure Zao Fu? Tenzin’s new recruits will start renovating the abandoned-for-centuries Air Temple? Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to it.

Will Lin's really hot artist nephew ever get his pretentious head out of his ass?

Most importantly, will Lin’s really hot artist nephew ever get his pretentious head out of his ass?