Legend of Korra: “The Stakeout” Review

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Last week we ended on Korra and co. sneaking out of Zaofu with Su’s help. This week picks up right where we left off: with the gang riding out to capture Aiwe.

Spoilers below the jump!

Aiwe doesn’t have that much of a lead on the kids, but they’re met with an unexpected problem in the first town they head into: the Earth Queen has put bounties out on all four of them for crimes against the kingdom. This instantly makes their quest twice as hard, as not only do they still have to find their fugitive truthseer, they have to do it without tipping off any authorities, bounty hunters, or opportunistic locals.

korra-the-stakeoutEventually they track down Aiwe’s getaway car in the mountains outside Zaofu. Mako and Bolin head into the town to search for him, while Asami and Korra look for further clues as to his plans and his connection to Zaheer. They find out the name of the place where he’s supposed to meet up with Zaheer, but they can’t find the location on any of their maps. Meanwhile, in town, the boys quickly spot the truthseer, and they regroup and head back into town to stake out his room.

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Asami wins every game, by the way.

Unfortunately, Korra’s not the most patient Avatar in the history of the world, and she’s definitely not cut out to be a cop either. After a few hours of waiting (during which Bolin and Asami have an epic pai sho tournament), she becomes suspicious that Aiwe has still not left his room and storms out of their hiding place. Upon entering, they discover that Aiwe is in a deep meditative state, and Korra realizes that the reason they couldn’t find the rendezvous spot is that it’s in the spirit world. She quickly begins to meditate as well.

Once in the spirit world, Korra tracks down Aiwe and Zaheer just in time to see Zaheer pitch Aiwe’s spirit into the Fog of Lost Souls—the Nickelodeon version of an assassination. Korra confronts him about what he’s after, and… he’s happy to tell her. Finally we get to find out his motives!

Zaheer explains to Korra that he’s part of a group called the Red Lotus. The White Lotus, whose mission is to protect the Avatar, is a mere bastardization of the Red Lotus, which arose during the Hundred Years War. The Red Lotus blames Avatar Wan for severing the connections between the human and spirit worlds, and wants to send the world back into its natural state of chaos by destroying all forms of order and government. He tries to win Korra to his side, citing the tyranny of the Earth Queen, the greed of Ozai’s firebenders, and the incompetence of the Republic City president, but she rejects his beliefs as anarchistic and dangerous.

Meanwhile, in the human world, Zaheer has managed tell his compatriots where they can find Korra, but Mako and Bolin manage to hold them off long enough for Asami to escape with Korra’s still-unconscious body. However, the escape doesn’t last long: when Korra wakes up from her trance, she and Asami are in chains. (Well, Asami’s in chains; Korra’s dolled up like Hannibal Lecter, mask and all.) korra-stakeoutIt wasn’t Zaheer who caught up with the two girls, though, but the Earth Queen’s forces. While they send the two back to Ba Sing Se to face the Queen’s justice, Mako and Bolin are also in a pinch: they’ve been captured by Zaheer’s Red Lotus gang.

So, what did y’all think? There were definitely some good moments this episode, don’t get me wrong—I love seeing Mako being all srs bsns cop Mako, and Bolin’s undercover personality stories sounded like something straight out of the mouth of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Jake Peralta—I just found its reveals kind of a let-down.

First of all, Zaheer’s motives were pretty boring. “Some men just want to watch the world burn” can be interesting if done right, I suppose, but it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. (What was I expecting? I’m not sure. More family drama, possibly? Someone with a vendetta from Aang’s lifetime taking it out on the new Avatar? A political intrigue that wasn’t “let’s get rid of politics”?) I’d especially like some clarification regarding Korra’s part in their plots. Do they want the Avatar as a figurehead for their anarchy plan? Were they planning to raise her in their mindset if they’d succeeded in the kidnapping? Or, since the Avatar’s job is to bring balance to the world, do they want to kill her and throw the world into deeper chaos?

Aiwe turned out to be a big old plot device, and was quite literally discarded as soon as his usefulness to the story was past. And, like, he certainly wasn’t a nice guy, but I’m sure even Korra would find eternal condemnation to the Fog of Lost Souls a little drastic as far as punishment fitting the crime is concerned.

I’m also kind of grumped about Asami. I wrote last week about how I really hoped she’d play a bigger part this episode. And while she certainly had more screentime, the gang keeps ending up in bending-heavy situations where Asami can’t really do anything to help. Hopefully next week (which I assume will involve some prison-breaking and strategizing) will be heavier on good moments for her character and interesting interactions between her and Korra.

There are only three more weeks and four more episodes left in Book 3, and I’m crossing my fingers that things pick up before then. There are a lot of untied plot strings still floating around—the Earth Queen, the new airbenders, the Airbenders at the Air Temple, Kai and Jinora, Su and Lin, Opal and Bolin, and of course Zaheer—and I’m beginning to fear that they’re going to be left for next season. But hey, maybe the show will prove me wrong. Till next week, kids!


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