Legend of Korra: “Long Live the Queen” Review

book-3-changeThis week’s episode picks up right where we left off last time: everyone’s been captured, Korra’s trussed up like Hannibal, and we’re on our way back to Ba Sing Se.

Spoilers below the jump.

korra-queenOut on the Earth Queen’s airship, Korra and Asami quickly gain the upper hand when Asami realizes that the ship is a crappy Cabbagecorp model. She’s able to bust out of their cell and go steal the keys to unlock Korra’s… everything, and the two quickly take control of the ship. A problem arises, though, when the excessive force Korra uses to overwhelm the captain disables the airship’s steering and sends it careening into a sand dune. The captain is happy to sit and wait for a rescue from other Earth Kingdom forces, but the threat of being eaten by a giant sand monster forces the crew and the girls to work together to build something that can get them out of the desert fast.

Meanwhile, Mako and Bolin have been brought before the Earth Queen by the Red Lotus, who are posing as bounty hunters, and who offer to trade the boys for Korra when she arrives. The Earth Queen is amenable to this, and throws Mako and Bolin in her dungeons while Zaheer and his friends settle in for the airship to arrive. The terrorists change their plans, however, when they overhear a transmission that the Avatar’s airship has crashed, and turn on the Queen. Zaheer airbends the air right out of her body, and then takes to the radio to inform the city that they no longer have a ruler, and to live freely as his belief system intended people to do. His lavabender destroys the walls between the rings, and the city appears to rejoice. Zaheer lets Mako and Bolin out of prison on the condition that they’ll deliver a message to Korra from him.

Out in the desert, Korra, Asami, and the crew finally arrive at an oasis—where, conveniently, Korra’s father, Lin, and Lord Zuko are waiting for them. When Korra asks how they tracked her down, Lin scoffs “I am a detective!” Tonroq introduces Korra to Zuko, and the adults update the girls on Ba Sing Se: the queen is dead and the city has fallen into chaos.

legend-of-korra-asamiOkay, so if you’ve been reading my reviews the last few weeks you know exactly what I’m happy about this week: Asami finally did a thing! She finally got to use her own unique skill set to help out in a sticky situation, which is legitimately all I have wanted from the show for the last month. Her understanding of the make and layout of the airship, her hand-to-hand skills, and her engineering abilities were crucial in helping the two girls escape the Earth Kingdom’s clutches (and in escaping the belly of a sand monster).

I did, however, find the interactions between Korra and the airship crew after it was downed kind of awkward. I suppose the writers were trying to send the message that even the random goons who transport the hero to the villain are people just doing their jobs, and this being a kid’s show, they couldn’t have them all die in the airship crash. But once the four crewmembers did emerge from the wreck of the ship, all they really had for Korra and Asami were some strongly worded complaints. They didn’t bother even attempting to recapture the girls, in favor of whining about how they’d been mistreated by them. While this may have been because they knew that, in a fair fight, they had no chance of defeating Korra and Asami, it would have seemed more realistic if they had tried and failed to fight them first. It would have given us more reason for these four random dudes to suddenly kowtow to their recent prisoners. The sand monster seemed less like a genuine threat and more like a desperate plot device to force the crew to work with Korra and get out of the desert before the rescue airship arrived.

Despite Lin’s well-founded point that she is, in fact, a detective, it was almost too convenient for the three most respectable adult figures in the show to happen to be waiting in the one oasis that Korra and Asami discovered. (On the note of Lin’s being a detective, how much longer is that gonna last? She’s been AWOL for weeks now. Is she going to have a job when she gets back to Republic City?) I also think that they missed a really great chance for Zuko to make a joke—when introduced, he mentions that he met her once before when she was a very little girl. I was really hoping he was going to say, “I met you once before when you were a small airbender boy.”

Finally, let’s look at the last and most important plot development this episode: the death of the Earth Queen. I’ve been waiting for the show to reveal a darker side to airbending a la waterbending’s bloodbending, and this certainly exceeds expectations. No wonder the Air Nomads embraced pacifism so fiercely—this is not a skill with limits like bloodbending; this is something any airbender could do at any time if they were so inclined. This also takes the cake for on-screen violence in Korra so far: while the series is full of martial arts, it rarely deals in this sort of long-lasting bodily harm. They showed almost the whole thing, too—the only part missing was a shot of the Earth Queen’s corpse falling to the ground, which apparently would have been too graphic. It also apparently would have been too graphic to let viewers hear Zaheer or anyone else say the words “kill” or “dead”—the whole cast dealt in variations of the phrase “taken down” throughout the end of the episode, which was kind of sketchy. I know that this is, again, a children’s show, but it was really awkward to have everyone dancing around saying the actual word “death”.

All in all, this episode was kind of “meh”. While it had some really interesting plot twists and high-stakes events, I also just found the writing a little unbelievable, so I’m hoping stuff picks up next week. There are only three episodes left in this season, so we’re running out of time to wrap up some of our remaining hanging plot threads. We still haven’t figured out why the Red Lotus is after Korra, but I’m hoping we’ll find out soon. I’m curious as to what will happen in Ba Sing Se, as I’m sure it won’t stay an anarchy-ridden mess, and I’m still curious as to whether Bolin will be able to metalbend. Maybe old Toph will show up and teach him?

Till next week!

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