Well I was hoping I could beat Chuck on thoroughness but it turns out even he covered the Promise in his LoK review. Still, you should go watch his stuff, it’s all pretty good and only tasteless 72% of the time.
the Voice in the Night
Good job to the show writers. 2 things that make this episode good and really weaken the mary sue accusations against Korra. 1) She actually shows vulnerability (real vulnerability) and fear, even loses a fight. 2) We ‘ve seen her, several episodes now, still practicing air exercises. That was, I think, my biggest hang up with the first series. We’d see Aang struggle to learn the intro lesson then *poof* he was proficient at it. Yes we can assume he practiced plenty between episodes but it works better to reinforce the image in the audience’s mind. I’m hoping we’ll see Korra’s air skills gradually improve over the season.
The politics was also a nice touch and a good lesson for kids to learn that you can’t always brute-force your way through every difficulty. I’m also assuming we’ve seen Amon’s regular identity this episode though I forced myself to avoid looking at the voice credits for Steve Blum’s 2nd character. (Unless they’re going to go the Batman:Mask of the Phantasm route and actually have the masked/unmasked character have different voices for both states.) Is he say… that council guy trying to “seduce” Korra, playing both sides of the conflict to gain power (obvious narrative move) or is Amon the rich industrialist or his daughter who really believes in “equality”. I’m somewhat doubting that though I wish they would go that route. Villainous fanatics in modern fiction almost always are either cynical. When they are genuine fanatics, it’s towards an organization (cult or country or religion) or a cause so outlandish that nobody could possibly be offended. Equality is one of the prime ethos of our age so to show a villain being dangerously fanatical of it would be ballzy.
On the other hand, they haven’t quite made the full case for Amon being a villain just yet (other then generic antagonist labeling). Consider a moment the raid scene. If it wasn’t for the big poster of Amon in the room, what was the crime of the people attacked by the benders? For all we know, some may have just signed up there to learn the only self-defense muggles have against benders. (man there’s a thought – imagine an earth or water bender also mastered chi blocking: they can disable you from afar!) Yet when the raid attacks, we see people frozen in ice full-bodied and head. I hope they didn’t spend more than a minute or two there else they suffered from sever brain trauma and hypothermia.
So in the end, Amon leaves Korra unharmed. I’m ok with this as his reasoning is sound. She wouldn’t just be a martyr, but a wake-up call. After all, for now, most benders can just dismiss and ignore Amon. “It can’t happen to me.” But mundane the Avatar? They would quickly realize that no one is safe. Though I do wish Amon had brought up the raid and point out that Korra increased his numbers. Because so far in the show, she’s done a better job of making his case than he has. Though part of me wonders: does he have to take away ALL of her bending? What if he just… took away her fire or earth ability? Imagine the head game that would be.
Though two things bug me about this whole “spirit bending”. 1) It seems obvious that if he can take away this power, he can also grant it. So… what if he did? That could also be an interesting take on the “equalist” movement that he gives muggles the power they weren’t born with (I’m still wanting to see faux-avatars). 2) Maybe this is a reincarnation thing I don’t get but how can anyone spiritually overpower the avatar? They can enter an “avatar-state” that brings down the power/spirit of every avatar before them so how can anyone defeat them spiritually? It’s like your one spirit vs thousands of theirs. Though that raises the possibility that Amon WAS taught by the spirits and they might even be actively helping him. (maybe they, or one of them, just think humans need to be brought down a peg) A watchable must see.
the Spirit of Competition
LET THE SHIPPING WARS BEGIN! (at time of writing, 4 of the top 5 results were LoK related)
Eh, I don’t care about shipping, only bad writing. (which is why I’m more of a Luna/Harry guy than Ginny/Harry, the former was at least written well and set up more than the later) At this point, I’m just wondering if what’s-his-name studied at Sokka’s “chick-bending” school on the weekends he was away from fire-bending college.
I am going to object a bit at Chuck’s critique of this episode. He compares the comic-relief brother to Sokka (the original comic-relief brother). However, he ends up comparing 3 and a half seasons (we’re counting the Promise remember?) against a guy that’s been with us 4 episodes. Yeah there wasn’t that much emotional impact in the scene but we’re still just getting to know all these characters. I don’t remember Sokka being that sympathetic or deep himself after just that many.
I don’t know how required this episode is yet in the grand scheme, but it’s entertaining.