In the fourth episode of the first season of The Legend of Korra, Amon’s powers frighten Republic City, and Korra must deal with her own fears and the pressures of the local government. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Legend of Korra.
I can tell this isn’t going to be an easy journey for Korra, but “The Voice in the Night” does show us how much Korra has grown since we first met her. I was struck by how much more calm and reserved she was during this episode. Granted, that’s partially because of the fear of Amon that she is overwhelmed by, but part of me believes that she’s genuinely trying to learn her airbending properly, too. Truthfully, though, “The Voice in the Night” demonstrates just how stressful Korra’s life has become. She has so many things she has to worry about, and Amon is just the most dangerous of them all.
This episode introduces us to the government of Republic City, the United Republic Council, which is made up of one bender from each of the main tribes/elements. It’s here that Tarrlok becomes the source of most of Korra’s woes, especially since he emotionally manipulates her over the course of a few days in order to get her to join his Equalist task force. Is this all a plot for him to gain more power? I wouldn’t put it past him; he’s quite the weasel here, often choosing to use some pretty terrible tactics to get what he wants. But the issue presented by him is important. Should they go after Amon? Will they regret this if they don’t? Tarrlok references Aang’s defeat of someone (Yakown? Yakone? IDEK) as justification for why they should take initiative immediately. I don’t understand what it means, but I got the sense that Tarrlok believed that it was time for benders to go on the offensive. Personally, I don’t know if that’s the right answer, and I was happy to see Tenzin bring up a really good point: couldn’t the government’s actions inspire a further divide between benders and non-benders? I wish he’d elaborated on this, as he seems to be the only one who wants a solution that addresses the concerns of the non-benders without having to give in to Amon’s violent revolution.
Amon, however, is the real manipulator in this episode. What Tarrlok does is child’s play compared to him. God, that radio message that he sends out is so creepy! Again, he is playing off a legitimate concern – the oppression and terror created by the benders – to inspire non-benders to join his cause. And of course he knew that Korra would be listening to him! As terrifying as his power is, I really think his best weapon is his ability to inspire fear in others.
It’s that specific fear that affects Korra so strongly throughout “The Voice in the Night.” Her nightmare that opens this episode is a perfect representation of what she’s feeling, and it’s the main reason why she surprises Tarrlok and Tenzin when she refuses to join the task force. Ugh, the worst part about this is that she was making the right decision. She wasn’t ready to face Amon, and it was more important for her to dedicate her time to airbending! Yes, she was so afraid of the leader of the Equalists that it upset her entire mental balance, but she was still making a good decision. It’s here that Tarrlok starts harassing Korra, first with gifts, and then with psychological motivation, in order to get her to relent and join his task force.
Paralleled with this is Mako’s surprisingly pleasant experience with a young woman who ran him over, Asami. Guess I was right that the show isn’t going to pursue a Korra/Mako relationship! It was kind of a nice contrast to have a character on this show experience something that wasn’t super sad. Asami is nice! She is very kind! She isn’t a totally asshole about being rich! She treats Mako well! I LIKE HER, GOSH DARN IT. And her father (voiced by Daniel Dae Kim, who I recognized within ONE SENTENCE) seems pretty sweet, too. He solves the Fire Ferrets’ problem with meeting the ante requirement for the pro-bending tournament. THEY’RE SPONSORED. That’s so awesome! And Bolin seems rather excited about this development, too.
Oh hell, can I talk about Bolin? I LIKE HIM SO MUCH. His little gift to Korra is so sweet, and I love that he isn’t totally gutted that she doesn’t gush over it. He genuinely seems to want her as a close friend. I mean, I do get the sense that he likes her in a “This-girl-rules-and-I-have-a-crush” kind of way, but he’s not gross and invasive about it. Actually, he treats her in the exact opposite way that Tarrlok does. THAT IS A VERY NEAT PARALLEL. Tarrlok will do anything to get Korra’s attention and to get her to do what he wants, and Bolin just treats Korra with respect and excitement because he thinks she is awesome.
Things get more complicated for Korra, though, and I love that there’s a scene where Tenzin tries to get her to open up. It’s clear that he’s giving her more space to train airbending than when he started. I think he recognizes that a rigid structure won’t help her. Still, he wants to offer her support, and that’s why he offers a sympathetic ear. Oh, Korra, IT’S SO OBVIOUS SOMETHING IS WRONG. Just talk to him! I didn’t expect her to, though, because she’s got such an independent spirit. It’s not like her to ask for help, and it’s clear that she wanted to figure this out on her own.
AND THEN TARRLOK TRICKS HER. Oh my god, I knew there had to be a twist to that gala. Ugh, just watching Korra’s face as she is bombarded by questions was so agonizing to me. How can she tell these people that she’s scared? The immense pressure that she’s under as the Avatar – AND SHE IS ONLY A TEENAGER!!! – is completely inconceivable to the reporters. They’ve put her on a pedestal, they expect nothing but success from her, and they’ve already dictated who she is supposed to be to them.
TARRLOK KNEW ALL OF THIS AND THAT’S WHY HE SET HER UP. Ugh, I don’t like him at all. My god, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO THIS GIRL?
That being said, HOW COOL IS THAT RAID??? Ugh, the animation for this show is ridiculous, and I loved how tense and dramatic that whole scene is. I honestly thought it was going to lead to a trap, not a successful mission. They actually captured all the Equalists in the chi blocking training room, and it inspires Korra to make a REALLY BAD DECISION: to challenge Amon to a duel. Yeah, I would listen to Tenzin, Korra. This is NOT A GOOD IDEA. Also, I noticed that Tarrlok said that he had tried to talk Korra out of this, but his reaction sounds like he barely tried. I’m sure he was happy to have Korra face Amon alone so he didn’t have to do it himself. UGH, I STILL DON’T LIKE HIM.
So, yeah. Obviously, the duel backfires. I didn’t think the show would have them truly battle in the fourth episode. It’s too soon! What I didn’t expect was Amon’s horrifically creepy warning about Korra being the last bender to fall. Like, seriously, he has a plan to remove all bending from everyone, and he’ll do Korra last? That’s fucking upsetting y’all. But not as bewildering as KORRA SEEING SOKKA, TOPH, AND AANG AS ADULTS WHEN SHE IS KNOCKED OUT. What the fuck?!?!?! What the hell does that mean? Why did that happen? WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!!? This show is already punching me right in the feelings, and I’ve just barely started it.
Well, the weird flashback vision isn’t the only thing that got me emotional. Korra’s tearful breakdown to Tenzin is touching. She thought she could overcome her fears by ignoring them, and that made things even worse when she was forced to face them head on. I am glad the show validated Korra’s fear, especially since she’s still just human at the end of the day. Her ability to bend doesn’t mean she is absolved from fear.
This show is getting intense. I’m rather happy with it so far.
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