Mark Watches ‘The Legend of Korra’: S01E11 – Skeletons in the Closet

In the eleventh episode of the first season of The Legend of Korra, Korra and Mako learn the truth about Tarrlok and Amon. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Legend of Korra.

Okay, a few things I need to discuss before I get to the MIND MELT that is Amon.

  • I seriously can’t get over the idea that “equality” means violently stripping people of their bending. It’s so messed up!
  • I kind of think that Mako is an asshole? I’m intrigued by his character, and I generally think he’s written okay, but is he supposed to be so dense? Asami just told him that she knows he has feelings for Korra, and so he constantly acts all lovey-dovey and dedicated to Korra in front of Asami? The thing is, Mako is normally such an astute guy, so I can’t believe he is this oblivious to what he’s doing to Asami. If he is, then ew. I mean, it seems like Asami is willing to forgive him and move on from her own pain, perhaps for the sake of war, but for real, his behavior is kind of gross at this point.
  • I don’t think I’ve stopped to say this yet, so let me do it now: this show is gorgeous. The battle scene between the biplanes and the United Forces ships is so wonderfully animated.
  • Fuck, Amon is literally removing the bending powers from people one by one. What the fuck?

So, that leaves us with Tarrlok and Amon. I’ll admit that the expository nature of Amon’s backstory seemed a bit forced at first, especially since it was so long. It took up the vast majority of this episode. For real, why can’t this season be twice as long? I WANT MORE EPISODES. But the content of the flashback finally gives us all the context for why Tarrlok and Amon acted the way they did.

They were both raised by an abusive father, first of all. We might not have seen Yakone hit his sons, but the verbal and emotional abuse was all their. Yakone saw his sons as pawns of revenge and nothing more. The way he treated them… good god, it was hard to watch. But the real surprise, though, was the reveal that Amon, once named Noatak, is a waterbender. Like, HOLY SHIT. That just made his character a BILLION TIMES MORE FASCINATING. Is he operating out of self-hatred? Internalized oppression? Is he trying to atone for his sins by making it so that no one can bend? Oh god, I suddenly have a BILLION MORE QUESTIONS. Honestly, I think it’s a brilliant choice on the part of the writers. My only worry is that Amon will be defeated in the final episode and the show will be done with him. You just made him the most interesting character on the show! You can’t get rid of him now. UNFAIR.

But I want to dissect what this means for the Equalist revolution. We see moments of Tarrlok’s story where Amon could have easily turned out differently. Amon was obsessed with being “equal” as a child, but his father destroyed that sense in him by treating him so inhumanly. You can also tell that Amon inherently knew that Yakone’s threats towards Tarrlok were wrong. That’s why he bloodbent his father. But at the same time, Amon had this Damien Omen creepiness to him. He was able to detach himself from the reality of what he was doing when he bloodbent other animals. He was quick to insult Tarrlok after saving him from Yakone. And so what we get are two distinct extremes operating in the same person. Amon grew believing that the most supreme power in the world belonged to the Avatar specifically because of Aang’s ability to energybend. He hated the unfairness of the world. He loved the power that came with his unique and special bending powers. All of these factors contributed to the man who is now busy violently taking over Republic City.

And really, I just feel so sad for Amon. That’s why I like that Tarrlok’s final line was, “Put an end to this sad, sad story.” When you think about it, that’s exactly what this is, and Korra confirms it: it’s one of the saddest stories imaginable. Hell, I was abused as a kid and a teenager, and even I can’t imagine how awful it must have felt to know that your father didn’t love you and was only using you since you were a child. All of these conflicting ideas and issues were thrust upon this kid at such a young age, and it clearly affected who he would become years later. I’m interested to hear Amon’s side of this once he’s exposed as a bender. How can he keep his own bending, which allows him to steal the bending of others, if he believes it is an impurity? How much of what he believes is a way for him to erase the pain his father caused him? Does he hate Korra because her predecessor harmed his father?

This seriously is a complicated mess. And I’m perfectly fine with that. I’m glad it’s not easy to navigate something like this. But I suppose I’ll need to save a lot of my thoughts on this until I see the final episode. My god, how is there only one left? How are the writers going to resolve this in just twenty-four minutes? WHY ISN’T THERE MORE?

Well, there is more for all of you. I’ll be posting the second half of the finale (since this aired right before episode twelve in real time) later today. MORE KORRA ALL OF THE TIME.

Today’s video was commissioned by Ryan Lohner!

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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