Mark Watches ‘The Legend of Korra’: S02E04 – Civil Wars, Part II

In the fourth episode of the second season of The Legend of Korra, Korra fights for her parents and discovers a disturbing truth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Legend of Korra.


Tenzin / Ikki

Why does it feel like my heart is in shreds? Well, we all know why: adorable scenes of father-daughter bonding amidst sky bison. It is a recipe for emotional disaster, y’all. I mean, I am particularly more emotionally fragile than usual as of late, but come on. THIS WAS WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR ME. I can’t believe I didn’t put together the obvious parallel between Ikki and Tenzin, both of who were dealing with the challenges of siblings. There’s something appealing to me about Tenzin bringing himself down to Ikki’s level as an adult, but I could also read their scenes as an attempt to elevate Ikki, too.

I’ve been writing a lot about validation lately, though not just because it’s been popping up in the works I’m reading and watching. I think you can see Tenzin as validating his daughter’s frustrations while also understanding his own. “Civil Wars, Part II” resolves their problems without claiming that the solution will prevent further problems. As Ikki says, being part of a family is hard. There’s this (misguided) notion that relationships should never require work, that the best ones are the easiest ones. I don’t agree with that, and I think that’s often how they go sour so spectacularly. In the case of these two characters, both of them are, at times, justifiably hurt by what their siblings do, but they can still find ways to repair those relationships. There’s still hope. There are still things they can communicate to each other to make sure that at the end of the day, they can remain family.

Civil War

I KNEW IT. This just felt so wrong. To the show’s credit, they ramped up the surreal nature of this. It was bizarre to hear of Varrick and Tonraq in the same sentence as “traitor” because… well, that wasn’t what was happening. How could you be a traitor to someone who wasn’t even your tribe’s leader? But that’s the point of all of this. Like I suggested in the last review, Unalaq knew exactly what he was doing the entire time. Perhaps he didn’t predict the kidnapping attempt, but he knew how to react to it in order to keep Korra on his side while still taking Tonraq out of the equation.

It’s really disturbing to think about. Granted, I think some of the political corruption feels heavy handed and simplistic, but it accomplishes what it needs to for the story. We need to have a trial that seems impossible to win. We need it to be public so that the entire citizenry sees that Tonraq and the other “rebels” are going to be executed. And we absolutely needed to see Unalaq offer up mercy, sparing the life of his brother as if he deeply cares about Tonraq. It’s all part of a public form of manipulation, and it’s horrifying. Like, the amount of greed on display here, y’all!

But greed only touches the surface. Sure, Unalaq wants power, but his desire for that power is rooted in a sense of entitlement and cultural superiority. There’s a part of me that believes he’s doing all this shit because he thinks he is right, that it’s his moral imperative to take over the Southern Water Tribe. We still don’t know if his claims regarding the spirit portals are truthful! Does he have some ulterior motive, or will it really stop the dark spirits from attacking those in the South? Here’s the problem I have believing him: WE ALREADY KNOW UNALAQ IS WILLING TO CREATE CONFLICT IN ORDER TO ELEVATE HIMSELF. So what if the dark spirits are a ruse? What if he made them manifest and attack the Southern Water Tribe to give him a reason to take it over?

Ugh, this is so creepy to think about.

I loved that through this all, Tonraq and Korra were able to come to terms with one another, though. That journey has been a very rough thing to witness, of course, and I appreciate that when Korra and Tonraq are reunited, the show doesn’t sweep all their concerns about one another away. Even though Tonraq ends up being right about his brother, that doesn’t mean that Korra’s desire for respect and independence is suddenly invalidated. Hell, I’d say that their last conversation here is a great sign of how much they have come to understand each other. When Tonraq tells Korra that she needs to seek out the help of the United Forces, she doesn’t immediately distrust her father’s suggestion. Tonraq also implicitly trusts his daughter and her capabilities! That’s why he sends her off to help out in the upcoming civil war.

I still can’t believe how quickly this season has escalated. This just started and so much has happened!

The video for “Civil Wars, Part II” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.K., and Ireland. Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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