In the tenth episode of the third season of The Legend of Korra, YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Legend of Korra.
Well, everything is even more messed up than it was before. LET’S DISCUSS.
If Zaheer truly believes that the Avatar is misguided, supporting a system that will ultimately prove to be disastrous to the world, then I’d be interested in what he’d say about Korra’s actions in this episode. Of course, he’ll never know, and her behavior here is immaterial to his greater political discourse. But by the end of “Long Live the Queen,” Korra, along with Asami, accomplishes something that is frankly impossible.
She convinces an entire group of Earth Kingdom soldiers to let her walk away free.
The more I think about Korra’s role here, the more impressed I am with her as a character. And I think that’s also a testament to how much she’s grown since the first season! At the start of this episode, she and Asami act out of self-preservation. That desperation fuels them to escape captivity, though let’s be real. Asami is the one who frees them both. ASAMI IS WONDERFUL, MAKE HER QUEEN OF THE WORLD. The thing is, both of them could have been a whole lot worse to the guards who were tasked with delivering them to the Earth Queen. Yes, they use violence initially to disarm the guards, but after Korra accidentally causes the airship to crash, Korra and Asami change their approach.
You can see that in the way they stop antagonizing these men and do what they can to inspire them to work together to repair the airship. Granted, there was an extenuating circumstance: A GODDAMN SAND SHARK. It’s easy to see how motivating one of those can be! Still, even when the sand shark bites the airship in half, Korra and Asami direct the group into a new project, building a sand sailer. Again, let’s acknowledge how Asami’s engineering expertise saves LITERALLY EVERYONE. It’s easy to see how much more difficult this situation would have been without her.
One of my favorite moments in this episode is related to that. I love that the captain is so appreciative of Asami and Korra, enough that he decides to abandon his mission. Like, do you realize what a huge thing that is, given how the Queen reacts to insubordination? This captain and his crew were totally willing to usurp orders because they were thankful for what Asami and Korra did for them. They saved their lives!
And it’s that kind of interpersonal shit that I think makes Korra such an important person. Yeah, she’s flawed, she makes mistakes, and she’s learning to become a more thoughtful, patient person. But she’s got such a good, genuine heart! Despite what Zaheer might say, I find that kindness and consideration to be a political act in itself. Her job is to create balance within the world, and what better way is there than through this kind of charity and respect?
The Red Lotus
I believe that is intentional because the writers are trying to juxtapose how Korra deals with conflicts and how Zaheer does. At first, Zaheer negotiates with a moral enemy simply to get what he wants. (I still don’t know what that is, and it’s scaring me more and more. WHY IS KORRA SO IMPORTANT TO ALL OF THIS?) But that momentary concession is just a means to an end. As soon as Zaheer believes that Queen Hou-Ting can’t provide him with what he wants, what does he do?
He murders her by AIRBENDING THE AIR OUT OF HER LUNGS.
It’s such a horrific death, and that’s still the case even though I never once found Hou-Ting to be sympathetic. It’s a violent and cruel way for someone to die, and it’s something that Korra would never do. So how can Zaheer claim to be doing something moral? How can this be a way to achieve balance?
I think the answer to that lies in Zaheer’s concept of what balance is. In a lot of ways, he subscribes to an anarchist way of thought since he wants to strip this society of all masters, kings, and queens. He wants to dissolve any establishment that seeks to pollute individual freedom and autonomy. He wishes for all people to exist on a metaphorical blank page, to possess the same power and options as any other person.
The obvious flaw in all of this, though, is that you cannot make people blank slates. You might be able to erase elements of this society – like the Earth Queen, for example – but that doesn’t eliminate socialization. Prejudice. Bigotry. Hatred. All these things still exist, and people will simply swoop in to fill the vacuum left in the wake of all this extinguished power. All we hear at the end of “Long Live the Queen” is that rioting and looting of the royal palace has gotten out of control. But what if it gets worse? What if other people take advantage of this newfound “freedom”? For the moment Zaheer’s rebellion is probably empowering to those who have been oppressed for decades. But that can’t last, can it? There appears to be no real plan in place for what the citizens of Ba Sing Se are supposed to do next. The looting of the palace is a temporary act, so what comes after? What are these people supposed to do as their governments fall? Does he expect humanity to just figure this shit out on their own while also avoiding all the problems he had with the world in the first place?
I really need to know what Zaheer wants. I also sense that I’m going to regret asking for that.
The video for “Long Live the Queen” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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