Mark Watches ‘The Legend of Korra’: S04E04 – The Calling

In the fourth episode of the fourth season of The Legend of Korra, Tenzin’s children seek out Korra, and Korra struggles to let go of her own fears. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Legend of Korra.

This episode felt like a beautiful combination of the old school “filler” episodes and a bridge to the next chapter in Korra’s story, and it worked so well. LET’S DISCUSS.

Ikki, Meelo, and Jinora

AN ENTIRE EPISODE DEVOTED TO THEIR FIRST AIRBENDER MISSION. Look, I was going to love this episode just based on this alone. Like last season, I was really pleased that the writers were giving space within the show for stories like this, and I think it makes for a richer experience as a whole. It helps build up this cast of characters into a believable world, and that’s always good for your story.

Since Jinora was the focus of a number of episodes last season, this episode focuses far more on Ikki and Meelo, though I don’t want to deny that this is also like a second Team Avatar forming right before our eyes. Well, “forming” really means “fighting for multiple days because these three kids are learning to get along.” And I like that even though this is a pretty common story trope, it’s one that needs to happen within this show for these three characters. Ikki, Meelo, and Jinora have never worked a solo mission together, and this one is a particularly difficult mission.

So where do these three mess up and where do they succeed? Initially, Meelo treats this mission like his own fantasy quest, ordering his older sisters around and imagining a journey that’s a lot less realistic than what actually happens. Ikki, on the other hand, ends up being relentless impatient about locating Korra, despite that Jinora is doing her best to try and meditate to find her. It’s not until Ikki gets away from the group that she begins to shine, and HOLY SHIT, she’s incredible. After being captured by two of Kuvira’s soldiers, she brilliantly manipulates the men into a false sense of security. It’s incredible to me to see how she uses their condescension against them by letting them believe that she’s nothing but a silly little girl who has no idea what’s going on. Granted, Jinora and Meelo do find her at the last minute, but I imagine that she could have easily incapacitated the solders without their help.

It’s only when the three of them play to their strengths that they’re able to make any progress on finding Korra. Jinora is organized and a source of stability; Ikki is crafty and cunning; Meelo is courageous and absurd. All of these qualities can be very positive, so I hope that these three learn how to cede control or expertise when it’s time for someone else to shine. (This is mostly directly at Meelo, who has the biggest issue with this.)

Facing Her Fears

I don’t know if the image of Korra sending her spirit energy into the banyan tree was meant to invoke Toph’s own powers, but I’m going to imagine a connection anyway. Part of Toph’s strength comes from her connection to the world around her – literally so. So it makes sense to me that Korra’s connection was severed over the years. I appreciated the visual representation of that in the swamp. Seeing each of the antagonists over the course of this show was a reminder that all of them had taken something from Korra’s body. Amon took her bending; Unalaq took Raava; and Zaheer stole her past Avatars, as well as nearly everything else. To have so much taken from her has left her feeling lost and violated, and it’s why her past trauma still haunts her.

I wouldn’t say that Toph’s no-nonsense treatment is best for everybody. That kind of therapy would be useless on me, for example, but Korra is pushed by Toph into confronting the fears that are holding her back. Perhaps Toph was right in the last episode and Korra was reluctant to become the Avatar again because she was afraid she be harmed once more. Which is a totally fair thing to fear, for the record! But Korra wanted to get past this and badly. I love that what this ultimately comes down to is a connection to positivity. The final image of season three was a hint towards what Korra’s emotional state would be like in this season. I think she subconsciously knew then that she’d be disconnected from the world, but she buried it within her. It only made things worse, especially as she tried to heal. She’d already convinced herself that she wasn’t part of the world anymore, and her confirmation bias got the best of her.

Nature plays such a huge part in the narrative of The Legend of Korra, so I was pleased that the banyan tree helped symbolize Korra’s return to the Avatar state. Korra needed roots, and she found those in the people she loved and who cared for her. And that includes Toph, who would probably punch me for saying that, but SHE TOTALLY CARES.

Holy shit, the Avatar is back. Probably not fully yet, and I’m guessing Korra will need more training to get back to full health. So, will she be going after Kuvira next? She didn’t seem too thrilled about the prospect, so I’m wondering if she’ll sit this out for a while.

The video for “The Calling” 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. this summer and fall 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.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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