Mark Watches ‘The Legend of Korra’: S01E09 – Out of the Past

In the ninth episode of the first season of The Legend of Korra, Korra looks to her Avatar past to find a way to escape Tarrlok’s clutches. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Legend of Korra.

At this point, I have but one concern for The Legend of Korra: how are the writers going to wrap up all of these plot points in just three episodes? There are multiple story lines at work here!

  • Amon
  • Equalists vs benders
  • non-benders vs benders
  • the whole “Asami/Mako/Korra” thing. (I’m leaving Bolin out since he genuinely seems to not care about this.
  • Tarrlok being horrible
  • Tarrlok being Yakone’s son
  • Korra being unable to airbend
  • 4,000 other plots

While I definitely don’t need them all answered and addressed, I’m just worried that this is a lot to cram into a twelve-episode season, especially since there is only an hour or so of actual screen time. How on earth is this all going to be dealt with? How much is going to be carried over into season two? I know that I’ll have to wait for any sort of resolution, but I wanted to bring up the fact that this show is moving fast. There’s enough material here for a normal 20-odd episode season, but god, only three episodes left? NOOOOOOO.

I’d like to split up this review to cover the two main plots that we’re given over the course of “Out of the Past.”

The Past

I loved the idea that Korra needed to be in a situation of extreme isolation to finally meditate successfully. Yes, it’s super fucked up that Tarrlok has her imprisoned in a tiny metal box, barely big enough to hold her, but it’s in this environment that she’s finally able to calm her mind, to ignore the distractions of the outside world, and enter the visions she’s been getting from Avatar Aang. Those visions, which we finally get to see in full, are both shocking and glorious. Look, I just didn’t expect this show to give us glimpses of all of the old Team Avatar as adults. Well, minus Katara, that is, though she was in the premiere episode. It was such a joy to hear them talk, to hear Toph call Aang Twinkle Toes, to hear Sokka speak lovingly of his boomerang. I CAN’T. I CAN’T DEAL WITH THIS. Oh god, they’re adults. This is so strange to think about! Sokka has public responsibilities. That is both hilarious and utterly terrifying. Okay, he does seem to have matured a lot, so I’ll give him that. Oh god, those damn visions made me want an entire series that’s just Avatar: The Last Airbender and All His Adult Adventures.

Anyway, on a totally serious note, you’ll see in the Mark Watches video at the end of this post that I totally didn’t figure out why this vision was so important. The whole time, I thought that Korra would learn a way to combat bloodbending. Well, technically, she does. Aang uses energybending to remove Yakone’s bending. (Actually, at the exact instant that happened, I suddenly got this image of Amon, and now the parallels between Aang and Amon are in my brain.) But the horrifying glimpse of the past – and of Aang’s troubles running Republic City – were a warning of sorts. And I think it’s possible to see two meanings to this vision. First and foremost, Tarrlok is Yakone’s son. HASDFJKHASDKLJFH AJKSLDFH AKLJSDHF ASLDKF DIDN’T SEE IT COMING AT ALL. And Tarrlok is doing what his father failed to do the first time around. God, I know that the issue is only brought up in a few lines, but I really do love this idea of a father and son trying to wield the power of Republic City through crime and then through public service. That subtext – that the government itself can be an instrument of terror and oppression – is just so rad to see on the show.

Second, though, I could also see Aang warning Katara about what she’ll have to do in order to maintain balance in Republic City. I don’t know that Aang had much of a history with energybending aside from Yakone and Fire Lord Ozai. My guess is that he used it sparingly, only removing a person’s bending if he felt it absolutely necessary. But even that is a morally gray zone, and there’s a part of me that thinks it would be neat if Aang’s vision was a warning about that. He could be telling her that she has one hell of a journey ahead of her, and she can’t keep viewing things in such a black and white manner. She’ll have to do things she might consider horrible in order to keep the peace.

But that’s just me imagining things. IT’S FUN. IT’S WHAT WE DO. So I’m interested to see if Korra’s ability to actually meditate will mean she can start to airbend soon. Perhaps that journey isn’t over yet for her, but she finally made some progress!

The Present

It’s really frustrating to see the rest of Team Avatar fall completely for Tarrlok’s lie, especially since they attempt to find Korra IN AN EQUALIST BASE. Holy shit, and Tarrlok does absolutely nothing to prevent these people from getting hurt. WHAT A HORRIBLE PERSON. But as frustrating as this is, I do adore that all of these people are working together. They are so fantastic as a team! It’s great seeing each of them use their strengths to infiltrate the Equalist base. The only real conflict I can see in the future is between Mako and Asami. Unfortunately, Asami gets the sense that Ikki was telling the truth about Korra’s feelings for her boyfriend. And Bolin doesn’t do a good job of trying to hide anything from Asami. Which I kind of like? Once he realizes it’s pointless to lie to her, he’s straightforward about what happened. I get the sense that he’s truly over Korra, but it’s clear that Asami is bothered by the kiss between Korra and Mako. Fair enough, since Mako never told her about it. And then at the end of the episode, when Mako rushes to comfort Korra after they find her, you can tell that Asami can see how Mako feels. In this case, as hard as it’ll be to watch, I think Asami has to confront Mako about this. She’s treated him so well, and he’s been lying to her since he kissed Korra. If there’s any future to their relationship, he’s got to be honest with her.

We also learn that, sadly, Lin didn’t make it to her former policemen in time. Amon already removed their bending. You know, it’s a credit to the depth of this fictional universe that something that does not exist in our world can upset me so much. But the way that Amon removes bending just makes me feel horrific. Of course, then I have to think about why I don’t feel the same way about Aang energybending Yakone and Ozai. Is it because deep down, I felt like those two deserved to lose their bending? It might be because Amon has no distinction between who loses their bending and who doesn’t. He doesn’t think about it. He just does it. I couldn’t help but feel bad for Tarrlok, despite that I don’t even like him. Did he deserve to lose his bending for what he did? Man, I don’t know. THIS IS ALL SO UPSETTING AND CONFUSING. Also, who the fuck is Amon??? How can he resist bloodbending??? I AM AT A LOSS.

Only three episodes left. Oh shit.

Today’s video was commissioned by one of my editors, Ryan Lohner!

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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