Mark Watches ‘The Legend of Korra’: S04E10 – Operation Beifong

In the tenth episode of the fourth season of The Legend of Korra, this show is my everything, and I’m so happy it’s gotten so good. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Legend of Korra.

How did this go so right? How am I ever supposed to cope with this? THIS SEASON IS SO FANTASTIC, Y’ALL.

Korra

I think the willingness of the writers of this show to give other characters and their plot lines significant time within the narrative is one of the reasons that season four (and season three, too!) has been so satisfying to me. The bulk of “Operation Beifong” puts Korra to the side while it focuses on the rescue mission. But her story is still important, if a little disheartening. With part of the team off in Zaofu, Korra and those in Republic City work on plans to build up defenses. I was very happy that Varrick, Asami, and Korra all refused to use the spirit vines to retaliate against Kuvira, as that’s an important step in stopping them from becoming just like her.

Unfortunately, that’s the same logic that the spirits use later in the episode. Korra pursues allies in the spirit world, believing that they’d help her defend Republic City against Kuvira. However, I’d forgotten that the spirits have historically chosen to avoid getting involved in human conflicts. It’s frustrating, but I do understand why. To a point, though! Aren’t these worlds intrinsically linked now? Don’t the spirits have some attachment to the human world? Like Korra, I expected that logic to work, but sadly, every spirit abandons her in the Spirit World, unwilling to help out.

I guess Korra’s on her own in this context.

Operation Beifong

GOD, THIS WAS SO EXCITING AND TERRIFYING AND REVEALING AND EVERYTHING I LOVE ABOUT THIS SHOW. Often, the Avatar world deals with a ragtag band of amateurs surmounting impossible odds to do something good for the world. While I wouldn’t call these characters amateurs anymore – many of them are now professionals – I still get the same vibe from The Legend of Korra. This should not have happened, and at one point, I resigned myself to accepting that the Beifongs had been freed only to find themselves captured again.

Yet up to that point, this was endlessly entertaining. I mean, TOPH SHOWED UP IN THE FIRST FEW MINUTES. In those scenes, I was Bolin and Bolin was me. TOPH IS HERE!!! There was no way this wouldn’t be incredible! I was not disappointed because the very first place the rescuers go to is one of Kuvira’s re-education camps, something we’d been told about but never seen. While I don’t think we actually got to see all that much of the facility, I was glad that Bolin got to actually face one of these places. If he was truly going to help Opal and make up for what he’d done, then accepting his contribution to the spirit vine weapon was part of that. Here, Bolin can no longer deny what Kuvira is doing. Not to say that he was in denial anymore, but his redemption relies on accepting the truth.

The rescue sequence itself is a work of art, one I’m going to need framed in a museum as soon as possible. PRESERVE THIS FOREVER. The sheer artistry of it all astounds me still. I love how Bolin, Opal, Toph, and Lin work together here and utilize their unique skills in order to quietly save their friends and family. But I also adored the acknowledgment that Bataar was afraid of heights, and that they chose to save him regardless of their own safety! You can see the same dedication after the rescue itself once the team realizes that Zhu Li most likely sabotaged Kuvira repeatedly and was about to be sacrificed for it. It seemed impossible to mount a defense against Kuvira, BUT LOOK AT WHAT SUYIN AND LIN AND THE OTHERS DO HERE. It was, hands down, one of the most exhilarating battles on this entire show. I think the sense of danger created by Kuvira’s unpredictability and natural prowess made the scenes all the more terrifying. I kept expecting someone to lose here, and then TOPH SHOWS UP IN THE END, HELPING THEM ALL ESCAPE.

I realize I’m jumping around here, but I felt it necessary to address the action first before I talked about the interpersonal drama explored alongside all of this. There was a terrible elephant in the room throughout all of this, and Toph’s return was not as triumphant as it could have been without Lin around. But Lin’s own longstanding issues with her mother – ones that led to her cutting off contact for twenty years – are brought to the forefront throughout “Operation Beifong.” Since so much of this is about reuniting this family, it’s appropriate that this episode gives Lin a way to properly reunite with her mother without invalidating her problems with her. And look, Toph’s cynicism and apathy is often entertaining, but there’s a real world cost to it as well. Here, it’s Lin’s happiness, since she could never truly get her mother to care for her. I think there’s something to be said for how The Legend of Korra elaborates on parenting within a time of war and conflict, since many of the parents here are flawed and complicated. But I’m just glad that Lin managed to get some comfort in the process.

The video for “Operation Beifong” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
– 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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