Once sentence review: The villain of the season has finally shown her true colors… no surprise though I expected more violence.
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Featuring an A and B plot structure, this episode balanced the international intrigue of the new earth kings coronation, with Korra’s turmoil trying to train with the elderly Toph.
The strongest element of this episode was the Toph- Korra relationship. Toph is the good same old Toph. Instead of being tiny little 8 year old whose size hides great power, she is a tiny little octogenarian whose size hides great power… and hilarity ensues. The banter between the two is as much fun as it was between Toph and Aang, different yet surprisingly familiar. The revelation, that a great deal of the difficulty that our heroine is dealing with is due to lingering poison in her body felt a little bit of a cop out. I much rather prefer that she was she was dealing with PTSD, or some other metal block. A story about a hero overcoming emotional weakness is so much more gripping and inspiration than a hero overcoming a physical problem. I hope Toph is lying. Giving her a “Dumbo’s Feather”. Korra will have something to physically focus on while Toph helps her heal emotionally.
The most intriguing element of this episode was the Prince Woo. We expected his coronation to be a disaster. We expected Kuvira to keep power. Personally I expected the prince to be killed like his Aunt before him. This was a bloodless coup. Though it promises a lot of action to follow there was relatively little. What I didn’t expect was Prince Woo’s sudden moment of realization that he wouldn’t have been a good leader. His forebearers have all been spoiled by their power. The Earth King in the last airbender, was a complacent puppet. The Earth Queen was a monstrous dictator. Kuvira is the people’s “great uniter” but she’s just another in the long line of dictators. Woo is such a clownish brat, the rest of this season could be him growing into a responsible leader. The last series stated that the Avatar had to defeat the Firelord, not Iroh or Zuko. It would show justice being served and balance being restored. Maybe true balance would show Woo ascend to the throne as a rightful ruler, only to give up his power to someone who could truly serve the people properly. Anything else would be just another warlord assuming power.
On a final note I really loved how Bolin sided with Kuvira. Bolin is largely the most innocent character on the series (except for maybe Tenzin’s children.) Having him side with someone who is clearly a villain, shows just how insidious and tempting Kuvira offer of stability is. Just as in real life dictators offer the promise of stability. It doesn’t matter that they conquer, intimidate and kill. They make the trains run on time.