The Legend of Korra episode 7 review: The Aftermath

Review Kaci Ferrell 19 May 2012 - 17:11

This week's episode of The Legend of Korra throws up questions of prejudice and oppression. Read Kaci's review, here...

This review contains spoilers.
1.7 The Aftermath

There is a difference between oppression and prejudice. Oppression is systematic prejudice against those who have little to no power perpetuated by those who do, while prejudice is on an individual level and lacks such a power dynamic. It's important to note the distinction between the two, particularly within the world of Republic City, because they are often confused or used interchangeably in our everyday vocabulary.

The irony of this is that the Equalists claim they are oppressed by benders. Certainly, we've seen evidence to back that up: the Council is made up entirely of benders, as is the police force, and there are certain jobs or sports that benders can hold or compete in that non-benders have no access to. However, as we've learned in the real world, when we find ourselves faced with true oppression, the best way to combat it is to engage in an open dialogue and to get those in the group with power to check their privileges.

The Equalists, on the other hand, have chosen to combat oppression with prejudice. Their war against the benders cannot be called oppression because non-benders are not in a position of power and the institution still supports benders, but it is prejudice all the same. We see a good example of this in this week's episode when Mr. Sato explains to Asami that he joined the Equalists because a firebender killed her mother (in a nice echo of why Amon began the movement), then condemns her for dating Mako. To put this into terms relevant to our world, it's the equivalent of blaming and hating an entire racial group or ethnicity because of the actions of one person.

Another inherent irony in their movement is that though they condemn benders, they seem to be copying their fighting techniques. First there were the lightning rods, similar to firebenders, then came the gloves that allow them to move like benders do, and then in this episode we were introduced to Mr Sato's fighting metal robots, which brought to mind images of how Toph used to fashion herself a battlesuit out of stone or metal before fights. Despite hating benders, the Equalists are using technology to augment themselves in order to be able to do the things benders do.

A lot happened in this episode, and I'm mostly pleased with it. I'm a little disappointed that it turned out Mr Sato was an Equalist since that feels like an obvious route to take, but I'm thrilled to see that Asami rejects his politics and is instead sticking with Korra. Lin's promise to take down Amon outside the law was also exciting and promises many more interesting Lin-centric tales, I hope.

I can't wait to hear your thoughts about the Satos, the revelation that Lin can see with her feet the way Toph did, and everyone moving to Air Temple Island. Share them in the comments and I'll see you next week for episode eight!

Read our review of last week's episode, And the Winner Is..., here.

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Nice review - love your analysis of prejudice and oppression. 

I must say, I giggled like a manly 23 year old school girl when Lin's foot was exposed by the curled back metal and the vibrations became evident upon slamming her foot down. Truly one of the better sequels because it never forgets its origins. I was pleased to see a little bit of airbending from Tenzin, especially how he became a bad ass mother-.. ermm.. well you get the point, when he took the Air Scooter to the next level and did an Air "Tron-Bike". It's a shame that he keeps getting knocked out of the game so early. Lin as well didn't get much screen action, but they covered a lot in one episode so I suppose the time allotted to fighting was minimal.

Or rather, I feel the pacing near the beginning of the episode was slow, but it was necessary to achieve the proper build up, and I realize they've got a limited number of episodes to work with, so I'm not complaining.

Another thing I'm seeing is just how advanced Lin and her metalbenders are compared to Toph. Toph in the original series was an exceptional earth bender, but her metalbending was very primal and she was new to it so it was rough and jagged. It's refreshing to see how much they've refined their ability in 70 years, and I can only imagine what Toph was capable of as an adult once she mastered metal bending, as well as being an earth bender capable of forming small mountain ranges. An exaggeration of course, but even so..

I must say, Asami being good was a bit of a relief. I remember posting on one of these reviews a few weeks ago saying something was not right about Asami, but looking back I think she just appeared too perfect. But it was only because of her that I even remotely suspected her father of being an Equalist, and to find out that she knew nothing about it makes it feel like half a victory.

I very much hope to see some other Equalist weapons that don't revolve around shocking and lightning. It's very flashy and nice, but its already become quite dull because its expected. The Chi Blockers appear to be watered down versions of Ty Lee who could leave her opponents as temporary non benders or limp noodles. Not that its a bad thing, I think an army of Ty Lee's would be devastatingly overkill. I'm just longing to see something new from the Equalists and specifically Amon. Something that sets him apart other than the Energy Bending he's already demonstrated.

Also, since this was one of your less indepth reviews, I just wanted to point out the pity both Korra and I as theviewer felt for that hair flippy water bender guy near the beginning of the episode. It's amazing how much he changed in a day, a week, however long it was. And despite the dirty cheating jerk he was only in the prior episode, a part of your humanity seems to reach out to anyone in trouble, need, or despair.

"NO my Cabbage-corp!!!"  Rings a bell?
 I bet that it's a set-up and Asami is playing all of them.

Nice review, i'll read the upcoming ones too.

Last review I left a comment that essentially said 'I'm not particularly happy with how the level of bending skill and inventiveness has been watered down', this episode made me realise a couple of other things with regards to this point: Firstly, I mentioned how I wasn't a massive fan of how the metalbenders largely ignored their surroundings and only really bent their cables. This became particularly jarring this week as the main action of the episode took place in a cave, with a large earthen floor, and yet none of the assembled earthbenders (or Korra) thought to use the floor as an offensive weapon. Surely when fighting tracked mechs it would have been easy to open up a fissure below the things and let them fall in?

Secondly, someone else left an interesting comment that perhaps the reason the benders in this season aren't as powerful are because they haven't been forced to use their bending to survive a war. I think that is a nice way of explaining the lack of power within the context of the show. However, another reason just occurred to me: In the original the main 'big bads' were all benders; Ozai, Azula etc. so all the creators had to do to make them seem like a real threat was make them really powerful benders, job done, they have convincingly powerful villains. However, in this season the main 'big bad' are non benders, and as a result in order to make their physical threat a credible one the creators have gone the opposite route and simply made the heroes (ie. the benders) considerably less powerful in order to maintain the challenge of defeating the equalists. Unfortunately, from my perspective, this doesn't have the same effect of making the villains seem very threatening, it just makes the heroes seem a bit pathetic when compared to their 'Aang season' equivalents. 

Finally, I think that in many ways this new story arc would work a lot better if Korra wasn't the Avatar. In the original the main storyline was fundamentally Aang's journey as the avatar, and so a lot of time was spent developing the 'Avatar' side of Aang's character (all the elemental training, spirit world, Avatar state stuff etc, etc.) However in this storyline the main plot is a political revolution, and Korra being the avatar has been reduced to a sub plot, and consequently I'm starting to read quite a few posts around the internet from people frustrated by the lack of 'Avatar' development for Korra. If Korra wasn't the avatar the current storyline would still function perfectly well, but there would be less criticism from people frustrated by the lack of Avatar stuff. The creators could easily have shifted focus slightly and made Tenzin the main character (Title: The Legacy of Aang?), and still had Korra about as a waterbender who has come to republic city to broaden her horizons, and then gets involved in pro bending etc.. Her connection to Katara could explain why she was staying on air temple island, as a favour to her parents to keep her relatively safe.

I realise this post has been largely negative, but all the good stuff about this season kinda speaks for itself, and has been mentioned by other people. So rather than repeat what has already been said I though it might make for a more interesting thread if I wrote some of the other things on my mind.

I actually think I applauded when I heard the guy say, "Not my Cabbage Corp!!!" and when I saw Lin see the tunnel with her feet like Toph. Two really cool tie-ins to the earlier show.

Stelladeli makes an interesting point--it's possible Asami is still playing them and her father has master-minded it all. If that is true, then maybe she's somehow going to see the error of her ways later on. The show has left a lot of options open. Maybe she'll be a reverse Zuko, and fight for the right cause in the beginning, but only to change her mind in the end, and join the other side, allowing for the Mako-Korra love story to blossom. (I don't necessarily like the idea of Mako and Korra--MaKorra?--getting together but I think the creators of the show seem to want this to happen, so I'm trying to figure out how they'll tie it in.) Another possibility is that Korra and Asami will end up becoming friends, and Korra will stop liking Mako. I kind of hope, rather than believe this will be the outcome, because I don't really care for Mako as a character.

I agree with the point Argon has made about feeling sorry for the waterbending guy in the end. It makes me really wonder how Amon got the ability to bend energy, and whether Korra will be able to figure out a way to bend it back.

Another common thing I noticed--several characters in the last few episodes have spoken about somehow being negatively affected by fire-benders. Is it possible there was one particular person (or group of people) that was running amok after the hundred year war scalding people, or is this just the creators' clever way of showing the natural after-effects of a war started by fire-benders?

I really liked reading this review, because it outlines the deeper themes and questions raised by the show. How do we function with the ideal that we are all equal when the reality is that we are not? With themes like these, I still sometimes can't believe that this is a show for kids.

OK, wow... here we go!  I loved this episode.  Here's why I think Avatar Korra herself is currently a subplot: In the original series, the world's problems, war, genocide, etc. were ALREADY ESTABLISHED from the very outset.  In this series, we instead see the Avatar's challenges develop and take shape.  Korra doesn't need to travel the world learning how to bend three elements as Aang did, and she's relatively safe so she doesn't have to hide and elude enemies as he did... so be assured, we will definitely have serious Avatar action, but only once the enemy is fully developed.  Otherwise the entire story would've been over far too quickly!

Can I just say I adore Lin BeiFong now, and I love her chemistry with Tenzin--they clearly still care about each other very much--and like the rest of you I cheered as she found the tunnel.  We just knew she would: the line she says right before about not "seeing" Sato leave... then the awesome retracting shoe!  Too cool.  I think the only reason she and Tenzin weren't right for each other is because of what she said herself: protecting the city is all she cares about.  Tenzin wanted a serene family and needed to create some airbenders!  Different goals indeed.  It had bothered me that Lin seemed to play so by-the-rules, while Toph always wanted to break them, so I cheered again when Lin made her big announcement at the end.  Did anyone else think Tenzin nearly vowed to help her, but stopped himself just in time? 

LOL Cabbage Corp. You just know that cabbage merchant and his family hated benders, after what he went through in ATLA!

And I still enjoy all the "Phantom of the Opera" and "Titanic" parallels and design.  Just look at the Satos' staircase, even!

One note about oppression.  It does begin when the potential oppressors gain power.  Amon and the Equalists ARE planning to oppress all benders (violently stealing their bending is oppression) as soon as they can, in retaliation for wrongs against them.  Their equality talk is BS.  Maybe every former bender will be forced into poverty and forced to wear a red "B" on their shirt... you get the idea.  And BTW, this show was not created just for children.  It's for us too!

So... Asami.  Now, her father set up the trap; his whole operation is right under his home; you just know he'd have a plan to protect her, make her seem innocent, in case the whole thing blew up in his face.  Asami's self-defense training, IMHO, included acting lessons and careful practice/planning with her father so she can play the innocent daughter and not go down with his proverbial ship.  The two of them might've even planned for her to take over the operation if he got arrested.  No doubt running into Mako with the scooter was planned.  Now she's going to be on Air Temple Island.  All I can say is: Tenzin, Korra, you'd better watch over yourselves, the Fire Ferrets, Pema, and those darling kids as if their lives depended on it... because they do.

Amon does look like the medieval asian doctor doom

You made a good point about a good sequel not forgetting its origins - I get way too excited whenever there are references to the original, and so this series has kept me in a permanent state of high excitement

np1387  The group you may be referring to is the Triple Threat Triads. Asami's mother was killed by a fire-bending member of said group. So far there hasn't been any mention (I think) of where the fire-bender who killed Amon's parents is from or of any affiliation. Perhaps it was the leader of the Triple Threat Triads in his younger days? It may add to the reasoning why they targetted him to be used as a demonstration at the Equalist rally than just because Asami's mother was killed by one of them.

Asami's mother was killed by one of the Agni Kais, not the Triple Threats.

Oh wow...thats great plotting if you ask me! Asami being on the team the whole time was on my mind too, but the thought of her going to the air temple wasn't. Man, I hope she's not going to try to hurt the family or anything. She's basically going to be a rat and hopefully thats it. Those children dont need to be put in danger :O But it would definitely be dramatic if they were...whew! I can't wait to see how this all unfolds! >=D

AAAh! Air Temple Island thing! I'm just really looking forward to the last episode where a really good battle will occur, that being said, I think that the battle could take place around airbender Island...which would be very cool! I was very satisfied with the episode (as always) and I was especially ennoyed at how non-benders are constantly finding ways to isolate benders and basically make their bending useless. I thought the platinum steel thing was clever and I wish that maybe (hopefully) some earthbenders know, bend that too.


 I swear you're the only person on the internet who knows what a review is. Every other Korra "review" I see is nothing more than a summary of the episode... Ok, thanks, I watched it too! Yours are much more insightful and actually lend some depth and analysis I didn't pick up on the first time through. Thanks very much for being the ONLY person doing it right!

This episode is awesome. I dont like asami, only cuz i think mako should be with korra, and i cant wait until she goes into the avatar state!!!!

I'm already starting to lose interest in the show but I'm hoping it picks up so I plan on sticking with it to the end. But I agree with the point that Korra seems little like an Avatar. Were deep in the season and yet she still hasn't even gone into the Avatar state and it seems as if her title holds almost no power among the rest of the world. After Aang came back and saved the world and what not don't you think there would be great respect for the Avatar? And with the Avatar state thing, we see Aang do it multiple times before he's even mastered water, why hasn't Korra done so? (Maybe air is connected to the spirtual side and since she hasn't mastered it that's why but who knows). I just miss the adventure and the martial arts and the sense of purpose. So far fighting has been made into a game with anything outside that being quickly ended by these supposed supernatural nonbenders, each episode seems the same as before with there being more about teenage love affairs then air bending, and the entire evil plot line has been stretched so large in a matter of a few episodes that there's little substance. I'm disappointed but I'm really hoping it picks up, if not at least I can always go back to Aang.

You know, I was thinking back to when Amon claimed to have lost his family to a firebender much like Mako and Bolin. Do any of you think there could possibly be a connection there?

Absolutely.  Maybe there were many firebender rebellions stemming from the loss of the Fire Nation's world domination.  I even think Ozai and Azula could've manipulated some of them from behind bars.  Re: Mako and Bolin's family... I have my reasons for thinking the violence against them was not as random as Mako made it sound (but he doesn't know that).

Having said that, I still suspect Amon might be making up his family-killed, burned-off face story to gain followers.  Did anyone else catch how he didn't flinch or dodge AT ALL when Korra surrounded him with fire as he got into the airship?  You'd think he'd be at least a little afraid of fire if he'd really been through what he claims. 

This theory could be way off, but I have been thinking that maybe in some new twist that Korra is only half Avatar. Remember that only the Avatar is supposed to be able to take away the bending of other benders. No one else can. Korra hasn't been shown to go into the Avatar state yet and this is what the Avatar needs to take away some one else's bending. Maybe Amon received the spiritual half and Korra received the physical bending half. It would explain how he is able to take away people's bending. I can't think of anything else that makes sense.

half avatar? you think that makes sense? Advanced tech or his "spirit" abilities make more sense.

i have a feeling by the end of the first season, amon will have control of republic city. 

The bigger carrot (just as with Ozai) is control of the world, remaking it as the Equalists want it.  The Avatar is just one hurdle to that.

Fascinating idea about someone having to charge the lightning rods.  I've been assuming they're powered by battery packs developed through science/tech the same way ours would be, no firebending involved... but yours is an interesting way of seeing it.

I agree that no one's trying to kill off the airbenders now; however, Amon wants to eliminate ALL bending.  Except his own, if he's indeed a secret bender as some folks think.

Hey guys you can end the speculation. Amon is the water bending member of the council. The one that doesn't get along with the air bender. He set the metal bender chick up to fail. Remember him saying "You'll take full responsibility" and then the Anon crap goes down at the game and he throws her under the bus at a press conference.

I had a similar thought as well, given the way this season is heading I wouldn't be that surprised if the writers pulled a Ba-Sing-Se and had the equalists take control of the city and expel/depower all the benders in it. On one level it would make for an interesting second season if Amon's revolution spread across the whole world, and Korra etc were forced to travel around looking for support. This would allow the writers to show how the rest of the world has changed in the past 100 years, which is something I'm quite disappointed we haven't been able to see thus far. However on another level I'm not sure how well the current equalist movement would transfer to a more widespread force. We have to assume that the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation still exist and either still have massive armies, or even if they have downsized them, still have thousands of benders in their cities. The equalists taking on small groups of benders in Republic City is fine, but I can't see them having much luck against a massed army of trained soldiers. Also on a more fanboyish note, Katara, Zuko and Toph are still kicking around (or at least we haven't been explicitely told the second two are dead) and personally I would love to see them back in action.

No AVATAR STATE!!!!!!! been waiting for those eyes to glow. Whats the deal?

I have a strong feeling that Asami is going to double cross Korra. I find it a little hard to believe that she was unaware her father was a bender and I think that she is actually an equalist spy. Right now she is in the perfect position to keep an eye on Korra while Amon carries out his plans and also to push/manipulate some of Amon's plans into action like her father was able to by sponsoring the Fire Ferrets.. But thats just what I think... I cant seem to trust Asami.

I am a die-hard avatar fanatic. And here's what I think. I miss Aang and the GAang terribly and I would do anything for there to have been a 4th season of The Last Airbender. But Legend of Korra will have to do. I was so excited for the series to begin airing and I must admit I am slightly disappointed. My favorite episodes so far are 1 and 2. None of the following episodes have yet to live up to my standards. Legend of Korra, episode 3 onward, has felt entirely too rushed and imbalanced for my liking. One episode is plot heavy and the next is all mush and love squares. The Last Airbender did much better at balancing each episode. My hope is that Korra ends up with neither Bolin nor Mako. Korra and Bolin are too similar (more like friends) and Mako and Korra are too different (would clash and fight too much - they seriously bring out the worst in each other as a romantic couple). My other hope is that Amon can't actually take people's bending away.and that it is just some advanced chi blocking. These kinds of things are so much cooler if only 1 person can do it, you know? In The Last Airbender chi blocking was Ty Lee's thing. Metal bending was Toph's thing. Air bending and taking away bending was Aang's thing. Lightning was Azula's thing. Everybody was special. and now no one is. Everybody can do everything. lame lame lame. To be honest, I don't really like pro-bending. Did you notice that they tire out really easily? lame lame lame. Characters in TLA fought much harder and for much longer. I really hope that season two or three takes place outside of the city so Mako Bolin and Korra see some real raw bending power out in the rural country side. I like someone else's explanation that maybe the reason benders are weaker is because it's not really needed like it was during war time so the number of masters is steadily declining. Kind of like humans in the real world. With the advent of technology came the physical weakening of humanity as a whole. The average strength and endurance of men and women a long time ago I'm sure was much higher than today. I was very happy to see that the Southern Water Tribe was still very.... tribal. Such a contrast to the very modern Republic City. I wish Sokka was here so we could hear his opinion on this equalists thing. *sigh* as much as I want to see and hear Aang, I really hope Korra doesn't go into the avatar state until episode 14 AT LEAST. Any sooner would be too soon in my opinion. I want her journey to feel legit. We have to see a lot more air bending training first as well. Korra is far from tapping into her spiritual side.

just for the record, I love Tenzin <3 and his kids <3 not Pema XP BUT since she is repopulating the Airbenders I will give her a break. She must have a minimum of 19 kids. It is possible and all of America knows it (see: the Duggard family).The fact that equalists are imitating bender techniques is a very good point and I think the show will bring it up some time. I'm glad Asami is not evil. That would have been too predictable. She is now the non-bender of the team. I hope a 5th team member comes along in season 2 or 3 and that person is Korra's love interest. Somebody cool, like Toph was. I really couldn't stand it if she ended up with either brother. I like Lin. She reminds me a lot of Toph. tough as nails. I also love that everyone is moving to Air Temple Island!!!!!!! In TLA, I was scared that Airbender culture had died along with the nomads. When I first saw Air Temple Island I was overflowing with joy, excitement, and relief. I've been wanting to see more of it ever since.

I miss Aang's airbending, his sneezes and running up walls T_T etc.

I adore this show. Seriously. I can die now. I practically wet myself giggling in the cabbage scene. So cheeky and silly, but so loveable!

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