The Legend of Korra episode 8 review: When Extremes Meet

Review Kaci Ferrell 3 Jun 2012 - 09:40

Extremism and free will are centre stage in this week's instalment of The Legend of Korra, which happens to be Kaci's favourite episode yet...

This review contains spoilers.

1.8 When Extremes Meet

The title of this week's episode of The Legend of Korra is When Extremes Meet and never before has the title of an episode been so appropriate. This episode is about extremists on both sides, as well as the extremism within Korra.

We've talked before about why some people dislike Korra as both a character and The Avatar. This episode addressed a lot of what people seem to dislike - there hasn't been much focus on her learning airbending and we find out that it's because she still hasn't. She's still blocked on the spiritual side of bending and it's preventing her not only from airbending but also from connecting to her past lives save for the brief dream sequences we've seen of a grown-up Avatar Aang.

We're also dealt a truth bomb from Tarlok when he points out to Korra that she is an extremist too, and it's one of the things he originally liked about her. It's an interesting point - the more I think about it, the more I agree that he's not entirely wrong in that assessment. I wonder if perhaps that is the reason a lot of people dislike the character. Aang was always ready to talk first and fight only when he had to; Korra leads with her fists.

I've talked in past reviews about how I can't fully disagree with the Equalists' gripes against Republic City - they have no representation in their government or law enforcement body, there are jobs and sports that they don't have access to, and their institutions support the rights of benders over the rights of non-benders. All of those are legitimate complaints that can and should be addressed. But I've also never been able to truly agree with the Equalists, either. The way they've gone about their revolution has been completely wrong and based on prejudice. What I've been trying to articulate and couldn't find words for until this episode is that the Equalists are coming at the topic from a place of extremism, and as a wise man once said, "-isms, in my opinion, are not good."

But in this episode, we see the flip-side. The creators of South Park have often talked about their reasoning for attacking both sides of the aisle when it comes to politics: the person on the far right and the person on the far left are basically the same, and it's okay to be the person in the middle thinking both of them are going too far. The same principle applies to Tarlok. There's no true difference between he and Amon, not really. Amon holds a prejudice against all benders because of what happened to his family; Tarlok holds a prejudice against all non-benders because some of them are Equalists. When he has his task force attack a group of innocent non-bender citizens, it's shocking in its brutality, but it drives home an important point: just because Tarlok is on the "right" side of this battle, it doesn't mean he's not just as bad as the enemy. He's an extremist, too, and that's not okay.

The fight between Tarlok and Korra was amazingly animated, and it was wonderful to see the teenagers join forces to become "Team Avatar." Tenzin's kindness towards Korra was beautiful, but honestly, the best moment of the episode is easily the moment when Tarlok reveals just how much he covets power and control.

He blood bends.

As far as I'm concerned, the scariest, most disturbing, most non-child-friendly thing The Last Airbender ever did was blood bending. The second Katara did it for the first time, my breath actually caught in my throat. I still sometimes have nightmares about Hama. The idea that someone else can take such control over you, can turn you into a living zombie - alive, but with no will of your own - is terrifying to me. I had somehow convinced myself that we'd never see it in The Legend of Korra, because I didn't like the idea that Katara would teach it to anyone else, and I hoped no one else would ever stumble upon it on their own.

I was wrong, and this show just grabbed my attention in a way that only something that messed up and dialled into my fears could've done. It's even scarier when you tie it in to Korra's struggle with identity: the idea of stripping her bending away from her personality was scary enough, but the idea of stripping her free will from her? I can't even imagine what she's feeling in that last moment as she's tied up and driven away from the city she swore to protect.

This week's episode of The Legend of Korra is my favorite so far, but I'd love to hear what you think. Were you expecting to see the return of blood bending? Do you think that part of Korra's journey is learning to not be such an extremist? What do you think Tarlok is up to? Tell me in the comments and I'll see you next week!

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Wow, Tarrlok really does have all the trademarks of a dictator...
It is rather interesting how Amon and Tarrlok are two sides of the same coin - they both utilise extreme methods, but in the hope of establishing very different worlds, and I wouldn't be surprised if they had a closer relationship, perhaps siblings?

This episode was particularly superb in how the mood of it shifted radically. From the hilarity of Tenzin's kids in the first half and Team Avatar being reformed, to the disturbing civilian arrests and that final shocking scene. 

You're definitely right about how Korra herself represents an extreme (though I was glad by how she immediately hit out at the metal bending police when they used their bending to subjugate the defenceless civilians), and the show continued to excel at making you question your own perceptions. I think her inability to make a spiritual connection, combined with her lack of air-bending (the most pacifist of the bending forms), as well as her physical and bending prowess, make her imbalanced. She has the brute power of an avatar, but not the sense of responsibility that having lived thousands of past lives would give you. 

This show really has everything: strong complex characters, an interesting world, a brilliant plot (so far), and beautifully fluid and detailed animation. You really can't ask for anything more. 

I read somewhere that someone thought up a little story where the man in the "hallucinations" had his bending taken away by Aang, and then later had two kids: Tarrlok and Amon.  He was dissapointed in Amon being a non-bender and pleased Tarrlok was a waterbender.  Between Tarrlok and Amon, there is a great brother hatred.  When I first read that theory, I thought it was a little far-fetched, but the more I think, it fits completely.  And now that someone else thought up the possibility of them being sibblings, it could happen.  Though, knowing the creators, it would also make total sense for them to think of something even weirder than Tarrlok bloodbending, and toss it into the show.

I agree with the original post saying that the title could not have fit more appropriately.  When I was watching and heard Tarrlok say Korra had the willingness to go to extremes...I knew right then that Tarrlok was the other extreme, and boy did they meet.  Also, politically speaking, Korra is like an extreme conservative, and Tarrlok is an extreme Liberal.

On another note, I'm really glad Mike Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko put in bloodbending when it "wasn't the full moon," and Tarrlok taking Korra to a place where she would have to say bye to Republic City.  Especially good because that was the same night Tenzin said there would be a council meeting in the morning.  Of course, you can't forget the third vision of Aand, Sokka, Toph, and Yukone.  The reason I'm glad the creators put in these things, is so that we have enough to think about until next saturday.  Because honestly, we're never going to figure it out:). We never have.

Although, if you really want to find out what happens, you could ask someone in Korea who's already seen it since it already came out there 2 years ago. 

i agree, best episode everrrrrr :)
i'm curious about your assessment that amon is just as bad as tarlok. he's more nonviolent, for one - not completely nonviolent, but even when he destroys property it's as a symbolic gesture. we've seen sycophants paraphrase what he says in a prejudiced way, but my perception is that what he says isn't prejudiced in itself - he's advocating for justice. he doesn't cause any bodily harm, ever, and his training schools are purely self-defense. chi-blocking is inherently self-defense - it disables the opponent without causing lasting damage. it prevents an attacker from continuing to attack. shock-gloves are scarier, more violent, so i'm not painting in absolutes here - aman is definitely extreme. but he's caused a whole lot less damage than tarlok has - he doesn't imprison people indefinitely, barge into dojos without worrying about how many civilians might be in the way, or frame the non-guilty as guilty. i think the creators are going to have a really interesting role for aman - remember, aang got the power to take away people's bending from a certain ancient spirit. how plausible is it that the spirit would give the same power to amon if it expected him to misuse it?

actually amons parents died by a firebender aang died by old age sorry this theory is invalid

what i do think is happening is Tarrlock is what Amon is talking about and they want to show us what amon is trying to stop his side of the story. but it shocks me how the whole entire council would agree on tarrlocks curfew law they're suppose to be wise wth they cant just agree,

The Legend of Korra hasn't premiered in Korea yet. I just googled it and nothing. Also I have relative in Korea who have never even heard of it. It premiered in Nick in April according to all sources. Don't misleaad people like that. not cool.

Hello, so true about the point of "not being full moon", it kind off scares the crap out of me xD For me, Katara was the best waterbender in her time and I spect in the future too, but Tarlok, reaches levels of control Katara had never shown us O_O An idea turns into my mind, as Amon is so fast and agil I think bloodbending is the most effective way of take him and his chi blockers down :S I'm sure the show isn't going that way, but it would be sure interesting, don't you thing?
About the no-benders, I agrre with all of you, they've been victims of "bullying" (can't think of another word) I empathized with them when the metal-bender started to arrest 'em in order of complete Tarlok's new law.
The show is going really dark, and if I don't get wrong, it would be the start of a huge oportunity for Amon to have more followers, all the non-benders, are going to see benders as their "extreme"

But Amon said in episode 3, "The Revelation" that he came from a family of non-benders.

Just a couple little comments that this episode brought up in my mind. It could be possible that Tarlok Has used blood bending to control the votes, I doubt it since i would think the council members would be aware of this, or maybe they have just been threatened with that by him. .... and very random thought but has anyone considered that tarlok and Amon could be one and the same? That just keeps striking me since everything that tarlok is doing is going to be only fuelling the non benders hate of benders and pushing more people to become equalists. And I feel like Amons Mask has a lot more importance then just hiding a burn, as much as he may hate benders he could have gotten it healed. And while he could keep it as a reminder of his hate I just don't think so.... And the ability to take away someone bending and the ability to blood bend just seem very similar to the point of I wonder if a blood bender could permanently keep you form bending, especially one who could do it during he full moon, added to the fact that the last flashback looks like tarlok blood bending everyone in what looks like a courtroom.... I don't know just my thoughts.

Yeah now I think they're brothers and that Amon lied. But I think they're brothers because when Korra said Tarrlok was just like Amon the look in his eyes showed that he was really mad, like she said something personal.

Yeah, but he was probably lying. Villains lie...

Oh sorry. My friend said everything was in Korea 2 years ago...

@adam Uribina,   yeah its an American made Cartoon not an import.

Well, Amon and Tarrlok are voiced by two different people, so I don't think that they would be the same person, even though they sound kind of similar. 

I guess that makes sense.  Btw, that was just a theory I read. Even though I like it, I'm sure its wrong.  It all depends on whether Amon lied about his family and history to gain sympathy and trust from the non-benders at the equalist rally in "The Revelation.'

I can't believe people are actually finding this site and commenting on it. I never get to talk about a show as good as Korra :)

Everyone wants to know what happened

Totally. And the way they looked at his eyes made it more of his point of view. 

One thing I noticed was that at least twice in the episode they showed the moon, and at the very end of the episode they looked up at the moon and there was a cloud in front of it, like there was a possibility it was a full moon.  Or, just that they were showing it really wasn't a full moon, and Tarrlok is completely messed up.

Interesting point indeed. Advanced bloodbending could certainly explain Amon's ability to take away bending. 

And I believe that the 'full moon' restriction could easily be overcome with enough practice (in the same way, that earth benders who weren't all of Toph's calibre, learnt to metal bend). I'm sure Katara would probably have figured that out, but she was too disgusted by bloodbending to ever think of developing it further. 

But it says dub on all of the episodes I watch I guess that means something else

Usually don't comment on blogs but can't resist. The anticipation builds slowly each week for me and by Friday, I'm in a frenzy for the latest Korra episode. I think the cartoon is fantastic on so many levels for reasons mentioned previously in the blogs and reviews. My only regret is there are only two seasons. Let's start a revolution for a 3rd season! Who's with me?

These comments are so much more filling than the stupid crap on the nickelodeon message boards.  I love knowing that I'm not the only one who realizes how interesting the Avatar series are, both TLA and LoK.

And this was most definitely the best episode yet.  I can't wait for next week when Korra finally investigates her visions!

Best episode yet.
I just love how this show is advancing and how all the characters are powerful, strong, but also have a unique personality.
This episode is making my teeth clatter because I'm so excited for the next episode! ^-^

I wonder how mad Aang got when Yukone/Tarrlok bloodbended him...

AVATAR STATE ANGRY! lol.

Well Korra did say, "It's not a full moon!!" So I think it can be assumed that its not. 

Totally agree with all the comments so far, it's yet another brilliant episode from a so far amazing series. I love the idea of Tarrlok and Amon being related, though I'm at a loss as to how - I suppose that'll be revealed in due time.

One thing I did notice, though, was in Tarrlok's office - the wall of water behind him reminded me a lot of Firelord Ozai's wall of fire. It also helped that he looked a great deal like Ozai when his ponytails came loose. If that was intentional, then I laud Mike and Bryan once again for lacing in details from the original series. If not, it was still a damn cool wall of water.

When i watched this episode I was at the edge of my seat the intire time. Thats NEVER happened for me in LoK,  The ending still has me in like a state of disbelief and wonder. What will happen to Korra, Is Torlok Amon? So many questions for One Episode which in all is my favorite episode of all.

That was my same thought. I thought about it in the beginning, with the way they both act yea Im with you on the blood bending

i think that avatar aang got kill by tarlok.

 i totally agree with yo. the fact the council agreed was seriously shocking i was like WHY is Katara not on this council and then what happen to toph she could have been on the council and then it really would have been Wise people.

That cant be possible. I swear they said he died of old age. After all he would have been like 180 something

I really like the plot and the themes that are being developed in the series. Hats off to the wonderful writers for that. However, I'd like to see a little more character development (not in the form of romances) and a few old faces from ATLA.

Just finished this episode, and my god was it a reminder of how good this entire series can be.

I do like that many of these hard pressing issues in the show could easily be applied to issues of our real life past/present. *Spoiler* I could only think of Hitler when the focus switched to Tarlok and how dictatorially he acted and took control of his position, and the non-bender curfew/round up only furthered that analogy.

I'm now more excited than ever for the next episode, this series is one of the only TV shows that I will watch now, and I have good reasons as to why.

 I think it may have to do with how bending as a whole has changed in the century since Aang changed the world. Maybe the spirit gave Amon the power to balance the tide of the bending empire? Remember before it was the Fire Nation against all nations, but the original premise of Roku's rival was the unification of the Bending World. Even then the precursor to Bending Supremacy was at hand...now after Zuko and Aang's compromise everything comes full circle. This plot should have a very interesting resolution. Loving the art direction and the multidimensional characters. I also wish there was much more development of personalisty/power side rather than just the romance stuff.

The avatar cannot be an extremist, that is why korra can not learn airbending, all korra does is fight and use force but she doesnt try to make peace, once she learn to face problems by talking and not by fighting she will be able to become a fully realised avatar. The avatar is suppose to help all people evan the enemy, she needs to see all sides of the situation and know all the different approches. Aang was also an extremest he always tryed to make peace and never use force which got him in trouble once he learn to use force and power he became a fully realised avatar. 

the counsil is filled with idots who dont think for themselves (besides tenzin and tarlok) all they do is agree with tarlok

Tarlok is like bush and the counsil is like congress and the revelation is like 9-11bush use peoples fears to control them and that is wat tarlok is doing.

I don't agree with your classification of Aang as an extremist - even in the earlier episodes, he was prepared to fight if he had to, but he always made a concerted effort to solve a conflict without battle first. 
His fighting style was also very different to Korra's. While she leads with powerful fire blasts predominantly, Aang was always an air bending master first and foremost so his style was all about dodging and being too quick for the opponent. 

Definitely! There's more than enough content to be explored. This modern world is new and exciting, and the conflict between the benders and the non-benders poses some great questions - I would love to see a 3rd season. 

But...at the same time, the fact that there are so few episodes, means that there is a lot less filler, and everything is focused and each episode really does step up the plot. 

Then again, LOK has proved itself brilliant at humour and adding a lighter tough to episodes, so I actually wouldn't mind filler. I just want more Korra!

That was an awesome episode, I think Turlock knows who Amon is. I belive the man Korra sees blood bending in her visions is Amon maybe Ang punished him by taking his bending away, but Amon somehow reverse engineered the technique and taught himself how to energy bend, and was angry that his element bending had been taken by the avatar and decided he would take everyone else bending away. It also seems the person in the flashback looked alot like Turlock, I believe they are brothers, maybe twins.

If Ang, Sokka and Toph knew there was a person out there who could blood bend without a full moon, I have to assume Katara also knew this. I wonder why she didn't prepare Korra for it, maybe she thought there was no threat since Ang took his bending

 Does anyone else think that this guy from Korra's flashbacks killed Sokka?  Other than Aang, he's the only character from the previous show to be confirmed dead.  Fair enough, it's only him, Aang and Toph who've appeared so-far in the flashbacks, but it seem to me to be the case.  And yes, I'm pretty sure Tarlok and Aman have some sort of connection. 

I am almsot certain now that he killed Sokka. It makes sense.

I dont think they would be brothers, because they said in the show it happened 42 years ago which is 5 years before Tarrlok was born

Yea, I wrote on the Legend of Korra facebook wall saying he looked like ozai dangling from the wall. ;) This episode....

I think that they could still modify the second series to make a third.  I'm thinking they only made two seasons and with little more than half the episodes of ATLA seasons, because they didnt know if it would be super popular, which would have been smart.  But, I think this show is becoming such a hit, they need to keep going with it

I'm definitely in agreement with those who suggested Tarlok's been controlling votes with bloodbending - probably also combined with some kind of blackmail so that people won't let it be known they're being forced into certain votes. He can control their votes without having to signal them in any way in front of other people.

Any thoughts on where Korra is being taken? I'm guessing it's the temple at the top of the mountain they showed at the end of the episode. Anyone else have a (somewhat optimistic) feeling that this location might have something to do with the story of Zuko's mom? Republic City was built long after she disappeared from Zuko's life, but that temple seems to be outside of the city limits and may predate the City.

totally we should preserve the only great stories of out time by letting them run as long as possible 

tru dat

It was crazy how Tarlok started blood bending, and the fact that it wasnt a full moon however, remember when katara started to blood bend for the second time when she was about to kill the man who killed her mother, that was in brod daylight, just something to remember

Something I am curios about too is the diference when Amon takes bending away and when Aang does it. They both put a thumb to their forhead, but when amon does it, they dont glow out of their eyes and mouth an such

Definately a consideration, and to people who said they have diferent voive actors, ofcoarse they would have differen voice actors to cover it up. However tarlock looked furious when korra compared him to amon, its not that they are to the same person, but more like siblings

How did Appa reproduce? lol

Remember when Katara blood bended in broad daylight? Something to consider..

Exactly

I have a feeling Avatar the Legend of Korra will end with Korra spiritbending all Benders out of existence leaving is in aspiritually and magically void world much as we inhabit today. The Avatar will be a powerless and exentric person akin to the Dalai Lama.

I agree the conflict could be explored over several seasons but I remember reading that it's something that is tied with the first; although perhaps that is only in reference to Amon?

When was that

she wasnt going to bloodbend him, she was gonna kill him with ice spikes then stopped.

182

I don't really think Tarrlok is Amon. The way he looked when Korra compared him to Amon was absolutely furious- I don't think that was feigned, and I really do believe that he's a separate person. And honestly, I'd rather him be someone different. That's probably what I love so much about this show- that no one is fully "bad." The Equalists have valid points, and so do the benders, and both sides of the issue are fine as long as it's handled nicely, which Amon and Tarrlok are definitely NOT doing. Personally, I love the exploration of the "grey" sides of all of these issues. :)
However, I DO think Tarrlok and Yakone (the guy Aang defeated 42 years ago) are related. Yakone had someone with him who used blood-bending, or at least, that's what the flashbacks made it seem like. And Yakone and Tarrlok DO sort of look similar... is it a stretch to think they might be father/son?
I don't know, I just know I can't WAIT until Saturday. Seriously. Holy cow, I love this show.

What if Amon was Tarlok's father? I know it seem quite farfetch but could explain the reaction of Tarlok when Korra said he was as bad as Amon.

I feel they should and shouldn't have blood bending, i think it's interesting, but to powerful, and in that flashback she had of Yukone using it, it seemed like he used it on everyone in the court room, even on Aang, pretty intense, knowing that I think there couldn't be anyone greater than a will controlling  power. On the other hand I think if Turrlock wasn't crazy he could use it on Amon and beat him, but then there wouldn't be a show so I don't think they should have it on there overall, but still interesting and intense :D

That was an amazing review, really! It got me thinking about how things are going to work out this season and about the relation between The last airbender and The legend of Korra. To be honest in the first episodes I felt like nothing was happening. There were a lot of action scenes, the plot was kinda of nice but something was missing.. After I watched this episode I totally felt like is was Aang all over again. Especially when I saw the battle between Korra and Tarlok and the bloodbenging. God, it was a real shocker! Now I can't wait for the next episode.. 

i haven't seen this episode yet, because i was grounded. but based on what this says, i can't believe that somebody else decided to blood bend. Its just wrong and totally unnatural. I hope you agree with me, or ese id say you are disturbed...lol.

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