The Legend of Korra: The Terror Within review

The Legend of Korra turns in another strong episode that develops the previous storylines. Here's our review...

Zaheer’s gang finally makes their move and, having somehow gained entry to Zaofu, attempts to abduct Korra again in the middle of the night. And with the help of some shirshu toxin darts (nice callback), they nearly succeed, but Team Avatar is alerted to their presence and foils the attempt. The Beifong sisters initiate a thorough investigation to learn how Zaheer’s gang got inside the city. Once it’s determined it was an inside job, Aiwei uses his truth-seeing to find the accomplice, but when Mako’s detective instincts smell a rat, Team Avatar starts an investigation of their own. 

Wow. “Original Airbenders” was definitely the breather episode, because we come right back into the main story without missing a beat. This episode’s structure broke formula by having the major action setpiece contained almost entirely to the first act, acting as the springboard for the rest of the plot.

When it was over, I was left thinking where the episode could go without being anti-climactic, and my hubris was thrown in my face, because AIWEI WAS THE MOLE! He was the one inside Zaofu with whom Zaheer was communicating. He was the one who let them into the city and smuggled them out. He was in league with the enemy the whole time. 

I mean, I’m not going to pretend I didn’t smell it before the reveal. It wasn’t a total surprise, but they at least got pretty deep into the interrogation scene before I caught on, so bravo. I have to hand it to the guy, he had the perfect cover: the mindful, benevolent, cooperative truth seer. And not only did he fool Su for years, not only did he nearly get away with his crimes, but even once he was caught and on the brink of being accused, he handled it with calm and still managed to rig an explosive device to deter his pursuers. The man has nothing if not style. Props to Mike and Bryan for planting something like the truth seeing, which at first glance just appears to be a continuity porn Easter egg for the fans, is then played up at the beginning of this episode for comedy, only to have it become a major plot point.

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The major battle sequence during the abduction attempt was creatively storyboarded and beautifully animated. They really made the most of each combatant. The show has officially named P’Li’s skill “combustionbending” and Ghazan’s “lavabending”, and holy crap did Ghazan gain purchase in this episode! They really showed us what a lavabender is capable of! Our heroes had some great moments to.

Lin and Su were instrumental in Korra’s rescue, and Bolin used his masterfully precise earthbending skills to stun P’Li, temporarily nullifying her combustion powers. This was another great bit of planting and pay-off. The opening scene of the episode focuses on Bolin’s continued struggle with metalbending in contrast to Korra’s progress, though she’s still at the beginner level, which factors into her labored but ultimately successful metalbending during the pursuit of Aiwei. By contrast, her airbending reflexes seem to have come a damn long way since Book One.

Also of note was the teamwork of the Beifong sisters. It really seems like the beef between them was really the burr causing the wounds to fester, and now that it’s been resolved or at least partially resolved, they are the sister they perhaps could have been for a long time. They think more alike than they’d probably admit, they work in sync to rescue Korra from Zaheer’s gang, and the combined wrath fueling the investigation was a glorious terror to behold.

And just when I thought the writers were pushing it by having Su agree with Lin that Korra shouldn’t chase after Zaheer and his gang, a nice streak of realism is thrown onto the canvas. People can change, but at their core, they are who they are. Su has grown, but she’s still Suyin Beifong. She wants what she wants, and what she currently wants is Aiwei to answer for his crimes… to her personally. So, she lulls Lin into a false sense of security by agreeing with her, then goes behind her back, supplying Team Avatar with a fully gassed and loaded Jeep to use in their pursuit of Aiwei. 

There was also some great use of Varrick, who supports Mako’s suspicion that the guard Aiwei framed is not the culprit. The evidence could be lying, and in a wonderful continuity nod, Varrick points out that he framed Mako last season in the exact same way and it was convincing enough to get Mako thrown in jail.

Once again, Varrick proves to us that he is truly a neutral character, though I’m not sure whether his alignment would count as True Neutral or Chaotic neutral. It’s up for debate. Varrick does what he thinks is best, specifically what’s best for him. If the heroes get in the way of that, he’ll take them down. If helping them doesn’t affect him in any negative way, he’ll do it. And yet, his actions aren’t completely random. There is a rhyme or reason to them, a code Varrick always follows: enlightened self-interest. 

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There’s also a few moments carrying the story between Opal and Bolin, which are rather sweet if not terribly important. Opal is heading to the Northern Air Temple. She’s going to train with Tenzin. She’s gone pretty quickly and doesn’t really factor into this episode, but her departure merits a mention.

This episode was incredibly strong. It had some nice development on previous storylines, an amazingly kick-ass battle that took up a good chunk of the episode, some Mako detective work that wasn’t a boring diversion from the central plot and actually made me like him more, some excellent Varrick, and a more twists and turns than I was prepared to handle.

I’ve said it before, but I love these villains! Zaheer and his gang are just amazing, and I can’t wait to learn what their deeper motives are and now why Aiwei would be involved. And how he got involved for that matter. And now Team Avatar is taking the fight to the enemy, and I… I…

Good God, this shit is TIGHT!!!

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4 out of 5