The Legend of Korra has a habit of dropping truth bombs halfway through a season, and given the not-so-surprising traitor reveal in episode 8, I expected we’d be seeing more twists right about now. I wasn’t disappointed. What was surprising was the way the truths were revealed — for the first time, Korra has a chance to sit down with the villain and ask him his goals, and he actively answers her questions not in a stereotypically maniacal monologuing kind of way, not in a bid to convince her to switch allegiances, but as a strategic tactic to buy himself time. I like this Zaheer fellow.
The episode summary and more of my thoughts are after the jump. Beware of spoilers! This episode had some big reveals.
Episode 3.09 – The Stakeout
The episode opens with Team Avatar tracking down Aiwei. They roll into an environment that’s familiar to fans of Avatar The Last Airbender, complete with Korra making an “I’m watching you” gesture that’s a nod to the original series. (Thank you for the shameless fan service, creative team. We appreciate it!) The Earth Queen has put out wanted posters for our heroic foursome, and the locals are champing at the bit for an opportunity to play bounty hunter. One seemingly dangerous pair, however, turns out to be a couple of Nuktuk’s biggest fans (a throwback to Bolin’s screen persona in Book 2).
Deciding they need a stealthier approach, Mako and Bolin disguise themselves in a disguise that’s vaguely reminiscent of Breaking Bad (or is it just me?). While the brothers are scouting the city, Asami finds a note in Aiwei’s abandoned car: he is to meet Zaheer at Xai Bau’s Grove at sundown. They aren’t sure where that is, but Mako and Bolin locate Aiwei, so they decide to watch him from afar, then follow him there.
After a lengthy stakeout (and a comical series of Pai Sho games between strategic genius Asami and lovably inept Bolin), Korra gets impatient and barges into Aiwei’s room. She realizes Aiwei is meeting Zaheer in the Spirit World, and she begins to meditate, hoping to find them.
She arrives at Xai Bau’s Grove in time to see Zaheer throw Aiwei into the Fog of Lost Souls (from Book 2), claiming he’s a loose end. She confronts Zaheer, and he calmly agrees to tell her everything. He and his friends are part of a group called the Red Lotus, an extremist offshoot of the familiar White Lotus. Her uncle Unalaq, Book 2’s villain, was a member as well, although he diverged from their goals in the end. When the Red Lotus tried to kidnap Korra as a child, they were hoping to groom her to their way of thinking.
The Red Lotus believes anarchy and chaos are the natural order of things, and they wish to dismantle all government. This fits right in with the political goals we’ve seen from other villains so far in this series. In Book 1, Amon was pushing for something along the lines of Communism. In Book 2, Unalaq was trying to build a dictatorship. Now, we have Zaheer and company pushing for anarchy.
While Zaheer and Korra are speaking, he hones in on her location, and he uses his physical body to communicate this information to the rest of his friends. Bolin and Mako end up in a bending showdown with Ming-Hua and Ghazan, who eventually defeat the brothers. Before they can get to Korra, however, she and Asami are captured by the Earth Queen.
- I’m sure I’m not the only one surprised that the Earth Queen’s capture happened off-camera. This was a strange narrative decision, given that this season that has done a good job of showing plot points instead of just explaining them.
- Asami’s strategic prowess was amusing, but also impressive – I wonder if this is foreshadowing that she’s going to become the new “plan guy” for Team Avatar? The writers have seem a bit lost about what to do with her, so I’d love to see her fall into a strategic role.
- Let’s talk about Suyin Beifong. I was already tentatively suspicious of her, for a silly reason: the similarities in the designs of her ex-pirate chef and Ghazan made me wonder if she knew Ghazan from her younger days travelling with pirates. This seemed a big stretch, so I dismissed it. But now we have the Red Lotus actively seeking to dismantle monarchies. When first meeting Korra, Suyin mentioned the idea of a monarchy being an outdated model. Is it possible she’s a member of the Red Lotus? Are we, for the first time in the Avatar universe, going to end up seeing a showdown between sisters?
- Finally, I’m delighted to hear Unalaq mentioned again, as it helps to flesh out his motives, which were still a bit unclear after Book 2. Will we possibly hear of Amon or Tarrlok being related to the Red Lotus, too, or is that wishful thinking?
What are your theories? Have anything to add or point out that I may have missed? Sound off in the comments below!