It’s that time of the week again! Episode 2.06 of The Legend of Korra, The Sting, aired yesterday at its new time of 8:30 pm EST. Last week, I spoke about some of my frustrations with this season so far, and I’m pleased to say that even though some of those frustrations are still there, I really enjoyed this episode. Read on for my recap, thoughts and speculation — spoilers ahead!
The episode opens with an apparent Northern Water Tribe attack on Varrick’s ship carrying Future Industry’s weapons to the South.
Desna and Eska arrive at the spirit portal to meet with their father, and he surprises them by appearing out of the portal itself. “Were you just in the spirit world?” asks Desna. They relay that Korra was attacked by a dark spirit, and was killed. “They’re out of control,” says Desna about the dark spirits, implying Unalaq has a hand in this spirit uprising (whether it’s just because he could be taming them or because he’s actually encouraging them remains to be seen.)
In Republic City, Varrick is showing his propaganda film (a “mover”), wherein Bolin makes his debut as “Nuktuk”, the hero of the South, who is fighting the evil Unalaq. The film, complete with a campy song and talking animal companions, is a wild success. Varrick gives Bolin a quick lesson on using fame to manipulate people, then Zhu Li delivers the news about the attack on the ship.
Back at the police station, Mako is studying a photo of him posing with Korra during happier times, when Asami appears and asks for his help. With the loss of the weapons, Future Industries is in danger of going under. Mako swears he’ll get to the bottom of it, but Chief Beifong isn’t interested in hearing his theories that the attack on the ship, like the attack on the Cultural Centre (in last week’s episode), is the work of anyone other than the Northern Water Tribe. Frustrated, he decides to form a sting operation to catch the true perpetrators. Asami is on board — and so is Varrick, who overhears and wants to supply them with a ship. Bolin, however, is too wrapped up in his new luxurious lifestyle to help out; that, and he’s still sore that Mako brushed off his problems with Eska.
Desperate for help, Mako and Asami go to the Triple Threat Triads, the gang Mako and Bolin worked for when they were young orphans. They convince the gang to help by planning to give Shady Shin back his bending (a callback to Book One’s attacks by Amon), and by offering them access to Future Industries vehicles. Once everything is set up, Mako and Asami join the gang members on Varrick’s ship. While they’re waiting for an attack, Mako reveals to Asami that he broke up with Korra.
Back in Republic City, Bolin is on set for Nuktuk’s next mover. During an intense scene, he gets carried away and kisses his on-screen girlfriend, Ginger, without her consent. She’s disgusted and storms off the set.
On the ship, meanwhile, Mako accidentally overhears the gang members say that instead of actually performing a sting, they’ve been paid to keep Mako and Asami busy. The jig is up — Mako and Asami flee on a speed boat, and a water chase ensues. Successfully slipping away, they return to the Future Industries warehouse, and find it has been picked clean. Asami is devastated, and in an emotional moment, kisses Mako, leaving them both feeling awkward.
Mako leaves to try to track down the person who double-crossed them. He stops in to check on Bolin, and sees that the pyrotechnics for his new mover use the same delayed detonation technique as the explosive attacks on the ship and the Cultural Centre. The special effects technician tells him that the explosives are manufactured exclusively by Varrick’s company, and shows him the remote detonator — one that exactly matches the detonator Mako retrieved from the scene of the Cultural Centre explosion. Realizing Varrick double-crossed them, Mako hurries to Asami’s office to warn her, but Varrick is sitting in the office with her; he has just saved Future Industries by buying a controlling interest.
Korra, meanwhile, washes up on a lush island. She’s approached by a group of Fire Sages (a group last seen in Avatar: The Last Airbender), who recognize her, but she has amnesia.
Things that were great this episode:
- Bolin calling out Mako for brushing off his troubles in previous episodes. I’m really liking Mako this season, but his dismissal of Bolin’s obvious distress sat wrong with me. I’m glad he addressed it.
- Asami and Mako teaming up. There hasn’t been much “team” in Team Avatar this season, and it was great to see the two of them working together. While I felt the kiss was a bit unnecessary, I wonder if it might be a gateway to the two of them discussing how poorly things went between them in Book One. Though I’d prefer if all this relationship drama was left out of it altogether, if we have to get drama, I would like it to tie up the loose ends of Book One.
- Mako. I wasn’t a fan of the character in Book One, as I felt he was underwritten and shoehorned into too many roles to be likeable. He’s really come into his own these past couple episodes, and I’m surprised to say he’s my favourite character right now.
- Unalaq’s mysterious spirit connection intensifying. I love that his kids (particularly Desna) are starting to question him, something that suggests they may turn against him in future episodes.
- The boat chase sequence. While I still feel the animation is weak compared to last season, I loved the entire sequence, including Asami’s capable driving skills and Mako’s firebending prowess.
- Varrick’s smug smirk at the end of the episode, when his involvement is finally revealed: I love how it was so understated compared to his usual exaggerated demeanour, revealing just how much of an act his gregarious personality really is. I mean, look at this smirk:
Sharp as a tack. Quite the difference from his usual buffoonish expressions:
Granted, I doubt anyone was shocked by the reveal that he was behind the attacks (it was telegraphed pretty clearly), but the cool and fearless way he played it off left me excited for the next episode. No doubt this is due at least in part to John Michael Higgins’ fantastic voice acting skill.
Overall, this was my favourite episode so far of the season. I feel like the plot is finally starting to pick up, and I’m excited to see new episodes again. A lot of the complaints I made last week still apply, but I’m much more willing to forgive when I’m actually intrigued by the story and characters.
As for the Korra amnesia bit, it is a bit of a hackneyed plot device, but I’ll defer my judgement until I see where they’re going with it. It would be awesome if it’s a necessary step of a spiritual journey, one that will bring her face-to-face with her own weaknesses. I also have conflicted thoughts about Bolin’s backslide into rich jerk territory, but again, I’m going to defer some of those comments until I see where they’re going with his character arc. The fact that a lot of time was devoted to Ginger’s disgust at his inappropriate kiss seems to enforce that we’re supposed to be angry at Bolin right now, so I’m guessing he’s on the cusp of some character growth.
I’m still sticking by the idea that Unalaq is controlled or corrupted by the spirits, and Eska and Desna will realize this and side with Korra.
Varrick is clearly trying to profiteer off of the war, but I’m wondering if there’s more going on with him than we can already know/guess. I had him sized up as a greedy businessman, but now I feel he may have more up his sleeve.
Bolin and Korra are both on the cusp of journeys of self-discovery, by the looks of it, and I’m excited to see them grow and reunite with Team Avatar. I can also see both of them not taking the news well when they learn that Varrick double-crossed Asami.
As for the Korra/Mako/Asami drama, I’m hoping that if anything comes of it, it’ll be some exploration of the things that went badly in Book One. I do fully expect Mako and Korra to end up together, though I hope they both have some time to grow as individuals first (particularly Korra).
That’s all I’ve got for this week — feel free to leave thoughts and speculation of your own in the comments section. See you next week for a two-episode special. These next two episodes are supposed to be animated by Studio Mir (at least in part), so I think we’re in for a real treat!