Legend of Korra gets more political in Episode Eight touching on some issues surrounding justice, but before that, let’s do a quick recap of Episode Seven since I skipped it: Hiroshi Sato aka Asami’s dad is an Equalist supporter, supplying the radicals with electric gloves à la Stark Industries. As a result of his arrest, Asami, Mako, Bolin, and Pabu move out of the Sato Mansion and onto Air Temple Island with Korra and Tenzin’s family.
There are two important points raised after Episode Eight. One is Blood Bending. Tarrlok is a Blood Bender and as I doubt he’s learned it from Katara, he’s either learned it from Hama – the Southern Water Tribe POW stranded in the Fire Nation in The Last Airbender, or he figured it out himself. The latter really isn’t so hard to believe; just because it never crossed Katara’s mind doesn’t mean someone else couldn’t have come up with it. I have the feeling that not that many people are aware of Tarrlok’s ability to Blood Bend, and the only reason why Tarrlok revealed his Blood Bending abilities was because he was in a serious bind fighting Korra. Blood Bending isn’t something you can really do covertly since the person who’s being controlled often fights it and the movements are therefore really jerky and unnatural. With this reintroduction of Blood Bending, we’re also shown that the strange man on trial we always see in Korra’s flashbacks may have also been a Blood Bender, hijacking many people in the court room including Aang. This coupled with Tarrlok’s statement that there are many things about him Korra (and most likely the rest of Republic City) doesn’t know makes me think Tarrlok and the man on trial are related. And there’s still the chance that the man on trial is actually Amon.
Point number two is the formation of the vigilante group Team Avatar and the subjectivity of justice; it feels like it shouldn’t be, but it is. There may be many people who have similar views on what justice is, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, it’s a very personal and relative thing. Korra’s sense of justice doesn’t match the justice system currently enforced by the authorities of Republic City. In stark contrast to the level-headed Tenzin who continues to fight politics with politics, Korra and her friends have decided to take action themselves, seeking results outside the law. Just like Robin Hood or Batman, Korra becomes someone who stands for the people even if that stance is in opposition to the government.
I won’t condemn nor praise vigilante action, but I will say this: Korra isn’t nearly as clever as she needs to be to play this game effectively. Her actions are never well-thought through and she is rarely able to support her decisions with valid and comprehensive reason. The old Team Avatar was a little more balanced in terms of personality but the new Team Avatar does very little in mixing things up to make the team better. And they’re actually a little annoying.
With Asami, Mako, and Bolin in jail, and Korra on her way out of Republic City, it’ll be interesting to see other people step into the picture and surprise us. Tenzin, for example, but not in his usual calm, collected, and let’s-colour-within-the-lines way; I’d really like to see him unleash some serious Airbending according to his sense of justice – like saving Korra and her friends.
But let’s not forget about the ever dependable and adorable Pabu and Naga combo. The animals of the Avatar world always play an important role! Appa had an entire episode dedicated to him and it was a really good episode; I don’t see why Naga and Pabu can’t bust their respective owners out of their binds and be the heroes.