[Preface: These reviews are written after having seen the first season in its entirety. Down-the-road spoilers are avoided. My focus is on the writing, not music or animation.]
Amon enters his endgame and the stakes have never been higher.
Forget 'The Revelation'; THIS is the ultimate study in tension-building. It starts off with a little romantic tension: Mako-Asami-Korra followed by Tenzin-Lin-Pema. This escalates very soon to Amon's capture of the Council Members followed by his all out attack on Republic City. First the police are spread thin and then their headquarters are attacked. Thanks to Team Avatar's timely arrival, Tenzin is saved from capture.
And just when we think that the heroes are safe, Air Temple Island is attacked. To compound the tension, Pema goes into labour. Although the first wave of Equalists is fended off by Lin and the Airbending kids, this respite does not last long either. More Equalists come in hot pursuit of our heroes.
In the end, a sacrifice is required of everyone: the Airbenders lose their home while Korra restrains herself and loses the certainty that her bending gives her physical superiority over all others. The greatest sacrifice is, of course, Lin's. The scene of her sacrifice is accompanied by some very sombre pathetic fallacy as even the sky cries for her.
Thankfully, the episode does not leave us in this lowest of notes. By introducing us to General Iroh and his fleet, it channels our desperation into righteous anger and hope of recuperation.
It is a bold move by the show to continuously spiral downwards without relenting. Other than a few successful raids by Tarrlok, our heroes have been consistently beaten by the Equalists and barely managed to escape. However, this chain of events is also realistic because Amon and Hiroshi are both intelligent men who have had a long time to prepare their endgame. We hope to see in the next episode if their reckoning includes the United Forces or not.
A special mention goes to some of the battle moves when Team Avatar rescued Tenzin. One very obvious but appreciated reference was to Uncle Iroh's lightning redirection technique used by Mako to take out a Mecha Tank. Korra's use of Waterbending to take down another Mecha Tank could have been a reference to Katara's anti-tank Waterbending in "Norther Air Temple". What was wholly new was seeing Airbending used to actively attack instead of to avoid and evade. Outside of the Avatar state, this has almost never happened before. Watching Tenzin destroy the Mecha Tanks using Airbending was both awe-inspiring and a little unnerving. It is a mark of desperation because Airbending was developed to elevate and escape the mundane world, not to fight it.
Overall, the episode does a great job of taking us to new lows. This leaves us ripe for a climatic showdown between the Equalists and the United Forces. Who will prevail?
This week's episode had a great start. Started out with a little Makorra action, which can make a lot of us fans happy-sorry Masami fans-. Then we get a short recap from Korra of what happened last episode, which was fine, a lot did happen. Then we see Tenzin asking Lin to babysit before he goes to work, which was cute with the Linzin factor and Meelo always gives me a reason to laugh. But once Tenzin left, I felt that things were just going way too fast.
First of all, now along with the equalists having the the lightning gloves, they also can disguise them as other equipment? When were those created? Then the equalist airships which we have seen before, well, we saw 1 airship. Now the 50 or so they seem to have now. All of the fighting happens, and the events that happened at the police station just seem like they're impossible. I'm guessing that the police station's air ducts are metal, so how did metalbending cops and other personnel not hear equalists climbing through them to plant the gas bombs? Ever try climbing through those? They make A LOT of noise! Unless you're an airbender or weigh nothing it's going to be apparent someone's in there!
Of course then in the midst of the battle Mike and Bryan do what everyone would suspect right before equalists reach Air Temple Island... THE BABY'S COMING! Man how many times has that freakin' happened. Sad thing was, me being a Linzin fan, I was hoping Pema wasn't going to make it at first, but I didn't really mean it.
Then there's the actual battle of Air Temple Island, in which Lin gets her butt kicked... again, but is saved... again, by the airbender kids. Which I thought was totally awesome! They were fighting for their home like anyone would have done. But of course, no one wins against Amon so they go to leave.
This last part made me really sad. So the airship is catching up to the bison, and Lin wants to keep the others safe, so she wants to take it down. So she jumps onto the airship!?!! Didn't your mom's stories about what happened when she did that teach you anything Lin?! You are wearing a suit of metal that you could destroy the engines with but instead you rip it apart and get captured. Granted, she did what her mother would have done, not telling Amon where Korra was, but her losing her bending was like a knife in the heart for me.
Then of course we get the scene with the new character "General Iroh", which I guess is supposed to make up for the stuff that just happened. Yes, let's send in MORE benders into Republic City to lose their bending. THAT'S BRILLIANT!..... idiots... Guess he's related to Zuko somehow... though if he were the new Firelord's son, I don't think it would be smart of him to go into battle when he's the heir to the throne! Look what happened when Iroh Sr. Did!