Korra 1×09: Out of the Past
Legend of Korra 1×09: Out of the Past
Full episode available at Nick.com
Episode summary (from the Avatar Wiki): “Korra tries to understand her visions while being confined in an unknown area; Tenzin and Lin Beifong search for Equalist hostages. Tarrlok creates a fake story about how Korra got kidnapped”
My initial thoughts: Have I mentioned how much I like this show? Lin Beifong is officially my favorite character ever. The woman can even make getting dressed look badass, and then watching her casually break the rest of Team Avatar out of prison (though that seemed almost too easy – no guards anywhere?), which was perfectly punctuated when she uses metalbending to zip Bolin’s fly. I would totally watch a Lin Beifong series. I’m just saying.
I think it’s safe to say that Tarrlok and Amon aren’t the same person. I didn’t see that resolution coming, but Amon taking away Tarrlok’s bending works.
I grumbled last week about flashback confusion, and voila: this week we get the full flashback, complete with the revelation of Tarrlok’s father, not to mention Aang going into the Avatar state and whooping some bad guy. Sweet!
Once again, I could have done without the romantic conflict, but ah well. They wouldn’t be teenagers if they didn’t have relationship drama.
I loved that being forced into confinement forced Korra to finally meditate and move more beyond brute force. (I presume it was a platinum cell? How common is platinum on this world, anyway? Never mind. Several people have pointed out that metalbending is a very specialized skill Korra hasn’t mastered, so no need for platinum.) Not just with her visions, but when she listened to what was coming and figured out how to foil the Equalists’ attempt to electrocute her in her cell.
Confused newbie says huh? I followed pretty much everything. I know Beifong’s foot-stomping sonar is a callback to the original series, but we’ve also seen her do it in this show, and while I’m not 100% clear on how that works, it doesn’t throw me out of the story. I’m curious why the full moon was important for bloodbending, but again, it’s something I can accept on faith for now.
Thoughts from the seven-year-old: “It was a little bit better than the last one because of all of the visions. Korra actually could see Avatar Aang’s spirit! He was trying to warn her about Tarrlok. I liked the part when the bad guys rescued Korra accidentally, because it was kind of funny. They tried to electrocute the box and knock her out, but it didn’t work and when they opened it… [pantomime of firebending] …she firebended in their face! I’m scared and excited about the finale. I saw the statute of Avatar Aang, and I saw Amon’s face on it!”
Predictions: The team is back together, Tarrlok has lost his bending, and all hell is about to break loose between the Equalists and our heroes. I expect to see more of Tarrlok. Bending wasn’t his only power, and while he’s been outed to the council, I still see him as manipulative and conniving enough to try to turn things to his advantage. Particularly now that he has even more of a reason to hate Amon. We haven’t seen Hiroshi Sato, and I suspect he’ll turn up again. The biggest mystery would be Amon’s true identity, and I confess I haven’t got a clue. Have we ever seen anyone except Aang take away someone’s bending? I don’t believe Amon is Aang, but I don’t think we’ve seen anyone else who would have that kind of power – taking away bending and resisting Tarrlok’s bloodbending. Which makes me suspect there’s more flashback or background still to come.
A thought – bloodbending requires blood, and it was only partially effective against Amon. We’ve seen Sato’s armored suits. How big a leap would it be to imagine Amon as someone who incorporated some of that technology into his own body, cyborg-style? They’ve set up a bit of a recurring Technology vs. Bending thing, and Amon as the ultimate representation of technology would certainly fit with that. Perhaps someone whose body was horribly damaged by benders.
And extrapolating from there, didn’t Mako say their father was killed by a firebender? That would certainly scar someone up.
Three episodes to go. I suspect in the final episode we’ll see Korra get a handle on airbending and enter the Avatar state. I’m very much looking forward to it!
June 12, 2012 @ 10:15 am
As a veteran of the original series, let me clear up two things.
Metalbending is a specific sub-set of earthbending, Lin Beifong’s mother, Toph was the first person to do it ever. Even Avatar Aang couldn’t do it. So, a normal metal box is sufficient to imprison most earthbenders (or really any non metalbender).
Waterbending is easier during a full moon, because the moon’s control of the tides is considered the first primal waterbending. All waterbenders get a boost to their powers during a full moon and some can use that boost to bloodbend. The inventor of bloodbending (seen in the original series) claimed it could only be done with the boost of the full moon. Looks like that isn’t true for all wannabe bloodbenders, now.
Jim C. Hines
June 12, 2012 @ 10:39 am
Oh, interesting. I was assuming Korra should be able to do metalbending as a subset of earthbending, but it sounds like it’s a more specific and limited skill than I realized.
June 12, 2012 @ 10:46 am
There was brief discussion last night about whether Bei Fong is more awesome than Batman. I say “brief” because the answer is obviously yes.
As far as the guards, it could be that some of the force was still loyal to her, or at least loyal enough that they would pretend not to see her rather than go toe-to-toe with her. Also, that’s after the point when Tarrlok orders the entire police force out looking for Korra, so there was probably at best a skeleton crew back at the station.
I’m wondering what Amon intended to do with Korra. He told her before that he was going to ‘save her for last’ so she wouldn’t become a martyr, so turning around and dueling her then seems like an about-face (about-mask?). Was he going to kill her and blame it on Tarrlok, to gain more sympathy for his cause from non-benders who respected the Avatar? Or maybe he actually meant to rescue her, for the same reason–and to show how much more powerful he was than her? Or, possibly he was just going to take her bending (or not) and lock her up, so no one would know what happened to her. Assuming he’s got another secret prison stashed away someplace.
Amon being Aang would be a tough sell for me–the new avatar is born only when the old avatar dies, and we’ve not seen any indication that they’re pulling a Buffy with their definition of ‘dead.’ Aang was clinically-dead for a little while in TLA, and if that had been enough to create a new Avatar, Korra would be 12 years younger than Aang.
Aang, however, learned spirit-bending from a third party. It’s conceivable that someone else did, too. Or that others reverse-engineered the technique after Aang learned it (or that he taught it to someone else, but I find that highly unlikely).
As far as the bloodbending: It was obviously partially effective–it looked to me like Amon was just powering through it–like he was just barely exerting more control over his limbs than Tarrlok was. If that’s what’s going on, than either he’s very strong (possibly inhumanly so), or he had a strength boost in the form of either augmentation (prosthetics or an exoskeleton) or some kind of bending.
If it is some kind of augmentation, it would have to be made of platinum (Which is apparently about as rare as tin in this universe), or else Lin would have sensed it and metal-bent Amon’s equalist butt back into the pro-bending arena during his escape after the finals.
June 12, 2012 @ 10:59 am
Metal, Lightning, and Blood are now way more common than they were in TLA (well, except blood-bending, but if they had to pass a law to ban it ‘decades’ before they caught Yakon at it, we can assume it spread beyond Katara), but they do still appear to be pretty advanced. When Korra first arrived in Republic City, she was impressed to see metal-benders. I don’t think we’ve seen Bolin metal-bend either.
We’ve not seen the advanced form of Air (assuming there is one, and it’s not spirit-bending).
Jim C. Hines
June 12, 2012 @ 11:06 am
I hadn’t thought about that, but it makes sense that if Amon really was part-metal, that Lin would have taken him down on the spot unless he was sporting platinum parts. Still possible though, considering all of the platinum mechs Hiroshi built.
I’m curious about Amon’s plans as well. And I’m really enjoying the fact that the story isn’t completely predictable 🙂
June 12, 2012 @ 11:13 am
Lin Beifong’s mother, Toph, was blind. That sonic wave they show Lin using was the *only* way Toph could see. She invented metalbending by ‘seeing’ the impurities in metal.
My guess with Amon is he went to the spirit world at some point and isn’t all human or he learned a great deal from a spirit who doesn’t like the Avatar. His removing of bending seems like an advanced form of chi blocking to me. It might not be permanent, but it is probably really hard to reverse unless you know what you’re doing.
June 12, 2012 @ 11:27 am
Perhaps Amon met Koh, the face-stealer (a spirit, and one of the creepiest bad guys ever) who taught him how to take away channeling. This would also explain why he wears a mask. Perhaps he has NO FACE!
Jim C. Hines
June 12, 2012 @ 12:01 pm
This would actually frustrate me a bit as a newbie, because I don’t think LoK has really laid any groundwork for the spirit world, or for spirits to play such a central role in the revelations.
June 12, 2012 @ 12:53 pm
I agree, if they’re going to bring the spirit-world into it, I hope they introduce it and ground people in it before it becomes important, so that new viewers aren’t at a disadvantage.
My viewing crew thought of Koh too, but Amon appears to still have eyes. Koh takes the entire face (recalling the monkey Aang met in the spirit world). He also didn’t appear to have any particular grudge against Aang (he did help him find Twi and La, after all). He just wanted to add Aang’s face to his collection (scary, scary dude though).
It’s possible Amon isn’t actually spirit-bending–we don’t see him put a hand on the target’s chest, the way Aang does when he spirit-bends. However, Wolfbat Prettyboy told Korra he’d been to “the best healers in the city” and they couldn’t figure out what Amon had done. Considering that Katara could heal well enough to read blocked chi when she was a teenager, trained professional healers should be able to recognize blocked chi, even if they can’t unblock it themselves–it’s unlikely they’d tell him that it was permanent and incurable if that was the case.
What I really want to know is, how old is Tarrlok? If he’s younger than 42, then he inherited Yakon’s gift after Aang removed Yakon’s bending. Which has capital-I Implications when it comes to Amon’s quest to rid the world of bending.
June 12, 2012 @ 1:00 pm
I think he might have gone after Tarrlok in the first place out of a sort of sense of professional pride. He clearly has a capital-P Plan, and it doesn’t involve taking out Korra at this juncture. So when Tarrlok pinned Korra’s kidnapping on him, he might have gone after Tarrlok just to set the record straight about his involvement.
It doesn’t seem like his associates were expecting the blood-bending, so it doesn’t seem to me like they went after him for that.
June 12, 2012 @ 1:49 pm
According to the Nicolodean online game thing, Tarrlok is 37.
Yes, I can see the Implications there quite well.
June 12, 2012 @ 9:44 pm
Hi Jim! My housemate tells me to tell you that if you haven’t had it suggested to you already, if you watch ANY one episode of the previous series, make it “The Blind Bandit”–the one that introduces Toph, Lin’s mother. It’s not only one of the best episodes of the previous series, it’s one of the best episodes of television anyone in my household has seen in general.
(Of course, we also endorse you watching all of the previous series from start to finish if you can, but that’s a lot more time-consuming! 😉 )
Jim C. Hines
June 12, 2012 @ 9:53 pm
We watched the first two episodes tonight 🙂
June 12, 2012 @ 9:56 pm
AWESOME! Then you’ll get all the appropriate context by the time you get to Toph. 😀 Looking forward to your posted reactions!
June 13, 2012 @ 3:44 pm
Brenda, I agree with you that Amon is using an advanced form of chi blocking. But regarding Tahno going to many healers and they were unable to reverse it, I believe it would take a healer as powerful as Katara to help or rather it would require the use of spirit water, similar to the way Katara was able to help Aang at the end of Season 2.
June 14, 2012 @ 12:35 pm
“And extrapolating from there, didn’t Mako say their father was killed by a firebender? That would certainly scar someone up.”
Amon did claim in an early speech that his mask is because his face got basically melted off by firebenders. If he’s not lying, that’s certainly more evidence for your hypothesis.
June 14, 2012 @ 12:49 pm
Then maybe Amon is Mako and Bolin’s allegedly deceased father who was horribly scarred and crippled by firebenders.