Cartoon Reviews: The Legend of Korra Episode 10 – Turning the Tides

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The Story
Act 1
While Mako watches over Korra as she sleeps, Tenzin goes to be with his family. Later, as Korra is getting some food, she explains what she learned about Tarrlok to Tenzin and Lin. Mako and Asami have an argument over his behavior, and she confronts him about the kiss he shared with Korra.

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Tenzin asks Lin to watch over his family while he goes to meet with the other council members. The fire nation representative is kidnapped by Lieutenant, and Tenzin is attacked by undercover chi blockers. After Tenzin fights them off, Tarrlok’s former assistant tells him that the other council members have been kidnapped by Equalists. As the assistant tells Tenzin he’s in charge of Republic City, the Equalists begin their full scale invasion.

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Act 2
Korra and her friends find Asami’s car and head out to help fight off the Equalists. Tenzin goes to police headquarters to help coordinate the defenses. Just before their communications are taken down he sends a message to the General of the United Forces. Equalists attack using gas, Tenzin and Saikon make their way out of the station. But as soon as they are out they are attacked by the mecha tanks. Tenzin fights them off, but is eventually subdued.

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Korra and the others slam the car into one of the tanks and take out the rest of the mecha tanks, freeing Tenzin. They see that Equalist airships are making a move on air temple island.

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Act 3
The Equalists start their assault on the island just as Pema goes into labour. She’s taken inside by two of the air acolytes, as Lin holds off the attacking Lieutenant and chi blockers. She manages to hold them off for a while, but falls to Lieutenant, because metal wires do not make the best defense against electricity.

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The airbender kids come to Lin’s rescue and fight off the remaining chi blockers. Once the Equalists are restrained, Tenzin and the others arrive on the Island. Tenzin goes to Pema, who presents him with their new son, Rohan. With more Equalist airships arriving, Tenzin decides he needs to get his family to safety. Lin goes with them.

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Tenzin tells Korra to be patient and wait for the United Forces. Korra and friends escape while the white lotus warriors hold off the chi blockers. They have a short run in with Lieutenant, who gets defeated by Naga.

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This can only end well.

Lin jumps onto the Equalist airships and takes one down, before being captured on the second one. She is taken back to air temple island, where Amon tries to get her to tell him where the Avatar is. When she refuses, he takes her bending way.

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The episode ends with the reveal of General Iroh and the United Forces sailing towards Republic City.

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The Review
This episode marks the beginning of the third act of The Legend of Korra. Things are the worst they’ve been the entire season, with the finale rapidly approaching. With Amon in control of the city, Tenzin escaped, Lin equalized, and Korra driven under ground all that’s left is the ultimate climax for the first season of The Legend of Korra.

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Bring it.

This might count as one of my favorite episodes. If nothing else seeing Lin captured and equalized was an incredibly emotional moment, which was immediately followed by the reveal of General Iroh, Zuko’s grandson. If quality episodes were judged by how many awesome moments they contain, then Turning the Tides would take the cake.

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But even the tastiest cookie can have a burn or two. I noticed a few things that bugged me this episode. However, keep in mind that these are mostly minor issues, not really burns as much as they are slightly browner than normal patches.

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First of all, the overall iffy dialogue that has plagued this series rears its ugly head during the scene where Tenzin discovers that the other council members have been taken. Tarrlok’s former assistant seems incapable of speaking a single line without having it sound terribly awkward. Perhaps this is meant to be a part of the character, but that line of thought is too much of an excuse. Bad lines are bad lines, and anyone worth their salt as a writer needs to know when to revise an awkward line.

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Lin may be an awesome character, and a certified badass, but I’m wondering about how smart she actually is. This isn’t so much an issue with the character, rather it has more to do with how her first fight against the Lieutenant is written. As we’ve all seen, Lieutenant is a major chump. Every time he shows up he gets his ass handed to him. And then Lin goes and loses to him.

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“But wait!” you might be saying, “He only won because her metal is weak against electricity.” Well spotted! The problem is that Lin knows the Equalists use electricity as a weapon. So why, pray tell, does she insist on using her metal cables against the man with the giant electric escrima sticks? She’s an earthbender, and last I checked, earth does not conduct electricity all that well.

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I was going to complain about Meelo’s fartbending, but I can live with that. It’s meant to be silly. It isn’t actually, but I’m willing to humor them on this one. Instead I’ll complain about something I take very seriously, even since the time I staked my inner shipper to the wall.

“That was very hurtful, by the way.”

I am not buying the romance at all. And while this will be discussed in great detail in the coming two reviews, I figure I can give you all a preliminary for the rant to come.

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RAGE!!

When it comes to romance it is crucial that the viewers develop an attachment to the two characters involved. With Korra there’s no problem, she’s a sympathetic, well rounded character. Mako on the other hand…I would be polite if I said he’s a douchebag.

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Mako disagrees with that assessment. 

The problem is that they wrote him into a relationship, and suddenly he is given feelings for Korra. This was never developed, and for a good chunk of the series it was ignored. The catalyst was Korra’s kidnapping, but the groundwork had not been set at all. It’s as if they were trying to do a demonstration on the reaction between an alkali metal and water. Except they forgot to bring the damn water. Unless they brought caesium, the chunk of metal is just going to sit there, changing colors but not actually catching on fire.

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Hey, that’s cheating!

And trust me when I say this, the Makorra ship barely counts as lithium.

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This is what I think of the ship.

So without a strong, compelling relationship at the center, the whole romance falls flat. Sure if it were a dynamic, character driven epic it could function without the water needed to start the reaction. But since Mako and Korra’s relationship is not a caesiumic romance it desperately needs the water of proper development. Without that development the ship just sits there, slowly turning a dull, ugly color.

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Mako’s behavior is unacceptable during this episode, his unbelievable cluelessness only barely does not ruin the episode because it is barely given any focus. The focus is on the rest of the story, which is good, because it allows the episode to stand out as one of my favorites. Because the burn mark on this episode is so small, I can eat around it and enjoy the rest of the episode. The burned spot is still there, but I can toss it in the mental trash bin and only remember how good the rest of the cookie was.

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I’m sure there are many that disagree with me on this, and before any of you spam the comments explaining why I’m wrong, please keep in mind that I’m not doing this because I support a different ship. I’ve been working to murder my inner shipper for the past few years. I have no ship I support. Rather, my points are made entirely because I think the Makorra ship was poorly written. After the insanity that was AtLA shipping, I feel that Mike and Brian tried to recreate that phenomenon. The problem is they tried to force it rather than giving it enough time to happen naturally. With the little amount of episodes they had, they should have cut the Mako and Asami relationship subplot before the show went into production. There just wasn’t enough time to do what they wanted without making Mako look bad.

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This does not count.

Still, don’t be afraid to let me know why I’m wrong, or why I’m right. Please, let me know what you think about the issue, whether shipping for shipping’s sake excuses poor writing or not. I’ll bring this up again as I finally get into reviewing the finale, especially in the last episode. Let me know what you thought of the episode, in the comments.

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