K204 Civil Wars Part 2

[caption id="attachment_8129" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Civil Wars Part 2, Korra, Avatar, Bolin, Book 2 Spirits What did you expect those guys to do, Bolin?[/caption]

Written By/ Mike DiMartino Directed By/ Ian Graham Animated By/ Studio Pierrot In my opinion this is the best episode of the Book so far. Like Part 1 it was not really what I expected from the title, but now that this 2 parter is over I kind of see what the title meant, not just the war between North and South Water Tribes, but also the little "wars" that went on between family members. Korra and her parents, Tenzin and his sibling and Ikki and her siblings, these were all "wars" just not in the exact sense of the word. It was not as action packed as I would have expected from a two parter with that title, but it made up for that with some fantastic character moments that were at times very emotional and touching. This is an episode that sets a lot of things in place, we now know a lot of the newer characters better while also getting more on already established characters like Tenzin, Korra and Ikki. This episode was also really funny, it just got the humour right every time and very much reminded me of the humour from ATLA which Korra has not done too often. It was not just that it had the right style of humour, but rather the comedic timing too, something ATLA always had. I think it says a lot about an episode when it gets toilet humour perfect, not just once, but twice with Varrick and Zhu Li in Ping Ping the Platypus Bear pooping out piles of money to much success. That is an example of humour done well, but the Platypus bear is also a great example of the comedic timing, near the end of the episode Team Avatar are escaping the Northern Water Tribe on Varrick's yacht and as they sail past the blockade we see the crew of one ship look through a telescope into the yacht to see who is the captain, only to see a Platypus Bear in control wearing a captain's hat and being hugged by Bolin. It is so well times, in terms of how it was shot, but also it happening in the middle of a serious action scene, Korra has not done that too often. Having funny moments in the middle of dramatic scenes. There are many other examples from this episode of this excellent humour, one of my favourites is when Bolin reveals that he gave the bribe money to two complete randomers. His confident reaction followed by Asami's facepalm was priceless. Funny episodes are great, but that humour needs to be balanced out with more serious moments, something this episode also did well. We had the emotional stuff from Ikki, Tenzin, Kya and Bumi as they explored the pluses and minuses of being in a family, we had the serious and dramatic moments at the trial and the reveals about Unalaq, the funny, yet serious moments where Eska and Bolin are to be married. This episode truly did have a bit of everything, even an epic moment where Korra used the Avatar State to great success to get by the blockade. She and Mako on the wings of a plane, flown by Asami, what is not to like? Oddly I have not really seen that much dislike about this episode, the fan reaction on the whole has been very positive. Most of the negatives are about Book 2 so far as opposed to this episode by itself. I am seeing a lot of people wondering where the spirits are and why we have not seen them since K202. For me it comes down to the one downside of trailers, they always show the epic and amazing moments that we all want to see straight away, we have seen so many awesome things that have yet to appear and people are wondering where the spirits are. Personally I am getting so into the character focus of these last two episodes that spirits have not been a big focus for me right now, I am still excited to see them, but I am happy to wait and see the series gradually bring them back into the fold. I mean, we did not get a ton of Airbending focus in Book 1 Air, Book 1 Water was not entirely water focused, so I am not too concerned about the spirits taking the back foot for a couple of episodes. The only other minor issue I am seeing is people worried that the Bolin and Eska relationship will all be for naught, and that it will just end up as a funny relationship thing to do with Bolin with no serious character development involved. I can definitely understand people being worried about this as I think that with how this episode ends the writers need to bring some seriousness and emotion into this plot. Eska is clearly upset and angry that Bolin has sided against her, so does she actually like him as more than just a pet project/slave, she mentions that he is cute earlier on in the episode so she definitely is somewhat attracted to him, but we have yet to see her in a serious scene with Bolin where they talk about their relationship. I feel there is still much to come from this relationship, but they need to do something more than just humour with them soon-ish. The Southern Air Temple side of the story was so well written and directed. A lot of fans including myself expected the sibling issues to go on for a few more episodes and be this huge emotional roller coaster for all of the characters, but what we got was some very nice and tender scenes where the characters all learned from each other and really calmed down, all realising that being a part of a family is hard at times, but it is usually great most of the time. I loved the decision to have Ikki be the one to really say this to Tenzin, even he noted how wise she was when she used the baby bison fighting as an example, despite their little arguments they are still family and still love each other. Ikki really thought her father something here and even told him about the good qualities of his siblings, while he told her about her own sibling's good qualities. It was a lovely father-daughter moment where they both put things in perspective for each other, easily and effortlessly moving each other from a state of anger at their siblings to a sense of understanding. The decision to make it a very cute scene with the 4 adorable baby sky bison worked out well, it really did not need to be a hyper emotional "The Beach" style scene, these squabbles happen in families and are easily gotten over as shown when the air kids make up in seconds showing the adults how to do the same. Then the Kataang siblings get their cute and adorable moment when Kya shows them the picture Kya gave them of their family happy and together. The picture brought so many memories of Katara and Aang's relationship into my mind from their first meeting in 101 to the kiss in 321, to the thoughts of the future, marriage and kids in the comics and to see the two of them with their 3 kids who we now know as characters was just such a "feels" inducing moment. On Korra's side of the story we at last get the confirmation we have all been waiting for, Unalaq is indeed up to no good. I liked that more or less all we got was the reveal that he is a villain, but the exact details of his plan are still unknown. It is an interesting way to do things, Korra now knows who she is against, but she is not sure what exactly she is trying to stop. The only aspects of his plan we really know are that he needed Korra to open the south spirit portal, he needed Tonraq out of the way and that he now does not need Korra to open the North Spirit Portal. It meant that while the reveal of him being a villain was very predictable, it was just that, the reveal, we did not get the plan or his real motives. I would speculate that he is ultimately trying to unleash the spirits in some way, but even he says that he would not be able to control them if a war broke out. I did love that one thing we did get revealed to us was Unalaq's jealously about the fact that his brother, Tonraq fathered the Avatar, when Korra pointed that out it was such a cutting moment as it must have hurt Unalaq to see his completely not spiritual brother be the father of the Avatar something he must have dreamed about happening. I really enjoyed what Korra did throughout this episode. I loved how feisty she was in the trial, threatening to kill Judge Hotah if he kept the death sentence, then how she just had to do something about her father's unlawful imprisonment. I was shocked that we actually saw her threaten to have Naga eat Hotah, but it felt like such a Korra thing to do, she would never have actually had Naga bite, but she is so good at portraying that aggressive and powerful role that Hotah could not take a risk. She got Team Avatar together with Varrick to plan out the breakout, she did not just rush in which was nice, she used Airbending to knock back Unalaq in the little fight, that was a nice moment too. She came up with the plan to make the plan take off with no runway, she had that moment where she used the Avatar State in the correct moment and did so in complete control, she was not out to destroy or hurt anyone, just clear a path. I could just really see a lot of growth for her as a character in this episode, she really felt like THE AVATAR, not just an Avatar in training. Her actions have basically started a war, but she went in knowing that and has made the decision to go against Unalaq despite the consequences, her journey so far this Book has been about making decisions on her own as the Avatar and she did just that here and I don't think you can argue too much with her decision. Unalaq gained the position of chief through traitorous means; she is acting in the best interests of both tribes here. Tonraq's decision at the end of the episode to have her ask President Raiko for the help of the United Forces was interesting in that it puts Korra in a position where she can really prove herself. Can she successfully negotiate the political side of being the Avatar and prove that the south is in need of aid, it will be interesting to see how she handles it. Speaking of Tonraq I really liked him in this episode too, asking Korra not to start a war on his behalf and then finally stepping up to take on the role of Chief of the South at the end, it has been a short, but sweet amount of development for him. I cannot wait to see him leading some southern troops into battle against Unalaq. It will be very emotional because in the last episode Tonraq said that despite his issues with his brother he would never attack him, so for him to find out that his brother had him banished and then imprisoned is huge, that confrontation will be intense. I suppose I should also mention Senna here too, I just love her as a character, she is not in many scenes, but really manages to steal the spotlight when she is present, like the scene of her crying in the kitchen after they return from visiting Tonraq in prison, it was so powerful in that they did not need to explain why she was crying outside of her saying she felt helpless, but you can read into it and get a lot out of it. As far as she knows her husband will be in prison for life and he will never again be back in their home, Korra comforting her mother was very emotional. Something everyone on yesterday's Korra Roundtable Podcast about this episode noticed was that they did not spend too much time on the action scenes and kept it very character focused. A good example would be them saving Tonraq and his men, the plane crashed, they got on board we saw a few moves and then we cut to them escaping. It was a good decision because we did not need to see an overly long scene of them search, finding and then fighting their way out, that was not the focus here. I think that they are very much keeping the big fights for later on, they teased Unalaq in action with the short fight with Korra and Mako. I think there are still some big fights to come. The one issue I had with the episode was that again they did not mention or draw attention to Jinora and her moment with the statue. I am not annoyed or angry about it, but I do feel that when it is addressed again they will need to explain why Jinora was not freaking out about or why she seems to have not told anyone about it. It is not that I even needed huge scenes with her, just a little reference to show that there is something going on with her beyond an apology to Ikki. My final point is Varrick, I thought he would turn out to be one of the villains of the show last episode and here he seemed to side with the good team. It was a decision that worked out well as he was a star in this episode, every single scene he was in was hilarious, he is ATLA humour in character form. I still wonder if there is more to come with him as one of his bios says that there are rumours of underworld dealings, I think he may just be a character who has his own agenda which sometimes makes him part of the good team and sometimes against them. So overall, a fantastic episode of Korra, best of the Book so far, but where are things going next? That is what I am not sure of; this episode leaves a lot of things very open with little to go off for speculation. Outside of Korra talking to President Raiko we really do not have any idea of what will happen. I assume this means we are returning to The United Republic for the time being, but we also know that Korra has to meet up with Tenzin and Jinora at some point and the Southern Air Temple would be the next stop on the way to United Republic. I would love to see that reunion happen next episode, but I have a feeling it will be Republic City we see first. With the sibling issues resolved I think Jinora has to come back into play with that statue and I suspect that we will get some South vs. North war action scenes. Other than that I am not sure. This episode has me excited though.