K410 Operation Beifong


Written By - Tim Hedrick Directed By - Melchoir Zwyer Animated By - Studio Mir This was an interesting episode to have so close to the end of the season and series. With a lot of stuff to cover in 4 episodes this episode only has a little bit of Korra and instead gives the complete focus to Bolin and the Beifongs, but it completely works and is a really good episode. If I have any worries going into the series finale it is that there is so much set up with nearly every character that I am worried a lot of stuff will have to be left unresolved, so to give an episode to resolving a lot of these things that have been set up with some of the more minor characters was risky, but it works so well because they have this group encounter the main plans of the villains during their rescue. So while it seems to be an episode that won't touch on the main plot, our rescue team literally bumps into Kuvira, her spirit vine weapon and also Zhu Li. I expected a basic rescue episode focusing on the character interactions between Opal, Bolin and Lin, what I got was that plus resolution on a bunch of little issues I was worried would potentially go unresolved. This episode accomplished a lot of things and also set up the plot going forward really well, this was truly a packed episode. I will cover the Korra stuff first as it is the only side story not focused on the Beifongs. Despite her only being in this episode for about 5 minutes, it was a super interesting part of the episode. It brought back in a big way something that was set up in Book 2 and thought resolved at the start of this book, that being the Human-Spirit dynamic. With the danger of a spirit weapon attack incoming Korra decides to try and get the help of the spirits to defend their new home and new friends with the humans, but when she enters the spirit wilds the spirits are abandoning the city. Abandoning being the key word, Korra doesn't say fleeing, she specifically says they abandon the city and is sad to see this. In her mind she thought that the spirits were now a part of Republic City, that they had made the city their new home and that the spirits were now friends with humans and would help to defend and help people in the city, so she is sad to see them just leave with no thoughts or care for their human friends. It really makes you question spirits overall, do they care at all about humans, why even bother to live in Republic City if they care nothing about what happens to it, why won't they help or defend their home. We were shown back in K401 that people like Gommu is actually friends with the spirits, they are seen right next to him, imagine his reaction when he is hanging out with his spirit buddies and they just randomly disappear, retreating to the spirit world for safety not even thinking about what will happen to their friend. We all know spirits are not humans and you don't expect them to have the same emotions and thoughts as humans, but there is a point at which you have to say that unless you help with the city you cannot live here. You cannot just pick and choose the aspects of the human world you want, stay for the good times and disappear during the bad, how can humans truly trust spirits when they can in no way depend on them, the same humans that willingly gave up part of their city to them and changed to allow them to live in peace and attempt to become friends, yet they get nothing back in return. Spirits are not known for change, we know that from ATLA, Korra and even the comics, in fact spirits like Lady Tienhai from The Rift admire humans for their capacity for change and dislikes the fact that most spirits are just stagnant and don't change, at this stage it is time for change, the spirits need to change for the better, it is a new age, at this point in time it is the spirits that are holding back progress in the spirit-human dynamic. The key conversation is between Korra and the small Dragon-like spirit that seems to speak for this group of spirits. Quick side note, CARROT GUY IS BACK, it has only been like 10,002 in universe years but the legend himself has returned, I do have a more serious point about him, but I will come to that in a moment. Korra in this conversation is just asking the spirits to help the city that they both share, yet the Dragon Spirit tries to spin it like Korra is demanding they become her personal army and is identical to Kuvira. We all know Spirits act like they are above humans, but this is so arrogant, to be in no way open to what Korra is saying and the trying to make her out to be the bad gal in the situation, it is really bad and shows how much the spirits do need to change. Korra is basically asking the spirits to show they care about the new city in which they live, the city that they share with humans, sure she is asking them to fight in some way, but it is not from a selfish perspective, this is a reasonable request. Again spirits are not humans, we do not really know the role of most spirits, even the ones who do have a role it is more of an ancient role rather than jobs like humans have. Raava and Vaatu represent light and dark, Hei Bai is the guardian of that forest in the Earth Kingdom, The Painted Lady watches over the city of Jang Hui, but in general we don't know what spirits do day to day, is there a reason that they refuse to fight ever unless forced? Because we have seen them attack humans before, Aye Aye attacking the hunters to protect Wan, why are there no other spirits like this willing to put themselves out there to protect what they want. Coming back to Carrot Guy, this is a spirit who was a friend of Wan, he was there when Wan became friends of tat group with Aye Aye, he and Radish Lad even gave Wan tea at one point, yet Korra comes around and there is nothing, he doesn't stand up and act friendly to the new Avatar. Do spirits even think of any humans as friends. I think ultimately if they are to help Republic City it will take a spirit who knows humans are worth fighting beside inspiring the others, Hei Bai would work well for this or even Raava speaking to them herself. Korra sums up the main issue when the spirits say no and begin to disappear.
If spirits and humans are gonna live together, we have to work with each other!
Spirits right now only seem interested in living in the physical world, but unwilling to truly be a part of the human world and work with them. Amazing that a quick scene like that can promote so much interesting discussion, but there is still the majority of the episode to cover. A lot happens in the rest of the episode here are some bullet points
  • Toph and Lin meet for the first time in 20 years
  • Bolin meets his Hero
  • Potential hint that Bolin can metalbend if instructed well enough
  • Lin's father is a nice man named Kanto
  • Lin is still angry at Toph because she never had a father growing up and she never talked about him before, but will mention it casually to Bolin
  • Zhu Li is revealed to have not betrayed Varrick and is actually undercover trying to destroy the spirit weapon
  • Su, Baatar, Wei, Wing and Huan are saved as is Zhu Li
  • Amazing Fights: Kuvira vs Suyin and Beifongs vs Kuvira's army
  • Baatar Jr still cares for his family as he tries to stop the cannon firing on Opal
  • Zhu Li reveals that Kuvira will attack Republic City in 2 weeks
  • Toph and Lin make up
  • Opal and Bolin are back together
  • Varrick and Asami are making a dragonfly flying mech suit and are against using spirit weapon tech
Plus a few other things. The reveal of Lin's father was pretty interesting. Everyone expected it to be a named character whether it was Satoru, The Duke or even Sokka, but not many people expected it to just be a new character we have never met nor will we ever meet. Ultimately it makes sense as the father as a character was never going to be important beyond his identity and what it meant for Lin to grow up without a father figure, so it being a random person made sense and there remains the mystery of who Su's father is. What I liked about this reveal is that it was not just a random reveal that made no sense to come up, you had Bolin who is a huge fan of Toph and the original Team Avatar ask the question because Lin's father had never been brought up at all. What is even better is that they use Toph answering this question randomly as the reason why Lin gets so mad. The idea that Toph refused to talk about Lin's father for so many years to her, yet would so casually reveal this information to someone who is not even in the family infuriates Lin rightfully so. The dynamic between the two is so interesting, it starts out pretty hopeful with Lin shocked, but happily shocked to see Toph and they share a "Hey Chief" back and forth, but very quickly Toph's attitude towards the past angers Lin showing her why she never sought out a reunion. Toph acts pretty much the same to Suyin back in Book 3 with the two sister's reunion, they have both resolved their issues with each other and despite Lin not being at this reunion they feel like they have moved past their issues with Lin. They make it out like Lin is living in the past keeping the issues alive, but Lin needs to address the issues not just stick them in the past. The big anger release scene is one of the most real scenes we have seen in Korra. This is a 54 year old woman talking to her 86 year old mother about growing up without a father and the anger she feels about Toph never mentioning him and now acting like it is not a big deal, when it was a defining aspect of Lin's life. You really see that of all of the ATLA characters Toph had the most issues in her life and is/was the most flawed, she struggles with this sort of super emotional stuff and even here you can see that Lin's hard words hit home, but what she says is just "That is fine, if that is how you feel". She accepted what Lin said, but didn't apologise or defend herself and this attitude is what frustrates Lin the most. The healing moment also is very real. It is emotional, but not a full reunion. There is no forgiveness, instead Toph just admits that she was not the best mother, but ended up with 2 great daughters and she just wants Lin to not hate her, that is enough for Toph at this stage and Lin at least right now is fine with that. They have a ways to go to fully heal everything that happened, but it is start. Extremely well written mother-daughter dynamic. The other issue with Toph in this episode is that she, kind of like the spirits in a way, refuses to get involved in the other issues the group encounters, she is only helping to save Su and co and wants no involvement in the spirit weapon or Kuvira. At multiple times throughout the episode you have situations where every other character suggests they include destroying the weapon or taking out Kuvira in the rescue attempt, they care about what is happening to the world, but Toph doesn't. Ultimately she gets involved to help her kids, but in the end, in another great moment admits that she is too old to fight these fights, her age is getting to her. I loved her bringing up that this is why Katara did not fight in the civil war in Book 2, they realised that it is time to leave things to the kids. This was definitely included as a response to all the people complaining that Katara has not fought in the series so far, that all along this series is about Korra, Bolin, Mako and Asami, the new characters and while the old characters will appear from time to time this show is not about them, something some fans were unable to accept. The Bolin Opal reunion worked well enough. There was no massive issue between the two, and her just seeing him save her family and be willing to save people like Zhu Li really showed her that he is the same as he has always been. Nice to have the couple back together. The Zhu Li reveal was not a surprise, but it was nice to get it confirmed that she is still good and not have it continue into the finale. What was of real note to me was that it seemed like she was ready to sacrifice herself to take out the spirit cannon and Kuvira. I am now very interested to see if we get her backstory at the same time as Varricks, she is really coming more and more out as a real interesting character. The interesting set up from this episode is that I assume she and Varrick will reunite next episode, which should be a great scene. Final thing to mention is the Republic City attack coming up. The mention of it coming in two weeks is interesting in itself, I really wonder when these 2 weeks will pass, it seems a long time to bring up with 3 episodes to go, but it is nice to know what the endgame is. It will take place in Republic city, where this series began, a fitting place to conclude the series. All I will say about the fights is that they were awesome, a perfect showcase of Earth and Metalbending and especially how much earthbending can change the battlefield. Some really creative choreography. Overall an episode packed with things happening. Great character moments as well as action scenes in addition to big set up for the finale. Though the truly great moment of this episode is the return of Carrot Guy.