Matt Patches Biography
As post-Earth Queen Ba Sing Se erupted into a burning hellscape of violence and looting, you could hear the cautious lyrics of The Beatles' “Revolution” ringing in the background.
With “Long Live the Queen,” 'Korra' takes a step over the line into darker territory. Or that's how Zaheer puts it, when he suffocates the Earth Queen by airbending the oxygen out of the body. If the Parents Television Council knew how to navigate Nick.com, its members would be flipping out.
Though “Stakeout” begins as a cheeky detective story — somewhere between Richard Dreyfuss' 1983 screwball action comedy of the same name and Paul Auster's merciless short story, “Ghosts” — it's conclusion is like flipping through Snyder's Buddhist playbook.
A great villain can usurp the fortitude of a great hero. Look at 'The Dark Knight' — is Batman even in that movie? Heath Ledger's Joker was an instantly iconic performance that overshadowed the small effort put into complicating the Bruce Wayne character. Worth the sacrifice, but Christopher Nolan's Bat-sequel is forever flawed.
Books 1 and 2 of 'The Legend of Korra' didn't have time for episodes like “Original Airbenders.” The closest half hour might be “The Sting,” last season's Korra-less, Mako detective tale. It was an exciting deviation from the stream of plot-driven episodes ... at least, it was in theory. “The Sting” was still adding stepping stones for how Book 2 would wrap everything up. “Original Airbenders” is essential without feeling concretely tied to any big picture, Zaheer's nefarious motives or everything Korra's dealt with in Zaofu. Much like 'Avatar: The Last Airbender,' 'Korra' strays from the path to detail its well-worn characters. It's a breath of fresh air(bender).
Last week's “The Metal Clan” saw Lin and Suyin clenching their insides to keep from biting the other's heads off. This was their first interaction in 30 years. It was no easy feat; meditative, green juice-drinking Suyin was in a better position to calmly avoid the situation. Lin's rage transformed her into a rabid dog, teeth out, ready to bite. In “Old Wounds,” that passive aggression literally cripples the diligent cop. The only solution: memory-provoking acupuncture!
In “The Metal Clan,” the upswing of a new Book 3 arc, Korra is the blissfully ignorant student, learning the facts for the first time. We've known Lin Bei Fong since the very beginning of the show, but we've never known her. And a thinner show would have been OK with that; Lin's the gruff, overly-rational policewoman who will do anything to protect the Avatar from danger. That's enough characterization. But not for 'The Legend of Korra,' which shook up the Korra/Lin relationship by traveling to the heart of the Metalbender's past.
If anyone thought this season was skimping on the action — and after last week's mini 'Warriors'-meets-'Mad-Max'-meets-'Akira' throwdown, I'm not exactly sure why you would, but hey, we all require varying amounts of stimulation — the 'Korra' creative team delivers 24 minutes of wall-to-wall action worthy of Danny Ocean.
As Korra's ship enters Ba Sing Se airspace, Tenzin warns her that the Earth Queen can be... a prickly personality to work with. A glimpse of the city's three sectors, ringed with a serious of walls, tells us exactly what we need to know about this woman. We might as well call her Prince John; Modern Ba Sing Se is a socioeconomic hell hole, the poor starving on the fringes while the Queen and other royalty live it up in the center. Traveling the radius of the city is a sharp bit of visual info from director Ian Graham. Studio Mir, the studio behind 'Legend of Korra,' is up to the task.
Since their big break up at the end of Book 2, Mako and Korra have become the two friends who dated in high school and still can hang out at the local bar whenever they're both around. At least, Korra thinks they are. She's closer to her casual friend Asami than she's ever been before — that happens in post-college years too — but when it comes to Mako, she's under the impression that their relationship can settle back into “just friends” like the days before they took things romantic. But can it? Korra hasn't been around and neither has made efforts to keep in touch. They're friends on Facebook, but they're like Mercury and Pluto emotionally. What makes Korra giggle makes Mako want to keel over and die. He's part of Team Avatar, but maybe he shouldn't be.