The Legend of Korra "Peacekeepers" Review: Every Which Way But Korra's

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Oct 05, 2013

The Legend of Korra S02E05: "Peacekeepers"

Where to start... where to start...

First and foremost, "Peacekeepers" was just a remarkably bad-looking episode. Studio Pierrot's work has steadily declined over the course of five episode, drifting away from the Studio Mir style to their own particular style of animation, and on the lower end of what they're capable of, too. It's about on the same level as the filler-arc animation you'd find in some of Pierrot's other shows. It's stiff and un-detailed, and it's obvious which choices they made regarding where to spend their time. Arriving at Republic City? Not a whole lot of effort. Korra and Mako breaking up? It actually looked decent.

Likewise, the color palette and lighting have shifted from Studio Mir's more subdued impulses to Pierrot's favored look of "always popping, always bright." Republic City is significantly brighter than I think it's ever been, and while I get that we never saw much of it during the day in Book 1, and that the seasons are likely different—it's obviously not winter any longer—the brightness and lack of detail just make Republic City seem generic and kind of uninhabited. Heck, Mako's apartment looked like no one lived there apart from the Fire Ferrets wall scroll.

I've mentioned this a couple of times, maybe in the comments, but certainly when discussing it on Twitter, that lately I often feel like I'm watching Naturo or Bleach instead of The Legend of Korra, and this episode really locked in that sensation for me. Pierrot is slated for two more episodes—6 and 9—and Studio Mir animated what's left in the season. 

I understand the production demands behind animation. Nickelodeon didn't leave a lot of time to get the show on in a year, and Studio Mir is, as I've said, a small operation; something as rich and good-looking as Book 1 required a lot of their animators. They needed a rest, and Pierrot is nothing if not a workhorse when it comes to churning out animation, making them an ideal interim solution. Hopefully, since Nickelodeon has made orders for Books 3 and 4 in a timely fashion, they'll look significantly better and more consistent than what we got this week.

Last week I mentioned that I was pretty much all out of slack for the show's narrative, and "Peacekeepers" decided to test me on that threat. The second half of "Civil Wars" was a series of structural stumbles for the sake of narrative expediency, but that expediency didn't really get us very far this week. Except to show us that Mako is the only sane, responsible character in the A-plot, and that is something that I honestly never thought would happen? My head, it hurts.

Based on your comments and my very shallow wading into the fan community outside of you all, my sense is that Korra is very much on the outs with much of the audience. I defended her a bit earlier, but I've reached a breaking point, of sorts, regarding her behavior. Her intense stubbornness—from yelling at the president to going over the president's head to manufacture a war with General Iroh—I still defend as teenager insanity, and I do sort of applaud the show for putting what has become an intensely unlikable protagonist at the center of its narrative. We're seeing Korra without a moderating influence, like Tenzin, and, really, it's actually rather bold, especially for a "kids' show." It's Luke Skywalker leaving Dagobah without completing the training and then the whole Cloud City mess* stretched across four episodes. And if Luke was much more of a jerk to R2-D2 the entire time.

*I cannot believe I am worried about spoiling The Empire Strikes Back for someone. I dislike what the Internet has reduced me to.

The problem, however, is that Korra isn't facing much in the way of actual consequences for her behavior, and that's what I think is so frustrating for us, or at least it is for me. It isn't enough for her to be blocked by the president at every turn, or even that Mako breaks up with her. She doesn't see these instances as linked to her behavior, and instead views them as failures on their parts. She needs to be dealt something very serious that causes her realize the errors of her behavior. I think the end of this episode, with the angry spirit swallowing her whole, could likely be that wake-up call, in the same way that Amon's easy humiliation of her in "The Voice in the Night" caused her to start reevaluating things.

Even the things I should've really responded to this week, like Varrick using Korra to stir up a war by encouraging her to talk to Iroh and in doing so setting up Asami to become a war profiteer and then his decision to make a propaganda 'mover' with Bolin should've just tickled me to no end. I love this sort of stuff, and after the political drama from Book 1, it should feel like a much bigger deal. I'm just having trouble getting past how lightly it's being framed by the show. It's undercut by the jokes, but not in a meaningful way like the show was even capable of way back in the first episode as contrasted Unalaq's grand religious speech with Varrick's insistence on mindless entertainment. Varrick's incredibly ruthless and conniving, but sort of like with Korra thus far, I'm not convinced he'll face a real consequences.Then again, maybe a business tycoon not facing any consequences for his actions will be exactly the point the show wants to make.

If it ever gets around to making a point.



LEAVES ON THE WIND

– I didn't like the Air Temple stuff as much as I did last week, but at least it was more coherent, and pushed steadily toward Tenzin realizing that he should have stayed with Korra, regardless of her attitude. However, this could end up feeling like a way to avoid forcing Korra to accept responsibility for her actions, and shifting that responsibility to Tenzin alone... and it really does not belong there.

– At least Lin showed up this week, and had my favorite line of the episode: "Welcome home, Avatar. Thanks for starting a war."

– "Being alpha lemur is lonely."


What did you think of "Peacekeepers"?


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  • nicogeno Oct 11, 2013

    This episode was epic. I see a few minor differences in the animation, but overall I think you're over exaggerating. The plot was fantastic, even the B-plot. I loved seeing prodigies that can do ridiculous things like training a whole group of lemurs at age.. what? 5? 4? I don't even know. I will agree that war profiteering was really cool, and i'm glad they're not dumbing it down for the children out there. And the cliffhanger was fantastic, got me so pumped for next week.

  • Zelli42 Oct 08, 2013

    I liked this episode way more then the previous ones.
    There was a lot going on this week, that may have serious future impact. Only because it didn't unfold yet, doesn't mean it is not going to happen. If we regard the heroes as kids(or teenagers) it makes sense they only see their side of the war(meaning Asami and Korra). Mako seems to have some wisdom at least. You could also call it smart of Varrick to go full retard to sell them on "his" war.
    That aside, Korra is obviously terribly wrong with everything she does... all the time basically and I can't see how they are going to make us sympathize with her. However if the plot thickens now (maybe we get a time jump after the ghostworld right into the war, that would be nice) it would be fine.
    Then again, maybe I'm just enthusiastic because mako was cool this week. I also really liked the way he was animated. Then again I also like the Bleach-art.
    Oh yeah and the twins as antagonists: Big hell yes!
    So still not too great this week,but I think it could have been the best episode this season.

  • AmberYang Oct 08, 2013

    maybe someone can help me out here.. why did Korra take a boat to the Fire Nation? She's a master waterbender and the Avatar, doesn't she have the skills to out-waterski her cousins and OHKO them?

  • MajLorne Oct 08, 2013

    She may be the avatar, but she still needs transportation to get to some place far away. Can't do much if you have no energy left. As for her cousins, I think she could've beaten them if not for that giant water spirit popping up during the fight.

  • StephenBrown9 Oct 07, 2013

    Thought I was the only one who was really beginning to feel sour at Korra, glad to find I'm not! I agree that she's became pretty dislikeable, I know that a hot-headed, "ask questions later" heroine should really be exciting/refreshing but not when she just comes off as annoyingly stubborn and stupid. She doesn't listen to reason or think things through, which I really hate in a character.
    I feel she's just turned into a complete bully, like in the last episode where she practically chased after the Judge when (even if he WAS a baddie in the end) had, at said point in the episode, only been doing his job. She's stubborn and quick to anger, so unlike Aang. I miss Aang. She constantly complains about how difficult it is to be the Avatar, yet she doesn't even make a good job of being the Avatar

  • tdm260 Oct 07, 2013

    Agreed. When she was going on and on about the Northern Tribe oppressing her people and how they started it I was practically screaming at the TV, "WHAT?! Oh NOW you care? Clearly you forgot it was YOUR fault they even accomplished it in the first place." God she's so irritating.

    I never had the urge to scream at or smack Aang. Even when he was struggling with an answer, I was always routing for him. Korra...honestly, maybe Lin should lock her in jail so that she's forced to sit and THINK about everything.

  • lyokophantom Oct 07, 2013

    Korra's cousins are mean to her. They just took off when the spirit ate her.

  • headclub Oct 07, 2013

    The episode itself was not terrible. Many storylines made forward progress, and larger conspiracies were hinted at. BUT, Korra is just too much already. Her character has gone over the edge. No one likes her anymore. And we should on soem level, shouldn't we? I have tried. But even I can't defend this annoyingly whiny, stubborn, stupid brat, anymore. She is giving me high blood pressure!

  • headclub Oct 07, 2013

    Ok first the animation, SIGH....what can I say that hasn't already been said? The characters all stand around!! The characters not speaking stand around like statues, there is zero movement!!! Same goes for background characters.
    THIS ANIMATION STUDIO SUCKS.

    Also, where's all the bending??? The kickass duels we've all come to know and love???

  • marcusj1973 Oct 07, 2013

    Studio Mir's lighting vs Studio Pierrot's colour palette reminds me of another animation style, cause that whole first section harkened me back to the days of Charlie Brown's teacher.

    I appreciate having a high standard, but had I not watched this episode(s) and read only this recap, one might think that Nickelodeon pulled a fast one and switched out Legend of Korra for New Coke.

    When it comes to the actual story and characters, this show is light years ahead of 98% of what you'll see presented on networks geared to children and has been in each of it's 5 seasons. Is Korra book 1 better than what we've seen to date of book 2? I guess. But IMO we're talking about something subjective as opposed to the "fact" that by comparison, book 2 is crap.

    This show, whether we're talking about just Korra or including Ang, has built up SO MUCH good credit in terms of quality on every level, most reaching well beyond what any animated cartoon should, that I'm MORE than happy to give it the entire season before I start pointing upwards at the falling sky.

    And if indeed, in the end, this season is as flawed as what's being implied here...I'll still take that over an extra episode of Power Rangers, Sponge Bob, Digimon or whatever absurdity they choose to fill the time slot with instead of developing Book 3

  • erin12312 Oct 07, 2013

    I'm just really happy they're continuing to make this show, if we complain about too much they'll cancel it, it's only the 5th episode, it's supposed to be different to book 1

  • tdm260 Oct 07, 2013

    Which is funny because if you compare the core base of the storyline....it's not.

  • eatsometofu Oct 06, 2013

    About the animation, I think Asami looked much more different than Book 1 this season, noticeably 'uglier' I think. And that was before I read the reviews here and found out that the animation studio had changed. I could forgive the animation, if the story was engaging. I usually watch an episode at least two or more times a week, but it's getting harder and harder to get through an episode on the first try now. I have to routinely pause or rewind back because my mind keeps wandering off and I lose interest in what's going on. Book 2 is definitely more disappointing than Book 1. :-(

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