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The Legend of Korra S02E06: "The Sting"


Oh, the perils of being a multi-armed global corporation with interests in shipping, mecha tanks, and filmmaking. Naturally you want to exploit your various technologies across all of your different corporate interests because it'll save you money and strengthen the brands. But that filmmaking will sink you every time. (Just look at what happened when Seagram owned Universal Studios for a bit.) Of course, when your business and legal troubles are represented by two teenagers, it really doesn't make any difference if the filmmaking is what reveals you've likely been paying the mob to make it look like a country is attacking the shipments of a competitor, because, well, who's going to listen to two teenagers?

"The Sting" marked the culmination of Varrick's plotting, and as Derpanos put forth last week in the comments, it seems increasingly likely that Varrick had the Agni Kais bomb the Southern Water Tribe's cultural center and was also having them or another gang pose as Norther Water Tribe pirates attacking Future Industries shipments. While Mako—remaining the smartest character on the show who isn't Varrick—had it all figured out, there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it.

I mean, look at Varrick. He's got the businessman version of Tahno attitude going on now:


The structure leading up to the reveal was well done. While Varrick's been a flimflam industrialist from the start, Korra has at least planted the seeds for his deception from the start. It gave Book 2 something of a backbone, as saw Varrick's manipulations play out across this first half of the season. However, compared to the larger stuff that's going on—particularly Unalaq's ability to travel into the Spirit Realm!!—it still felt decidedly like a B-plot aspect of the show had been promoted to move things along, so that we could spend the back half of Book 2 dealing with Unalaq and his Spirit Realm activities. Instead of, you know, exploring that topic across a run of the episodes. It's definitely not padding or filler; it's more like writers and producers had decided to tell these two stories, but couldn't figure out how to do both of them simultaneously, so they opted to—at least so far—split them in half. It's not a bad choice per se, but it's made for a very uneven storytelling experience.


I've maintained for a while that Legend of Korra's romantic plotting has always been its weakest aspect, feeling like the reason it's there is to round out the show, instead of just being a natural aspect of the characters and their stories. However, since the show is committed to these aspects, thinking about them is still important, at least every now and then. Mako standing up for himself last week during his fight with Korra was a decided step forward for the character, a much-needed push to the stronger personality he occasionally exhibited back in Book 1. Sure, Korra is a firecracker who tends to suck all the oxygen out of a room, but Mako was never a pushover, either, and he'd sort of fallen into that role at the start of Book 2.

So it was nice to see him taking charge last week and this week, and it was the reason—and here I eat a tiny bit of crow—that "The Sting" managed to land an honestly good emotional beat between Mako and Asami in the empty warehouse. He was focused on figuring it out, and she just needed to be comforted by the guy who ambiguously broke up with her in Book 1. Sure, the episode laid it on a bit thick with that close-up of Asami and her watery eyes, but with her learning about the break-up and the complete collapse of her family's company, her kiss was completely motivated and organic to the characters and to the moment. It felt like something two teenagers would do, and that makes all the difference. 



LEAVES ON THE WIND

– Sorry for the delay posting this review! I'm on vacation this week and couldn't watch the episode until Saturday morning.

– The film geek in me, so pleased with the earlier appearances of the 'movers' at the start of this book, is now disappointed that they've already developed editing techniques and sound technology. They'll have films in glorious VarriColor by the finale, I'm betting. All the mover stuff was still very amusing, though, complete with film-version Unalaq done up in Ming the Merciless style.

– I have no idea how Mako's logic determines that Bolin's refusal to help means going to the Triple Threats. After all, Bolin, as an earthbender, is about as useful on a boat as I am. Which is to say not at all useful. I was hoping it'd be Tahno and a crew of pro-benders, but alas.

– Correct me if I'm wrong, but Mako made it sound like Shady Shin needed his bending back. I'm pretty sure that was Shady Shin inexplicably waterbending like a boss a few scenes later, though. (And I am corrected. Viper was the waterbender there.)

– The animation this week was certainly better than it was last week, but also it seemed a bit more inconsistent from act to act, which happens sometimes.

– No sign of Tenzin and his clan this week, which was sad.

– Oh, and Korra washed up on a Fire Nation island with amnesia, my least favorite storytelling device! However, given that Korra's sense of identity is one of her key struggles, perhaps the use of amnesia will be a bit more interesting than usual. On the upside, Studio Mir is back next week, and we're going to learn all about the first Avatar!


What'd you think of "The Sting"?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 12/19/2014

Season 3 : Episode 13

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The character at the top of the review and on the front page looks like an animated Duke Crocker.
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So first the spirits were the villains. Then it was Unalaq. Now its Varrick? /sigh. I wonder if they are even going to finish the story in this book. I bet its going to be another rushed conclusion like the last book. And now Korra has amnesia. More story complications.

I know its only been five episodes, but its like the plot is going nowhere. They just keep adding more surprises and suspense with very little progression. To make it worse, there is no exploration or side story that that adds to the lore. For example, last season there were tons of flashbacks of when Aang was an adult. Where are those now? I thought Tenzin's air temple plot brought all that but instead they just showed us Bolin's unnecessary film plot.

The only thing I'm looking forward in this show now is Zuko. I hope he saves this season, and the show.


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It's very weird. On one hand, so many things are happening, on another hand it feels like not much is happening. This is the fault of Korra's storyline or lack there of.

For someone whose so aggressive, Korra hardly ever makes any decisions on her own. (Talking to Iroh, Varrick's idea, talking to the Fire Lord, Iroh's idea, etc) Having a protagonist who is easily manipulated and constantly being told what to do is not that compelling. I need Korra to start actively making decisions the way Mako did in this episode. Sure, the plan was poorly executed and it failed, but Mako utilized problem solving skills and MADE a decision. And if it wasn't for Varrick finally revealing his shadiness, Mako's plan would have succeeded.

Honestly, I didn't miss Korra the entire episode. Even when Unaloq mentioned Korra, I was more interested in what HE was doing in the spirit world. It's only because of the amnesia that I'm interested again. Hopefully, this ordeal will finally correct her personality flaws since all the lessons and experience from last season were clearly erased from memory prior to Book 2.
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that whole Bolin part was stupid and too lenghty to my taste...
I would think that Mako was strong enough and quick enough to hold off some boats, but apparently he is pretty weak...
Korra amnesia...hmmm...maybe she will finally train normally and become the Avatar she supposed to be...
Varrick...i knew from the first episode that something was not right with that guy and this episode just confirms that..
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Definitely a better episode this week. Without Korra, the pacing finally settled in somewhere it was manageable and the real puppeteer behind the wars was exposed (I swear, if they take that back later...). I agree that Korra suffering amnesia is a terrible, over-used plot device but one she might actually benefit from in the long run. I'm not her, though, so I don't see this working out in my favor.
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If this wasn't avatar, I would drop the show now. It was so clear that Varrick was the one who attacked the warehouse. And Mako hiring famous criminals for a undercover op.... really??? What kind of policeman is he? I'm not even pointing out in how many was this could have gone wrong.... plus it did...
And now we are doing amnesia.... all of this is such a joke...
Remember in LoA when everything made sense and even the normally most boring story elements were fun? I'm not even expecting amazing episodes like "the chase".... Or characters like Toph and Zuko.... Why do they hate us?

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Not happy with this season at all. To me it seems the narrative is scatterbrained and there hasn't been much focus at all. Also what has been shown is going at light speed so stories won't get wrapped up properly. I would also like to see more focus on the spirits after all that's what the book is called. I would so like to have adult Sokka instead of Bolin ugh the characters in this show have little to zero charm. I only really like Tenzin, Lin and the kids.
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so will the look of the show be back to how it was in season 1? because i would love that!
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Aesthetically, at least. Though, they (wisely, at least at first blush) adopted a different look for the first Avatar sequence, but I'll discuss that a bit next week.

Narratively, don't know if the show will be back to Season 1 level.
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I'm still holding out the next half of Spirits will be better, like season 3 of A: TLA got a lot better in the second half of season 3. If not I do have faith the writers can see what went wrong with book 2 and correct it for the last two books.
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Another thing, that wasn't Shady Shin waterbending, he was the guy driving the boat while the other guy was bending.
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Aah. Right you are. I was confusing Shin with Viper.
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I liked the episode, mostly because Mako, Asami, and Bolin's stories. I'm overly optimistic that Bolin and Verrick friendship plot (that seems like filler for most) will play out in a way that will develop Bolin. He thinks Verrick is his friend and Mako abandoned him, so I think there will be a pay off where Bolin sees through Verrick is dirty and realize to look beyond appearances, which has been his theme all book long. He feel for Eske based on appearance and failed to see her character, thinking Ginger is into him when she's playing a part, and Verrick is a great guy when he has been all about profits from the beginning. I hope my optimism pays off.
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Same. I hope this whole ordeal with Varrick leads to some great character development for Bolin and improves relationship between Bolin and Mako. As brothers, they have a lot of unresolved issues and I really hope this brings that to light. It will probably turn into a big blow up when Mako reveals the truth about Varrick to Bolin. Hopefully Bolin comes out of this with some better self esteem and earth bends the crap out of those water benders.
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One correction I feel must be addressed is that he wasn't paying the mob to hijack a competitor's shipment, if you recall from episode 1, Asami had the merchandise, but no ships to ship it, so she partners with Varrick. So he is actually paying the mob to attack his business partner, in order to take control of her company.
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I thought this was the best episode of the season (excluding animation), and not because Korra received less than a full minute of actual screen-time. Although Mako was front-and-center throughout, Asami was the major standout, in my view; she had already been to Hell and back during season one, but now her resilience is, yet again, bound to be tested. Yes, Asami tearfully confiding in Mako was somewhat cheesy, but it struck the right nerve in the sense that once more, Asami is just this ordinary girl without Bending whom the universe seems to love throwing more and more crap at.

I'm not one bit surprised at the latest development involving Varrick, but the writers still did a satisfactory job with the build up towards the reveal. Oftentimes in a "whodunit" or another type of mystery, there's a methodical "art" to divulging a secret at the proper time: there are writers who want the viewers to figure out the conclusion prior to the characters doing so, some writers allow the character(s) to possess the answer before the audience, and other writers aim for everyone to learn simultaneously.

This was sort of the third option, as even for the viewers who've suspected Varrick of transgressions haven't had an iota of solid proof to connect him to any significant crime (other than his eccentricity and flamboyancy possibly inciting violence). The remote detonator was the key, and even though the animation was a tad slow (causing Mako's facial expressions to appear sluggish), Mako managed to piece together the evidence roughly the same time as the audience.

The episode was certainly unconventional (not even Tenzin showed up), but it reminded me of "The Beach" from A:TLA. In that episode (for those who don't recall), Team Avatar was mainly relegated to a B-plot in which the aptly-named Combustion Man (Zuko's assassin-for-hire) repeatedly attempted to kill them. Meanwhile, Zuko and Azula's Girls spent a vacation on Ember Island, where the viewers began to learn more about the quartet.

While this particular episode wasn't so much about narrowly focusing on supporting characters as it was elaborating on an already existing dilemma, it did provide plenty of room for Asami, Varrick, Mako--and even Bolin--to further mature beyond what we've already seen from them. Take Asami, for example: she's already made it clear that Future Industries is all has left of her former family, but what happens when she realizes that the man to whom she sold a controlling share of her company is actually the individual mainly responsible for the current social uprising among the Water Tribes?

I don't really have anything to say regarding Korra because it was fairly predictable and previews have paved the way for this occurrence, so I'll wait and see how it all transpires. Next week is a two-part episode, and thankfully, Studio Mir is contributing solely to the animation. Yes, the animation was mediocre in this episode as well, especially during the speedboat chase scene.
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There is not enough fantasy this season, not enough bending of elements, not enough spirits ( the book is called spirits , but we barely saw any since the start and we are half way through). Book 1 was way more interesting, it was a nice blend of steampunk and fantasy world, now the fantasy is pushed in the corner and from time to time I feel I am watching somekind of Boardwalk Empire for kids. Its kind of weird. Also for 6 episodes there isnt much of character development. All that happened from the start of book 2, could have been in 2-3 episodes.
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It's probably because the whole spirit threat was only the focus for first 2 episodes then we focused on Civil War between the Water Tribes with hints at the dark spirit thing. Unalaq's journey in the Spirit World was just passing information. The premise set out was tradition/spirituality vs. modernization and progress and how to balance out hasn't been addressed since the second episode. This why I disliked Unalaq being a straight up villain as opposed to an anti-villain. If was the latter his taking over the Water Tribe could have been viewed a morally gray by having him address the spiritual imbalance and see if the South turning its back spirituality. As it is now the chances are it was Unalaq's scheme which defeats the premise of finding balance between tradition/progress, which is the Avatar's job.
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Boardwalk Empire for kids, love it.
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There is not enough fantasy this season, not enough bending of elements, not enough spirits ( the book is called spirits , but we barely saw any since the start and we are half way through). Book 1 was way more interesting, it was a nice blend of steampunk and fantasy world, now the fantasy is pushed in the corner. This episode i had a feeling that i was watching somekind of Boardwalk Empire for kids. Its kind of weird. Also for 6 episodes there isnt much of character development. All that happened from the start of book 2, could have been in 2-3 episodes.

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Couldn't ta said it better myself.

There's no "MAGIC" in Legend of Korra. That probbly sounds stupid as there's still bending and stuff, but yeap no fantasy . I feel like I could be watching some other generic anime show . It's not the setting, because this is pretty much the same setting from last year and they made it WORK last year. There's too much technology for my taste, not enough fantasy.
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its Zhu Li not Varrick , she's the evil mastermind
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This episode revealed the very problem I have with them splitting everyone up, countless often unrelated subplots that feel shoehorned on rather than as an organic part of the story. I for one wish they'd do something more interesting with Bolin, he's a pretty good Earthbender, but he's barely been Earthbending this series.
Lin: she is POLICE CHIEF for crying out loud, and she worked with Mako, you'd think she'd have some trust in him rather than outing him as a 'rookie beat-cop' (especially since she said he could make detective soon) also, there are obvious reasons why the Northern Water Tribe would wait until a ship is outside Republic waters before sinking it. I hope they make her more competent when she next appears.
I knew the attacker had to be a Southerner, Varrick was the obvious choice, with the added gain that's grab hold of future industries as (poor Asami, but we haven't really seen her with a proper business head on all series, so I don't really care much about the fate of her business)
I don't get how being swallowed by a dark spirit winds up with Korra losing her memory
Unalaq entering the spirit world adds more fuel to the theory that he's behind the dark spirit attacks.
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The issue with Lin and Mako is that Mako has been acting extrememly unprofessional. Lin praised him for his police work because he was doing good work in the field. Ever since then he's been barging into her meetings yelling and screaming. This is not acceptable behavior for anyone, especially when she (the chief of police) is meeting with the president of Republic City. He's lucky she didn't fire his ass. What makes it worse is that he never approaches her later on. If it's so urgent, he should ask to speak with her alone, but he never does. Take the breakup scene for example. That was the perfect moment for Mako to say "can we talk?" Mako's impatience is resulting in Lin not taking him seriously. It sucks because he's right, but the issue there doesn't just fall on Lin.
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OK, valid argument, but that still doesn't forgive her less than impressive deductive skills.
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This might have been one of the best episodes this season (out of 6, i know) imo, but i really don't like the plot development it set up.

I wanted a non-Korra centric episode for a long time and Mako steped up well... except for the middle part where he did almost EVERYTHING Korra did wrong last episode. Still, he's a better planner; bumped him up to my 2nd favorite character, behind Varrick and over Asami.
I actually didn't want Korra in this one at all, almost turned off the screen when the amnesia hit, next episode will be painful.

Varrick being villainous became pretty obvious through his decisions last episode... actually more rather because there were no other characters introduced that could've done it... this show is simple like that.

note: i was dissapointed that the movers had sound too, that shadow fight was neat though.
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I really enjoyed this episode as well and didn't miss Korra at all (not a good thing for the writers...) The thing I liked about Mako planning this heist is that him and Asami put their heads together, but at the end of the day, it was pretty much all Mako. Yes, he jumped the gun and failed (going to criminals for back up was a horrible decision) but from his POV, there wasn't enough evidence to suspect Varrick. Plus his heart and morals were all in the right place unlike Korra. Most of the decisions that Korra has made so far were because she was either manipulated in regards to her own selfishness or told to do it by someone else. The United Forces wasn't her idea, she only spoke to Iroh after Varrick told her to go straight to the troops, she only decided to see the Fire Lord after Iroh told her to, etc. Watching a protagonist who can't think for themselves is not compelling.
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wanna add:
if this episode did one thing good, it's that it got people talking about the plot again,
not about how much they don't like Korra's character.
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Not my favorite episode.
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I'm so relieved the Big Bad of this season isn't Unalaq after all. The best part is, Varrick can still be funny WHILE being a serious threat. That's something we haven't seen before. (At least, I hope he'll still be somewhat funny and not turn a complete 180 from this point.)

Also, I never would have seen it coming if so many other people hadn't predicted it last week. I'm slow on these things.
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I think that they're still going to try to make Varrick funny, but now that we know that he has ulterior and sinister motives, I think his humor is going to come off as somewhat darker from this point on. Especially since his jokes come at the expense of the heroes.
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This episode was good, still not up to its Season 1 standards. I'm so glad we'll get Studio Mir back next week; I still can't get over the animation and how plain it all looks.
As for the story line, I'm interested to see how this Varric-as-evil-business-mastermind goes. It's not original, but it can be good.
And of course, just like last week, Mako is my favorite character. He seems to be the only one with brains these days. Even Bei Fong is getting on my nerves with all her 'you're a rookie, so I'm not even going to give you the time of day' crap.
And the Asami/Mako moment was nicely done and believable. I'm a Korra/Mako shipper... but I can understand how Asami felt. So, I don't hold the kiss against her. lol.
Lastly, in a show about the Avatar, I, for one, did not miss Korra in this episode (that's got to tell the writer's something...). I did, however, miss Tenzin and the kids.
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- Mako is also my favorite character now mostly because he's the only one with sustailable character growth from last season. He started out as an angry, emo boy and now he's on the way to becoming a man and having a career. It's making for an interesting arc overall. Yes, his plan failed, but Mako's still learning. He jumped the gun, and didn't allow the full picture to come together before he made a decision, but it's really important that he MADE one. Unlike Korra who spent this season so far being told what to do or manipluated into action.

-It's annoying that Lin isn't listening to Mako, but at the same time, Mako needs to stop interrupting her important meetings in that manner. It's very unprofessional. That's the second time, the first time he interrupted was with the president. If he wants to prove that he's right and that those two detectives are morons (I personally think they're working with Varrick) then he needs to try a new approach and speak to her one on one.

- I loved the Asami part as well. It was very realistic. Your life is falling apart and your ex is standing there, someone whose familiar and has been there for you in the past. Naturally you seek their comfort, even if it's the wrong kind. The fact that he admitted to breaking up with Korra just pushed the desire even more. She didn't really want Mako persay, she's just lonely and upset.

- I didn't miss Korra at all. Very bad sign.
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Studio Mir is gonna have to work its butt off to make up for the first half of this season. Everyone is so infuriating. They're all making mistakes and doing stupid things any idiot would know to avoid.
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