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Question: Rate This Episode:
10 - 179 (64.2%)
9 - 63 (22.6%)
8 - 27 (9.7%)
7 - 6 (2.2%)
6 - 2 (0.7%)
5 - 0 (0%)
4 - 0 (0%)
3 - 0 (0%)
2 - 1 (0.4%)
1 - 1 (0.4%)
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Author Topic: [108] When Extremes Meet  (Read 56771 times)
Loopy
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« Reply #1100 on: Jul 16, 2012 06:36 pm »

Fudgedragon, I don't think you're understanding Korra's character.

Korra is the opposite of Aang. Just like Aang had to get used to solving his problems with his fists, Korra needs to get used to solving her problems without her fists. That was made very clear. And there's nothing shallow about that.

I would argue that it is shallow, because it's not a healthy way of dealing with anything and doesn't require thought. That's not a critique of Korra's character, just like Sokka's dismissal of vegetarianism is shallow but not reflective of a shallow character.

I mean, here's the thing -- if Korra was actually willing to talk to her friends about her problems, she never would have been talking about how she felt so alone in the first place!

I question the validity of her feeling alone, though. Granted, she's been through such a loss that she's not necessarily thinking rationally, but it all comes back down to a quick, highly ambiguous maybe-she-was-contemplating-suicide-but-you-have-to-use-your-imagination-because-the-production-crew-let-themselves-be-completely-neutered-by-the-censors scene not really cutting to for whatever it was they wanted to convey.

Also, if they needed to have Korra externalize her thoughts there, they could have done something with Aang. After all, he's just an aspect of her own spirit, and they could have framed it as a kind of Vulcan-mind-meld type of thing. Apparently, having her mistake him for Tenzin was more important.
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« Reply #1101 on: Jul 16, 2012 07:37 pm »

^ well said. I agree that what they did was too ambiguous and having Aang to externalize her thoughts would have been the best way to show her issues/show how she learned from it. What they did end up giving the audience in the end wasn't seen much as a development in character but more like "you've been through some stuff, have your bending back so we can make up for it" type thing which devalued the development of her character in my eyes.
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« Reply #1102 on: Jul 26, 2012 06:01 pm »

Would easily give this episode a 10/10. Along with And the Winner Is, I would rank this as the best episode of the season/series. The fight between Korra and Tarrlok was one of the greatest fights in the avatarverse not to mention the whole "You're our avatar too" intense showdown scene.
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« Reply #1103 on: Jul 30, 2012 05:31 am »

Definately a very good episode, the way Tarrlok attacked Korra was quite shocking, if Korra was a second late, she probably wouldn't be standing anymore. Also the way the said she wasn't a half baked avatar made me realize she was actually really serious in hurting him. Last but not least, Tarrlok being a bloodbender was quite a suprising twist.
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« Reply #1104 on: Jul 31, 2012 08:33 pm »

The first time I saw this episode and Tarrlok was revealed to be a bloodbender the first thing that came to mind was, "OMG, he's a BLOODBENDER!! This guy's more evil than I thought!" But the finale made me perceive his actions throughout the season quite differently, especially in this episode. Knowing his backstory now, this is most likely the first time he's used bloodbending in many years. Tarrlok never wanted to learn the skill in the first place, and as much as he hates using it, he had to if he didn't want to be severely burned or dead. I’m not saying Tarrlok’s the victim here–he attacked Korra first. But doing the thing he said he would never do again is probably what pushed him completely over the edge. And by the finale, he knew Noatak and himself could never come back from that point.
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« Reply #1105 on: Aug 01, 2012 03:15 am »

It was also interesting to see his reaction when Korra said he was just like Amon.

The angled zoomed up into his eyes that had this crazy look, and i guess thats when he snapped.

That little scene kinda gave it away that he might know Amon or may have been related to him.
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« Reply #1106 on: Aug 01, 2012 09:25 am »

I’m not saying Tarrlok’s the victim here–he attacked Korra first. But doing the thing he said he would never do again is probably what pushed him completely over the edge. And by the finale, he knew Noatak and himself could never come back from that point.

Yeah, in my mind, there's sort of a straight line between Tarrlok's use of bloodbending and his suicide.  Once he's forced to sit down and think about it, it's the one thing that he can never forgive himself for.  Even in this episode, knowing what we do about him, you can almost feel the self-loathing seeping out of him after he bloodbent Korra, and his choice to injure himself as part of the coverup in the next episode takes on a completely different tone.

The saddest part is, the very fact that Tarrlok was able to recognize how badly he'd messed up in the end kind of suggests that there might have been enough of the empathetic, sensitive child left in him to be saved... it was simply too late for that to be an option anymore as soon as he bloodbent the Avatar.
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« Reply #1107 on: Aug 01, 2012 10:15 am »

^Yes.

Tarrlock pretty much dug his own grave the second he kidnapped the Avatar. I remember people were saying that 'surrending control' appears to be a recurring theme/motif and I can see that with Tarrlock.

To prove to himself that he wasn't like his father, Tarrlock was obessed with being in control and wanting to be RC's saviour. Because of that, he failed to noticed what he was doing in order to achieve power. He ruined Lin's carreer by taking advantage of her screw ups, accusing and arresting innocent non-benders, arressted Korra's friends to manipulate her ( I'm pretty positive he was going to make sure those three stayed in prison even if Korra waited for Tenzin's help), and kidnapped the Avatar because she was becoming a problem by defying his proposals. If he couldn't work with her then to hell with the world.

After getting captured by Amon, I'm sure he did surrender control by sitting down and thinking what he did. He realized that he and his brother became like Yakone and knew that couldn't start over so he did what he had to do.
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« Reply #1108 on: Aug 01, 2012 11:30 am »

Tarrlock pretty much dug his own grave the second he kidnapped the Avatar. I remember people were saying that 'surrending control' appears to be a recurring theme/motif and I can see that with Tarrlock.

To prove to himself that he wasn't like his father, Tarrlock was obessed with being in control and wanting to be RC's saviour. Because of that, he failed to noticed what he was doing in order to achieve power. He ruined Lin's carreer by taking advantage of her screw ups, accusing and arresting innocent non-benders, arressted Korra's friends to manipulate her ( I'm pretty positive he was going to make sure those three stayed in prison even if Korra waited for Tenzin's help), and kidnapped the Avatar because she was becoming a problem by defying his proposals. If he couldn't work with her then to hell with the world.

After getting captured by Amon, I'm sure he did surrender control by sitting down and thinking what he did. He realized that he and his brother became like Yakone and knew that couldn't start over so he did what he had to do.

Yeah, Tarrlok's definitely a major part of the control theme/motif (along with his brother and Korra herself), though I'm not sure he ever gave it up entirely.

I mean, in the mind of someone as dysfunctional and despair-driven as Tarrlok was in the finale, could there be a more effective demonstration that he does have some control over his life than choosing to end it so the cycle won't repeat?  Surrendering control would, as in Korra's case, result in survival rather than death (though Noatak's attempt to start anew obviously would have complicated that for Tarrlok).

As for Tarrlok not noticing what he was doing to obtain power, it's actually really interesting, because (outside of setting Saikhan up as police chief) almost everything Tarrlok does in this episode is a reaction to (and escalation from) Korra and her near-constant efforts to show him, "you're not in control, I am."  She calls his taskforce a vanity project and tells him "you need me, but I don't need you,"* and he responds by channeling Yakone's talent at emotional abuse.  She shows him up by stopping a prison break, calls in the media to show off, and then rubs it in further by calling his taskforce and the cops useless; the very next thing we see is his proposal of the curfew and illegalizing association with Equalists.  Even the bloodbending was a response to a (particularly violent and potentially lethal) power-play by Korra -- she did quite a bit to show him how powerless he was before going in for the (figurative?) kill.

* This seems, at the very least, shortsighted.  Tarrlok has control of all of Republic City's police and military resources, which would make him at the very least useful if he could be brought to some sort of compromise.

Tarrlok's worst excesses then come, not when he's trying to obtain power and control, but when he's afraid of losing it.  Up until Korra showed up, he was successful enough at influencing things within the law that only Tenzin thought of him as a power-hungry jerk, but as soon as he felt threatened, everything fell apart in a mass of terrible, overly-reactionary decisions and impulsivity.
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« Reply #1109 on: Aug 07, 2013 01:40 pm »

Today I watched the episode again.

And to be honest, I think its Korra who is the "jerk" here.
Not Tarrlok.
She is a bully with bad manners and she loves violence.

The fight against Tarrlok ... oh man, bad writing.
For me her character is ruinded after that and you never ever can fix that.

When he was hanging on that "bridge"... Korra totally lost it... wanting to kill Tarrlok ... unacceptable.

Edit: Tarrlok is manipulative, but he wanted to stop Amon. Shouldn't that be the main objective at that point?


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« Reply #1110 on: Aug 07, 2013 03:16 pm »

^ The writers intended to make Korra look bad. They said that they wanted to show that she and Tarrlok (or the enemy at large) weren't so different after all.
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« Reply #1111 on: Aug 08, 2013 01:48 pm »

^ The writers intended to make Korra look bad. They said that they wanted to show that she and Tarrlok (or the enemy at large) weren't so different after all.

They never had such idea with the Avatar in ATLA, so then why the 180° turn in TLOK?
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« Reply #1112 on: Aug 08, 2013 02:08 pm »

^ Because Korra isn't Aang. Their personalities are completely different.

That's probably part of the reason why they made a new Avatar, because there are some things they just couldn't do with Aang.
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« Reply #1113 on: Aug 08, 2013 06:01 pm »

Aang's journey was supposed to be a tradition Hero's Journey, with clear delineations between Good and Evil.

Korra's story is supposed to be a more modern and complicated examination of how psychology fuels the way we engage the world.

(But that doesn't mean there isn't a legitimate basis for criticizing how the franchise was changed so drastically, or whether the creative team was actually successful at what it was going for. Personally, I think LoK lacked focus and tried to shore up that failing using the Hero's Journey formula, which left a rather confused mess of a story.)
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« Reply #1114 on: Aug 09, 2013 10:45 pm »

Today I watched the episode again.

And to be honest, I think its Korra who is the "jerk" here.
Not Tarrlok.
She is a bully with bad manners and she loves violence.

The fight against Tarrlok ... oh man, bad writing.
For me her character is ruinded after that and you never ever can fix that.

When he was hanging on that "bridge"... Korra totally lost it... wanting to kill Tarrlok ... unacceptable.

How is it "bad writing" to show the protagonist acting badly?  Much like Zuko, Korra has issues that she has to deal with to bring herself in balance.  She's not a perfect, angelic hero... but she doesn't need to be in order to be an interesting character.
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« Reply #1115 on: Aug 09, 2013 11:04 pm »

Well, there is the issue of likability. TVTropes calls it the Eight Deadly Words, but the basic gist is that if your audience dislikes the characters enough that they're no longer invested in the story, there was definitely a failure in the function of the story, at least for the audience members who fell prey to it.

For me, it happened three episodes earlier.

Of course, you could simply say that the audience in this case was simply not right for the story. After all, there's no rule that a good or popular story has to have likable characters, and in some cases the artistic point could be to showcase people beyond sympathy or empathy.

However, I've found that it's certainly possible to make an "unlikable" character compelling. It's a tricky line to walk, and inevitably subjective, but I think that's one of the failures of LoK as a whole. Its two leads- Korra and Mako- do not come across as flawed in a compelling way for a lot of people. For Mako, it's because he's Mako, but for Korra, I think it's more along the lines of what we discussed in the other thread, where the reason Korra's flaws were enjoyed by the audience (assuming you're getting the creative team's intent correct) is because a lot of people didn't perceive the actual flaws and so were missing half the story.

This episode, 108, I think is a major red light for that. If people saw Korra as progressing on her journey towards being a better person thanks to friends and family and Pro-Bending and whatnot, then this episode is a major step back that throws doubt on her progress. It's possible to see this merely as a function of having her friends put in jail and so tied in to that perceived storyline, but it's just as easy to come to the conclusion that she isn't really making any progress- that she's merely had a moment like this delayed but inevitable. And if you were invested in Korra's progression towards being a better person, the way this episode shows her as still flawed enough to commit murder in the heat of the moment kind of kills the story dead.

So, yes, one could call it "bad writing" (provided that such a thing were actually allowed on ASN, which last I checked, it was not when the writer in question isn't named Night) if the story they thought was being told was suddenly shot in the foot. And yes, one could question the writers if the audience was perceiving a completely different story up until now.

Me, I thought it was shway. Since I had checked out at this point in terms of character investment, my reaction was more along the lines of, "LOL Korra is such a thug."
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« Reply #1116 on: Aug 10, 2013 02:45 am »

[...] but for Korra, I think it's more along the lines of what we discussed in the other thread, where the reason Korra's flaws were enjoyed by the audience (assuming you're getting the creative team's intent correct) is because a lot of people didn't perceive the actual flaws and so were missing half the story.

This episode, 108, I think is a major red light for that. If people saw Korra as progressing on her journey towards being a better person thanks to friends and family and Pro-Bending and whatnot, then this episode is a major step back that throws doubt on her progress. It's possible to see this merely as a function of having her friends put in jail and so tied in to that perceived storyline, but it's just as easy to come to the conclusion that she isn't really making any progress- that she's merely had a moment like this delayed but inevitable. And if you were invested in Korra's progression towards being a better person, the way this episode shows her as still flawed enough to commit murder in the heat of the moment kind of kills the story dead.

To be fair, seeing a character backslide won't necessarily kill a story dead. In fact, I think 108 was one of Korra's stronger episodes, character development-wise. Backsliding happens--becoming a better person isn't a linear process. And seeing a character come back from that slip-up, pick up the pieces, and continue down her journey is more compelling than seeing one just progressively become nicer.

What didn't help though was that Korra's character got sidelined so much in the second half of the season. We see her almost commit murder in the heat of the moment in 108, and then do we really see her come back from that? We potentially could in the next season, but since the Equalist arc is over, I'm not sure if that would really help.

Meh. I thought in the beginning that I would really like Korra a lot, and 108 still remains my favorite of the season, but by the finale I just stopped caring. :/ Twelve episodes of "let's solve this by punching" wears thin on my nerves, I guess. I'm just... neutral to her now.
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« Reply #1117 on: Aug 10, 2013 01:37 pm »

To be fair, seeing a character backslide won't necessarily kill a story dead. In fact, I think 108 was one of Korra's stronger episodes, character development-wise. Backsliding happens--becoming a better person isn't a linear process. And seeing a character come back from that slip-up, pick up the pieces, and continue down her journey is more compelling than seeing one just progressively become nicer.

It's not quite "backsliding," though. That's what Zuko did at the end of Book 2, going back to his Book 1 way of operations. However, I don't recall Korra ever attempting to murder someone earlier in the season. She didn't so much "backslide" as hit an all-time new low as far as the audience was concerned.
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« Reply #1118 on: Aug 10, 2013 01:41 pm »

To be fair, seeing a character backslide won't necessarily kill a story dead. In fact, I think 108 was one of Korra's stronger episodes, character development-wise. Backsliding happens--becoming a better person isn't a linear process. And seeing a character come back from that slip-up, pick up the pieces, and continue down her journey is more compelling than seeing one just progressively become nicer.

I think, everyone of us who actually worked on her/himself to change his/her character to the better, realized that what Stupendous wrote is true.
Working on yourself is not only hard, but it is also not a linear process...

Meh. I thought in the beginning that I would really like Korra a lot, and 108 still remains my favorite of the season, but by the finale I just stopped caring. :/ Twelve episodes of "let's solve this by punching" wears thin on my nerves, I guess. I'm just... neutral to her now.

And she had a great teacher to show her otherwise, and what we know of the trailer for book 2, Mako is not helping her any in that since he seems to abuse his power as police officer to verbally humiliate the thugs he arrests. From verbally abusing someone to actually physically abusing someone can be but a small step...
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« Reply #1119 on: Aug 10, 2013 06:08 pm »

To be fair, seeing a character backslide won't necessarily kill a story dead. In fact, I think 108 was one of Korra's stronger episodes, character development-wise. Backsliding happens--becoming a better person isn't a linear process. And seeing a character come back from that slip-up, pick up the pieces, and continue down her journey is more compelling than seeing one just progressively become nicer.

It is when their flaw isn't presented as a problem they need to go from.

Zuko's actions in Book 2 are a perfect example of the opposite.  He goes back to his old ways, and for a good half of the Third Book, he's unable to understand why he feels uneasy, as well as his Uncle giving him the silent treatment.

Now look at the early conflict between Korra and Lin.  At first it's played as Lin having a legit beef against Korra's tendencies to be reckless in the city (Apparently Bryke didn't have Linzin planned during the first episode).  But come Episode 6, the problem Lin has is that she couldn't keep her man, and took out her anger on her man's student.

Some might say, "sure she's venting, but she probably still has legit issues with Korra".  Nope.  Korra never actually has to adjust her fighting to prevent possibly harming bystanders or property damage to get Lin's respect.  That happens instead when she and Tenzin patches things up.

Heck, between the first two episodes, Tenzin's never allowed to be completely right when dealing with Korra.
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« Reply #1120 on: Aug 10, 2013 07:26 pm »

Well, Lin's warming up to Korra does probably have something to do with her making peace with Tenzin there are other factors as well. When Lin is watching the pro bending match then she seems to be impressed with Korra being "tough as nails". At that point also Korra had been staying out of legal trouble, so there is that. Lastly is the fact that they work together later in episode six. Having worked together could have helped bridge that gap with Lin realizing that being bitter with Korra would be counter-productive, as they are fighting the same episode, and being another instance of gaining respect for one another.
Also, @Rava, how is Mako making one little quip equal to an abuse of power that could lead to physical abuse.
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« Reply #1121 on: Aug 10, 2013 10:27 pm »

To be fair, seeing a character backslide won't necessarily kill a story dead. In fact, I think 108 was one of Korra's stronger episodes, character development-wise. Backsliding happens--becoming a better person isn't a linear process. And seeing a character come back from that slip-up, pick up the pieces, and continue down her journey is more compelling than seeing one just progressively become nicer.

It's not quite "backsliding," though. That's what Zuko did at the end of Book 2, going back to his Book 1 way of operations. However, I don't recall Korra ever attempting to murder someone earlier in the season. She didn't so much "backslide" as hit an all-time new low as far as the audience was concerned.

I'm of two minds about this.

(a) I want to say that Korra's been on a bit of an uptick. And after 107, when she steps back and thinks a bit more about her actions and is ready to make some sacrifices (and part ways with her only friends), I think there's proof that she was going somewhere. So this is not just backsliding, it's sinking even farther than where she started. But that doesn't mean before this episode Korra was just a static character who just became worse than ever. She was getting better... and then got worse.

(b) A flawed character hitting a new low still isn't necessarily bad. A character hitting rock bottom and finally coming to the realization that they've massively screwed up and that they need to change isn't bad. What LoK messed up was Korra coming back from 108 and becoming better. The Tarrlok incident was just sort of... forgotten. But this isn't a flaw of 108 itself.

So that's not to say that things sort of grind to a halt after 108. I mean they tried in 109 with the whole meditation thing, but that entire episode was a mess. And after 109... nothing. 110 and beyond may as well have been a black hole.

I guess what I'm trying to argue is that 108 isn't the flaw that killed Korra's journey toward growth; it was the uneven nature of the other episodes and Korra's arc being overall handled awkwardly. I can see why she could cross the likability line for some people in this episode, but I wouldn't really call 108 bad writing. In fact, I'd say developed Korra better than any of the other episodes.

To be fair, seeing a character backslide won't necessarily kill a story dead. In fact, I think 108 was one of Korra's stronger episodes, character development-wise. Backsliding happens--becoming a better person isn't a linear process. And seeing a character come back from that slip-up, pick up the pieces, and continue down her journey is more compelling than seeing one just progressively become nicer.

It is when their flaw isn't presented as a problem they need to go from.

After one day in Republic City, Korra manages to destroy a city block while stopping a couple of thugs. In 104, she challenges Amon to a one-on-one match and gets her butt handed to her. And in 108, she's not only compared to Tarrlok, but she ends up kidnapped for her troubles. Maybe I'm missing something huge, but her "fists first thoughts later" attitude is presented as a flaw. Every time she charges at a problem like a bull (the finale notwithstanding), it blows up in her face and makes matters worse.

Quote
Now look at the early conflict between Korra and Lin.  At first it's played as Lin having a legit beef against Korra's tendencies to be reckless in the city (Apparently Bryke didn't have Linzin planned during the first episode).  But come Episode 6, the problem Lin has is that she couldn't keep her man, and took out her anger on her man's student.

Some might say, "sure she's venting, but she probably still has legit issues with Korra".  Nope.  Korra never actually has to adjust her fighting to prevent possibly harming bystanders or property damage to get Lin's respect.  That happens instead when she and Tenzin patches things up.

Is that really what's going on? I mean, I winced too when Tenzin made that comment--and I had lots to say about it--but his words does not align with Lin's behavior.

Lin doesn't warm up to Korra when she reconciles with Tenzin. She warms up to her when they fight side-by-side. When they both realize that their goals are the same--to protect Republic City and to stop the Equalists. Notice that in the next episode, instead of just bursting into Hiroshi's office and being all "IMMA GET YOU EQUALIST SCUM" she goes straight to Lin and Tenzin. That's showing respect. That's improvement from her first appearances.

Quote
Heck, between the first two episodes, Tenzin's never allowed to be completely right when dealing with Korra.

?

I'm not sure what you mean. I agree that the end of 102 was a bit of a cop-out, but Tenzin was being a terrible teacher. Saying "it'll just click" is meaningless.
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« Reply #1122 on: Aug 11, 2013 10:58 am »

Well, there is the issue of likability. TVTropes calls it the Eight Deadly Words, but the basic gist is that if your audience dislikes the characters enough that they're no longer invested in the story, there was definitely a failure in the function of the story, at least for the audience members who fell prey to it.

For me, it happened three episodes earlier.

Of course, you could simply say that the audience in this case was simply not right for the story. After all, there's no rule that a good or popular story has to have likable characters, and in some cases the artistic point could be to showcase people beyond sympathy or empathy.

However, I've found that it's certainly possible to make an "unlikable" character compelling. It's a tricky line to walk, and inevitably subjective, but I think that's one of the failures of LoK as a whole. Its two leads- Korra and Mako- do not come across as flawed in a compelling way for a lot of people. For Mako, it's because he's Mako, but for Korra, I think it's more along the lines of what we discussed in the other thread, where the reason Korra's flaws were enjoyed by the audience (assuming you're getting the creative team's intent correct) is because a lot of people didn't perceive the actual flaws and so were missing half the story.

This episode, 108, I think is a major red light for that. If people saw Korra as progressing on her journey towards being a better person thanks to friends and family and Pro-Bending and whatnot, then this episode is a major step back that throws doubt on her progress. It's possible to see this merely as a function of having her friends put in jail and so tied in to that perceived storyline, but it's just as easy to come to the conclusion that she isn't really making any progress- that she's merely had a moment like this delayed but inevitable. And if you were invested in Korra's progression towards being a better person, the way this episode shows her as still flawed enough to commit murder in the heat of the moment kind of kills the story dead.

So, yes, one could call it "bad writing" (provided that such a thing were actually allowed on ASN, which last I checked, it was not when the writer in question isn't named Night) if the story they thought was being told was suddenly shot in the foot. And yes, one could question the writers if the audience was perceiving a completely different story up until now.

Me, I thought it was shway. Since I had checked out at this point in terms of character investment, my reaction was more along the lines of, "LOL Korra is such a thug."

I don't think Korra and Mako are intentionally unlikeable so much as intentionally ambiguous, in that they'll sometimes behave in the way that a likeable character would and they'll sometimes behave in the way that an unlikeable character would, with the intention of creating a positive character with flaws rather than an unlikeable-but-interesting character.

And, unfortunately, it seems like a significant portion of the audience simply doesn't get ambiguity.  Characters perceived as "good" are routinely seen as better than they are, regardless of counterevidence; characters perceived as "bad" are routinely seen as worse than they are, again regardless of counterevidence.  I like to call it "fictional splitting" -- even people who have progressed past that overly-simplistic black-and-white view of other people in real life can let their moral understanding regress to that of a small child (or, uh, episode 3 Korra, but that's one area in which she clearly makes a ton of progress xD) when dealing with fictional characters.

Along with that sort of thinking comes the idea that "becoming a better person" exists on one axis, and any morally-good choice pushes you further towards one end and any morally-bad choice pushes you further towards the other.  That's... not the way things work.  Moral and immoral actions exist on any number of axes, and progress on one of those axes means nothing in regards to progress on another.

In other words, I think there is a sense in which the story chose to leave part of the audience behind, because appeasing that audience would make its goals (ie. writing a sympathetic character with serious identity issues) impossible to achieve.  A story's never going to appeal to everyone, and I don't think it's a flaw in the story itself if it fails to appeal to people whose stated perspective* makes it clear that they were never in the story's target group (in this case, children too young to care about characterization as long as the action is cool and young adults who are mature enough not to fall back on black-and-white thinking) to begin with.

* In other words, people who think Mako's an abuser, people who think the Equalists were justified, people who stan for villains by denying that they ever did anything wrong, etc.



To be fair, seeing a character backslide won't necessarily kill a story dead. In fact, I think 108 was one of Korra's stronger episodes, character development-wise. Backsliding happens--becoming a better person isn't a linear process. And seeing a character come back from that slip-up, pick up the pieces, and continue down her journey is more compelling than seeing one just progressively become nicer.

It's not quite "backsliding," though. That's what Zuko did at the end of Book 2, going back to his Book 1 way of operations. However, I don't recall Korra ever attempting to murder someone earlier in the season. She didn't so much "backslide" as hit an all-time new low as far as the audience was concerned.

I agree that it's not really backsliding... but I also think that Korra's growth is pretty consistent, just split in two.

Remember what I said above about growth and regression existing on multiple axes?  That's exactly what's going on here.

In terms of growth, Korra progresses throughout the whole season on the axes of cooperation and compassion for others.  In terms of regression, Korra slides throughout the whole season down the axis of coping with her emotions (and not allowing them to overwhelm her).

Basically, instead of growing in one direction, Korra's stretched out in both at the same time.  But that doesn't mean that her growth isn't consistent.  Her ability to cooperate with others and act as part a team increases throughout the whole show (with a slight regression in 105 due to her emotions getting the better of her), and her teamwork with Mako is vital to her final battle with Amon.  Her ability to show compassion for others goes from her instant condemnation of Mako as a criminal in 103 (which is something she quickly corrects, thankfully) to instantly forgiving Tarrlok for everything he did to her after hearing his story... which, again, is vital to her success in taking down Amon.  Her inability to cope with her emotions, in contrast, slips from frustration to attempted murder to (quite possibly) attempted suicide, before she finally bottoms out and turns herself around.  All three of these progressions are internally consistent; it just so happens that the third interferes with (and sometimes overwhelms) the other two and therefore her progression as a whole is ambiguous.



Meh. I thought in the beginning that I would really like Korra a lot, and 108 still remains my favorite of the season, but by the finale I just stopped caring. :/ Twelve episodes of "let's solve this by punching" wears thin on my nerves, I guess. I'm just... neutral to her now.

And she had a great teacher to show her otherwise, and what we know of the trailer for book 2, Mako is not helping her any in that since he seems to abuse his power as police officer to verbally humiliate the thugs he arrests. From verbally abusing someone to actually physically abusing someone can be but a small step...

Ha.  Haha.  Hahahaha.

...you are joking, right?  Please tell me you're joking.  D=

(One liners are not abuse or pre-abuse or a sign of anything! [incoherent rage])


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Now look at the early conflict between Korra and Lin.  At first it's played as Lin having a legit beef against Korra's tendencies to be reckless in the city (Apparently Bryke didn't have Linzin planned during the first episode).  But come Episode 6, the problem Lin has is that she couldn't keep her man, and took out her anger on her man's student.

Some might say, "sure she's venting, but she probably still has legit issues with Korra".  Nope.  Korra never actually has to adjust her fighting to prevent possibly harming bystanders or property damage to get Lin's respect.  That happens instead when she and Tenzin patches things up.

Is that really what's going on? I mean, I winced too when Tenzin made that comment--and I had lots to say about it--but his words does not align with Lin's behavior.

Lin doesn't warm up to Korra when she reconciles with Tenzin. She warms up to her when they fight side-by-side. When they both realize that their goals are the same--to protect Republic City and to stop the Equalists. Notice that in the next episode, instead of just bursting into Hiroshi's office and being all "IMMA GET YOU EQUALIST SCUM" she goes straight to Lin and Tenzin. That's showing respect. That's improvement from her first appearances.

I totally think that Tenzin's just overestimating his own importance there, which is kind of funny when you think about it.  xD  Fighting as allies against the Equalists was what turned that relationship around, not Tenzin reconciling with Lin.  (...and the Air Kids earn Lin's respect the same way, actually!)


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Heck, between the first two episodes, Tenzin's never allowed to be completely right when dealing with Korra.

?

I'm not sure what you mean. I agree that the end of 102 was a bit of a cop-out, but Tenzin was being a terrible teacher. Saying "it'll just click" is meaningless.

To be honest, I'm not sure that's the part of Tenzin's teaching that was terrible.  XD  I've certainly run into situations in martial arts training where things don't make sense, then fall into place all at once after a sudden revelation, and the way airbending is portrayed makes it seem like things like that might happen more often in that particular art.  He probably should have phrased it better for Korra, since she's so easily frustrated, but that's more of an issue of compatibility than of Tenzin being a terrrible teacher.

The part of Tenzin's teaching that was legitimately terrible was telling a girl who'd been kept in isolation and strictly controlled throughout her entire life that she was going to be kept on the island, away from any potential friends, and given no freedom whatsoever... and then admitting [!] that the guards were being kept around to ensure that she didn't leave.  =P
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Antiyonder
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« Reply #1123 on: Aug 12, 2013 03:33 pm »

After one day in Republic City, Korra manages to destroy a city block while stopping a couple of thugs. In 104, she challenges Amon to a one-on-one match and gets her butt handed to her. And in 108, she's not only compared to Tarrlok, but she ends up kidnapped for her troubles. Maybe I'm missing something huge, but her "fists first thoughts later" attitude is presented as a flaw. Every time she charges at a problem like a bull (the finale notwithstanding), it blows up in her face and makes matters worse.

Still the fact that the end of the conflict is dealt by her charging like a bull doesn't really help sell some of us on her growing.  Plus through Tenzin's compliments of Korra at the end, the narrative actually insists that she's matured into a better person.

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Is that really what's going on? I mean, I winced too when Tenzin made that comment--and I had lots to say about it--but his words does not align with Lin's behavior.

Lin doesn't warm up to Korra when she reconciles with Tenzin. She warms up to her when they fight side-by-side. When they both realize that their goals are the same--to protect Republic City and to stop the Equalists. Notice that in the next episode, instead of just bursting into Hiroshi's office and being all "IMMA GET YOU EQUALIST SCUM" she goes straight to Lin and Tenzin. That's showing respect. That's improvement from her first appearances.

Look at it this way.  Why did Bryke even bother with establishing Linzin, as opposed to them being good friends or exs that parted on good terms?  The conflict was resolved almost immediately after it was established, and aside from a few acknowledgements in Episode 11, you could take out that revelation and the story wouldn't suffer for it.  I mean  Lin and Tenzin's interaction in episode 1 could even be explained with Lin just putting on a tough front on the job, while being a pretty relaxed and cheerful person off duty.

No, the fact that Linzin is established in light of Lin's anger towards Korra just reeks of "she didn't have her man to keep her happy".

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?

I'm not sure what you mean. I agree that the end of 102 was a bit of a cop-out, but Tenzin was being a terrible teacher. Saying "it'll just click" is meaningless.

Back in the ATLA episode Lake Laogai, Iroh chewed out Zuko for his frequent happen to take risks without thinking.  And he isn't being painted as an old fart who doesn't get today's children.  He's treated as a wise man who rightful tells Zuko to think about his actions more carefully.


And this isn't from Rebel Spirits, but the occasional source from Bryke.  According to them, Desna and Eska, both cousins of Korra look down on her.  Now Korra has many legit flaws that people can find to be a turn off, like her tendency to rush in, her lack of empathy and her lack of respect for spirituality.

But nope.  Her cousins merely look down on her because she's a hick.


Just saying that until someone in universe is allowed to be critical of her without being painted as a cranky old fart, a bitter old woman or a couple of snobs, then I chose "Protagonist Guided Morality" (which means that the protagonist is barely allowed to be wrong) for 500.
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Loopy
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« Reply #1124 on: Aug 12, 2013 06:24 pm »

I don't think Korra and Mako are intentionally unlikeable so much as intentionally ambiguous, in that they'll sometimes behave in the way that a likeable character would and they'll sometimes behave in the way that an unlikeable character would, with the intention of creating a positive character with flaws rather than an unlikeable-but-interesting character.

And, unfortunately, it seems like a significant portion of the audience simply doesn't get ambiguity.  Characters perceived as "good" are routinely seen as better than they are, regardless of counterevidence; characters perceived as "bad" are routinely seen as worse than they are, again regardless of counterevidence.  I like to call it "fictional splitting" -- even people who have progressed past that overly-simplistic black-and-white view of other people in real life can let their moral understanding regress to that of a small child (or, uh, episode 3 Korra, but that's one area in which she clearly makes a ton of progress xD) when dealing with fictional characters.

That's all well and good, and I've seen lots of the phenomenon in stuff meant for adults, and that's why I stick to my assertion that even if the camera panned over the pieces of Tarlokk and Amon's bodies in the ocean post-explosion, it would still be a fundamental kiddie story.

When you present ambiguous characters, the more ambiguity you hand them, the less you can allow the overall narrative to ignore their ambiguity. If Korra is otherwise presented as a hero, and a kriffing ghost comes out of nowhere to tell her that she's awesome and flawless, then claiming that Korra is meant to be an ambiguous figure is disingenuous even if it's the creator's intent.

I mean, Korra is ambiguous because she generally wants to do the right thing but is a colossal jerk and sometime murderer. Mako is ambiguous because he generally wants to be liked but treats people like dirt and is self-centered. The population of RC is ambiguous because they like sports but they'll also cheer as Amon announces that he's about to metaphorically rape a trio of kids younger than ten-years-old. Amon himself is ambiguous because he's not really evil, he's just horribly twisted after an abusive childhood and has managed to convince himself that he's helping the world.

A worthy story to tell, but then LoK itself is a standard adventure story that expects us to always root for Korra to save the city and be happy when she avoids the sads and go "Awww!" when she takes up with her love interest and cheer when she wins at Pro-Bending and flail when she unlocks Airbending, etc. There's no ambiguity in the narrative at all. When Korra tries to murder Tarrlok, the audience goes, "Um," but then a new superpower is introduced and then the bad man throws Korra in a box and we're expected to hope that Mako finds her before it's too late OH NOS!

Everyone fulfills roles in the story that could be colored in black and white- the hero, the hero's love interest, the wise mentor, the jerky but honorable cop, the obstructive bureaucrat, the villain, etc. And you can point to all the ambiguity you want, but it's entirely possible to watch LoK without noticing it and people who do so won't even realize that something is missing. On the contrary, they're getting the superior experience because they're at least getting something like a complete story. The rest of us all are sitting around going, "Well, hopefully future books will have Korra stop trying to murder dudes when she's upset."

When dealing with ambiguous characters, the point is supposed to be, "Look at how the people we try to stick into labels and flat roles are actually complex people whose path in life is the sum of their many parts."

LoK's point is, "Superhero versus supervillain and oh yeah sometimes superheroes are jerks but it all works out anyway so LOL."
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