Just saw this episode!
So apparently, it was Toph’s turn to get her own “Civil Wars part I”.
My discontent with the way Katara and Aang were described as parents in that episode is as great as my appreciation for Toph’s unflattering presentation in this one. And I say this as a person who loved Toph’s character. That’s to the people who accused those who had issues with Aang and Katara’s parental flaws of being butthurt kids who “just can’t accept that their heros aren’t perfect”. Ugh. That's really not the problem at all. Flaws are perfectly fine as long as they seem in character and I completely recognized 12-year old Toph in the adult portrait her daughters painted of her. In Aang and Katara's case, not so much.
Although it wasn't bad writing or something, I was initially dissatisfied with Lin being Toph’s only child because that meant the Bei fong name was dying with her and I personally wanted Toph's legacy to live on (besides, multiple siblings = more stories = more interesting), so I couldn’t have been more pleased with finding out that Lin had a sister. And what a sister! She has a husband, plenty of kids, enormous drive to succeed (she built a whole city!) and values metal bending like her mom.
And what else do we find out? She wasn’t fathered by Lin’s father! So much for the “they lived happily ever after with their first big love” trope, and that's great. Well, it's kind of bittersweet, because you don't want these characters to suffer, you root for them and want their romantic relationships to work, but at the same time I appreciate that Bryke and their crew included less conventional family types, which doesn’t happen often in cartoons, although it’s so widespread in real life.
They didn't even go for the safer route of two moms and one dad. No, It’s a woman, a main character, who has kids with two different men. It seems to me that women with multiple partners still tend be more stigmatized than men, so I found that pretty remarkable, too. Even more
so if by “we don’t know our dads” they didn’t just mean “he wasn't around much, so we don't know what our fathers are like” but also “we don’t even know who the father is
at all and neither did she.” *gasp*
The fact that they don’t know their dad (which, by the way, means that tokka is canonically dead. Sokka and Toph must have hung out all the time, they must have known Sokka and they would known that he was the dad too if it were the case. Unless… they had a secret liaison
?? Su yin and her descendants are
a curious shade of brown after all, hmmm... >_>), too is pretty unconventional and boundary breaking. It makes me curious as to who the father could possibly be. Will we ever know? (the emo grandkid bore a scary resemblance to the emo lilly liver. Maybe that’s a hint?
) Will they appear in the show? Are they even still alive
Heck, it even appears that Toph
could be alive! When Bolin went “Are we gonna get to meet her?” I was all weirded out, wondering why he doesn't know about her death, but then the guy spoke about Toph's mysterious disappearance (Whoa, how did the gaang react to that
? And her kids?) and I had to pause and rewind to make sure I had heard it right. She could actually still be somewhere out there!
Or not. It's exciting but I'm trying not to get my hopes up. The fact that nobody has seen her ever since doesn't bode well to me, given that she's famous (=recognizable) and probably sucks at disguising herself because she's blind. Maybe she'll be the pre-comics Ursa of LOK – we'll just never know where she went or how she's doing.
What 83-year-old Toph would be like, I wonder. Her leaving to find enlightenment is certainly not something that 12-year-old Toph would have done, but after a lifetime of two failed relationships and kids she wasn't happy with, I can completely understand her looking for something more. I wouldn't be surprised if she has become kinda wise and mentor-y too because of her experience, but without having lost her sarcastic edge. She was still into nicknames at 40, after having had both of her children, after all. I guess that's a side to her personality that she just won't ever lose (and that's for the better!).
Lin's “Mom used to say that [her kids are a blessing] too but she never really meant it” line was a big surprise. The first confirmation of Toph’s sucky parenting. Even though it fits her character to not be pleased with her kids and let it know, I didn't expect Bryke to push it to that level, and I was surprised by how blunt Lin was being about it (and the fact that nobody reacted? Isn't what she said the kind of TMI that gets people awkward?). Besides, she had never said anything disparaging about Toph or blamed her for anything before. I got the vibe that she wore the Bei Fong name proudly, so I was surprised that that's how she really felt about Toph.
And I'm confused by how she feels about her sister who seems perfectly likable and nice, too. What happened between these two? Is it jealousy resulting from the fact that Su lives a fulfilling life with a husband and kids and she doesn't? Su's confronting attitude gave the impression that it was an old feud and that there is something to be dredged up under the surface of the perfect image she's trying to give off.
That final scene between Lin and Opal was so powerful. By then I had grown so sympathetic towards Lin that I vicariously felt the sting of Korra’s careless words. “A bitter, lonely woman.” Korra probably has no idea of what wounds she has wrenched open with that one. I expect an apology on her part in the next episode and a little bit of an existential crisis on Lin’s. Like, her reviewing her life, wondering about what she could have done differently to not end up the way she did, thinking about what she could still do to change her situation.
Speaking of existentialism, I lol’d at Varrick’s (he’s back!) exaggeratedly philosophical take on the “Why are you here?” question he was asked and his denial of any personal responsibility with regards to the way things turned out, as he attributed it all to “the universe setting him free”. What a dodgy, dodgy fellow.
Meelo’s “You call yourself an airbender? How disgraceful!” Line was smile-worthy too. And kinda frightening as well. Building giant lemur armies, speaking about people bowing down to him, belittling trainees who are doing the best they can, the boy is on fire
... When is the time to stop thinking it's cute and worry instead?
And the fight that Zahir and Kya had after that… they did it again! Another breathtaking fight scene!
I liked that Kya was the one who got suspicious and unmasked Zahir. Tenzin is a main character, Bumi discovered airbending powers and found his place as a comic relief, but she just kind of stood there all this time, not doing many noticeable things. I wanted her to get her fair share of time in the spotlight and she did! And of course, I couldn’t help but see Katara in her, although Kya has a personality and identity of her own, which I like. Like Lin, I'm starting to like her more.
As for Opal (I don’t know if it’s just me, but her looks seemed particularly anime-like compared to everyone else). She’s pretty and likeable as a person I guess, but as a character, I didn’t find her that interesting personality wise. The Bopal scenes, I didn’t find very engaging because of that, although I didn’t utterly dislike it either. There have been lots of “crushing at first sight” romances already (Makorra, Masami, Kainora), so I kinda watched it happen with an “Oh, here we go again. Oh well” attitude. Eh, I guess I don't mind her staying or going.
Mako making fun of Bolin's exes was funny though. So was EYEBROW GEL (lol wtfreak
Oh and the artwork was great, for the metal city and the characters. All the descendants are beautiful people!
Now every time I’ll re-watch ATLA or read the comics, I’ll feel sorry for Toph and feel the urge to warn her about the ugly monster that is her future before it's too late. Great.
This episode is a 9/10. This season is still consistently amazing.