“Calling” All Airkids…   1 comment

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Korra officially lapped me last night.  The final week of October was so incredibly busy, that I was late with everything.  Magical Mondays’ Halloween One-Shot went up on Thursday, to give you an idea.  So, me talking about Episode 4 of Korra is a bit late.  I’ll try to keep my discussion of The Calling brief.  (I’ve already started compiling my notes for Episode 5, “Enemy At The Gates”, so I’ve gotta get to that.)  As always, though, I need to say upfront that I plan on spoiling a lot of things.  I will do this by telling you spoilers.  If you don’t want spoilers, don’t read on.  Spoilers will begin as soon as we get beyond the image of Spoiler, which will begin right after this paragraph.

Spoiler

Anyway, as we saw at the end of Episode 3, The Coronation, Tenzin had turned to his three children to go seeking out Korra.  This episode begins with those preparations, concerned parents making sure they’ll have supplies and provisions and Jinora pointing out that they’re about the age that Aang was when he traveled the world.  Meelo is more or less convinced that he’s going to be the sole driving force of their mission’s success, demonstrating from the start that he’s going to make the trip a round one for both Jinora and Ikki.

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Each of them has a different mindset, though, and while Meelo is definitely the most childish of the three, they each want to tackle this problem in a different way.  It’s an understated theme (until the end of the episode, at least) but in some ways it’s the glue that holds the plot together (and the engine that drives most of the conflict; if their only concern was finding Korra, this episode wouldn’t be good as a narrative.)  Much of their plan seems to revolve around asking people, though.  It’s not the *worst* plan in the world, but you’d think that there’d be more to it than walking through cities and asking people “have you seen this Avatar?”  Still, we get to see some really talented artwork from Meelo.

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That’s some talent there.  Anyway, the three go into the world, checking out large locations, primarily ones in the Earth Kingdom (or should I say Earth Empire?)  Showing people the photograph and asking questions doesn’t do much for them initially, though it does lead Meelo to an interesting encounter.

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He meets, strikes up a quick friendship, and develops a quick crush on a girl named Tu Yin that he meets, but the meeting is quickly over when Ikki shows up, performs her sibling duty of taunting him it, and saying that Jinora’s looking for him.  Tu Yin walks away, giving him a flower, and Meelo blames Ikki for ruining his meeting with the love of his life (more or less verbatim.)  We’ve seen him develop rapid crushes before, of course, but this one seemed like less of a throwaway joke.  It’s possible that this is just another character moment for Meelo, but I’m sorta hoping that we see more of Tu Yin in the future in some way.  Anyway, their search continues and eventually gets to an island.  When going to a fish monger’s stall, they see a wall that should be familiar to viewers this season.  A wall… of Avatars!

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Man, I hope that there’s a third Avatar show just so that this guy’s wall can get a third photograph on it.  Or his kids can put a third photograph on it.  Anyway, they realize that they’ve found the trail, but it’s months old.  This stunning realization means it’s time to shift viewpoints to Toph and Korra.

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Toph continues to basically be herself, but with more experience.  Blunt as a rock but wiser than just about anyone who’s ever been a martial artist sage in a swamp (that’s right, Yoda, she’s gunnin’ for your job), she’s eager to do some rest and relaxation while Korra wants to be active.  Toph asks her to put that to good use, and sends her to a place in the swamp to get mushrooms for dinner (specifically asking for the slimy ones.)  Korra heads off.

Meanwhile, the Airkids continue to press onward, but Meelo reveals that he threw all of their food into the river (including all the special treats that their mom made for them.)  Meelo’s reasoning for this seems a little shaky, but my guess is that it’s because he’s eager to play the role of the triumphant hunter.  He’s reminded that he reveres all life, and that they’re all vegetarians, so he decides to forrage for suitable plants to consume.  Ikki heads off to find food as well, but locates a military base stationed by, well… these two.

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I got a kind of Laurel and Hardy vibe from these two.  They “capture” Ikki (though she’s apparently not really held down by the ropes) while the two plot to catch the other two Airbender kids, reasoning that three of the most experienced airbenders in the world, children though they may be, will probably be worth something to either their father or to Kuvira.  Kuvira can tell that they’re planning something and avoids helpful answers to their questions, but she’s a bit stunned when they reveal that they’ve got the supplies that Meelo tossed away.

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Korra, meanwhile, is troubled in the swamp.  The swamp is showing her things, things that she doesn’t care to see.  She’s been having images of Zaheer all through this season so far whenever it looks like she’s about to make progress, but this time the images of Zaheer are included with those times when Amon and Unalaq hurt her the most.  With everything that happens in this show it’s easy to forget that in the space of less than a year, she had someone steal her bending, someone rip the spirit of light out from her, and someone poison her with mercury, but the visions in the swamp show it very effectively.  Toph arrives, looking for her dinner, and helps Korra to deal with what she’s seeing.  Yoda tells Luke that he brought only what he took with him into the swamp and Toph tells Korra that she’s carrying her villains with her (or at least the pain she experienced at the hands of these villains), something that was foreshadowed a bit during the finale of Book 3 when she saw images of her previous enemies telling her to give in to the poison.  Toph points out to Korra that the general goals of these people weren’t bad things on their own… wanting Equality, a greater connection to Spirituality, or Freedom and Change can be very good goals… but each of them lacked a sense of balance, something that Korra will need to be able to know the difference between right and wrong.

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Meanwhile, Jinora is meditating, seeking Korra.  Who should return then, but a “successful” Meelo!  He has a bag stuffed with berries.

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Yeah, that’s… that’s not good.  Meelo’s picked a huge bag of bad berries, and apparently ate a lot of them before returning to camp.  He’s fine, though.  Right?

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I almost used that as the top image of this review.  Anyway, Meelo and Jinora realize that they’ve not seen or heard from Ikki in quite a while, and decide that they need to track her down.

Ikki, meanwhile, has been making friends with her two captors.  She talks them into discussing their problems, not being part of the larger group of the army, and compares it to the problems she’s having relating with her siblings.  The soldiers warm up to Ikki, and decide that they should release Ikki and let her go.  Just when they start to reach for the ropes to untie her, the door bangs open and Meelo and Jinora rush in (with a literal rush of air, naturally), that bangs the soldiers against the far wall, knocking them out cold.  Ikki yells at them for messing up the situation, and easily extricates herself from the ropes.  Using the soldiers’ maps, the airkids figure out a reasonable area that they can look for Korra; the Earth Empire’s army has bases all over, and people are watching for Korra, so the areas where the army isn’t watching should be good places to look, right?  That place takes them to a swamp.  But not before Ikki leaves a few of her mother’s treats for the two soldiers, thanking them for all their help.

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Meanwhile, Toph takes Korra to a familiar looking Banyan tree…

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We hear a very similar talk about how the tree’s roots spread far, and how it’s a way that Toph can stay connected to the greater world.  Toph tells Korra that some of the difficulties she’s been having recovering could come from her willingly choosing to stay away from those who love her and care about her.  Toph suggests that Korra needs to try to reconnect, which she does in a moment that serves as a nice visual callback to The Last Airbender.

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As the roots stretch away, the vines allow Korra to locate the nearby airkids.  And, just as soon as Korra chooses to reach out to those who love her, Jinora’s spiritual connection locates Korra.

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The airbenders leap onto their sky bison and fly toward the banyan tree, where Toph and Korra wait.  Just seeing those three again is obviously an emotional moment for Korra, and I’d say one of the first times this season where we can see a visual sign of emotional healing after everything she’s been through.

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Toph makes a side comment about having to deal with even more airbenders, but she decides that she likes Meelo a lot after just a few words from him.  With Korra spiritually on the mend, they head to a little “cave” in a hill beneath the roots of a smaller tree.

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Toph remains adamant that she won’t remove the poison from Korra’s system, and that Korra should do it herself.  Korra has to focus on it, and goes through a number of breathing exercises before and during what’s obviously a trying process, but she’s ultimately successful.  Toph locks the poison into a rock, safely away from Korra.

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Ultimately, this was an episode of healing.  It put Korra back on track to finding her way back to civilization, and to the fact that the Earth Kingdom is on the verge of being totally conquered by a militaristic tyrant.  It wasn’t my favorite episode of the season, but it was a fun ride, even if it had shades of a “getting the band back together” plotline.  I don’t think the episode would’ve worked without Toph or someone very much like her.

Also: it was nice to finally see the airbender kids as the primary focus for an episode.  It was a little scattered since the show had to divide its time between the three of them, but they ultimately learned that they each have valuable skills that the others need.

Now then… time to write the NEXT one so that I can stop being behind.  …I’m not gonna finish NaNoWriMo this year, am I?  Argh… so much writing in the way of the writing.

Anyway, see you soon!

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One response to ““Calling” All Airkids…

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  1. I guess this is my 100th post here? Not bad, but I should post more often.

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