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Book One: Air
Welcome to Republic City
"I'M THE AVATAR! YOU GOTTA DEAL WITH IT!" the words might as well be directed at Nick; who were skeptical about a female lead in the show. The tiny Korra then proceeds to prove it beyond a shadow of doubt; by demonstrating that she has already gained control over three elements at the tender age of four - without ever having trained with a master.
The Fire Ferrets' two come-from-behind wins, with Mako soloing the opposition for a knockout in the first, and Korra making her first breakthrough in airbending in the second for another knockout when they were two rounds behind.
Korra swimming across to the arena from Air Temple Island is pretty impressive.
Before she and Mako go after Bolin, Korra manages to "be the leaf" and navigate through the airbending gates.
Amon's entrance was pretty epic.
As evil as he is, Amon's speech was superb. He has just the right charisma and logic to sway a whole crowd to adopt his own beliefs.
Amon dodging fire blasts and lightning bolts before revealing that he can spirit-bend.
Keep an eye on Amon when takes hold of Lightning Bolt Zolt's arm (the arm actively shooting lightning) as he twists it and puts him in a hold. If he was even slightly off when he did that it could have easily been fatal for either him or Zolt, displaying a type of physical martial arts mastery and precision that has never been seen from any character from the Avatar universe before.
Zolt's and Amon's little Q&A session? It's exactly the same lines Aang and Ozai deliver after the first use of Energybending.
Earlier, the duo of Faceless Goons taking on Mako and Korra and taking them down with chi-blocking techniques similar to Ty Lee's.
After their bout with the chi-blockers, they decide to wait for the Anti-Bending protestor guy in the park, to try and get some info from him. He shows up the next morning for his usual rants, and both Korra and Mako go straight for what they're after. When he refuses to talk to them, and starts to tear into Korra with his usual bigoted speech, she immediately lets him know she'll have none of it. By both telling him off and hoisting him over her head with one arm!
Korra takes out a Giant Mook without making use of her bending. Okay, nothing special. What does she use as a weapon instead? Mako's scarf.
Mako flinging that Equalist over his head and high into the air like a rag doll to get him off his little brother was quite impressive. He can give Korra a run for a Charles Atlas Superpower.
A Voice In The Night
When Tarrlok mentions Aang in his speech, this exchange happens:
Tenzin: "How dare you compare yourself to Avatar Aang!"
Korra immediately freezing the gas she fell for in the last episode.
The raid itself was pretty awesome as it was basically a SWAT raid — but with waterbending!
Bolin taking charge in the second pro-bending match since Korra and Mako are too distracted to play properly, ending in a tie-breaker which he effortlessly wins.
Tahno tries to get Korra to hit him, which would get the Fire Ferrets kicked out of the tournament. Instead, she whistles for Naga, who wipes the smirk off his face.
Just before, Bolin warns her "don't make eye-contact!" whereupon she very deliberately makes eye contact.
What about the beginning of the episode when the Fire Ferrets curbstomp their competitors with utmost ease?
The fact that the Wolfbats beat their opponents in a matter of minutes and proved why they've been the champions three years running. Better yet, one of their fallen opponents had a hole in his helmet.
Subverted when we learn just how they have such a winning streak in the next episode.
And before that, stopping the council from shutting down the match. Even if it didn't end well, her reasoning was sound, and seeing that metal cable come out of nowhere to break the gavel even as Tarrlok was banging it was just awesome.
Korra saving her team from a round 1 loss by grabbing the edge of the ring, then beating Tahno in a tiebreaker in just a couple seconds.
Bonus points for having diverted his attention from her real attack, and then uppercutting him in the face with waterbending. She outsmarted Tahno instead of using brute force! Would Korra have done that in the beginning?
She not only grabbed the edge of the ring but managed to hang onto it by her fingertips while holding Mako with one hand. And rather than save just herself, she decided to let Mako be the one to show up Tahno so she actually threw him back up and let herself fall.
The level of nuance in the Curb-Stomp Battle just makes it poetry in motion. In-story Instant Replay shows that Korra's water blast hit Tahno just as he leaned forward to unleash his counter that, lacking strength due to being interupted too early, Korra turned aside without even lifting a finger. In other words, Korra had not only fooled him to move in the way of her uppercut, she timed it so that the force would hit him in the chin just the moment he started gathering forward momentum but before he could translate it into an attack. A pro wins by being the strongest, the smartest and the fastest. A master wins by seeing every move their opponent is going to make and breaking them apart before they happen.
Korra and Lin Beifong don't see eye to eye, which made their team up against Amon and the Equalists all the more awesome. Even more awesome how they were almost in-tune and aiding each other.
Some percentage of that awesome is thanks to Tenzin, who spent the pro-bending match getting Lin to lighten up toward Korra.
Pabu rescuing Korra, Mako, and Bolin when they're tied up during the Equalist raid on the Pro-Bending arena. Badass Adorable? I think so.
Hell, Bolin speaking ferret belongs here too.
Korra's fearless attempt to give chase to Amon is made extremely awesome when you consider the utter terror she has for him and the near mental breakdown he caused her two episodes beforehand.
Also keep in mind he was on live radio to the whole city. They likely heard him being attacked, after hearing his terror and him summing up the devastation. Since Shiro is a non-bender, then that could have been a calculated move, to show and warn the public that the Equalists are ruthless enough to attack non-benders.
In addition, he's reporting exactly what is going on in the exact same tone as when he covers a match. He's not dressing it up, he's not a bundle of nerves, he's not speaking gibberish. His Triple Triad reporter instincts take over despite how terrified he is. He's a reporter and he will report the news.
Before that, calling out the bribed referees and telling the whole city about the Wolfbat's cheating. This guy has never heard the expression "You can't handle the truth!"
His background (detailed in the Welcome to Republic City exploration game on nick.com) adds a lot as well. He used to report on triad crimes—you know, the same triads that regularly threaten non-benders for money. The guy's got guts.
This only gets better. Those triad crimes? Bending triads. Put this in perspective- he used to report on bending crimes, yet he was still willing to get electrocuted to make sure the people knew that the Equalists were ruthless enough to attack non-benders with bending friends. Watch it cross some civilians' minds in Fridge Brilliance type fashion in the future that this former reporter of bending crimesput himself at risk to be both whistleblower and example that the Equalists were bad news. This man probably just helped save the world and doesn't even know it yet.
You have to give the Equalists their due here. Their plan was just spectacular. Lets run down the list:
They manage to smuggle in taser gloves and stealthily zap every metalbender cop (and Tenzin) in the room. Tenzin was the only one to get a shot off.
They avert the Idiot Ball and actually check the water for the Fire Ferrets, and zap them all unconscious.
Amon reacting as casually as if he were picking up the morning paper to fireballs flying all around him. Fireballs that knock the rest of his mooks completely off their feet.
Also, though his forces seem to have been pushed back, it was actually all part of his plan, and Korra and Lin realize that they fell for it since Amon was actively trying to goad a bender versus non-bender war. Either way, he wins.
He pulled off an epic Xanatos Gambit even before that—the moment he specified the championship as a target, he won. If the council didn't give in, as he himself anticipated, then his attack goes through and he makes a massive statement and kickstarts his war. If they actually had shut down the arena...then it shows that even the council is intimidated by Amon, and not willing to but heads with him. In the long scheme, there was almost no way for him to lose.
Lastly, in the long shot at the end we see several boats burning in the waters around the city, the same police boats which were shown patrolling the area earlier. So in the time it took for Amon's public show, his troops manage to take out the entire patrol fleet.
Bolin manages to shoot a clay disk so precisely it bounces off the side rope and hits the rival. This guy's more talented than we thought.
Retroactive one for Pema. Remember how she said in episode 5 that there was some other woman Tenzin was interested in before her heartfelt confession managed to finally get Tenzin's attention? Come episode 6, and we find out that Lin Beifong used to have a romantic relationship with Tenzin, and she was the other woman Pema was talking about. So non-bending Pema actually risked the ire of a jealous and very skilled bender who, according to Tenzin, tried to get her arrested.
From a directorial standpoint, we have this shot. Picture it: a pro-bending champion is crowned. The crowd goes wild— everyone is either standing and cheering or flailing and cursing the refs. And then the sound drops out, and everything slows down. The camera focuses on an audience member with a decidedly grim expression slowly pulling a mask over their nose and mouth. Then it goes across the arena, where another audience member does the same thing. It does this again. And again. And again. One of the masked men reaches into his popcorn and pulls out a weapon. The audience around them is completely oblivious. As are the heavily armed and armored police officers providing security. Everyone is oblivious until the Equalists begin using those weapons to neutralize the security detail and take out anyone who resists. That's right ladies and gentlemen; you've just witnessed the beginnings of a terrorist attack, on Nickelodeon. As a reviewer from The AV Club put it, "that scene was so nice, I watched it twice."
Asami taking a stand for what's right, even though it means turning against her father and knocking him out with his own lightning glove.
Asami: I love you, Dad.
She also takes out the Lieutenant with her self-defense skills and his electrified kali sticks. Mind you, he defeated both Bolin and Mako by himself, and held his own against Korra (though she eventually beat him). He only stood up to Asami for a few seconds.
This has a lot to do with fighting styles, Bolin and Mako are long range fighters, while Asami is much better in close combat (this is also what gives the Chi-Blockers such an advantage over benders in the city).
Mako and Bolin's perfectly timed double-teaming of one of Lin's men, to get down to the battle where the rest of the heroes would have been completely screwed without them.
Lin Beifong using her mother Toph's technique of 'seeing' with her feet using earthbending to find the secret tunnel that leads up to the hidden Equalist factory under Hiroshi Sato's mansion.
Lin retracting the bottom of her boot to bare her foot may count as awesome.
Can we just say Lin Beifong, period? She crackles with awesome whenever she's on screen.
Tenzin fighting for the first time in the series, and outlasting the metalbenders, Lin and Korra herself. He actually manages to severely rattle Sato's Mecha around with nothing more than air blasts.
Fridge Brilliance: Tenzin is too tall and large for the air scooter to be practical for him, so he had to make something new.
Further Fridge Brilliance: That is probably the technique he invented to get named a master Airbender in the first place, the same way Aang inventing the air scooter got him made a master Airbender. I guess it runs in the family.
So we find out these new mechs are made of platinum, i.e. no earthly impurities to metalbend, so how does Beifong deal with it? The old-fashioned way: whipping out two massive arm blades, to hack and slash at the thing's faceplate, where the controller sits.
More notable for the fact she's the only one that succeeds in taking out one of the mecha.
The cabbage merchant from the first series grew an absolutely huge corperation out of his single, fragile cart. Talk about shaking his Butt Monkey role. They even built a statue of him.
The bad guys deserve a crowning moment in this one as well, given that their prototype mechs managed to take several police officers, 2 master benders, and the Avatar apart like cheap toys while sustaining only minimal losses.
When Extremes Meet
The new Team Avatar is about to enter the city on patrol, but all four cannot fit on Naga, so what do they use as the solution? They get the Korramobile.
Team Avatar's first patrol has them chasing a group of Equalists breaking out some convicted felons. They take them out and detain them before the police even arrive.Tarrlok is not pleased.
Mako gets one for using his lightning bending to great effect, taking down a motorcycle-riding chi-blocker without a sweat.
And Bolin pulling up tiles and shooting them at the Equalists like bullets.
It wasn't a complete curbstomping, the equalists did manage to jump from their wrecking motorcycles and land on the hood of the car, and follow it up by putting Bolin out of commission. Of course, this just leads to Asami's CMOA when she very casually zaps them both unconscious.
Tarrlok calls Korra a "half-baked Avatar in training" midway in the episode. When she confronts him later for arresting Bolin, Mako, and Asami, she refuses to play his political games. He attacks and she shows him exactly why she's the Avatar; complete with a show of Earthbending force. At least until we find out that he's a blood-bender.
The ice spikes not only HIT Korra, but they draw BLOOD. Neither of those things were allowed to happen in the first series.
Korra, after being captured by Tarrlok, was so mad she breathed fire.
Out of the Past
Amon being able to resist Tarrlok's bloodbending and take his bending away. Mind you that along with his father, Yakone, Tarrlok was able to bloodbend multiple people at once, yet Amon while not immune, was able to power through it and take Tarrlok down!
Not just that, but Amon's entrance. Tarrlok is walking up the stairs, his eyes widen, and we see Amon, the Lieutenant, and a team of Chi-Blockers standing there, and we know that Tarrlok is screwed.
Also, from a storytelling standpoint, this is the first direct - as opposed to the previous indirect ones - juxtaposition of him with Aang, given the latter's scene in the flashback.
That LINE. No big speech. No anger at being framed. No explaining himself, or asking for explanation. Just FOUR WORDS. "I am the solution."
And said line was the response to an utterly terrified Tarrlok questioning WHAT he is and realizing how screwed he is.
Small one for The Lieutenant, although he goes down from Tarrlok's bloodbending with the others, he is shown still struggling against it on his hands and knees and trying to pick himself up while the others fell like flies. It took Tarrlok unleashing his full power on Amon to make him go down.
In Korra's flashback, we see the full story behind Aang's battle with Yakone. The battle itself is brief before Yakone bloodbends him, with the intent to kill. Aang goes through quite the hideous ordeal, but then he breaks out of it with the Avatar state, traps Yakone, and takes away his bending for good.
The fact Aang was able to take away Yakone's bending with no resistance or difficulty whatsoever is worth mentioning.
Yakone deserves some credit here. Bloodbends while handcuffed with his fingers, and shuts Team Avatar down in seconds.
Not only that, but as Aang battles Yakone, some music from the original series is being played. Awesome indeed.
Korra using her wrist band to avoid the Lieutenant's electricity when he tries to electrocute her through the metal box she's in, then fighting her way out and escaping. More noteworthy because Korra didn't do it by sheer brute force but with something smart!
To make it even more awesome, she held off Amon long enough for her to escape.
Amon tells them not to underestimate Korra, and it's pretty cool seeing his disappointment in them.
More impressive?They did exactly what Amon told them to do! Korra didn't just outsmart The Dragon, she outsmarted freaking Amon.
Naga gets a CMOA as well by tracking down Korra by herself.
While this is heartwarming and everything, Naga is still a dog. A giant bear dog, but a dog nonetheless. It's not unheard of for dogs to either get depressed when their masters leave or go looking - even if their master is dead. This is Truth in Television if anything, but it doesn't make it any less satisfying.
Once again, Lin Badass Beifong strikes. She was practically a one-woman-army, and everybody else was just an accessory. She busted the Krew out of jail, she freed her police-officers, she found the secret tunnel, she navigated the wagon away from quite a number of Equalists who had just been waiting for them by bending the rail and making a hole in the ceiling, and she did all of this while still injured.
The awesome starts near the beginning of the episode, with her Lock and Load Montage prior to going Equalist-hunting. She metalbends her armour onto her body.
Tarrlok's council page even gets one. When Tenzin and the rest of the cast accuse Tarrlok of kidnapping Korra, the page gathers the courage, despite clearly being terrified, to tell them that he saw Tarrlok kidnap Korra and revealed to them that Tarrlok was a bloodbender. For someone who served right under Tarrlok and feared him, that was pretty impressive.
That's just scratching on the surface. The page is a small, weak, skinny, meek man—and he's a nonbender. He works for a master waterbender who is capable of the most advanced and dangerous waterbending technique known to man. Of all of the people in that room, he was the most vulnerable, and the most likely to get hurt if attacked. Even though he was visibly TERRIFIED, he told everyone the truth about Tarrlok—sacrificing his own safety to do so.
Bolin gets one while he and the rest of the group (sans Korra) are fleeing from the Equalists, by ripping the walls of the tunnel out, preventing pursuit. Made cooler by the fact he wordlessly gets Mako to let him handle the situation, and how much less action Bolin gets out of the Pro-Bending ring. And the reaction (smiling, probably impressed) of the former metal-benders in the wagon is icing of the cake.
When Korra comes out of the house, she sees Amon standing there looking right back at her. She immediately throws a bunch of icicles at him and it doesn't slow him down in the slightest. He immediately starts after as she runs away absolutely terrified.
Turning the Tides
Naga, while carrying four people, jumps in the air and smacks the Lieutenant aside like it's nothing.
Naga swimming across the bay underwater with four passengers may also count.
Tenzin being ambushed by Equalists, and whooping them. He also saved Tarrlok's page.
Even better, this ties in with Crowning Moment of Funny and Freeze-Frame Bonus if you are fast enough. Tenzin has his back turned to the Equalists, and his only warning that they are about to attack is his beard shivering with the electricity. He promptly dodges three electrified disks and mops the floor with them. Beard senses tingling!
Tenzin holding off the Mecha Tanks until Team Avatar arrives.
After they do, he airbends one so hard it hits the roof of Police HQ.
Also Team Avatar's attack on the Mecha Tanks.
Asami and Bolin combining Car Fu and earth-bending to destroy two mecha tanks.
Bolin toppling another one with a boulder right into the helmet.
Mako withstanding the lightning and redirecting right back at the Mech.
Korra using water to clog up a mecha's engine while Bolin finishes it off.
Asami fighting off half a dozen Equalist foot soldiers while rescuing Tenzin.
Tenzin's children deserves a lot more credit: Jinora blasts the Lieutenant with her airbending and sends him flying over the temple roof, Ikki brings back Aang's air scooter and whoops ass with it before anyone can even react, and Meelo weaponizes fartbending, knocking a couple Chi-Blockers, before blasting away half a dozen chi-blockers with air blast and an air bomb-esque move with a Death Glare no less. They're 10, 7 and 5 respectively. Even Lin was speechless with shock and pride, that's saying something.
In spite of his general punching bag status in recent episodes, the Lieutenant still managed to get one brief, shining moment in before the kids arrived to wreck his shit— he not only stood his ground while his men dropped like flies around him, but effortlessly blocked Lin's cable attack before almost casually shocking her and bringing Republic City's consummate badass to her knees. If Jinora hadn't shown up when she did, Lin would probably have been captured and de-bended far faster than she actually was. A shame that mere seconds later, he ended up jobbing again for the rest of the episode.
Halfway through the episode, Tenzin sends a message to a mysterious general right before the telegraph is cut. Then at the end, we discover what that was about: A fleet of ships stands ready to take back Republic City, led by a guy with Zuko/Ozai's face minus the scar. Then he opens his mouth, and Dante Basco's voice comes out. Finally, we learn his name: General Iroh. Amon is so screwed.
However, judging by the finale trailers, the fleet is the one getting screwed by Amon and his bomb dropping fighter planes.
The White Lotus guards actually pulling their weight and holding off the Equalists, just so Korra and everyone else could escape. And they knew what was in store for them, but fought anyway.
For a villainous example, the Equalists again deserve some credit for their blitzkrieg. It takes a lot of coordination to pull of such simultaneous attacks, and they did it by surprise even with all of the clues the heroes have managed to get beforehand. This, for the first time, makes it very clear that the Equalists aren't just really well-coordinated and well-equipped terrorists, they're an entire aggressively extremist military.
And, as you would expect, Amon's organization of that military was nothing short of brilliant. Starting with well-timed strikes to take out the city's leading politicians creating confusion followed by an assault on the police headquarters using gas attacks to incapacitate most and flush others out to abduct with Sato's mini mechs, thus leaving the city completely defenseless and at his mercy.
The finale of the episode felt not only pure awesome but also a subtle Call Back to the original series. We all remember how every time we saw those black steel Fire Nation warships, shit was about to hit the fan. They were often haunting and a sign of violent conquest. Now we have a panned out view of the United Nation's Fleet led by General Iroh (Zuko's grandson) with a brighter and more colourful exterior, and their mission not to conquer Republic City but to take it back from the Equalists.
Honestly, you'd have a harder time listing the moments where someone wasn't awesome. I think Tenzin's Sky Bison didn't... no... um... Amon's Lieutenant... Um... well, he had some cool entrances... and uh... wow... this is tough... guess we have to give credit to the writers for making this episode. Not a moment was spared making everything awesome.
Skeletons in the Closet
Korra jumping in to help the fleet. Among other things, she crashes a plane with a pillar of ice and redirects a torpedo into another.
The Fleet vs the bombers was incredible. Mines disorganized the ships, but the earth/water benders take care of them, then the planes come. We get to see them drop bombs and torpedos, and tear the fleet apart. Ships go down left and right, in huge explosions. It's not quite the Curb-Stomp Battle that the trailers led to believe. The general and several Firebenders use a cannon to take down a plane, and an earth-bender takes one down with a disk similar to the one at the probending-arena. Iroh himself gets to the crows nest, and starts blasting down planes.
And General Iroh blowing up a missile. That was probably 5 feet from his face. He survives. The fact that it was a strong callback to something his grandfather did just makes it better.
It was awesome for both sides, really. Both the Equalist Air Force and the United Forces Fleet get good shots on the other, and the animation of the entire thing was breathtaking.
The design of the fleet. Water-benders on the side to make the ships move along with the engines (On side plat-froms similiar to those used in the original series' blimps) as well as granting access to the water for weaponization, cannons that run on fire-bending, and several other projectiles manned by earth-benders. It even has all three emblems on the ships, showing how the three nations have made peace.
An antagonist example. After he and his little brother got verbally abused and forced to bloodbend animals and each other by their father, Noatak finally has enough of it and bloodbends Yakone into submission while giving an epic Reason You Suck Speech to him.
General Iroh hijacks a plane. In midair. Propelling himself just like Azula and Ozai did in The Last Airbender, but with greater maneuverability than even Ozai showed.
Then, while piloting that plane, he shoots lightning between the propellers.
The last plane in the fleet is right above him, about to drop a bomb on his plane. Iroh firebends straight up. Boom!
Crashing the last plane into the Amon-style mask placed on the Aang statue, knocking it off, was an awesome little exclamation point on the whole scene.
This little blurb from his page on the Avatar Wiki: "Having destroyed many aircraft, Iroh would be considered a flying ace, that is, a pilot that shoots down five or more enemy aircraft. He also earned it in a day without any prior experience or training, an incredible feat for a real world pilot. That being said, he would be the first flying ace in the Avatar world."
Credit where credit is due, the random Equalist mook who managed to hit Iroh's plane with an unguided bomb deserves a mention. It's hard enough hitting a non-moving ground target in Real Life with such bombs, even with mechanical bombsights, and the guy aims by eye at another plane and scores a hit.
Bolin saving Asami from her father, while calling him out for his treatment of his own daughter.
Asami's biggest CMOA being her final showdown with her father.
Asami: You really are a horrible father.
Not to mention her earlier Calling the Old Man Out, telling him flat out that his wife would hate him for what he's become. You go, Asami.
Korra Airbending Amon to rescue Mako. This is followed by her beating the tar out of Amon and blasting him out of a window into the ocean, forcing him to reveal who he really is to all his followers.
Best part about this? Korra forces herself out of Amon's bloodbending grip with sheer willpower to deliver the final blow, while Aang had to go into the Avatar State to do the same when facing Yakone. "No! You! DON'T!" indeed.
It's also the first and only time in the series where we see Amon completely helpless and without any sort of backup plan. He knows right in that moment that he's in trouble.
Korra reconnecting with her spiritual side, and learning Energy Bending from Aang.
Moreover, Korra's realization of the Avatar State, and properly unleashing all four elements for the first time.
The music adds a lot too, as the first time we've heard the main Avatar theme in its full glory in this series.
Even the scenery helps, the sun begins to shine through the clouds when Aang tells Korra that she's finally connected to her spiritual self, and continues to do so until all the past incarnations of the Avatar appear.
And let's not forget a large part of the scene's power is how it subverts the hell out of the extremely Bittersweet Ending verging on Downer Ending that it looked for all the world like the season was going to have until that point.
Lin recovering her earthbending from Korra, and demonstrating it.
Note that when Lin gets her bending back, she doesn't cautiously move a few pebbles before trying something bigger when she tests it out. She immediately, and without hesitation, tries to levitate TWELVE massive boulders at once.
Mako hitting Amon point-blank with lightning, while being bloodbent. Amon later admitted that Mako was the first person EVER to get the best of him.
The Lieutenantstanding up to Amon after he is revealed to be a waterbender and a bloodbender. Granted, he gets his ass handed to him (not like that's never happened before), but it's the thought that counts.
Once again, Naga. She took out not one, but three mecha tanks by herself. Badass all the way.
Doubles as a Tear Jerker, but Tarrlok taking responsibility for his crimes, and sacrificing himself to take out Amon for good by blowing up the boat they were on with one of Amon's electric gauntlets. "Just like the good old days" indeed.
Korra and co. think they've discovered information about Amon that could discredit him in front of his followers, and go to one of his rallies to publicly expose him. What happens when Korra tells everyone that he lied about being burned by a firebender and that he's actually a bloodbender? A Villainous Breakdown and Humiliation Conga like Azula and Ozai? No! He calmly laughs off Korra's accusations, and then removes his mask to "prove" that he's been telling the truth, effortlessly causing Korra's attempt to discredit him to backfire, and leaving him in an even stronger position with his followers. The burn scar is fake, but looks convincing, and the fact that he had it suggests that he had always considered the possibility that he might be unmasked for some reason, and prepared accordingly. As if Amon hadn't already proven his credentials as a Dangerously Genre SavvyMagnificent Bastard.
Simply the moment where Korra accuses him is awesome for Amon; the camera focuses closely on his eyes, and instead of the eye-widening Oh Crap look we viewers might expect, his eyes narrow, showing that he's calculating how to adjust his plan, but is neither particularly surprised nor worried. This gives the viewers an Oh Crap on Korra's behalf, because we can guess from Amon's reaction that things are not going to go the way Korra hopes.
Tenzin deserves major points here...after being freed at the rally, what'd he do? Immediately hurls a shot of air that forces Amon back. His other lackeys got blown away and Amon himself was forced into a defensive stance for a foot or two before the tail end of the gust passed over giving him time to roll out of the way of Mako's firebending. Tenzin follows up with a blast that spreads out along a circular front which Amon cannot dodge no matter what direction he jumps in and it sends him flying right out of the stage. The world's only living Airbending Master and youngest son of Avatar Aang everyone, the first one in-series to curb stomp Amon with air bending.
Fridge Brilliance: Amon's never fought an Airbender before; he isn't familiar enough with it to know how to manipulate his opponent's moves or to even know what to expect.
When Korra unlocks her airbending for the first time, she briefly overpowers Amon, who then manages to get back his bloodbending grip. However, Korra resists this, and blasts him out the window. The only ways to resist bloodbending is either with the Avatar State, or by being a bloodbender yourself... Korra had neither, and she still overpowered bloodbending on her own.
Amon is just about to remove Tenzin or one of his children's bending. Mako, who second earlier was arguing for them to make a break for it, blasts him with a lightning bolt that sends Amon ducking for cover. Followed by he and Korra running along the wall and curb-stomping Amon's followers with fire balls.
Korra: No. You. Don't!
Amon's de-bending of Korra, after bloodbending her from her hiding place, thus making her greatest fear a reality. While it allows her to unlock airbending and finally defeat Amon, it's implied that his taking away of the other three elements had her contemplating suicide at the end. Knight of Cerebus indeed.
Amon: I told you I would destroy you.
Book Two: Spirits
Mako catching the triad goons. He uses firebending to melt the ice they used to trip him up, ramp jumped off someone's earthbending, firebent in mid air to force the goon's truck to crash, and sticks the landing. Then he capps it with a flawless delivered Bond One-Liner and the revealation that he's now a cop. Mako must have been grinding between seasons because he's reached a new level of badass.
The battle with the Dark Spirit, which shrugged off everything everyone did to try and stop it, until Unalaq stepped in and calmed it down.
Unalaq's calming of the spirit is awesome as well. As stated above, the Dark Spirit shrugged off everything that the rest of the team and Korra's family threw at it, even resisting fireblasts from Korra while in the Avatar State, and yet Unalaq alone was able to calm it simply through waterbending. The music playing while he exorcised the creature's anger also deserves a special mention for being hauntingly beautiful.
Speaking of the Dark Spirit, it is the first being in the entire series thus far to overwhelm the Avatar State, which says a lot considering that a Fire Comet powered Ozai couldn't manage to touch an Avatar once they reach that state.
Azula technically is the first, but she did a sneak attack. The Dark Spirit is the first being to overwhelm the Avatar State in direct and open combat.
There are mitigating factors though, namely Korra's Avatar State at this point seems more controlled but less powerful than Aang's (judging by the relative lack of destruction her attacks caused), and she does not create the elemental shield that protected Aang from everything Ozai tried to do. It may simply have been due to Korra's inexperience fighting spirits, as by the end of the season her Avatar State is able to match Vaatu (who should be far stronger than the dark spirits who serve him).
The Southern Lights
Korra activating the spirit portal. This sequence really has to be seen to be believed. Korra activating the spirit portal unleashes said Southern Lights in a brilliant display of color and animation, complete with triumphant music. At the same time, the statue of what is implied to be the first Avatar lights up as Jinora looks with wide-eyed awe.
Civil War Part 1
Korra shuts down a group of rebels with nothing but agile grace and well-placed air and water-bending all without invoking the Avatar State. With the way she used her normal fighting, one could swear she picked up a lot of techniques off the Equalists. She is officially a Lightning Bruiser. The animators deserve serious props for the bit where she fights a guy with his own belt.
More importantly, she does so with little to no bending or brute force. Korra's still a hothead, as seen throughout these first few episodes, but the fact that she fought back with some restraint shows at least some Character Development since her fight with Tarrlok in "When Extremes Meet."
Possibly the most directly awesome thing about this fight, however, is that she doesn't even seem to be particularly challenged by the battle. She's never more than momentarily inconvenienced by her enemies' attacks, and defeats them so handily that you could swear she's barely even trying. With Amon and the Equalists gone, there doesn't seem to be all that many human enemies who are a match for her.
On a practical level , we can count Korra's persistence in at least attempting diplomacy in the face of what could easily turn into a civil war. She sounds like an entirely different person when speaking calmly to Unalaq and trying to make sense of things. Of course, trying a different approach may lead to trouble (Unalaq is quickly proving himself to be perhaps less well-intentioned than first appeared), but it's definitely Character Development for Korra.
Civil War Part 2
Naga continues to be awesome by keeping pace with a car (when the driver is flooring it) and then swiping the door clean off in one blow.
When threatening the judge, she even starts roaring like a lion!
Korra Calling the Old Man Out after she learns the truth about Unalaq, pwning him in three moves in a combination of Fire, Water, and Airbending. Then she displaces the Northern Water Tribe fleet while riding on Verick's airplane and with Asami's and Mako's help, saves her father and the rebels.
What makes it really impressive is that Korra, despite having her parents threatened and knows what Unalaq did, shows restraint and doesn't use the Avatar State to brutalize her Uncle. In fact, the only time she uses it in this episode is to make an escape. Tranquil Fury indeed.
Varrick shows how Crazy Awesome he truly is. He hides in a Platypus Bear mount to evade Unalaq's cops, and helps Korra, Asami, Mako, and Bolin rescue Korra's father. Oh, his giant ship also doubles as a speedboat and he carries a plane in it for 'just because' reasons!
What does the team do when they realize the boat doesn't have enough space to allow a plane to take off? Firebender-Assisted Take-off.
Even more awesome is Asami flying the plane in the first place. She's an Ace Pilot, and it was REALLY nice to see her Action Girl credentials when she took down the Northern Water Tribe guards once again.
She even took out a guard by pulling him through a floor grate and electrocuting him, bringing back her stun gunPower Fist.
Korra interrogating the judge Batman-style, using Naga to get answers.
Mako breaking up with Korra. She was absolutely refusing to see his side of the issue, and he ultimately did what was best for both of them, even though it clearly hurt them both.
Korra gets props for this too, actually. Despite what Lin assumes, Korra didn't flip Mako's desk because he broke up with her, but because she considers his actions a betrayal to her and her family. When he breaks up with her, she immediately stops fighting and leaves. Considering how badly Korra reacts to being hurt, and how wild her temper is, it could have gone a lot worse.
Meelo taming every lemur at the Southern Air Temple, turning them into his personal Blue Angels.
Note that he did this at the age of five and had no help.
Mako being a cop. Not only does he use his Firebending skills to lessen the impact of the blast on the Southern Water Tribe cultural center, he starts his investigation of the case immediately. He soon identifies (with Bolin's help, of course) the perpetrator of the bombing as a member of the Agni Kais. Between this and President Raiko's glowing comments about Mako putting away dozens of bending Triad members, it's pretty clear that Mako is pretty damn effective at his job.
Last but not least, Korra's fight against Eska and Desna, and pretty soon after, a Dark Spirit.
Not to mention Korra comes close to pacifying said Dark Spirit. Apparently without Unalaq ever actually teaching her how to.
Varrick strikes up two reasonable, if morally grey solutions to assisting the Southern Water Tribe in seconds and then ends his "idea storm" with an impressive flip and sticking the landing.
That and a blind arrow shot on target is always impressive.
Asami expands her Badass Driver credentials to boats with the chase back to Republic City.
Back in episode 1, Viper's showing wasn't the best, since he was up against the avatar on dry land. Here out on the open ocean augmented by a nighttime waterbending boost, he's incredibly effective, managing to corner Asami, and overpowering Mako. The fact he can waterbend gives off the implications he managed to escape from the Equalists during their takeover last season too.
Varrick's reveal as a Magnificent Bastard is one for both the writers' and the character. He is revealed to have paid off the Triple Threat Triads in order to steal Future Industries equipment, then make a deal with Asami to become an even more powerful business man. He pulls this off complete with one of the best evil grins◊ possible. Few expected that a Cloud Cuckoolander executive would pull off something like that, allowing the writers to hit us with one of the first legitimate curveballs of the season.
This despite epic amounts of foreshadowing.
Plus it retroactively improves the reveal of Unalaq as a villain, which many saw as The Untwist. While we were all focused on how he was clearly evil, Varrick was slipped right by us.
Wan surviving in the Spirit Wilds and befriending every spirit there. That is both badass and heartwarming.
Wan learning from the dragons, becoming the first firebender instead of just a guy who can throw fire.
Wan using the Avatar State to seal Vaatu using all four elements in the spirit realm. It's easily one of the most impressive displays of bending in the entire franchise. The awesomeness of the scene is sealed when the original Avatar theme plays in the background.
Raava: We are bonded forever!
What makes it even more awesome is that Wan doesn't have the bonus of being at the end of a chain, where it is known Avatars get even stronger with more past lives lived. Wan, who shouldn't be that powerful, was on the winning end of the battle with Vaatu for a good deal and even more so when fused.
And for the fact that, despite 'Beginnings' being Wan's history told over a mere two episodes, the final fight with Vaatu still manages to feel rather like the end of a long journey and development for Wan and Raava. In the context of how Korra lost her memories, and how she has to be reminded of who she is, the flashback could have come across as a vehicle to get her back on track. Instead, it's a story all of its own.
Plus the praise the episodes have gotten as one of the absolute highlights of the entire franchise. Even people who dislike the rest of Book 2 love them.
Korra finally masters the spirit calming technique that she had been trying to use since she saw it.
All day? He'd been trying all his life. And Jinora accomplished it at age 10.
A New Spiritual Age
Korra is trapped among hostile spirits and even turns into a child, so all seems lost...until a familiar figure appears. The Dragon of the West is back!
Korra Exploiting her status as Fisher King in the Spirit World, willing three hostile spirits back to their good side, while still a child.
And she doesn't even do it as the Avatar. She just calmly states to these dogs (these pants-shittingly horrifying giant dogs, to boot), that she's taking the bird home, as the clouds disperse to reveal the sun behind her. It shows how she's realised her worth as a person in her own right.
The restoration of the Dragon-Bird is downright beautiful. One moment, there's four little chicks in a nest; the next, they've fused into a massive, majestic phoenix-like bird. Which then lets Korra ride it.
The Dragon-Bird gets another one at the end of the episode, rescuing Korra from her murderous uncle. And by "rescuing", we mean "swooping in and sending Unalaq flying with a well-aimed tail smack."
Jinora, a ten-year old, depowered girl, has more courage in her than Unalaq, a middle-aged man in his element.
We see her give Unalaq a brilliant Shut Up, Hannibal! in the Spirit Library, also a CMOH as we see just how much she loves her dad:
Unalaq: I can't believe Tenzin sent his daughter here instead of coming himself. What kind of a father is he? Jinora: Better than you.
And when Unalaq threatens to destroy her soul if Korra doesn't open the Northern Portal, Jinora yells "Don't do it!" At the age of ten she is willing to die rather than let other people suffer from Unalaq's schemes.
Night of a Thousand Stars
Bolin versus the Water Tribe kidnappers. For bonus points, his actions closely mirror that of his movie counterpart.
It's great to see the comic relief/delegated to the sidelines Bolin finally get to show off his fantastic earthbending and be a hero on and off the big screen.
Tonraq and Unalaq fight. It's closer than a lot of people probably thought it would be. Tonraq nearly punches his brother right in the face at one point, but Unalaq ultimately defeats him.
Varrick is captured and Mako gets to be a detective!
The raid on the Southern Water Tribe Spirit Portal It failed, but not before these choice moments:
Bolin and Mako devastating the encampment with bombs and flames when they only had a single plane. Asami's piloting skills, dodging massive blocks of ice, bordered on prescience.
Eska and Densa managing to get them down when everyone else failed.
Bumi sacrificing himself to help get rid of a Dark Spirit, followed up by accidentally devastating the entire encampment and rescuing the captured team with Naga.
The best part has to be at the end Bumi gets ejected out of one of the Mecha Tanks, causing him to go slidding straight into Eska and Desna from behind and completely knocking them over. Then when they try to attack him from behind, Naga slams both of them into the ground!
Bumi calming down one of the spirits with music!
Before using music, Bumi unleashed an incredible barrage of jabs followed by one hell of an uppercut. It didn't quite work, but the uppercut visibly MADE THE SPIRIT FLINCH!
Mako and Bolin versus Unalaq.
Korra gets off to a magnificent start during the battle against Vaatu and her uncle. Just as Vaatu is swooping down to fuse with Unalaq, Korra invokes the Avatar State, blasts Vaatu back with fire, then grabs Unalaq with air, flinging him back into the material world.
During the ensuing fight against Vaatu, Korra very nearly manages to seal him like Wan did. Alas, Unalaq intervened at the last moment.
Korra versus Vaatu. All of it.
Tenzin managing to realize that he is more than just Aang's son and breaking free of the fog's effects, rescuing his siblings and Jinora in the process.
Just as Korra is close to defeat and everything is about to black out, Raava speaks to Korra telepathically, motivating Korra not to give up and that she is the Avatar. Korra, in her Avatar state, rises out to the chasm that Unalaq nearly crushes her with, and turns the fight to her favor. Even better, the theme from the original series starts playing after Korra's rise.
Korra:YOU CANNOT WIN.
Light in the Dark
Varrick escapes prison on a hang glider.
Varrick: [Zhu Li!] Do...the thing!
A giant version of Korra and an enlarged Dark Avatar face off in Republic City's harbor.
Their Beam-O-War with their Chest Blaster was one of the highpoints of this fight, Korra completely overpowering and delivering a well deserved beatdown on Unalaq was awesome. She only lost the advantage when she tried to pull out Raava, but still she nearly sent Unalaq flying through a mountain. The form she used is just as powerful, if not moreso than the Avatar State! And keep in mind that Raava had nothing to do with it. This was all Korra.
Jinora appearing during Unalaq and Korra's fight to help Korra end Unalaq once and for all.
At a Southern Water Tribe conference, Korra declares the Southern Water Tribe independent and her father is appointed the new Southern Water Tribe Chief. Korra also decides to keep the portals open between the Spirit and the Human world in hopes that the humans and spirits can co-exist, while she strives to guide the world towards peace and balance.
Book 3: Change
A Breath of Fresh Air
Zaheer's jail break. He takes out benders of every type using airbending, which he's barely had a chance to get used to.
Apparently, there was once an air nomad guru who was so in tune with his element, he spent the last 40 years of his life never touching the ground.
Of course, the guy who claims this admits that said bender lived millenniums ago and most existing records of the man are just children's fables he wrote, but Zaheer remains adamant that there's a kernel of truth in there.
The finale proves that this may actually have been a true story
To note, the credibility of the story is irrelevant. He knows the true value is the lesson it teaches and the wisdom within the Guru's recorded words, "instinct is a lie told by a fearful body hoping to be wrong". As Zaheer put it, when we have expectations based only on what we've seen, we're blind to the possibilities of a new reality. In his case, the teachings helped him quickly adjust to becoming an airbender, unlike all the other new airbenders we previously saw .
Ghazan's jailbreak. He's spent his time in prison working out, and when he gets access to some rocks, he turns them into a flying shuriken of death magma!
He's spent thirteen years in a wooden prison on the ocean. It was implied in the first season of Atl A that the reason the earth benders imprisoned by the fire nation lost hope, was because they were disconnected from their element. Ghazan has been disconnected from his element for thirteen years, and not only has he shrugged off thirteen years of interrogation, he still believes he'll escape strongly enough that he's working out until the time comes.
Ming Hua. Not only is her fighting style based off of her not having arms, but she manages to keep her water tentacles in place even when she's at rest. This after being in prison for years.
Zuko is riding a dragon. Considering that dragons are fully sentient beings whose trust and respect is VERY hard to earn, Zuko has clearly gone very far in his Sun-based fire skills. He has truly undone the mistakes and regrets of his Fire Lord great grandfather (One of two men who were the last known to have had dragon companions) and honored the memory of his Avatar Great Grandfather (the OTHER man of the two who had dragon companions). He can stand beside them as their equal.
His manner is also notable. When told of the prisoners escaping, he is clearly, understandably, angry that this has happened. Importantly, Zuko also calmly explains what is going on and how he intends to deal with it. No ranting or threats that Zuko as a teenager, or a man more like Ozai would have resorted to. Zuko's reponse immediately makes it clear that he, at some point, became the fair and capable Fire Lord the world needed following Ozai's defeat.
Hell, Zuko's appearance can in itself be considered a Crowning Moment Of Awesome. After two books of uncertainty and teasing by the Creators, we finally get to see him after a seven-year absence, and at this point, he's already pushing towards ninety and still fully capable of tracking down four highly dangerous convicts and moving to intercept their plans.
Not to mention the fact that, despite what he just said about the convicts being more than capable of dispatching groups of benders with ease, Zuko shows no hesitance in taking them head on. He was Fire Lord (and is still called "Lord Zuko") for a reason.
On a minor note, Zuko still talks and acts like the boy we knew and loved, only with 70 years of experience behind him. This is partially due to the writing, as well as his new voice actor, Bruce Davison, who managed to get Zuko's mannerisms and enunciation perfectly. That's incredible attention to detail.
Another minor note. Zuko doesn't wear long robes or a cloak or a crown to announce his royal lineage or anything. His clothing is tight and his armor is practical. He's dressed to fight.
Pay attention to the music in the background. The Tsungi Horn makes it's return!
Smaller achievement than most, but makes up for it by being highly personal and mixed with Crowning Moment Of Heart Warming: Bumi takes part in the Airbending exhibition by firing off multiple palm-blasts of wind. Considering that the first episode saw him only being able to do any tricks unconsciously and under extreme duress, this rapid increase of control is phenomenal. The small look of accomplishment he wears as Bolin praises the progress "just a couple of weeks of dedication can amount to" seals the deal.
After weeks of dealing with highly-stressful situations (for all of them), Korra is wanted removed from Republic City - Korra coldly brushes this off, saying she was leaving anyway, but the moment she's talking to Tenzin seconds later, it's about how happy she is they're going to begin rebuilding the Air Nation. Virtually no sign of anger at all, restrained or otherwise... and this is Korra we're talking about here.
The Earth Queen
Zuko, and his immediate handle on the situation by rationally discerning what the criminals next action would be, and moving to intercept them personally.
Zuko's dragon. Where the dragons from the previous series were close-to-traditional, noodley-bodied Chinese dragons with some bat wings on their middles, Zuko's steed has a bit more Western characteristics blended in and is much, much bulkier and visibly strong. Only people with the greatest of integrity and personal strength can earn a dragon's respect and companionship, let alone such a fine specimen.
And that savviness extended to their fight with the motorcycle gang (see below): while escaping, the head proclaims the Avatar's on the wrong side of this fight, as that money belongs to the people, not the Queen. Rather than outright dismiss this, Korra tentatively asks "Why do I get the feeling he's right?
Korra and Asami fighting off a motorcycle gang. Especially Asami's actions, which include racing toward speeding vehicles coming straight at her, expertly leaping up at the right moments, then slamming the vehicles/their riders to the ground. Helped by the fact that she hasn't had a real fight scene in a season.
Also, before the fight begins, when the duo are surrounded by burly, heavily-armed brutes on motorcycles, the only reaction Korra and Asami have is one of slight annoyance. They're that confident in their abilities.
Desna and Eska working with Tonraq and Zuko after the Civil War, back when the former two were the bad guys. This is the first time we get to see them do something as good guys.
Mako, Bolin, Jinora, and Kai take on three Dai Li agents. Mako and Bolin take point, using team tactics to take out two of them. Then the Drill Sergeant Nasty grabs Jinora, so Kai gets to score some payback by knocking him out.
The rescue of the airbenders from the Earth Queen.
The Metal Clan
Zaheer's plan to find the avatar by infiltrating the new airbenders in Republic City. It didn't work, thanks to Korra and Tenzin splitting up, but kudos for trying.
Points to Kya for seeing through Zaheer's disguise and taking him on; although he proved too much to handle, she gave him a pretty good fight.
The animation in this fight scene between them is simply fantastic as well. Studio Mir knocks it out of the park.
Particularly where she grabs him in mid-escape with waterbending - Zaheer being on a stolen glider - and then slams him into the ground.
And when her final attack is picking up the entire pond and throwing it at him. Pity Zaheer simply sidesteps and launches an air bullet at her.
And despite it being established that Kya is the best fighter out of Aang's children, she's still Genre Savvy enough to call for back-up as soon as the fight starts.
Varrick plans to create a magnetic railway! Give it a little time, and Zaofu will have it's own Shinkansen line, and if they export it, just imagine the possibilities for international shipping, transportation, and leisure activities, if the idea of magnetism is applied to other fields. A clean, efficient mode of transportation -and potentially energy, given time to develop the proper technology to harness it- unreliant on fossil fuels, and only barely reliant on bender power to give it the push needed. Varrick was right, the future of Zaofu could very well be magnets!
Korra calling Lin out on her rudeness.
Her plan to use Opal to lighten Lin up is one when you think about it; it's a light-handed, subtle approach that uses diplomacy and the human element. Sure couldn't see season 1 Korra thinking up something like this; it's some good character development.
The very existence of the Metal Clan and Zaofu itself. An entire city devoted single-mindedly to innovation, freedom of expression and meritocracy? Yes, please!
Say nothing of the visuals we get while flying into the city via airship, much less the transportation from district to district by rail. Dear god, the whole place is pretty much Scenery Porn at its finest! It definitely qualifies as a moment for the animators and artists.
And again, the design of the city itself counts as this, both for the animators, and for Baatar, Suyin's husband. The the layout of each individual section of the city is designed in such a way that they resemble lotus flowers in bloom during the day, but at night, the individual "petals" (in reality, probably massive blast shields) close over the districts like a protective shield on massive hydrolic pistons in a way that's highly reminscient of the way the skyscrapers of Tokyo-3 expand and retract in Evangelion. Not to mention he's the primary architect for the city, and is constantly expanding upon and renovating/upgrading the original design. No wonder Su married the man, he's a bonefide genius!
Suyin, point blank. After two seasons of Lin accomplishing nothing, we have Toph's other daughter, who is actually worthy of her mother. Like Toph she left her home at an early age, and wandered the world to find herself. After becoming an master in several arts, including metal bending, she married an architect and made her home in an empty valley. Said valley is now home to a city that makes the planet Krypton look like a caveman built it with lego. And the basic philosophy of the inhabitants of this city is to be as awesome as humanely possible.
A ferocious sea pirate fixes her gourmet meals. And she invites Magnificent BastardVarrick to dinner. She is definitely Toph's daughter.
Nobody in her city can lie, they raise massive shields at night, and she talks smack about the Earth Queen over dinner. When she says her city is safer than Republic City, Lin is visibly jealous and doesn't deny it.
The invention of the game "Power Disk", courtesy of Suyin's twin sons, Wei and Wing.
"Invention" might be too strong a word here- there's clearly some major influence from airball there. Still, props for managing to make it work with an entirely different kind of bending.
Opal calling out Bolin for doing his usual Casanova pick up lines and then advising him to just be himself.
How about the fact that you can actually use metalbending for acupuncture techniques/therapy? Metalbending multiple, tiny, sharp needles simultaneously, with such precise accuracy that there is no risk to the patient whatsoever. It ties into the idea on the CMOH page of bending being used for more than just combat or sports, showing that it can be integrated into nearly every aspect of society, if one only puts their mind to the task and remains open to new ideas. Another example of the awesome culture that drives Zaofu to be what it is to this day.
Korra learning how to metalbend, and managing to bend the meteorites into recognizable shapes within a day.
Opal getting in-between her mother and aunt while they're fighting, knocking away both their attacks with airbending blasts.
While it did end with Lin wearing herself out- much to the concern of all involved- the fight between the Beifong sisters was definitely this, both for the two of them, and Suyin in particular. From a martial arts standpoint, it was an incredible demonstration of the unique differences in either sister's bending styles, and which parts of their mother's own style they encorporated into their bending. Watching the fight, Lin's approach is all about power, defense, strong attacks that are rooted firmly to the earth and pack a lot of punch, which is very much in line with the real-world martial art earthbending is based off of (Sourthern Hung Gar). Conversely, Suyin's style resembles that of her mother's unique earthbending from the original series (based off of Southern Praying Mantis), emphasizing speed, agility, redirecting an opponent's inertia, and wearing down the enemy with fast strikes while keeping out of their reach. While in an even fight, the two styles might cancel one another out, because Lin came into the battle physically weaker, Suyin had the upper-hand, and could've easily won. That's not to say that Lin lasting as long as she did, let alone trying to continue the fight in her condition, wasn't as impressive. Far from it, actually. Hell, it was amazing she could even stand, let alone bend at nearly her full potential!
Even then, both sisters still brought their own personal touches into the fighting styles. Suyin was quite fond of backflips (and pivoting), whereas Lin jumped around high and a lot (with mid-air flips as well).
While a major dick-move, Suyin commenting on how Lin's abrasiveness is the reason Tenzin broke up with her is pure awesome for someone to say and emerge unscathed. It's a double CMOA for Suyin especially considering it's the piece that led to the two sister to immediately come to blows with each other.
Bumi shows his natural leadership skills and helps organize the Airbending recruits to help rescue Jinora and Kai.
Kai breezing through the airbending obstacle course in a snap, including getting past everyone else who's struggling ahead of him.
Kai beating the bison poacher for kidnapping the sky bison and Jinora: "You can think you can take away Jinora, and these baby bison!?" Tenzin is forced to step in and stop him, but still praises Kai's technique - it's not hard to hear that he subtly enjoyed it as well.
Jinora keeping up with her father during the 10 mile hike.
Also doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: After Kai frees himself, he goes to free Jinora, but this selfless child tells Kai to free the baby bison first.
The Terror Within
Korra displaying her new metalbending skills.
Suyin: Congratulations! You're now the first metalbending Avatar.
The entire fight to stop the Red Lotus from kidnapping Korra. Highlights include:
P'Li curving her combustion shots to hit targets behind cover.
Ghazan using his lava bending to turn a makeshift metal cage into a lava moat, with the remains of the cage providing cover.
Ming-Hua providing cover for P'Li, making it nearly impossible to land a hit on her.
Zaheer, once Lin has gotten away with Korra, creates a smokescreen that not only lets them escape, but flash-cools the lava moat.
Bolin managing to knock out P'Li's combustion bending with a precision rock attack, right before she can blast Su and Lin.
Lin and Su roping in to save Korra from the roof, and Su shooting Zaheer out of the sky when he tries to stop them.
Wei and Wing, despite being very young, still hold their own against the powerful benders.
Even the Zaofu guards hold their own reasonably well.
To put their skill in perspective, they managed to pull Zaheer out of the circle his group had set up, then keep him separated until Lin had grabbed Korra and was pulling her to safety. By comparison, he beat Kya and two White Lotus firebenders in half the time.
Korra and the gang figuring out that Aiwei is a traitor.
Likewise, Aiwei being Crazy-Prepared enough to escape and destroy any evidence.
Aiwei really deserves extra credit for how in control he is from the second he confronts the group in his living room. While the kids fumble pathetically to come up with half-truths in a desperate attempt to slip past his truth sense, Aiwei smoothly and casually offers explanations for Mako's initial suspicions, nonchalantly restoring the order of his shelf while the Krew watches and cringes, and not missing a beat when he sees his tunnel is discovered and drops his escape cover.
Remember how potent shirshu venom was in the first series? Well, it takes three darts of it to bring Naga down.
Or Ming Hua didn't know how much of a dose she needed and overcompensated to be safe.
It took roughly five licks from a shirshu to put down an adult sky bison like Appa in the original series. If Naga needed that much venom to be put down (intentionally or otherwise), that cements how strong a threat she is.
Zaheer being able to communicate to his team while being in the Spirit World.
Mako and Bolin fighting Ghazan and Mingu-Hua despite being heavily outmatched. They may have lost but they did buy enough time for the others to escape.
Zaheer can teleport through the Spirit World with ease.
Zaheer: You think freedom is something you can give or take on a whim, but to your people, freedom is just as essential as... air. And without it, there is no life. There is only... darkness.
And with that, Zaheer has completely turned the notion of airbending as a defensive, non-lethal discipline on its head.
Before that, using airbending and stealth to get into the Earth Queen's throne hall and eavesdrop without even the Dai Li detecting him.
Ghazan effortlessly destroying the inner wall in Ba Sing Se. To put it in perspective, it took several Earthbenders from the previous series to tear down the wall.
To put the whole thing in perspective, when Azula took over Ba Sing Se, she co-opted the Dai Li and had them do most of the leg work. It took her two days. The Red Lotus came to Ba Sing Se with no intent to overthrow the queen, got tired of waiting, and liberated the entire city in roughly two hours by themselves.
Korra and Asami for the entire episode. Captured by the Earth Kingdom, they proceed to quickly break out, non-lethally take down the crew of the airship they're on, crashing the airship in the process. They then recruit the soldiers to help them salvage the airship for parts to build a sand skimmer, sail across the desert, take down a giant sand-whale creature that tries to eat them, and return to civilization with the respect and thanks of the men previously holding them prisoner.
Special mention goes to Asami prying the metal railing off the wall, freeing herself. Shoddy workmanship or not, that's a great show of strength.
The giant sand-shark creature. When it fully reveals itself for the first time - via cracking the newly-repaired airshipin halfwith little effort - you know it's a legitimate threat to the group.
The Red Lotus effortlessly taking down the Dai Li. They are the only one to do so in the fastest amount of time.
Between trying to get Bolin to metalbend, Mako manages to blowtorch through one of the bars of the cell.
The animators deserve some props for the creature that was pursuing Korra, Asami, and the Earth Queen's forces. They used an animal many viewers might have never heard of and still made it pretty accurate.
Tenzin and Zaheer, the first time two Master Airbenders have ever engaged in battle with each other, and the choreography was excellent. Ming-hua and Kya's Waterbending battle is also a sight to behold. Bumi managing to stay alive against a Master Lava Bender is pretty impressive as well.
After spending much of the season showing that he is an uncanny prodigy in airbending, Zaheer gets thoroughly schooled by Tenzin. In the end, it takes the combined efforts of the entire Red Lotus to bring him down.
As far as fighting goes, this is really Tenzin's episode. For a man who preaches peace and harmony, it's easy to forget that he can throw down. Just as all the airbenders and acolytes are rounded up, Tenzin single-handedly pushes back their captors to give everyone else time to escape.
One can really note their differing ideologies and Philosophies in the way they fight, and how severely outclassed Zaheer was: Whereas Tenzin moves in a graceful, evasive manner evocative of a leaf in the wind, countering his opponent's attacks by turning his momentum against him and moving through the air like a breeze, Zaheer prioritizes strength and brute force, utilizing his airbending to augment his jumps, as well as direct kicking and punching attacks that are meant to knock Tenzin off balance and possibly injure him - Tenzin simply uses the above mentioned techniques to evade Zaheer. Brute force won't do shit if your opponent can simply dodge and turn that raw power against you.
Until P'Li steps in, Zaheer does not land a single blow on Tenzin during that entire fight.
Also, Tenzin's last successive attack on Zaheer is Aang's iconic one-legged T pose from Season 1's extended intro.
A subtle moment for Zaheer in that his fight with Tenzin is clearly diversionary. He spends the first 30 seconds of their duel running away, drawing his most dangerous adversary away from his own allies. While he was clearly outclassed, he managed to pull of a strategic victory by stalling until the rest of the Red Lotus could save him. What Zaheer lacks in power and skill, he makes up for in cunning.
One thing easily forgotten in all of this is that any member of the Red Lotus could take down any other bender in the world; even Zaheer who did not have bending before. Tenzin managed to curbstomp Zaheer and it's not until P'li started spamming her combustions did Tenzin start to fail. These are the same people that gave trouble to the combined might of Eska, Desna, Tonraq and Zuko.
Well, P'li is apparently a one woman gunship now. How they haven't just killed everyone with that is no clue.
Kai having the bravery to distract P'li long enough to help the other Air Nomads get away.
Bumi vs Ghazan. Bumi's barely managing to stay alive until he switches tactics, jumping on Ghazan, pulling his hair and biting him. Ghazan has been mowing through his opponents with ease throughout the entire season, and yet Bumi, without even using his airbending, manages to briefly get the better of him.
Kya vs. Ming Hua, full stop. Two badasses take on each other in combat in a brilliant display of waterbending, though Ming Hua eventually gets the better of Kya at the end.
Tenzin's defiance towards Zaheer.
Tenzin: I will never let you get to Korra. Zaheer: Unfortunately, you don't have a choice. Tenzin: Yes, I do.
Despite being chained at her hands and feet, Korra still manages to fend off Zaheer pretty well with her limited mobility.
Ghazan uses his lavabending to basically melt an entire mountain.
As a result of Ghazan's attempt to kill them, Bolin discovers he can lavabend when he needs to save his brother and friends.
Before that, Bolin manages to shove several metric tonnes of rock in their escape.
Su and Lin team up to bring down P'li, Lin running out from cover to draw her fire so Su can slam a metal jacket over P'Li's head just before she fires. Kaboom.
Zaheer pauses in the middle of battle, horrified at losing P'Li. This gives Korra a chance to fire an attack. Zaheer immediately dodges the attack after a moment of mourning, simply because he's devoted to the task at hand, confident that finishing off the Avatar would respect P'Li's sacrifice.
Zaheer breaks out an airbending skill so ancient it was thought to be impossible: he flies, unaided.
Zaheer: Let go your earthly tether. Enter the void. Empty, and become wind.
Venom of the Red Lotus
As depressing as it was for Korra, it was kind of awesome to see the Big Bads from the previous seasons in her hallucination. Who didn't squeal like a fangirling Bolin when they heard Amon's voice again?
The Red Lotus tries to force Korra into the Avatar State so they can kill her by poisoning her. This goes about as well as you'd expect. Korra physically tears her chains right out of the wall, takes out both Ghazan and Ming-Hua, then chases Zaheer with lethal intent until the poison finally stops her.
Korra uses airbending to blast away Ghazan's lava. She must have put some incredible pressure behind that blast.
After three seasons, we finally get to see Korra in full Avatar state and stuffing her opponent's every attempt to stop her. The Red Lotus chain her up and try to kill her when she accesses the Avatar state? Oops, her Super Strength broke your precious little trap. Zaheer flies away? You forgot she's got rocket feet, bitch! He tries to be Superman and dodge her? HERE'S A MOUNTAIN FOR YOUR FACE. HOW 'BOUT TWO?! He's still trying to dodge? Maybe some ice on your feet will chill you out! Pretty much the only reason Zaheer makes it out of the fight is the poison weakening her. If there was ever any doubt that the Avatar state wasn't a feralforce of nature, this fight shuts it down.
Note that this was after all of the past avatars got slapped out of her by Unalaq. This means that everything Korra did was her and Raava, while Aang had the experience of the half-thousand or so past Avatars before him to create that awesome battle sphere.
Credit to Zaheer, though. He lasted a long time, avoiding every attack until Korra froze his foot and disabled his flight for a bit. More than that, though, when he attacks, he usually connects. He ultimately held out long enough for the poison to beat Korra, and it took Jinora and all the other airbenders working in concert to stop him.
Mako takes down Ming-Hua. Half of the awesomeness is in the misdirection; Mako has her cornered and without water to fight with, so she dropped into a cavern full of water. Just as it looks like Ming-Hua will demolish Mako, he gets clear of the water and exploits the Logical Weakness of a waterbender who is physically touching the water she's bending: electricity. Especially awesome because it makes Mako the only one to take down one of the main Red Lotus members on his own, and after an entire season free from lightning bending, it was unexpected for both Ming Hua AND the viewers.
Bolin vs. Ghazan, Round 2. Ghazan actually commends Bolin on picking up lavabending, and though Bolin ultimately loses on experience, he holds his own very well. Then Mako joins the fight, and Ghazan can't take them both.
Ghazan then brings the entire cave down on top of them, preferring to do a Taking You with Me maneuver instead of returning to prison, with Bolin barely earthbending them out of there in time.
One thing to note is how Bolin earthbends in these fights - Instead of merely dodging out on direct shots like he usually does he smashes some of the rocks being thrown at him head-on and manipulates the terrain even more. One can notice that he now appears much more confident following the discovery that he could lavabend.
A subtle touch is Bolin winking at Ghazan when he reveals that he's picked up lavabending. After a season of expressing his disappointment at not being able to live up to the image of his hero Toph, he has good reason to be proud of discovering he possesses a near mythical form of bending. The wink expresses his newfound confidence perfectly.
What Jinora did to earn it: leading the entire group of New Airbenders in summoning up a freaking tornado to stop Zaheer. It's made even more awesome by a remix of the original Avatar theme playing.
Jinora is only eleven years old. She is the youngest airbender to ever receive her tattoos, beating her grandfather, an Avatar, by a year.
A subtle moment when Jinora returns to the other airbenders after using her astral form to find an exit. She's only 11 and has just found out that the only person with enough power to rescue them all is about to be killed. Does she panic? Does she cry or give up? No. Jinora just goes to devising a plan with the others to get them out. Jinora is C.U.P. or cool under pressure!
The imprisoned airbenders (and Pema) conceiving and executing a feasible escape plan with some excellent stealthy airbending passes. It's too bad one of the guards happened to look back and see Opal unlocking her chains, or they could've made it — still, it leads to an awesome Earthbending Big Damn Heroes.
Asami shows us she still knows how to kick some ass by vaulting under a small rock opening and electrocuting an earthbender.
Suyin metalbending the poison out of Korra, saving her life.
Bolin stuffing a sock in Zaheer's face when he starts ranting about the Red Lotus is not yet defeated.
Tenzin promising that the Air Nation will help fight evil, especially since Korra is currently out of commission. This is notable because such direct involvement in the world's affairs is a big departure from how the Air Nomad culture was run since its founding, and shows Tenzin's devotion to Korra and the nations he grew up a part of is just as great if not greater than his loyalty to his ancestral culture.
It's also a great way of showing how after being all but exterminated by the Fire Nation nearly two centuries ago, the Air Nomads have finally reclaimed their place as one of the five nations of the world. Aang may not have been able to witness the restoration of his people, but his efforts paid off in the end.
Book 4: Balance
Getting Eva Marie Saint to play Katara. That's when you know the last series got them respect in Hollywood. The woman has worked with Alfred Hitchcock, appeared in films with Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, Warren Beatty, Angela Lansbury, Richard Burton, Marlon Brando, won an Academy Award (for best supporting actress in On The Waterfront) and they convinced her to do a voice.
Mike and Bryan taking the time to make a complete set of rules for pro-bending that make perfect sense. No Golden Snitches here!
"Some Nickelodeon executives were worried, says Konietzko, about backing an animated action show with a female lead character. Conventional TV wisdom has it that girls will watch shows about boys, but boys won't watch shows about girls.
During test screenings, though, boys said they didn't care that Korra was a girl. They just said she was awesome.
The television debut garnered a whopping 4.5 million viewers. That's the highest number of viewership for a Nickelodeon show in three years. Note that this was after releasing the first two episodes online, for free, several weeks prior.
And the numbers keep going strong with every debut. Episode four received a premature leak online, and fans still tuned in and gave the ratings a good 4 million viewers to count on its Saturday morning premiere.
The animation alone is this! Look at the snow fall in "The Spirit of Competition" and tell me that the animation isn't among some of the most beautiful you've seen.
The scenes in the last third of "And The Winner Is..." when Lin and Korra take on the Equalists (partially in mid-air) are among the most amazing and smoothly animated fight-scenes seen in bothseries and possibly all of Western Animation.
Then comes Tarlokk's awesome waterbending in "When Extremes Meet", it's like a seamless integration of a liquid deflector shield and a machine gun of ice.
The level of animation quality and the artistic effects in this series is mind boggling and only becomes apparent by re-watching it over and over. Word of God has stated at some points in production the bar was so high it looked like they could never achieve it.
The new opening sequence dramatically contrasts the first series, showcasing the power and the skill of the Avatars.
Avatar Kyoshi rips up massive slabs of earth from the ground and flings them with a terrifying fury (if this doesn't look too impressive next to the earthbenders in this series, remember that Kyoshi was doing this about 450 years ago)
Avatar Roku's movements are pure serenity, sweeping and throwing unpredictable gouts of flames that could probably stand up to a comet-powered firebender, his patterns moving like a phoenix (at one point he fires a massive bolt with his fingers)
Avatar Aang moves from one ridiculous pose to another, balancing and pivoting on one finger, airbending with his feet, all the while maintaining perfect poise and precision, showing that airbenders can be free while still having complete control over their skills
Come episode eight and it looks like he's going to spend the rest of the series competing fiercely with Tarrlok for that particular title. To elaborate, Tarrlok needed three episodes to establish himself as a Manipulative Bastard wielding Fantastic Racism, but it took just those last five minutes where he fought Korra to put him right up there with Amon.
And then in the next episode, Amon decided not to take that shit and promptly took away Tarrlok's bending before driving him away in a van. Amon is awesome.
The ultimate success with Amon is that in the end there's no Motive Rant, there's no explanation. Evidence is presented that leaves the audience wondering whether Amon's motives are pure or not in such a way that there's no clear answer. And it works!
Congratulations should go out to the team behind the series for being so ballsy as to pitch such dark tones. Not only did we have scenes that reflected elements of public executions and rape, we also had an actual terrorist attack in episode 6. Somehow Nick let this slide and aired the episode nonetheless. The creators are really bold for giving us such a strong and dark series.
We can now throw in the numerous allusions to historic examples of oppression: the Red Scare with McCarthy-like tactics, the internment camps for Japanese during World War II, and Hitler's subjugation of the Jews.
If the previews are anything to go by, benders in Republic City will now be lined up and systemically de-powered by Amon. It's so close to the gas chambers of the Holocaust it's downright terrifying.
Not to mention the summary executions of "Enemies of the People" carried out following the Communist revolutions in China and Russia.
And the season one finale has a completely straight-faced, not ambiguous in the slightest murder-suicide. At this point, one wonders if the show has any network oversight at all.
You know a show's ballsy, when it pitches dark tones that not even adult shows like Family Guy dare to take on.
General Iroh blows up a biplane in mid-air, quickly enough that the pilot had no chance to escape.
R.I.P. the Radar: beginning of the Hays Code to 6/23/2012.
At the end of "Turning The Tide", the commander of the United forces is voiced by Dante Basco. And is name is General Iroh.
We all saw it coming, but the entire execution of the reveal. There's a shot of the front of the ship that slowly backs up to show the back of one man who's clearly in command. A man comes up from offscreen and the shot shifts to the front, but most of his face is still obscured. The man mentions that there's a wire from the Avatar that Republic City has been taken. Then the music amps up and his face is finally revealed. He's got Zuko's eyes, and he turns to the man and says "Tell her we will be arriving in three day's time, and that I look forward to winning back Republic City together" in Zuko's voice.
For German fans the fact that they gave Korra!Iroh the same voice as Aang!Zuko as well. In Germany when dubbing animation, it is usally cast by what fits the character as voice actors don't have fixed dub voices (unlike actors). Somebody payed REALLY close attention here.
The MUSIC. Capturing every mood of the moment. The Avatar Theme playing out in full force in the finale was Epic.
The subversion of the Bittersweet Ending. Nobody expected them to actually give Lin her bending back or let Korra go Avatar State. We already had a bittersweet ending that worked perfectly, but they managed to completely blindside us with a genuinely happy ending.
The fact that LoK has gathered two more Books. Considering how this was originally introduced as a miniseries, that's pretty impressive!
Thats in addition to the second Book it got before even airing.
Aang's last line in the series. It takes a bit of Fridge to understand the awesomeness behind it; it was at around this point that Aang himself went through great conflict when he was tasked with stopping Ozai. What he says to Korra directly correlates to what he went through in the final hours of his own series. Katara smiling while Korra restored Lin's bending just seals it; Katara was the sole person not amazed by the act, but rather seemed to have been expecting it.
Janet Varney posted a challenge where the Book Two finale would be released online a week early if enough people reblogged her Tumblr post asking them how much they really wanted it. The conditions were that ten thousand people had to reblog the post in 12 hours. It easily got twenty thousand notes. And Nick followed through on their promise, with the finale released mere hours after the episodes preceding it had aired on television.
In a sort of followup to this, Korra Nation offered a similar challenge: 15,000 notes for a preview clip of Book 4 the next day. It took an hour, and the clip was posted not long after.
While YMMV on whether it is a good move for the series or not, it takes a lot of balls to tear down and do away with one of the largest core elements (The Avatar Cycle, and thus no more cameos or help from past avatar characters like Aang, Roku or Kyoshi) of a very popular series, especially since the third season has confirmed that it's stuck.
If you thought that the grisly and dark combat sequences in Book 1 were awesome enough, how about the fact that they were able to get away with the Earth Queen being suffocated by airbending in "Long Live the Queen"?
The third season finale, Venom of the Red Lotus, is the 100th episode of the Avatar series, and while other Nickelodeon shows have hit that milestone before, they've only been the two-15-minute-episodes variety (Rugrats, Fairly Oddparents, and Spongebob come to mind first). Avatar is a serialized action-adventure epic, not the usual fare for the First Kid's Network, and certainly not something you'd expect to get a solid hundred episodes, with 13 more still yet to come!
The fight sequence in the finale was also the best one since, well, the finale in Avatar: The Last Airbender, with all the characters kicking ass in their highest forms. In the extras for the episode, the director refers to it as the biggest action scene in the history of western television.