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Frustrating
The first season of The Legend of Korra is good. Unfortunately, it's that hair-pullingly frustrating sort of “good” that constantly reminds you it had the potential to be so much more. Keep that in mind, as my review is going to sound far more negative than my actual opinion of the show, which is fairly ambivalent.

Throughout the development of the show, the creators talked a big game about how Korra was going to tackle more mature themes and feature a more nuanced conflict. They failed in providing this. Utterly. The problem is, the set up was all there: the people of the city rising up in anger, lead by an extremist of dubious morality. A politician more concerned with milking the conflict for his own benefit than actually helping things. An Avatar who's idea of “problem solving” is “head butt it and throw it through a window”.

And by the end Amon is so clearly evil that the only real “ambiguity” to his defeat is the question of whether it's more surprising he didn't have a handlebar mustache under that mask or that he didn't shout “Curses! Foiled again!” when he was defeated. Tarrlok, who could have been used to raise some really interesting questions about the balance of freedom and security, descends almost immediately into puppy kicking villainy. Korra solves the problem by throwing Amon through a window, though at least she didn't headbutt him.

In the end though, it really comes down to how the Equalists were portrayed. Giving them legitimate problems could deliver a lesson on how, in situations like this, just beating them up is attacking a symptom of the problem, and not the problem itself. Korra could learn one of the first things Tenzin says she needs to, that “being the Avatar is about more than fighting.” Instead, however, they're just a bunch of deluded idiots and hatemongers who deserved everything they got. In the end, instead of Grey And Gray Morality, we end up with Black and White and Black Morality, with Korra standing between Tarrlok and Amon as the shining light to their darkness. Where's the nuance there?

All in all, it's popcorn entertainment. If you don't think about it too hard and don't go in expecting too much, it'll keep you occupied for a few hours. The problem for me is that, as a fan of the original, I came in expecting so much more than this, and was sorely disappointed by it.
Err, regarding Tarrlok, they DID make him sympathetic. And Amon, for that matter. Both of them were victims of their own extreme opinions and the manipulations of others, all of which was laid extremely clear by the end of the series. Not really sure where the handlebar mustaches are coming from if you've seen the show in its entirety, which you have since you saw the final fight with Amon.

I'd also note that it would be strange to expect the sequel to a series where the main character solved all of his problems through ass kickings to suddenly solve the new protagonists problems via diplomacy. Just because Aang didn't kill Ozai doesn't mean he solved it over tea and crumpets. And for that matter, since there is a second series in production, it's hard to suggest that all of the problems have actually been resolved since the underlying problems of the crushing poverty, inequality, and thick, useless bureaucracy. At least no more than it would be to have seen the ending to Season 1 of the last series and assume Aang turning into a vengeful god stopped the entire war.
comment #15208 Rebochan 5th Jul 12
Sympathetic is different than nuanced. Giving the two of them a sob-story background doesn't change the fact that they both almost immediately devolved into puppy kicking, mustache twirling villainy. To me, a "nuanced" story treats both sides of the conflict with respect, which the Equalists were not given a shred of. A nuanced conflict can also be used to raise some interesting and difficult questions, an opportunity they threw away on several occasions, such as with Tarrlok by making him nothing but a jack-booted thug, tragic background or no.

Also, the seasons of Legend of Korra were made to be stand alone arcs. The creators have stated that Amon and the Equalists are done and that new antagonists will be taking over in the second season. Given the ending, it's clear that this season was written with the possibility of being the only season in mind (which I don't think excuses what it did, but that's another discussion), so I don't think it's too much to expect that they would address the major ideas that they themselves raised in their show.
comment #15210 XiVXaV 6th Jul 12
The finale does make it clear that Amon sincerily believed in his rhetoric though.

I do agree they should have made the Equalists more fleshed out, but I do think it's possible to sympathise with them.
comment #15211 Peryton 6th Jul 12
I agree with the points you raised. I enjoyed the show, but as the Equalists became more clearly evil (they drew the line at taking prisoners, to me, though blowing things up indiscriminately should have killed all public support for them), I was annoyed at how the shades of gray had vanished.

Tarlokk being corrupt and wanting control didn't bother me. To me, that made sense. It was Amon being a phony and having his plan revealed, followed by the assumption that the Equalists were done, that annoyed me. I mean, in real life, when people find out their leader is a hypocrite, they tend to get pissed off at the leader but still believe in the cause. I can't imagine most Equalists seeing Amon exposed as a waterbender with a fake, painted-on scar, and think "Well, Amon's a phony, therefore all my complaints are illegitimate and my cause is wrong." Many of them would be more likely to think "He's a traitor! He's just trying to use us for his own ends!" while still being angry at how non-benders are treated by benders, etc.
comment #15212 BonsaiForest 6th Jul 12
@ Peryton

Again though, I don't think that makes the conflict any more nuanced or Amon any less evil. Instead, that would just make him deluded and evil.

At one point, I did sympathize with the Equalists. I was willing to sit and wait, thinking that surely eventually we would be shown that they had legitimate problems, that their extremism didn't arise out of a vacuum, that they were more than just angry hatemongers with a grudge. But we weren't shown that, and so it becomes more and more difficult to sympathize with them due to their extremism, because we don't see anything to justify their actions.

@ Bonsail Forest

I'm not arguing that what Tarrlok did didn't make sense, but that, like so many other things in the show, it could have been used for so much more.
comment #15213 XiVXaV 6th Jul 12
You were expecting too much from an Avatar series.
comment #15214 GrandPrincePaulII 6th Jul 12
Yeah, Tarlokk could definitely have been used for more. When he was exposed as a traitor himself, I thought that at least could have fueled the fire for more anti-bending sentiment, but we didn't see that. Heck, the show really could have used more time showing the culture of the city.

When we see benders and non-benders living in peace underground, it's only a brief glimpse. The self-contained season having only 12 episodes hurts the potential for exploring the world the people live in. It would have been nice to see some of the underground people talking about how life above had gotten so violent that they prefer to live in peace away from the bending/non-bending conflict. Some details like that would have been nice.

Tarlokk expresses anger at Korra telling him that he's no different than Amon. That led me to believe that he wanted genuinely to save the benders from the Equalists, and that he cared about the city, but was simply an extremist. Him being revealed to be evil and the son of a gangster took it into simple "good vs evil" territory. It annoyed me, actually.

It's just that the Amon thing annoys me a hell of a lot more. But you're right, there is wasted potential here.
comment #15215 BonsaiForest 6th Jul 12
@ Grand Prince Paul

Care to elaborate?

@ Bonsai Forest

Agreed. While there was a lot of wasted potential with both of them, Tarrlok was certainly handled better than Amon.
comment #15216 XiVXaV 6th Jul 12
Look back at the previous Avatar series. Did the narrative tried to elaborate why the Fire Nation turned evil except by pointing at Sozin? How many relevant chracters were truly grey-ish or worked for grey-ish fractions and were not just on the way to redemption from a villainous background? The whole finale was about a small group of teens and kids single-handedly saving the world with some elders helping in the background and the main character being saved by Deus Ex Machina from doing something he considered a morally questionable action. Animated Avatar was never that good at portraying the morally ambigious conflicts you wanted. It was foolish to expect that the same creators could pulled that off in a one cour show which also has to re-introduce a very changed setting with many new chracters.
comment #15219 GrandPrincePaulII 6th Jul 12
The original series never advertised itself as such. Really, the plot of the original isn't what made it great anyways, since it wasn't much beyond "Chosen One hero has to save the world from the The Evil Empire." It was a character driven piece that worked very well because the characters worked.

Korra was a more plot driven piece, but here it doesn't work as well because there's nothing spectacular about the plot. It works in a very basic way as a "Bad People who are Wrong must be beat up by the Good People who are Right" plot, but there's nothing to elevate it above and beyond like the original series' characters did. Had there been some real nuance to the narrative, as the creators promised, that could have been what brought it to the heights that it's predecessor achieved. What's so frustrating is that the show constantly hints at some real depth and nuance, but then always gets cold feet and doesn't follow through.

And to me, scenes like the boat scene in the finale shows that Bryke are more than capable of writing powerful and effective scenes. I just think they need a little help when it comes to the little things that can add real depth and nuance. I noticed this in a lot of episodes that they wrote in the original, too. It's like they have a bunch of great ideas for big action set pieces and other major scenes, but they don't know how to effectively string them together. That's why I'm still hopeful for the second season: with more writers on board hopefully they can do the work needed to fill in the gaps that can help build a more nuanced conflict.
comment #15221 XiVXaV 6th Jul 12
If all you got out of this plot was "Bad People who are Wrong must be beat up by the Good People who are Right", I think you completely overlooked the actual nuance of the storyline. It wasn't Shakespearian, but it was a great deal more complex than that.
comment #15223 Rebochan 6th Jul 12
There was no nuance to this story. Amon and Tarrlok were Wrong and Bad and Korra and pals were Right and Good. End of story. No amount of sad back story can change the fact that Amon and Tarrlok were both out and out evil villains. Nor can it change the fact that the Equalists were nothing but hatemongers with a grudge following Amon... because? They were bored that day? Numerous times, the show makes like it's going to show us there's more to this conflict, but every single time it fails to follow through. The show repeatedly shows us directly that the Equalists are evil extremists and that they do Bad Things because they are Bad People (*cough* Hiroshi *cough*). Yet the most we get of the problems supposedly motivating them are vague insinuations at best. In the end all we have is hobo man telling us that everything is really just hunky dory and there wouldn't be any problems between benders and non-benders if it weren't for those Equalists.

Honestly at this point I feel like people are just rationalizing and filling in all the holes with their own speculations. That's far more charitable than I'm willing to be to this show because I expected better than this.
comment #15225 XiVXaV 6th Jul 12
From what I've read, you had too high expectations from the start, and expected them to top your expectations, then was disappointed when they didn't, and couldn't in the first place... so in my opinion, your entire view of the show is highly unrealistic

Seriously. The show started strong, and only got stronger, even if the ending was a bit rushed because of the fear there wouldn't be a second season. And failed on mature themes? Please... they snuck in stuff even mature shows like Family Guy didn't dare touch, like a not-ambigious-at-all murder-suidice, on a KIDS SHOW. and though it can't top that, they had an all-but-stated terrorist attack, again on a kids show.

And nuance? It's clear no matter what we say about that, you'll have an unrealistic view on it, so I'm not bothering... other than saying this show has so much more nuance than you claim.
comment #15227 omegafire17 6th Jul 12
"Amon and Tarrlok were Wrong and Bad and Korra and pals were Right and Good. End of story."

Of course it's not that simplistic. Amon and Tarrlok were both people who had good intentions and let their extremism ruin their ideals. Amon truly believed a world free of bending would be better for everyone and even in his final moments just wanted to create a better world. Tarrlok really thought his iron fisted approach was making a safer Republic City and it wasn't until he suffered defeat that he came to the realization that he'd done the opposite.

The level of villainy you're suggesting implies they tie women to train tracks for fun, which is explicitly not shown. Everything they do feeds into their principles and established moral goals. Tarrlok is so paranoid of the threat of the Equalists that he puts non-benders in prison and simply gives them further motivation to join the Equalists. Amon is so mortified of the potential of bending in ruining lives that he forcefully takes it from everyone.

As for the Equalists, the fact that many of their supporters are only upset at Amon for his deception and not at the actual values of the movement suggests you're drastically oversimplifying their position. The Lieutenant, in his final moments, does not betray his beliefs in the Equalists. He expresses anger at Amon's deception, NOT the ideals he'd represented, and none of the Equalists are shown to instantly switch sides.

Yea, that's nuance. It shouldn't have to be spelled out any further than that for a reason.
comment #15229 Rebochan 6th Jul 12
Ah yes, the "It's really there I just won't tell you" thing. Sure. Whatever you say.

I had high expectations because Korra's predecessor set the bar high, and the big talk of the show's creators moved it even higher. They failed to deliver on their promises. Just sticking in a few more mature moments doesn't make a show "mature". That and murder-suicide isn't a "theme", it's a moment. A moment that if you read my comments you would see that I highly regard and think was one of the best done in either series.

Handling a more mature theme would be having the show seriously analyze the Equalist movement and treat them with some respect, forcing the characters to come to terms with the fact that the people they're fighting aren't just some faceless goons but real people with legitimate problems that won't go away no matter how many faces are punched. A more mature theme would be using Tarrlok's policies to seriously discuss the balance between freedom and security, instead of just having him jump right off the deep end into "clearly wrong" territory. A more mature theme would be looking at the terrorism of the Equalists and investigating what it was that drove them to the point of resorting to such violent acts. There were a million possibilities. The show chose to go for "The Equalists are just hateful bigots".
comment #15230 XiVXaV 6th Jul 12
@ Rebochan

Intent isn't magic. No one wakes up in the morning and says "Gee, I think I'm going to be evil today." The fact that they didn't think that what they were doing was wrong doesn't change the fact that what they were doing was clearly wrong, and the show very clearly wants you to see it this way. Please, try to name a moment in the show where the things they do aren't portrayed as being heinously evil. Try to name a moment where there is even a shred of ambiguity about Korra being right in attacking them.

And I'd like to know where you got this information about how the Equalists feel about Amon. The last we get to see of them is their gawking at Amon waterbending and shouting about how Korra was right all along.

No, it's not nuance. The Equalists were given absolutely no respect. There was never a moment where it was doubted that they needed to be stopped. There was never a moment where the show suggests that maybe they have a point. They are consistently portrayed as being wrong, wrong, wrong. That you have read more into it than is there is your prerogative, but I'm not going to be that charitable.
comment #15231 XiVXaV 6th Jul 12
It still doesn't change the fact that your opinion of what constitutes 'deliver on their promises', along with mature themes, is a bit different. I'm not saying it's wrong, because you're entitled to it... I just think you have the wrong idea.

And I might add, not all the Equalists are bigots. Only Amon really had that attitude, and possibly the Lieutanant... but the fact remains is that most of the Equalists had good reasons; they were just led by a hypocritical bigoted leader. That doesn't make all the Equalists bigots.
comment #15232 omegafire17 6th Jul 12
And never a moment where they might have a point? That's because those moments weren't given to the Equalists... they were given in the background to Korra, along with benders.

Korra targeted the Protester to get info... which is EXACTLY what he claimed was wrong with benders. That and there were multiple bender triads who abused non-benders... which is another good point.
comment #15233 omegafire17 6th Jul 12
And what were those good reasons, exactly? Crime? That's like saying the KKK has a "good reason" for hating minorities because there a lot of minority criminals and gangs. I don't think you'd argue that they aren't bigots because of that, would you?

And an earlier point still stands: why are the Equalist's crimes put right up front and center while the supposed crimes against non-benders are relegated to the background at best? Doesn't that strike you as being more than a bit lopsided? Doesn't the mere fact that "those moments weren't given to the Equalists" demonstrate that they weren't treated with any respect by the narrative?
comment #15234 XiVXaV 6th Jul 12
No, it doesn't. It strikes me as nuance. Why? Because instead of every crime being shown from the Equalist's point-of-view (who we're not supposed to root for anyway), we see why they're saying what they're saying... because of such little things like Korra oppressing the Protestor, the very thing he was promoting to crowds, even if it was for a good reason.

Because of little things like that, it shows that they have a point, they really do. The real issue is that because of their bigoted leader, they went about it the wrong way. The mooks and the Lieutanant went with these acts because of the higher goal... but once the truth was revealed, it all fell apart.

And there are many ways of showing respect. Equal storytelling by a narrative doesn't have to be the only one.
comment #15235 omegafire17 6th Jul 12
They don't have to get the same amount of screen time, just an opportunity to state their case. An episode where we see things from their perspective, maybe. Even Korra and pals witnessing some real oppression. Say that at the beginning, when the Triad members attack the shop keeper, instead of a prompt reaction from the bending police force, they look the other way because who cares about those useless non-benders? So he lost a phonograph, why waste precious police resources on him? Korra going after the protestor doesn't really show this, because we know she isn't a bigot and would gladly do the same to anyone, bender or not.
comment #15236 XiVXaV 6th Jul 12
"Intent isn't magic. No one wakes up in the morning and says "Gee, I think I'm going to be evil today." The fact that they didn't think that what they were doing was wrong doesn't change the fact that what they were doing was clearly wrong, and the show very clearly wants you to see it this way."

You're accusing them of not providing justification or nuance. Intent is extremely relevant to that - the level of villainy you've accused the villains of would suggest they were evil because they loved being evil. In reality, the goals they have are not inherently evil, nor their principles, but more a warning of letting principles become tarnished. Hitoshi Sato was the same way - we have no reason to believe he wasn't a loving father to Asami or an actual good person. However, his grief over the loss of his wife due to the out of control bending crime consumed him until he even gave up his own daughter. He wasn't redeemed and eventually his actions destroyed him, but he's still not an unsympathetic character.

it seems like you wanted people to explicitly say "Equalists aren't really evil", instead of the writers just showing it. You know. Show Dont Tell.

Also, we did see plenty of bender crimes on screen - for goodness sake, Tarrlok's brutal tactics on the Equalists were front and center.

You know, in the real world, terrorism is generally frowned on, but plenty of people with causes that are otherwise sympathetic engage it in it for a number of reasons. We saw that in the series.
comment #15238 Rebochan 6th Jul 12
Justification has nothing to do with intent, nor does nuance. Justification for the Equalist's actions would take showing that the current system was so corrupt and broken that violent action was required to set things right. We don't see this. Nuance would mean that the Equalists are given a fair shake and just as much of a chance as the heroes to give their side of the issue. They aren't. Whether Amon and Tarrlok thought they were doing the right thing has nothing to do with either. Giving your villain a Freudian Excuse doesn't instantly justify his actions or make your show "nuanced".

"it seems like you wanted people to explicitly say "Equalists aren't really evil", instead of the writers just showing it. You know. Show Dont Tell."

No, I wanted them to show me that the situation in Republic City was bad enough to warrant such a massive, violent response from it's people. They didn't do this. Instead we get a handful of vague insinuations that often end up making the non-benders out to be the bigots, as I pointed out with the crime thing. The same is true of "firebender killed my wife, therefore all bending has to go." Or "my father was an evil bender. Therefore all bending has to go." That's not a principle, unless bigotry is now a principle.

And Tarrlok's law comes only after Amon has started his little terrorism campaign. While that doesn't excuse his actions, it means that the law doesn't go anywhere to explain how Amon's movement began in the first place or gained so much steam. Again, the scene with hobo man has the show explicitly telling us that everything is hunky dory so long as those Equalists aren't around causing trouble. So again, where are these problems that supposedly make the Equalists more than just a big hate group?
comment #15240 XiVXaV 6th Jul 12
You think Avatar's fanbase is really capable of handling mature themes?
comment #15241 Regta 6th Jul 12
I think you're confusing "nuance" with something else. It doesn't mean what you think it means, but you're criticizing the show for not having it. People are in fact living in fear from bending criminals, where Tarrlok has decided it's cool to arrest all non-benders because they could be Equalists. It's not one isolated incident, its a preponderance of them.

Also, your "hobo man" scene doesn't come until well after all out war has broken out, so it's kind of making a point that only one small group was cool with it.
comment #15243 Rebochan 6th Jul 12
Regta, considering how the fanbase has reacted from this show, I really don't think they can unless it's spelled out to them in little words.
comment #15244 Rebochan 6th Jul 12
"I think you're confusing "nuance" with something else"

Enlighten me, O Wise and Mighty One, what truly is Nuance?

As you may have noted, I defined it for how I was using it here: giving both sides of the conflict some modicum of respect. I do not believe that this was given to the Equalists. Instead, they were treated as nothing but angry bigots with grudges.

"People are in fact living in fear from bending criminals"

Again, saying that because some criminals are benders therefore all benders are bad people who deserve to have their bending taken is bigotry. After all, I'm sure plenty of racists live in fear of black people or other minorities. It hardly makes the conflict any less black and white to make one side a hate group.

"where Tarrlok has decided it's cool to arrest all non-benders because they could be Equalists"

And if you've been actually reading what I wrote, you'd note that I was just as disappointed with Tarrlok jumping right off the deep end as well. We don't get to see why everyone is so okay with this law (We don't even really get to see if they are). Where are the fearful reactions towards Amon from the public? The outcry? The anger? All we see is Tarrlok and his puppets in the Council passing it along without any dissent outside of Tenzin. This is another place where the show could have benefited greatly by actually delving into the issues it was presenting instead of just skimming over them. Instead, everything just sort of happens, with our main characters in a sort of bubble where all that really matters is what they do and think with absolutely no outside influences on them.

"Regta, considering how the fanbase has reacted from this show, I really don't think they can unless it's spelled out to them in little words."

Yeah, maybe once you've come down off your high horse we can have a real discussion.
comment #15245 XiVXaV 6th Jul 12
"Nuance" would not be the part where you seem to think showing the Equalists as the good guys and the Benders as the bad guys. The Equalists can have sympathic motives without dealing with them effectively. Look at the real world where actual oppressed people finally snap and start resorting to pure terrorism and extremism when pressed hard enough. They don't hug kittens and breathe flowers, they respond to oppression with violence. The Equalists are extremely realistic for a group of people who have been pushed hard enough. That is nuance - showing a sympathetic ideal without necessarily showing the actions taken as the correct ones.
comment #15247 Rebochan 6th Jul 12
The fact that Tarlok was working with Amon takes away from the subtlety from the equalists.
comment #15253 son 7th Jul 12
@Rebochan

Where have I ever said that was what I wanted? Drop the straw men and actually address what I'm saying.

And again, I think you're giving the show too much credit. Really think about it: how do we ever see the Equalists? Not Amon, the Equalists. They're either a faceless angry mob or a bunch of faceless goons standing between Korra and Pals and something they want, and ripe for the beating. Never does the show stop and ponder if maybe they are more than just masked mooks. Never do the characters think about the person under the mask and wonder if maybe they have real problems that won't be solved with a fist to the face. Never does the show doubt that Korra and Pals are absolutely and utterly in the right for attacking them. And when it's all over? All we see of them is their standing around gawking at Amon being a waterbender. That's it. No resolution for them.

So honestly, you can go on seeing all these signs of non-bender oppression that apparently I simply cannot, but when you really think about it, the show itself doesn't care. To it, the Equalists weren't characters, they were nothing but a plot device and an ample supply of mooks to beat up.

All I was asking for was a conflict where one side of the issue wasn't demonized. Where both sides of the fight were treated as human beings. I don't see why this is an unreasonable thing to expect, especially since the very creators of the show claimed that Korra's conflict would be about "differing viewpoints" instead of simply "Good vs. Evil". I still cannot believe that it was anything but "Korra is Good and the Equalists are Bad".
comment #15254 XiVXaV 7th Jul 12
By the end of the season, the tension between the benders and non-benders hasn't moved an inch. All Korra did was stop an uprising and defeat Amon. The problem is actually probably even worse now, as they've already gone into war with each other.

Oh, and then there's Asami's dad, who went from being worried about his daughter to trying to suddenly having no qualms about killing his daughter.
comment #15262 Regta 7th Jul 12
I kinda of understand what they were trying to do with Hiroshi, I just don't think they handled it very well. I'm pretty sure that what they were trying to do was show that he had become so consumed by his hatred for benders that even his own daughter wasn't safe because she was a "traitor". However, it is such a quick turn around from him being worried about her to suddenly wanting to kill her that it almost more comes across as an excuse to remove any sympathy from him for when the big fight between the two comes around.
comment #15263 XiVXaV 7th Jul 12
I mostly agree with this review. What killed it for me was the focus on the love triangle—I felt that made it more immature than mature. There were a few mature themes underneath it all, but overall, they weren't expanded upon. The worst is the issue of privilege that was just so easily dropped. The Equalists did have a legitimate point—there are certain jobs that only benders could perform, such as Mako working at the electricity factory. Yes, these provide for the non-benders as well, but it's also horribly selective. What bothered me was the way this was all swept under the rug after Amon's identity was revealed. It was as if their complaints were no longer valid once he was a waterbender. I didn't want an all-out war to take place in Republic City, but the portrayal of non-bending characters did nothing to help. Asami was rather shallow to start out with, and then she was screwed over by pretty much everyone, including her own father. It just didn't work.

Character development was rather shoddy as well. I don't feel Korra grew believably, and Mako was all over the place in terms of characterization. Bolin was mostly ignored following episode five. Asami's conflict with her father was the most interesting character interaction for me.

I was just... disappointed.
comment #15598 LadyOfTermina 30th Jul 12
I completely agree with this review. One thing that sticks out to me is one of the very first scenes dealt with bending gangsters harassing shopkeepers (presumably nonbenders), and there was also a presentation of Republic City as very flawed.

This portrayal disappears fairly early on, and at the end, I walked away feeling that the "twist" of the show was that there really weren't any problems caused by benders and all blame lies with Amon/the Equalists.
comment #15599 Jordan 30th Jul 12
^

I think that the biggest problem with the Equalists was that Amon was allowed to so completely hog the spotlight while the actual non-benders, y'know, the guys that are supposedly this downtrodden and oppressed underclass, were shoved aside and made nothing more than his henchmen, especially later on. In doing so, I think the actual political themes of the Equalist plot were lost because it had come to focus exclusively on Amon and his Dark And Troubled Past.
comment #15600 XiVXaV 31st Jul 12
That's a good point too. I probably go too far in assuming that the presentation of the Equalists was because of an ideology on the part of the creators. That being said, for better or worse, at the end, it was all about Amon and Tarlock and their pasts, not about the politics that allowed them to gain power (I also have some issues with the degree to which Tarlock was woobified/seemingly had his earlier behavior be placed in an undeservedly favorable light).
comment #15601 Jordan 31st Jul 12
Yeah, I think if this were some intentional, ideological point the creators were trying to make it would have been far more blatant. As it stands, the problems really are only "crimes of omission" if you will. The problems that the non-benders were supposedly facing were mostly weakly established (to the point where some people still argue we weren't even meant to see them as having legitimate problems at all), the actual non-bender Equalists are treated as nothing but stereotypical Saturday Morning Cartoon Henchmen while Amon and Tarrlok hog all the limelight (which means we never really get to see the non-bender's side of the story), and so on. Also, given the honestly quite progressive values that the creators seem to espouse, I don't see them writing some sort of ideological hit piece targeting such a movement.

In the end, I just don't think they were ready to handle such a complex and sensitive issue, and so instead they took the easy route of "The Bad Villain with a Freudian Excuse", and in doing so got so wrapped up in giving Amon a story they forgot to give the Equalists one as well. Because I'm with you on Tarrlok, as well as Amon and the woobification. I really don't like this unfortunately pervasive "Instant Narrative Depth just add Freudian Excuse!" notion.
comment #15605 XiVXaV 31st Jul 12
The thing is that in this case the excuse did

Also, even if they had reasons it was made painfully obvious that the equalizes were violent thugs even in episode 3 "the every war in every era" was something hitler would say. Also Tarlokk's past did make sense. He reacted when Korra compared him because as far as he was concerned SHE WAS COMPARING HIM TO HIS FATHER!!!!!" The very first we hear of yakone is when tarlokk compares him to amon. It also adds genuine tragedy to the situation. He wanted to escape his father's legacy, but in his zeal he became every bit as vile as his old man.
comment #15707 DARTHYAN 7th Aug 12
The thing is that in this case the excuse did

Also, even if they had reasons it was made painfully obvious that the equalizes were violent thugs even in episode 3 "the every war in every era" was something hitler would say. Also Tarlokk's past did make sense. He reacted when Korra compared him because as far as he was concerned SHE WAS COMPARING HIM TO HIS FATHER!!!!!" The very first we hear of yakone is when tarlokk compares him to amon. It also adds genuine tragedy to the situation. He wanted to escape his father's legacy, but in his zeal he became every bit as vile as his old man.
comment #15708 DARTHYAN 7th Aug 12
But as I was saying to Rebo above, giving your villain a sob story background doesn't at all change the fact that this show has a very clearly drawn line in the sand between good and evil, something the show creators said wouldn't happen. Dark And Troubled Past or no, Amon and Tarrlok were still presented as doing nothing but bad bad bad bad bad, to the point where even the show itself has decided the only way they could possibly make the world a better place is to remove themselves from it, where never once are we lead to question whether our heroes are completely and utterly in the right for fighting against them. Tragic? Sure.

And calling the Equalists violent thugs oversells their importance to the narrative. They were nothing but henchmen for Amon. And that's one of the reasons I have a problem with the Freudian Excuse reveal. It's the final step towards completely sidelining the Equalists and their Revolution (which was billed as the story's main conflict). Now it truly serves as nothing but a backdrop for the more personal conflicts going on between (and within) the main characters. There's nothing wrong with wanting to have more personal conflicts in your story instead of dealing with wider political issues, but I was told the wider political issues were what I was going to get, and that's what I signed up for. Instead, I feel like there was a bait and switch pulled on me, and I was left watching the conflict I was really interested in get thrown aside.
comment #15781 XiVXaV 13th Aug 12
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