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Headscratchers / The Legend Of Korra Tarrlok

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Headscratchers pertaining to Tarrlok of The Legend of Korra. Return to the index for more.

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     Why are there two water tribe representatives as opposed to one for all other nations? 
  • Because there's two water tribes—the Southern Water Tribe and the Northern Water Tribe.
     Where did Tarrlok learn to bloodbend? 
Katara was the only one who knew the technique, and she would never have passed it on like that; if she taught anyone at all, it would be Korra, and I doubt that she did. (Also, Tarrlok is from the Northern tribe, so he probably wouldn't have learned it from her anyway.) From what Korra said, it's not completely unheard of, just very rare; again, Katara certainly wouldn't have spread it around. Did someone else just develop it on their own in the interim?

  • The first bloodbender, Hama, was imprisoned by the Fire Nation and she invented bloodbending because she was desperate for power, which she needed to escape the prison. We already saw Tarrlok's ambition for power, so it'd really make sense if he were to practice bloodbending on his own because he wanted the power.
  • That, and Yakone is implied to be a bloodbender, so the art was defenitely not lost.
  • Maybe, one day in some pub in Republic city, one of Hama's victims told the story about how some freaky waterbender made him move around like a puppet. Someone overheard it and decided to try it out. I think it's one of those things where if you know it's possible, you can find a way to do it.
    • Going off this, Hama herself says "Congratulations, you're a bloodbender" right in front of a decent-sized group of people, so it's not unreasonable to think they went out and spread the story.
  • Maybe the Ember Island Players uncovered Hama's story during their 'research' and worked it into their play. Once Bloodbending became common knowledge, any Waterbender with sufficient power could have independently developed the technique.
  • Why not? The fundamental principle behind it is pretty simple. All it takes is for someone to observe that the human body is about 75% water and a villainous streak of insight to realize that it could be possible to bend a person's nerves and muscles by bending the water in them. More than one person could have figured that out. I mean it's not just the Japanese who made cool swords. The rest is all a lot of training. Eventually the bloodbender would become so powerful that they might not need the full moon at all. With even more skill they could bend even with their hands and feet tied (like King Bumi). Use a bicycle long enough and you can ride without using your hands.
  • Also the Crescent Moon symbol on Yakhone's shirt is the same as the moon shown in the sky when Tarrlok drives Korra away. It's likely that Tarrlok is Yakone's son and he could have learnt it from him.
    • Confirmed as of "Out Of The Past."
  • It's implied that the public (or the higher ups of Republic City) have fair knowledge of Bloodbending existance because Yukone's trial scene explicitly mentions it's outlawed.

    So... Why did Tarrlok do exactly what the Equalists wanted? 
Lets go try to simplify what the Equalists believe: The Equalists believe benders hold a dictatorship like control over non-benders, therefore they must cripple them of their power, thus creating equality.

Ok, fine, I can roll with that, they have at least some basis to go on in this argument, after all the Triple Threat Triad are a gang of benders. However, we never see the actual power structure (Be it the Metal Bending Police force or the assumed entirely bender city council) actually do anything repressive or what have you, until Tarrlok grabs the Idiot Ball with both hands and initiates his Police state in 'When Extremes Meet'.

He sets up a curfew for non-benders, he takes out their electricity and attempts a mass deportation when the rightfully angry innocent citizens want answers... Exactly what Amon said those 'evil' benders do... Yet who is doing this is TARRLOK! The Head of the Anti-Equalist Task Force! He is just playing into Amon's hands.

This honestly made me believe that Tarrlok and Amon were working together, before that was proved bitterly otherwise.

  • Tarrlok underestimated Amon and the Equalists, he thought that once he used the panic they were causing to gain complete control of the city he'd be able to root out and crush them and any other resistance without much trouble.

     So, why doesn't Tarrlok just...kill everyone? 
It sounds like a stupid question, but by the time the mid-point of episode nine rolls around, his secret's out, he's a wanted man, he has nothing left to lose, and he bloodbends virtually the entire extended Team Avatar right then and there, so...why not? Why not take it a little farther? He had the opportunity. He had the motive. Hell, since no one else knew he could bloodbend, it's a crime that almost covers itself right up. For that matter, I don't know why he didn't kill Korra when he got back to her little prison. Killing the Avatar is never the ideal solution, since they reincarnate, but that at least grants you a good 12-16 years of security while the new Avatar grows up. Basically, killing would seem perfectly in-character, and there just doesn't seem to be a good reason it didn't happen except for "It's a kids' show" and "There would be no plot."
  • I figured he kept Korra alive as a hostage just in case. He even says so just before he meets Amon. Also, as seen in the flash back, killing people take a lot more time then just knocking them out, time which he could use to make his escape.
    • Keeping Korra as his hostage to start a new life was his backup plan as seen in the following episode.
  • If you payed attention during Korra's flashback to Aang's battle with Yakone, it explains why. Yakone, who is arguably far more powerful than Tarrlok since he doesn't even need his hands to bloodbend, was visibly exerting a huge amount of effort to kill Aang via bloodbending, and it was a very slow process as well, giving Aang enough time to go into the Avatar state. Tarrlok simply doesn't have the skill or time to kill off every single witness, and even then he'd have a very hard time covering it up.
  • Bloodbending seems to involve a great deal of strain in general. Even knocking them out took a great deal of time and effort. If he takes the time to kill them he risks someone else entering the room, quite possibly a person more dangerous than his secretary.
  • In addition, despite being quite the Jerkass, Tarrlok wasn't really portrayed as someone that would want to indiscriminately kill people. He wasn't THAT evil.

     Why Tarrlok and not Amon? 
OK. So Aang is trying to communicate with Korra. Due to Korra's spiritual problems, he is not able to flat out talk to her, only show her disjointed visions. So why focus on Tarrlok instead of the far more threatening Amon? Granted, Tarrlok is dangerous and they needed him out of power as soon as possible. But Amon is obviously the bigger threat, having the big army, and the truckload of evidence that he has energybending powers and a connection to the Spirit World. So why focus on Tarrlok instead of getting Korra intel on Amon?
  • Its entirely possible he has no intel on Amon.
  • What if the visions Aang showed her weren't just about Tarrlok? What if Aang was trying to warn her about Amon, too, because Amon's also a bloodbender? I mean, Amon just stepped right through Tarrlok's bloodbending. In "The Puppetmaster," Katara was able to stop Hama bloodbending her because she also had that ability.
    • The preview for the season finale implies that this is right on the money.
  • I certainly hope that there's more to it, because otherwise, it would be quite disappointing for a variety of reasons: first and foremost, the warning was ineffectual. Second, the Tarrlok storyline is pretty much over, unless Amon didn't actually take his bending. Third, Tarrlok, while scary and creepy, wasn't the actual threat in this story. Fourth, it would seem like a weird attempt at shoehorning the Gaang in. The flashbacks served exactly no purpose. Korra still hasn't actually communicated with Aang, she still hasn't airbended, and the flashbacks didn't reveal anything to her that only Aang could have known and she didn't learn a lesson from it either.
    • The flashbacks were intended as a warning about Tarrlok, but due to lack of spiritual side, she received the hint too late. But considering the Avatar's past lives are always with them, it's probably not the last time we'll see them. As for why the warning was about Tarrlok, and not Amon, Aang died without ever having known Amon at all, but he knew Yakone had a son at some point (they had to be keeping an eye on him after he took away his bending). So while he couldn't advise Korra about Amon, not knowing him much, he COULD about Tarrlok.
      • That's the problem though. Even if she had received it earlier, how would it have helped her? Without Tarrlok bloodbending her, she probably wouldn't have guessed that he's Yakone's son. She would have known what Tenzin probably could have told her too. Anyway, because someone brought it up below, I hope attention will be drawn to the fact that Aang and Amon take bending away differently. Because other than the person debended, who except Aang witnessed the debending? Now Korra knows and can get suspicious about it.
    • Were the flashbacks all about Tarrlok? The most important part of the scene I noticed was the juxtaposition of the council members and the act of energy bending in the past and present. The flashbacks give perspective to both new viewers who've never seen the original series and Korra herself who needs to learn to look at problems more complexly, which she's already started by standing up for the innocent non-benders.
    • From a more out-of-universe perspective, the flashbacks also served to flesh out the backstory of the current episode. It wouldn't have been very satisfying to learn "Tarrlok can break the rules and bloodbend without a full moon because his dad taught him how" without actually seeing his dad in action.

    Why didn't Tarrlok bend the snow? 
  • I can understand needing to focus on bloodbending the rest of the chi blockers, but when facing Amon couldn't Tarrlok have bent the surrounding snow into the cabin and used that against him? I'm sure it's not impossible to bend snow with enough force to break glass.
    • He was probably confident enough in his bloodbending abilities. When it didn't work against Amon, he didn't react fast enough out of surprise/shock/fright.
      • Pretty much. Plus, Amon moves really fast and there wasn't much room. By the time he could think to shift strategies, Amon would be up in his face.
    • Is it even possible to bend both blood and other water at the same time? Been a while since I saw the Puppetmaster and I don't remember Katara or Hama from A:TLA bloodbending and waterbending at once. If Tarrlok still needed to bloodbend the other Equalists to prevent them attacking maybe he couldn't bend the snow.
  • Honestly, a better question is why he didn't try to bloodbend the other Equalists into Amon. Though again, he was taken completely off guard and had to deal with a master of close-combat fighting at close range.
  • Forgot About His Powers strikes again!

     Why didn't Tarrlok use the bloodbent Equalists guards to stop Amon when Amon resists the bloodbending? 
Think back to "The Puppetmaster." Hama made Aang and Sokka attack each other using bloodbending. Tarrlok could have done a similar thing against Amon using his own Equalist bodyguards. My guess is that he was just too surprised to react quickly.
  • Surprised and terrified, definitely. But even if Tarrlok had done that, Amon probably would have had no trouble sidestepping them and getting to Tarrlok. One second is all he'd need.
    • In light of "Skeletons in the Closet", even if Tarrlok had tried to use the bloodbent Equalists to restrain Amon, he still would have overpowered Tarrlok by canceling out his blood bending.

     Why did Tarrlok blow up the boat? 
They were both fleeing, and after failing Noatok truly felt regret. He said Tarrlok was the only thing he had left, and was looking forward to starting a brand new life. Tarrlok responds to this by... blowing up the boat they were on. What? His brother has decided to turn over a brand new leaf and Tarrlok decides to kill him, along with himself? How does that even begin to make sense?
  • They're well known, wanted criminals who can no longer bear to use their only defense against being recaptured. Imagine them being confronted by the White Lotus. Noatok would bloodbend them, he would have to, and the emotional strain of that would either drive him to suicide or result in Tarrlok killing him (which would leave Tarrlok nothing to live for). Suicide also kills off their father's dangerous genetic legacy which secures one real victory for the Equalist cause.
  • It's Tarrlok's first chance to collect his thoughts and have a My God, What Have I Done? moment. They have both done monstrous things, violated all of their principles, and gained nothing for it. Suicide is a tradition response.
  • Who said Noatak was planning to turn over a new leaf? Start a new life, sure. But even doing that didn't stop their father from trying to take revenge. Tarrlok just wanted it to end.
    • Notice how Tarrlok takes awhile to look at both the gloves and Noatak. This could be interpreted as him simply forming the plan... or it could be him realizing that, since Noatak still had the Equalist weapons, he hadn't really changed. And then he decides to end it all.
      • In addition, Noatak had manipulated all of Republic City. Tarrlok had one chance to stop his brother, and had very little reason to trust him. When would he get a chance to stop Noatak again? Given how powerful he was, maybe never, so killing him then and there was the only chance.
  • Tarrlok commits suicide because he sees his entire life as a dead end and is deeply depressed. Remember, just a couple of weeks ago at most, he was the most powerful man in Republic City, a respected member of the City Council. In that time he was called out by Korra, publicly exposed as a bloodbender and Yakone's son, had his bending taken away, and realized that the terrorist who's been attacking Republic City is actually his own brother. Given all that, it doesn't seem surprising that he might decide to end his painful family legacy once and for all. Keep in mind that Tarrlok described himself as someone who isn't afraid to go to extremes.
  • I don't think i have much to add to this discussion, but i had a small problem with that scene for a different, but related reason. When i saw him eyeing the glove, i thought he was going to KO Amon and take him back to Republic City so he could try and play it off like he was a hero (I hope that wouldn't work, given all he's done, but that's the kind of weaselly thing i'd expect from him). And, actually, if he played it off right and kept his connections in politics, he might have succeeded in at least absolving him of responsibility for his actions against Korra and Council. That would've been entirely in-character and solidified him as the coldest son of a bitch to ever be animated. So yeah, forget killing himself, why didn't he do that?
    • Because no prison could ever hold either of them. Korra's energybending at the end was set way later. At that moment, the fact was that Tarrlok and his brother were downright unstoppable, and Tarrlok knew it. It was only going down one way.
    • Character Development
    • ^ This. One of the main points of the flashback to his and Amon's childhood was that both of them hated their father for what he put them through, but ultimately ended up doing exactly what he wanted. Their father taught them bloodbending so that they could take revenge on the city and the Avatar. They thought they were rebelling against him, with Tarrlok becoming a councilman and Amon starting a crusade against all benders, but they end up attacking the people of the city and the Avatar using bloodbending, just like their father had planned. Tarrlok even lost his bending and then was going to escape to start a new life, exactly what happened to his father. It's pretty clear that Tarrlok realizes all this and decides he just wants it all to be over.
  • He's probably quite familiar with how Yakone's trial went down- either from Yakone's own account or Republic City's archives. Noatok sounded just like Yakone fleeing the courthouse. I submit that he thought that it wasn't over until Noatok was dead, and the only means he had available to kill him was blowing up the boat- even if he survived the explosion he'd be miles from land, and even a master bloodbender would drown under those circumstances.
  • Amon shed a single tear about two seconds before Tarrlock blew up the boat. He may have been in on it too. They both knew it was all wishful thinking, and Amon might have known what Tarrlok was about to do (he'd have figured out that no one else could have leaked his secret). For all his hatred of bending, Noatok couldn't escape the fact that he was a bender himself, and could only become Amon and get his dream with the very bloodbending he loathed.
    • Noatok sheds a single tear when he hears his real name, suggesting just how much he hated being Amon at that point and how he also knew they could never go back to those happy times when Noatok Used to Be a Sweet Kid. Both of them had ruined their lives by crossing the Moral Event Horizon. So when he said he was planning to start a new life, he meant ending the old one literally.
  • Because Redemption Equals Death.

     Why did nobody see through Tarrlok's little "Equalists kidnapped Korra" lie? 
There was a huge crater on the floor of the main hall, half the floor in his office got ripped apart, an entire wall was askew, rock debris everywhere... Equalists can't do that. Even their mechas would have left different marks on the building. Further, he knocked himself out with an Equalist glove while wearing it. He had no guarantee he'd wake up in time to get it off!
  • Korra can do all that, and Tarrlok's explanation was that they had fought the Equalists. Korra most definitely wouldn't care about some collateral damage if she was about to get captured. The bigger question in all this is why Tarrlok himself wouldn't have been captured right along with the Avatar, but he kept everyone too busy to ask that crucial question until much later.
  • I figured Tarrlok was able to hold onto consciousness long enough to yank the glove off and toss it away after shocking himself.

    Tarrlok and the Police 

  • Why would Tarrlok, a councilman, be involved in leading a police operation?
    • The Avatar world is still, to a large extent, a place where Authority Equals Asskicking and Asskicking Equals Authority. Most of the nations associate power with ability to lead, and given this is a world where the leaders and heirs to thrones are on the front lines at war, this sort of thing is just accepted.


Example of: