What is great about the Avatar universe as a whole is it’s ability to take a diversion or flashback episode and make it a very strong story. Take “Old Wounds” for example, it centers on the simple premise of exploring Lin and Suyin’s history and their subsequent falling out, while also giving us a look at who Toph was as a parent. A simple family dynamic that we as viewers have been dying to see explored ever since it was revealed Lin was Toph’s daughter, and for the most part it manages to hit the mark. It answers a lot of questions, manages to humanize every character who is involved, while also still allowing us to go back and revisit how the dynamics changed for Toph and her children. At the same time we managed to gain a rather enjoyable B plot involving Korra and Bolin trying to metalbend, while Zaheer escaped Republic City. This was a pretty full body episode so let’s dive in.
Lin’s backstory with her sister was definitely a fascinating turn of events to see as the writers of Korra chose to due the flashback style most in their wheel house. By focusing on an inciting incident, the events that led to Lin and Suyin’s falling out, we are able to get just enough of an understanding of why Lin is the way she is. All of the great Avatar episodes have this conceit: “The Storm”, “Zuko Alone”, “Out of the Past”. Each one targets one specific piece of our missing timeline and manages to give us just enough rope that we want to see even more of their story. We can understand and sympathize with what Lin has gone through with her sister as Suyin always seems to get all of the breaks whereas Lin is much more rigid. Lin understands and demands that actions have consequences so when we finally see Lin get her chance to break Suyin of her wild habits we are immediately on her side. At her core Lin is a kind and caring sibling whereas Suyin is self centered and focused on only bettering herself.
Of course, everything comes to a head once Toph is forced to have an intervention with her daughters. We have caught quick glimpses at who Toph became after her adventures with Aang, but this is our first real look at her as a parent, and it is safe to say even adult Toph has her faults. Toph forced herself to cover up Suyin’s crimes for many reasons not least of all her love for her child and her the fact that Suyin’s crimes are partially her fault. Lin did not understand Toph’s actions and why she would once again not punish Suyin, but the punishment was hidden in Suyin’s exile. This was indeed the worst possible punishment for Suyin to receive as she basically lost everything: her home, her family, her status. She was allowed to wander for the new family she would eventually discover and in the end Toph’s failure as a parent made Suyin all that much better of one. That is what made these flashbacks so excellent is that they tied so neatly into the current issue of Opal facing off with her mother and going to join the other airbenders.
What was really the highlight of the episode was the amazing fight between Lin and Suyin, as we finally got to see what two children of a member of Team Avatar are able to do. The staging of the fight was beautifully choreographed and it was hilarious to see everyones reactions to the two duking it out. Bolin definitely had a very good understanding of what it takes for siblings to reconcile their differences and after Lin collapsed and slept for sixteen hours all was apparently good. Watching Lin finally have a heart to heart with both Opal and Suyin brought a close to this short interlude in the season and it will be interesting to see how Lin’s relationships with her family progress.
As for Korra we finally we given a somewhat reason as to why she has had such a tumultuous relationship with Lin. The idea of Lin seeing Korra as basically a younger version of Suyin was a really fascinating turn to their relationship. The idea of Korra’s cocky and brash demeanor rubbed Lin the wronged way for a completely valid, albeit selfish reason makes their relationship much more dynamic and it will be interesting to see if Lin treats Korra and Opal as her second chance to get things right. It was also exciting to see both Opal and Bolin getting out of their comfort zones as we learned Bolin has a deep desire to learn to metalbend, but he does not believe he is one of the few rare benders who will be able to do it. Opal, who really did not give off that much of a determined or driven vibe in last weeks episode manages to convince him that he can do anything he puts his mind to, in return Bolin encourages Opal to join the airbenders. It was a very nice moment that helped to play up their budding relationship and just how similar the two characters really are.
Lastly let’s talk about the elephant in the room, what the hell is Zaheer’s plan? We are now more than halfway through the season and Zaheer has literally done nothing other than free his friends and be menacing. Sure, his escape from Republic City was awesome to see, and he somehow magically figured out where Korra. But beyond that we have not the slightest idea what his master plan is, which makes me believe that this may end up being the true big bad of the entire series. It will feel to rushed if this entire plot is finished up in the back half.
Overall it was a very strong episode.
Final Grade B+
+Flashbacks were great
+Lin v Suyin
+Opal and Bolin having each others back
+Fleshing out Lin
-Zaheer has literally done nothing
-Yeah with my giant fear of needles that acupuncture scene was the worst
-I liked Suyin’s son contemplating that his sculpture might now be better after getting wrecked in the fight
-Varrick has a magnet suit, this can only end in humor
-You know they keep saying Zaofu is safe. That means Zaheer is going to destroy the crap out of it.