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REVIEW: Legend of Korra 3×09 “The Stakeout”

Written by Scott Swartz

Ok, so we just need to make a golden rule that anywhere a bad event happened to Aang something shitty will happen to Korra. Case in point, “The Stakeout,” which brought us back to another familiar location from the original series, the Misty Palms Oasis. Yes, our favorite heroine had tracked the traitorous Aiwei to the familiar locale and that is where everything began to go wrong. Zaheer revealed himself in the spirit world to Korra in order to finally reveal some details about the history of the Red Lotus and what their goals appear to be. While Zaheer and Korra met in the spirit world, the rest of the team was forced to defend the immobile Korra from being captured by Ghazan and Ming-Hua. The episode ends with the members of team Avatar separated and captured by the Red Lotus and the Earth Kingdom. In all honesty this was a tale of two episodes with the first half being rather light and enjoyable, while the back half finally gave us the meat of the story which we had been desiring. So let’s dive in.

So let’s start off with all of the big revelations about Zaheer and the Red Lotus which we are given. One of my biggest problems with this season has been the fact that Zaheer’s motive has been relatively unknown, to the point where he just appeared to be an intimidating presence for a much larger foe. Now we know who that foe truly is and what part of their motivation in attempting to capture Korra is. I can’t say I was shocked to find out that the Red Lotus is really a radical arm of the White Lotus, but I was surprised to see just how deep this story seems to go. The revelation about Unalaq being a member of the Red Lotus brought some new wrinkles to Season 2 and managed to re-cement just how untrustworthy Korra’s Uncle really was. The idea of Zaheer and the Fearsome Four being teachers to Korra and the idea that Korra agrees with their motives slightly helps to demonstrate that if things had gone slightly differently Korra would have been an entirely different type of Avatar.

What helped to make this scene excel was watching Zaheer almost make Korra turn to the Red Lotus’ side. Korra at her core does not agree with the way the world has been run during her lifetime and the majority of the authority figures she has had interactions with, like Raiko and the Earth Queen have been major d-bags. Korra can see that the system is flawed and that perhaps the best way to build a better world is to alter the current one. Zaheer loses her however on the idea that the “unworthy” leaders need to be killed and replaced with more suitable figure heads like the free thinking Suyin. Although Zaheer does not explicitly state Suyin as an example of their philosophy, everything we have seen up to this point seems to point to the fact of Suyin being a member and possibly a head of the Red Lotus. I really wanted Korra to fall into the hands of the Red Lotus at the end of the episode, just so we could finally find out what they want to do to her, but with Korra and Asami being captured by the Earth Queen, Zaheer can now possibly literally kill two birds with one stone.

While all of this big info dump was going on we were once again treated to an amazing display of fight choreography between Mako and Bolin as they squared off against Ghazan and Ming-Hua. I really want to continue to commend the animators at Studio Mir for really reaching in terms of fight staging and the angles at which the fights are shown. Just the shot of Ghazan jumping over Bolin’s wall and turning it to lava was worth the price of admission, but add in Mako slow-mo slicing the water in mid jump and you have made me a happy man. If there is one thing to be said about Korra as a series, it is that it’s fight choreography as well as the scope of all of the battles are far and away better that a lot of the material we got in the original series. Granted, the technology has evolved to make these scenes more epic in scope, but that does not detract from the sheer majesty of it all.

Despite how great the entire second half of “The Stakeout” was the entire first half felt really out of place when you put it in context. Yes, I realize Korra is “a kids show,” but the change in tone was rather jarring for me as we went from happy fun obsessive Bolin stalker to all of the big reveals. The only bit of humor that worked for me was the Pai-Sho game between Asami and Bolin as we have not really seen the two paired up as much this season, but their humor has always managed to shine through. This not to say the show should not be funny, but rather that the humor should have been more wired around the story rather than shoved into the front end full ham.

Now we move into the final phase of the season and I am betting we can expect Zaheer and the other members of the Red Lotus to come out of hiding in force.

 

Final Grade B

 

+Zaheer revealing the history of the Red Lotus

+Fight scene at the motel

+Pai-Showdown

 

-The two tones of the episode did not mesh overly well

-Still no idea what Korra has to do with Zaheer’s plan

 

Extra Thoughts

-Naga hitting Korra in the face with her tail for not having treats was probably funnier than it should have been

-Nice call back to Asami’s father, I would love for him to turn up again he was a fun villain.

-I can’t be the only one wondering why Zuko has not come to aid Korra. If he comes back soon we should get a more than valuable info dump.

About the author

Scott Swartz