This recap originally appeared on The Mary Sue.
The love triangle. It starts.
Last episode‘s reveal about Amon being able to take away someone’s bending has done a number on Korra—she starts this episode with a nightmare about the Equalist honcho, who tells her “after I take away your bending, you will be nothing.” Heyyyy, insecurity/guilt issues. Wonder where she got that?
Meanwhile, Republic City’s council is trying to figure out what to do about the Equalists. Tarrlok, the Northern water tribe representative, wants to create a task force to hunt down Amon, a plan Tenzin vigorously objects to because making non-benders feel more oppressed is probably a short skip away from full-on street warfare, mmkay?
However, Tenzin’s the only one to vote against the plan, and Tarrlok the power-hungry jackass gets his way. Tenzin is proven right in his belief that the task force will only divide benders and non-benders further when Amon hops on a pirate radio broadcast to rile up his followers about this new move against them. Overhearing it, Korra gets even more terrified. We appear to be looking at at PTSD situation.
Tarrlok shows up uninvited at Tenzin’s place during dinner and asks Korra if she’ll join the task force. Despite his schmoozing, she turns him down, which surprises him and Tenzin, who thought Korra would jump at the chance to kick some ass. Korra’s reasoning is that she’s here to learn airbending, not get involved in shenanigans. Tarrlok’s arguments that joining the task force will be educational—it’s basically work study, or an internship! C’moonnnnnn—go unheeded, and he leaves.
He doesn’t stop trying to get her to join the task force, though. First he gives her a fancy fruit basket. Then a car. There’s an adorable scene where Bolin shows up with a gift to thank her for saving him from Amon (it’s tiny compared to what Tarrlok’s been showering her with, but it means more, because he’s not exactly a rich dude, and it’s not like he had to give her anything in the first place) and is like “Who’s this dude Tarrlok? Do I need to TAKE HIM OUT?!” It’s kiiiiinda like Bolin thinks Tarrlok is competition, but at the same time it’s not some manly dudebro pissing contest over a girl. I get more of a friendship vibe from Bolin and Korra than a romantic one, and honestly, I think that’s how Bolin sees their relationship, too. Being flirty is just his… mode. He asks Korra if she wants him to take care of this dude, she says no, and he backs down. She respect her boundaries, unlike Tarrlok, who needs a lesson in “no means no.” I hate him.
Speaking of characters whom I don’t necessarily like all that much… Mako! Though he’s fine here. He’s growing on me. More importantly, this is the episode where we meet Asami, to whom we are introduced when she HITS MAKO WITH HER MOTORCYCLE.
A+ character introduction. Loving it.
Mako has instant hearteyes, and Asami is smooth as hell, parlaying “Whoops I almost ran over a dude” into “Good, so we’re going on a date, then” in about 30 seconds flat. They go to a fancy restaurant, with Asami footing the bill and getting the major domo to dress Mako up in a fancy outfit. Turns out Asami’s dad is Hiroshi Sato, the super-rich and powerful creator of the “Satomobile,” aka… a car? A car. Hiroshi, at the urging of his daughter, agrees to put an end to the Fire Ferret’s financial troubles and sponsor them in the pro-bending championship tournament. This episode could alternatively be called “Mako Gets a Sugar Mama.”
(Full disclaimer: I know that there’s something bad going on with Hiroshi. He’s allied with the Equalists, I guess?)
Tarrlok’s final attempt to get Korra to join his task force involves throwing a gala in her honor. While there, she sees Mako and Bolin, who tell her the good news about them being able to compete in the pro-bending championship. Instead of being thrilled, Korra’s insta-jealous of Asami. Ugh. Can I skip the catfighting and go right to the part where they’re smooching it up in the spirit world? Love triangles: JUST SAY NO.
After a brief interlude where Chief Beifong tells Korra that she’s done nothing to deserve a gala in her honor, JSYK (love her), Tarrlok springs his trap. Said trap takes the form of a sudden press conference, where reporters quiz Korra on why she hasn’t joined the task force. Isn’t the Avatar’s job to take care of things like this? Doesn’t she loves AMURRICA Republic City?
Backed into a corner, Korra agrees to join the damn task force already, FINE. Her first task is to take part in a raid against an underground chi-blocking training camp, which sounds all scary until you realize these people are basically engaging in a somewhat shadier version of Tae Kwon Do. Sure, they’re allied with the Equalists, but there’s nothing illegal about learning chi-blocking. Fuck, if I were a non-bender in Republic City, I’d probably want to learn chi-blocking too! Even if you’re not an Equalist, it seems like a good skill to have in a city where mobsters can throw fire at your face.
TL;DR–take it away, Cap:
Korra, having drunk of the warmonger Kool-Aid, gets really into the whole hunting-down-Amon thing. At a press conference, she challenges him to a duel on Avatar Island. Tenzin tries to talk her out of it–“Korra, we have like seven episodes left before the season finale, there’s no way you’re going to beat him already!”–but she’s determined.
Eventually, Amon does show up… but not alone. He brings an entire squad of Equalist henchmen, who tie Korra up and beat her. It’s shades of Azula in Avatar: “You challenged me to a duel at midnight? Seriously? This is not a Clint fucking Eastwood movie. Why would I agree to that?” In the end, after demonstrating that he could remove her bending without breaking a sweat if he wanted to, he lets her go. If he took her out now, she’d just become a martyr.
Korra gets knocked out and has these odd flashes that I’m sure will prove to be relevant somehow:
After waking up, Korra finally ditches the bravado and opens up to Tenzin, admitting that she’s scared shitless of Amon, and that’s why she didn’t want to join the task force. She feels helpless, she has no clue what she’s supposed to be doing, and (unspoken, but definitely a thing) she feels incredibly insecure about having to live up to the legacy of the great Aang, who himself dealt with his own insecurity issues about feeling like he was letting people down.
And the award for best screencap of the episode goes to: