This post originally appeared on The Mary Sue.
“The Stakeout,” more like “THE STEAKOUT,” hahahahahaha I’m hungry.
After last week’s episode, Team Avatar is traveling through a village that I choose to believe is the same one from Zuko’s teen, emo Clint Eastwood episode in search of Aiwei. But someone is in search of them, too: The Earth Queen, who’s still pissed about that thing where Korra ran off with her nascent airbender army. Asami, who’s had like nothing to do for several episodes, points out that maaaaaaybe hanging around in a saloon where the #1 decor element is wanted posters with their faces on them is a bad idea, and they leave.
The group’s next stop on their Great Mahunt Tour of 2014 is Aiwei’s jeep, which Naga managed to sniff out. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU FORGOT THE POLAR BEAR DOG TREATS, KORRA?!
Bolin and Mako decide to check out the nearby settlement while Asami and Korra stay at the car in case Aiwei comes back. Asami yet again proves her value when she digs around in the car and finds a note instructing Aiwei to meet Zaheer and his band of merry bending fundamentalists at a place called Xai Bau’s Grove. If Asami were the Avatar this show would be like two episodes long. The first one would be her handling all the world’s shit, and the second would be her tossing her hair for a full 22 minutes.
Meanwhile, Bolin and Mako have suited up in ponchos and goggles, per in the insistence of Bolin, who has a Sokka-like obsession with secret identities. Sometimes Korra goes a little bit too much into The Force Awakens soft reboot territory for my tastes, honestly. No one can top Wang Fire, so why even try?
Bolin spots what he thinks are a pair of bounty hunters, who lead the brothers on a merry chase that ends with them accidentally finding Aiwei. Mako goes back to update Asami and Korra, and a plan develops: Team Avatar will stake out Aiwei’s hotel until sundown, at which time they’ll follow Aiwei to his rendezvous with Zaheer and spy on their conversation, hopefully gaining some insight into why Zaheer tried to kidnap Korra when she was younger.
Team Avatar learns, as countless people both real and fictional have learned before them, that stakeouts are hella boring. So’s this part of the episode: introducing Asami and Bolin’s Great Pai Sho Rivalry is a little fun, I guess, but the fact that Asami’s better than everyone at everything is nothing new. Oh, and we also learn that the bounty hunters who were chasing Bolin and Mako earlier weren’t bounty hunters at all, but something way worse….
Soon enough, it’s sundown, and Aiwei hasn’t yet left to meet Zaheer. Korra, established queen of subtle, tactical thinking, decides FUCK THIS I’M GONNA GO PUNCH HIM. She busts into Aiwei’s room and sees him meditating, at which point she figures out that Xai Bau’s Grove is in the spirit world, not the physical one.
I assumed throughout this episode that the note in Aiwei’s jeep was planted and the whole thing was a trap for Korra, but that turns out not to be the case. Korra follows Aiwei to his meeting with Zaheer, who’s pissed that Aiwei led the Avatar right to them and drops him into the
Bog of Eternal Stench Fog of Lost Souls.
Zaheer, in an unexpected move, agrees to tell Korra whatever she wants to know – jeez, she could have just sent him an email or something about it, chill. As it turns out, Zaheer and his buds are members of the Red Lotus,
the Tea Party version of a more extreme offshoot of the White Lotus. The White Lotus, argues Zaheer, sold out like giant wusses when they came out of the shadows following the Hundred-Year War. That’s why he tried to kidnap Korra; so he could raise her as a member of their clan. Unalaq was a member of the Red Lotus, too, only he was a glory hog jackass whom no one liked, especially after he pulled a Mariah Carey “I don’t know her” when Zaheer got arrested. The whole “become a Dark Avatar and rule the world with my iron neon fist” thing is pure Dickbag Uncle, but Zaheer does hold with some of Unalaq’s underlying beliefs: Namely, that the portals between the spirit and physical worlds need to be open so there’s complete balance.
All that doesn’t sound too bad—Korra’s already opened the portals, after all, so she agrees with that part—but then Zaheer keeps going on about how Republic City’s President and the Earth Queen need to be overthrown, because “true freedom can only be achieved when oppressive governments are torn down… the natural order is disorder.” So he’s basically the ATLAverse version of R’as al Ghul in Batman Begins… or worse… A LIBERTARIAN.
And I finally get to go full Ackbar
…because the original meet-n-greet between Aiwei and Zaheer might not have been a trap, but the impromptu coffee klatch is; while Zaheer’s evil villain monologuing at Korra, he’s managed to zip part of himself back to the physical world so he can tell his comrades that Team Avatar is holed up in Aiwei’s hotel. Has anyone managed to straight-up be in both realms before? That’s fucking badass. Though Zaheer is Henry Rollins, so I shouldn’t be surprised.
Lava Dude and Water Arms go after Team Avatar and beat the hell out of Mako and Bolin while Asami GTFOs with Korra’s unconscious body. Unfortunately, when Korra wakes up, she and Asami have been captured… but by the Earth Queen’s forces, not Zaheer. Buff Ron Paul isn’t too concerned, though; he has Mako and Bolin as his prisoners, and he knows Korra is captive and en route to Ba Sing Se.
Screencap Gif, Appropriate For When People