Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Legend of Korra: The Terror Within (3x08)

Great episode! Nice action!

We're back in Zaofu, as Korra and Bolin continue to learn Metal Bending, and Opal leaves for the Air Temple. In the night, Zaheer and his comrades try to kidnap Korra! The combined efforts of Bolin, Mako, Lin, Suyin, and the rest of the guards are enough to rescue Korra, but only barely. They determine that it must have been an inside job, and try to learn who could have helped the criminals. Aiwei, Suyin's adviser who can sense lies, questions the guards and says that one guard is guilty. However, the kids are not convinced. When Mako, Bolin, Asami, and Korra investigate, they find out that Aiwei was the guilty party.

Lin demands that Korra come back to Republic City, where she can be better protected. Suyin agrees that this is best, but then later helps Korra and her friends to get away without Lin's knowledge. They want to folow Aiwei and get to the bottom of this business with Zaheer once and for all.

This was a really succinct summary, and part of that is because the episode was so well-focused, and spent such a long time on action scenes that there really isn't a lot of detailed plot, or subplot, to account for. I really don't have a lot to complain about, though...

The one thing I'll say is this: I think it's time that Asami found a purpose again. I really like her character, and she's one of the very few non-benders in this entire show. However, unlike Sokka from ATLA, who had a lot of character development and real importance to the plot, Asami has been fairly useless all season. I really hope we can give her something to do soon!

Oh, and I should mention Varrick. I really do love Varrick from last season, but in this one, he just keeps popping up for an occasional joke. I hope that they're building to something with him... otherwise it feels very strange and pointless, like they just brought the character back because he got a positive fan reaction. I hope that's not the case.

But then there are the good things about this episode.

First of all: hot damn that was an impressive fight sequence. You have Zaheer and gang taking Korra, then Bolin, Mako, et al trying to rescue her... all the effects, all the cool and creative ways to use Metal, Fire, Earth, Water, Air, and Combustion Bending!

Another highlight in this episode is Mako's character. This season, he's been much less annoying than in the past two seasons, but he hasn't had all that much to do. This episode showed his character off at his best. He was supportive of his brother, encouraging Bolin and congratulating him for his great Earth Bending skills in knocking out the Combustion Bender, P'Li. He was using his detective skills to figure out the truth about Aiwei, and he was communicating with the other characters in order to come to the correct conclusion. He even had a few moments of great humor!

I also like the fact that Lin and Suyin aren't suddenly getting along perfectly. Even after last week, where they agreed to try and move on from the past, they can't just be instantly better. Their relationship will take time to heal and grow. We didn't get a lot of that here, but we can see the continued distrust and unease between them, even if they have turned over a new page.

I could keep going, but I'll leave it there. I was very impressed with the focus of this episode, and its impressive action and great character development!

8.5/10

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Suits: Litt the Hell Up (4x06)

I'm seriously so angry right now. At so many different people. It's annoying. Grrr. Rachel why. Jessica why. MIKE. WHY?!

Let us do a plot summary before I start yelling at these fictional characters on my blog which barely anybody reads anyway but whatever. I am angry.

So. I'm going to keep the plot summary brief. This show can be confusing sometimes, with a lot of important specific details. I apologize if this is a bit more vague than I typically do for this show.

Logan Sanders gets brought into the SEC, and is told about the stock that the firm bought. Because of this, now they really can't give the stock back to Logan, because it will definitely look like parking. Jessica goes to Malone and asks him to double-check that the firm isn't in a vulnerable position after buying the stock. Malone doesn't want to double-check is work, so Jessica asks Louis to do it. Louis finds a loophole meaning that Pearson Specter never technically bought the stock to begin with, so they can get rid of it and get rid of their vulnerability, too. 

Meanwhile, Rachel and Logan share a passionate kiss, when Rachel goes over to his apartment, ostensibly to tell him to back down. She tells Donna, and Donna says that she can't tell Mike.

Mike has all the leverage in the case, because Sidwell (who apparently still doesn't know that Mike is cutting him out) now has enough money, via Forstman, to force Logan to back down. Rachel - wanting to get rid of Logan once and for all - suggests that Mike use his leverage to make Harvey give up Logan as a client. Mike says that not only will Gillis Industries belong to him, but Harvey will drop Logan as a client and take Mike back. Even though Harvey insists that he could represent them both, Mike says no, and forces Harvey to choose, on the spot. Harvey chooses Mike.

However, things go wrong. Louis, who had gotten rid of the stock just as Jessica asked him to, actually makes things really unfortunate for Harvey. He had been trying to go over Mike's head and go straight to Forstman. When he gets there, turns out Forstman has bought the Gillis Industries stock from Pearson Specter. Harvey didn't even know it was being sold. He yells at Louis for messing things up. It looks like Mike and Sidwell have won the case, since Forstman has the money.

Then another twist occurs - Louis, after being yelled at by Harvey for selling the stock, goes straight to Forstman. Louis appeals to their common rivalry with Harvey, and gets Forstman to turn the stock over to Pearson Specter, thus insuring their victory in the case.

Sidwell then finds out - from Forstman, the bastard, - that Mike was planning on cutting him out. Mike lost this giant case, and also planned on stabbing his partner in the back. Sidwell fires Mike.

There were some other details in there, but those are the important bits, I think. Let's start with the things that are bugging me about this.

Louis. Why the hell do they keep recycling the same plot line for Louis all the time? He just wants to be Harvey's friend, but he makes a mistake, and then Harvey hates him. And then Louis does something good, and Harvey instantly forgives him. Again and again. You know what annoyed me about it in this episode? It was all Jessica's fault! No, really, think about it! Yeah, she told Louis to check in with Harvey before ditching the stock, but she also was the one who told Louis to come up with a plan to begin with, and she never checked in with Harvey about it, just like she never checked in with him about buying it in the first place! And both times, it screwed things up for Harvey. Jessica is the one who's making things difficult, here.

Also, Katrina was in this one. Pointless as ever. I don't want to hate her, but she just serves no purpose! The same can be said about Amy. From what I can tell, she was basically just there to be a sounding board with Mike, so he'd have someone in the work place to react off of. That's a fine reason to introduce a new character, but she was just watered-down Donna, as I've said before, and seemed to have nothing specific or unique about her whatsoever.

And then let's talk about Rachel. Did she seriously kiss Logan? What?! Why?! Here's what's bothering me about this: last week, we had this moment of insight where it suddenly became clear that Rachel has some deep-seated problems in her relationship with Mike, due to Mike being a fraud. That's actually an interesting setup for the love triangle. In this episode, Rachel just can't resist her intense attraction to Logan. That's so stupid! In order for that to be believable, we needed to see the strain in Mike and Rachel's relationship a lot more clearly. We need to believe that Rachel's unfaithful thoughts an actions are a symptom of a deeper problem in her current relationship. But we haven't established that, so when she kisses Logan, it seems to come out of nowhere!

So... yeah, there were problems with this episode. But actually, the successful moments more than make up for it. Let's talk about some of those.

Forstman is a real asshole. I mean, they were building that up, but wow. They did a really good job of keeping me on my toes - I honestly didn't know who was going to get the upper hand in this case. Was Mike going to win? Logan? And then Forstman gets the stocks, and you think it's all over, and that Mike has become victorious. But then, it's all twisted around once more. This was some good creative script writing. I didn't know what to expect.

Even though I don't like that Rachel kissed Logan, I am enjoying watching her trying to handle it. She manipulated Mike into manipulating Harvey, and it blew the entire thing up in her face. Donna is the one to remind her that she can't be letting her personal life interfere with her professional one. I liked the scenes between them very much.

Of course we must take a moment to squeal over the fact that Harvey chose Mike over Logan. I mean, think about it. At the moment, Harvey knows that Logan has a bunch of projects lined up, and he knows nothing about Mike's future. The information he has would indicate that Logan is a better client. On top of that, Mike is the one being a total jerk in this scenario, throwing a fit and issuing out ultimatums. And yet still, Harvey chooses Mike.

You can just tell that Harvey is desperate for things to go back to normal - he says as much. And then, because of Mike (who's only acting because Rachel pushed him into it), the entire thing blows up, and Harvey is once again in a position where he has to go against Mike. He's so frustrated about it all. I really want to see Harvey's reaction when he finds out Mike got fired.

It's not something I normally mention, but the music in this episode was particularly awesome. Suits always does a great job of picking good moments to accompany with music, and they always have a great song selection. I really noticed that this week.

There's one other thing I need to mention: we set up this little plot element where Cahill was accusing Mike and Harvey of colluding. Did that just... go away? I mean, now that Mike's not even working for Sidwell anymore, Cahill won't be able to make that case, will he? I'm not necessarily listing this under pros or cons, because I'm just not sure where it's going... hm. We'll have to wait and see.

Can't wait for next time!

7.5/10

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Legend of Korra: Original Airbenders (3x07)

Jumping straight in to the plot.

We finally get to see what's been happening at the Northern Air Temple. Tenzin finds teaching quite difficult, as nobody seems interested in all of the Air Bending legends and techniques. He decides to change strategies, drilling everyone very intensely, just like Bumi told him to do. However, this also backfires, as people are tired of working so hard and want to leave.

Kai keeps skipping out on Air Bending lessons to hang out with Jinora. The two of them find a herd of Sky Bison, and play with the babies. A group of poachers, who are rounding up Air Benders to bring back to Ba Sing Se, find Jinora and Kai and kidnap them. Jinora uses her connection with the Spirits to contact Bumi's Spirit friend, thus alerting the Air Benders to Kai and Jinora's fate. The Air Benders, led by Bumi, go to rescue the kids.

Tenzin sees that the Air Benders are all sticking together after all, which is great. However, he's still fed up with teaching them, and tells Jinora she can help train. Jinora asks if she can have her Air Bending tattoos now, since she is a master, and Tenzin says he'll consider it.

This is probably the weakest of all the episodes we've had this season. However, considering we're at the halfway point already, and this is the only episode that hasn't been extremely strong, I'm okay with it. Not much happened to further the main plot here, and while filler episodes are fine in principle, this one wasn't very strong in my opinion.

The idea of Tenzin being boring and not being a very good teacher... it was just too predictable. I feel like we already covered that when we saw Tenzin and Korra training together.

The poachers didn't seem to pose much of a real threat, since we didn't know anything about them and it wasn't really quite clear what they were doing there in the first place. Jinora's Spirit connection doesn't seem to have set rules... I'm never totally clear on how far she can push her powers, or why her connection is so strong. Also, I wish we could have known that she wanted the Air Bending tattoos earlier, so this could be more a buildup. As it was, I had no idea she wanted them, so it didn't feel like much of a victory when Tenzin said he'd think about it.

But even if this episode isn't as good as the rest of the season, I still think it's a marked improvement over almost anything we got in Season Two. 

I liked seeing the Sky Bison again. I liked being reminded about Air Bending culture. I liked Jinora standing up for herself to ask for what she wanted. I still really like Kai's character.

The best part of the episode was Bumi's character, however. He hasn't had a lot to do this season, even after the exciting revelation that he's an Air Bender. But now we see that his military training makes him a great leader, and that even if he's a goofball, he can be serious when the situation calls for it. I loved the moment between Tenzin and Bumi, when Bumi admitted that even though he was Aang's son, he didn't feel like part of the Air Nation until now. How sweet.

Another highlight of the episode was the conversation between Pema and Tenzin. Pema says that when she went to become an Air Acolyte, she was excited to become part of the culture, but she still needed time to adjust. She knows how these new Air Benders feel, and she gives Tenzin good advice about how to train them. Pema isn't a big part of this show, but her presence in this quiet moment with her husband was very nice.

I missed Korra, Mako, and Bolin this time around, along with Lin, Opal, etc. We did see Korra and Bolin briefly, talking over the radio to the Air Temple. Still, I can't wait to see them again next week!

So... yeah. Not my favorite episode of the season, but certainly not bad.

7.5/10

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Legend of Korra: Old Wounds (3x06)

Another Lin Beifong episode! Yay! Let's be quick about it.

Korra starts to learn Metal Bending from Suyin*, and Bolin wants to learn too. He's nervous about asking Suyin for help, since he's embarrassed that he hasn't been able to Metal Bend his whole life, despite the fact that Toph has been his hero for many years. In the end, Opal and Bolin talk. Bolin admits that he's afraid, and Opal says that she is, too. She wants to go to the Air Temple to train with Tenzin, but she's afraid of disappointing her family. Finally, they both face their fears. Opal gets ready to go to the Temple, and Bolin starts training with Suyin.

The bulk of the episode focuses on Lin. She goes to get acupuncture to help relax from her stress, and doing so unlocks some old memories. She remembers being a police chief in Republic City, and having to confront her sister, who got involved with criminals. Turns out, Suyin is the one who gave Lin the scar on her face. When Toph finds out that Lin tried to arrest Suyin for her behavior, she insists that she can't have a daughter in jail. She sends Suyin away to cover up what happened.

In the present, Lin finally confronts Suyin about what happened all those years ago. Suyin says that she and Toph have already talked about it and moved on, and that Lin is the one still holding on to the past. The two of them get into a big fight, which Opal finally breaks up using Air Bending. The two sisters talk, and agree that they can try to amend their relationship, although they will need to take it slow.

We also check in with the villains, as Zaheer and his gang leave Republic City and continue to try and track Korra. Zaheer apparently knows that Korra is with the Metal Benders, and will be coming after her.

Complaints?

I feel like I'm a broken record, here. I just don't really have anything bad to say! I mean, I'm still curious as to why there aren't more Spirits just wandering around the world, but I feel like maybe they're saving that for next season. Which I'm totally cool with, by the way. In all honesty, I think they're smart to be focusing in like this, and not spreading the season too thin. I think that was one of the problems they had last season.

The good stuff?

While the villains weren't in there much, they still seem properly menacing. I really, really, want to know what Zaheer's deal is, and I'm excited that they aren't telling us his motive right away. It's much more interesting to keep us in the dark, at least for a bit!

Bolin had some character development! He's mostly just comic relief, but in this episode we see the continuing development of Bolin and Opal, and we see that he has goals and dreams. I was happy to see him want something, and work to get it. I hope that we keep seeing this, and that it wasn't just a one-episode occurrence.

Of course, Lin was the main focus. I'm really, really, intrigued by what we saw in the flashbacks. I think it's pretty clear that Suyin was out of control, and in that sense, it seems like Lin was the one always in the right. But yet we see that Lin has a different failing: Suyin has moved on and changed, while Lin won't let go. I think it's an interesting character study, for both of these sisters.

Also, you have no idea how much I squealed when Toph showed up. She was only there briefly, but I think even her development in this episode was nicely done. Trying to reconcile this serious, morally ambiguous Toph with the Toph we knew as a kid is sort of difficult, but at the same time, I can see how this would happen to her, given the pressures of being the Police Chief.

That Earth/Metal Bending fight between the two sisters was epic. I'm really impressed with the animation and creativity of that fight. So, so, cool. Also, the sickest burn in this whole episode was definitely when Suyin brought up Lin's relationship with Tenzin. Ouch!

Alright, I'll leave it there. What an interesting, strong episode!

9/10

* In my previous review, I wrote her name as Su Yin. I have now seen it spelled as one word, but I'm not sure which is canonically correct... I'll try to figure that out.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Suits: Pound of Flesh (4x05)

Waaaaaaaahhhh Harveyyyy whyyy are you so adorabllllle. I'm a mess. This episode was adorable in about forty million different ways. Unfortunately, there were a few big elements of it that I wish could have been different. Even so, this is a vast improvement over last week, and I'm really hyped for next week.

The plot:

Rachel is overworked and stressed, between law school and working for Harvey. Mike tries to convince her to take some time off. When she asks Harvey for a few days off, he bites her head off, and she continues to struggle on.

Meanwhile, this Sean Cahill guy is causing more trouble. Harvey tries to confront him about his plan to attack the firm, and Cahill decides to change tactics, and go after Harvey specifically. Jessica is worried about this, but Harvey assures her that Cahill hasn't made a move yet.

Mike really doesn't want to cut Sidwell out of the deal he made with Forstman. He decides to use the idea of Forstman's money to get Harvey and Logan to back down. Harvey calls Mike's bluff, however. At this point, Mike and Harvey both try and buy extra Gillis Industries stock from Wexler, using rather... sketchy means to do so, since Harvey technically isn't allowed to buy anything on Logan's behalf at the moment. The two of them are going to have to go head to head in a bidding war. Whoever can buy the extra stock will have the leverage for the takeover. To make Mike feel even worse about the possibility of cutting Sidwell out, Sidwell actually tells Mike he's doing a great job.

At this point, Mike learns from Amy that Rachel is in the hospital. He rushes there, to see that Harvey is already there. Harvey tells Mike that Rachel is fine, just overworked and dehydrated. She's sedated so she can get some sleep. Harvey and Mike go out to dinner across the street, after Harvey gives Mike his word that they can postpone the bidding war for a later date. The two of them actually have a nice dinner together, and they clear the air over what they've both had to do recently, reaffirming their friendship and respect for one another.

As they exit the restaurant, Cahill comes up to him, revealing that he was following Harvey. He says that it looks suspicious that Harvey and Mike were at dinner together, considering that they are on opposite sides of a takeover. Cahill also knows about the bidding war, and tells the two men that Pearson Specter has already purchased the stock. Mike is furious with Harvey for lying to him, but Harvey promises that he didn't know this was going to happen - it must have been Jessica. Harvey promises Mike he'll make it right.

Harvey tells Jessica that he promised Mike to wait before going after the stock, but Jessica says that their responsibility is to Logan, not Mike. However, Harvey does tell Jessica that since Cahill knows about the bidding, they can't give the stock back to Logan, and they'll have to keep the stock, effectively keeping Harvey's deal with Mike. Jessica, however, refuses to budge. She doesn't care what it means for Mike.

Harvey goes to tell Mike what happened. He asks about Rachel first, and Mike assures him that Rachel is fine, and getting more rest. Mike says he never should have trusted Harvey, and Harvey responds that this entire thing is his own fault. He should have believed in Mike when Mike first came to him with his plans for Gillis Industries. Harvey says that he doesn't have many regrets, but he does regret what's happened between them, and he wants Mike to know that.

The subplot is about Donna and Louis' friendship. Donna is about to be in The Merchant of Venice, but she doesn't have her lines memorized. She asks Louis for help, and learns that Louis has all of Shakespeare's plays memorized. Donna goes on and pursues her dream of acting, but Shylock gets injured after the show, meaning the next two nights of the play are cancelled. Unless... Louis is very hesitant, but eventually Donna convinces him to go onstage. He does, and thus conquers his stage fright. Donna later reveals that Shylock was never hurt, and she just wanted to help Louis accomplish something, because of how bad things had been going for him lately.

Mike goes to Forstman and says he doesn't want to take his money, having decided not to screw over Sidwell. Forstman then reveals that he went to Sidwell and had him take the money, anyway. Mike now has what he wants, and he didn't have to stab anyone in the back to get it!

In the end, Harvey shows up to take Donna to her closing night, giving her flowers and declaring himself a "Donna fan." Aww.

Wow, that was a very long plot summary. I think it was sort of important to get down all the details of this, because I have some rather... complicated feelings about some of it.

Let's start with some issues I have... although they're not exactly flaws in the episode, more like... moments where I felt like a lot of potential was lost.

So, in the promo leading up to this episode, we see that Rachel ends up in the hospital. And while this event does certainly lead to plenty of drama, it's mostly drama about Mike and Harvey's relationship. It's almost like Rachel was solely used as a plot device, here. She did have a few moments of actual development, but it was mostly about her being tired, and about her dodging messages from Logan. While we got to see that she's overworked and stressed, it mostly felt like Rachel was a pawn here, being positioned so that Mike and Harvey could have their bromantic dinner date. Not that I mind the bromance, of course, but I wish Rachel's role in this story could have felt a bit more important.

Further cementing that idea of Rachel as a pawn, did you notice that nobody even bothered telling Donna, or Rachel's family, about the incident? I know it was just a little dehydration and exhaustion, but when a close friend/family member is rushed to the hospital, generally people tend to get involved. Here, we see Mike rushing worriedly to the hospital, we see Harvey already there, and then the two of them go off to dinner, and the more important plot comes along to sweep our attention away from Rachel's fate. The fact that she's fine, and goes home to get more rest, is practically a footnote.

That brings me to Donna. It annoyed me that she didn't know about Rachel's scare, considering how close these two used to be. But beyond that, it felt like Donna and Louis' plot was completely isolated from the A-plot of the episode. So much so that you could take their scenes and plop them in virtually anywhere, in any season of this show, and it would work just fine. And while I'm okay with a plot line that focuses just on Donna and Louis, it was disconcerting to see how little these two characters mattered to the A-plot.

Then there's Jeff Malone. His role in this episode felt very confusing, as if he was squished in here just so he'd have something to do. His relationship to the firm, and to Harvey specifically, is sort of confusing to me. It seems like there's some animosity between them, but it's a bit passionless, because there's no real justification for it.

We also continue to have hints about this Logan/Rachel business, but I wish that we could see something to justify Rachel's potentially unfaithful attitude. As such, the love triangle thing hasn't yet grabbed my full attention. I want to be invested in Rachel's difficulties regarding Logan, but I don't feel that way.

Now let's talk about the good stuff, because while what I just said above is true, there is one important exception to a few of the complaints I had above:

Rachel's dream. I think this was one of the strongest parts of this episode, as well as one of the strongest moments of character development Rachel has ever had on this whole show. That dream, where Logan proposes to her but Rachel says he's a fraud, and then Logan turns into Mike - wow. Suddenly I realize that Rachel's feelings about Mike's situation are a lot more complex than any of us knew. Couple this dream with the line Mike had earlier, about "Harvey let me skip law school," and I think we're planting the seeds for some interesting complications in their relationship. Now this is the type of love triangle-esque thing that has potential. If Rachel's wavering loyalty to Mike is clearly a symptom of some real problem between the two of them, and not just because she's attracted to Logan, then I see real value in this setup. However, we'll have to see if they continue going with that.

In the Louis and Donna plot, I think we got a lot of valuable insight into Donna's character, in particular. It still annoys me that the plot connected so little to anything in the A-plot, but I still think there's some good stuff here. We got to see a more vulnerable side to Donna, which isn't something that happens very often. I liked the fact that she used her weakness to bring strength to someone else, because it seems like such a Donna-ish thing to do. Louis also got over an old fear, which was a nice thing to see. He's been down so often this season that it was nice, just like Donna said, to see him win one.

Not much to say about Jessica in this episode, but I do like that we're reminded how much of a hard ass she is. She's bent the rules for Mike in the past, but she won't do so now, just for the sake of Harvey and Mike's friendship. Her loyalty is to her firm, and she's possibly the only person who can stop Harvey in his tracks. It was a nice moment to remind us that Jessica can be rather morally ambiguous, too. She's not necessarily all that good of a person, and sometimes neither is Harvey.

But let's talk about Harvey, now, shall we? And Mike. For all of the problems that I listed above, this was also by far the most bromantic episode of Suits that we've had in a long time - the only one that compares is probably the one where they get high together after Mike's grandmother died. This episode was full of moments that prove how much these two people care about each other.

First of all, we have the fact that Harvey felt guilty for being mean to Rachel, but ultimately his goal in coming to the hospital was to make sure that Mike was okay. And then Harvey says he's sorry for not taking Mike out to dinner like he said he wanted to when Mike first left the firm. Harvey is basically saying - I was upset that you were gone, and I said I'd make an effort to maintain our friendship, but I didn't do a good job with that.

Both Harvey and Mike talk about what they've had to do over the past few weeks, and they acknowledge and forgive one another for some of the harsher moves they've been forced to make. Even as the professional battle between them gets more heated, we see here that both men have a vested interest in trying to maintain their personal friendship. And they're at dinner for two hours! Aww!

And then there's that look of betrayal on Mike's face when Cahill tells them that Pearson Specter bought the shares... noooo. And you can just see Harvey's panic as he asks Mike to trust him, like he used to trust him. Harvey wants to fix this so bad.

The last scene between the two of them was the real kicker, though. Mike has, in the past, been the more compassionate friend between the two of them. In this season, and in particular in this episode, Harvey is being a much better friend to Mike than Mike is being to Harvey. Harvey tries to explain to Mike that he's sorry. He says that he doesn't regret much, but he does regret what's happened between them. He's not saying that to convince Mike to back down, he's not saying it to cover his own ass... he's saying it because he cares about Mike. This episode perfectly continues the trend that's been going on this season. We see Harvey struggling with the fact that he has to fight against Mike. We see him make several sincere, personal statements to Mike that make it clear that he values their friendship. Mike is the one who is pulling away and making morally ambiguous choices. I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

I could keep talking. This episode had a lot of good, but a fair amount of bad as well. If I were judging on the Mike/Harvey bromance alone, I'd give it high marks. But overall, I feel like things got a bit disconnected, in particular with regards to Donna and Louis' plot, Jeff's role in events, and even Rachel's role.

7/10

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Legend of Korra: The Metal Clan (3x05)

Okay. Real quick.

Korra and the gang travel to Zao Fu, a city made of metal, founded by Toph. When there, they meet the city's leader, Su Yin, who turns out to be Lin Beifong's half sister. Su Yin's daughter, Opal, has just become an Air Bender.

Opal starts learning about Air Bending from Korra, but the rift between the two sisters seems impenetrable. Apparently, they both fought for their mother's attentions, but Toph wasn't really pleased with how either of them turned out. We also learn, excitingly, that Toph may still be alive. She went away to travel the world many years ago, and has not returned.

Bolin and Opal begin a flirtation. When Bolin tries to turn on the charm, Opal tells him to stop, and just act like himself instead.

Meanwhile, Pema, Kya, Meelo and Ikki are receiving more Air Benders in Republic City. One of these Air Benders turns out to be Zaheer in disguise. As the other Air Benders go off to the Air Temple to join Tenzin and the others, Kya recognizes Zaheer, due to his superior Bending style. The two of them fight, but Zaheer is able to escape.

Complaints?

God, I don't know. This was a very solid episode, and I enjoyed it immensely.

After so long without Lin being deeply involved, I'm really, really glad to see her more. She was actually pretty cruel in this episode, not only to her sister (possibly justified) but to her niece, Opal, as well. It was sort of shocking to see her yell at Opal like that, when the girl had plainly done nothing to deserve it, but it also made me really curious, and really excited, to learn more about Lin's back story.

We're now being told that Toph wasn't a very good mother, and that Lin and Su Yin didn't even know their fathers. With last season's revelation that Aang played favorites with his kids, it's interesting to me that Toph wasn't exactly great at parenting either. Also, I'm really really curious as to the identity of the two fathers. Anyone we know? God, it has to be, doesn't it? Why else would it be a secret?

Also - Toph might be alive! I always assumed that everyone else was dead, other than Zuko and Katara. Obviously I'm excited to see how they bring her back into the story, if they choose to go that route.

Opal is also catching my interest. I think they could do something really fun with her and Bolin, as long as they take more time with the characters than they did with Bolin and Eska's relationship.

And that metal city! Damn! What a cool idea, and a nice extrapolation from the origin of Metal Bending with Toph. The idea that a particular city would embrace Metal Bending is really cool. I would love a flashback episode dealing with how Toph helped to found Zao Fu.

I don't know, you guys, I'm just really excited by everything they're doing with this season. Can't wait for next week!

8.5/10

The Legend of Korra: In Harm's Way (3x04)

I've decided to blog all these double episodes separately, even though they're airing them together, because they really are separate stories. As such, since there are two every week, I promise to keep them brief.

So. Lin arrives in Ba Sing Se to warn Korra about Zaheer and his accomplices, but Korra refuses to go back to Republic City. She wants to stay and keep finding more Air Benders. Lin has to stay to help protect Korra. Bolin and Mako show up to tell Korra that the Earth Queen is capturing Air Benders. Korra and the gang make a plan to free Kai and the others. Jinora goes into her disembodied spirit state and finds Kai, with whom Jinora shares a special connection. With Jinora's information about the Air Benders' location, Korra and the others are able to free them all.

Tenzin offers to take the Air Benders to the Air Temple and teach them about the Air Bending culture. They all accept. Tenzin goes with them, along with Jinora and Kai, to start the training. Korra, Bolin, Mako, and Lin all stay to continue searching for Air Benders.

Zaheer and his friends manage to free P'Li from her prison. They are able to break her out, even with multiple guards, Desna and Eska, Tonraq, Zuko, and a dragon all trying to stop them.

Bad things?

Uhhhh... I do think the whole rescue operation was a bit rushed. They really could have made the liberation of the Air Benders a bigger moment, if they wanted to. This might have been a good double episode concept. It was just a little too easy to free them all, if I'm being picky.

But mostly, I only have good things to say!

I love that Korra has now been kicked out of both Republic City and Ba Sing Se. She's made some powerful enemies recently, which I think is really interesting. It will certainly have consequences...

This Jinora/Kai thing was maybe a bit rushed, but it feels very genuine, and it's very adorable. I loved it when Jinora was in danger from one of the trainers of the Air Benders, and Kai protects her. Very cute.

Tenzin and Korra had a very sweet conversation as they parted ways. I love their relationship, now that they're actually showing each other proper respect.

Lin is here! And it looks like the next episode is pretty Lin-centric. I love her, and I'm excited to see more.

The Bending at the Northern Water Tribe was awesome. So bad ass. Zuko! The twins! Tonraq! P'Li! Zaheer! So much awesomeness. You know what I want now, though? Zuko and Katara. Give it to meeee.

I kept it brief, as promised. I loved it.

9/10