Legend of Korra Review: Who's the Villain, Again?

Mike Hoffman

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Sep 25, 2013
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Legend of Korra Review: Who's the Villain, Again?

After Korra is captured, Zaheer confronts the Earth Queen. Long live the morally ambiguous antagonists.

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Dreadman75

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I still can't help but smile like a madman when I remember Zaheer offing the Earth Queen. It's odd how I never once thought about airbenders having the power to bend the air out of a person's lungs like that. It makes total sense in hindsight but because most airbenders revere life the way they do I've never once thought of an airbender doing something so...brutal. I mean damn, I hated the Earth Queen (like everyone else I'm sure), but I never thought a Nick show would allow an actual execution to occur in almost full view.
 

Sniper Team 4

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I really need to sit down and watch these episodes online instead of just reading about them. Maybe when there's only one left I'll binge watch the rest of this season.

Zaheer clearly has a point about corrupt leaders, but I don't like him or his gang any more than I like the Earth Queen. As was said in review, they are murderers. Now, the Earth Queen clearly had it coming. But what about the cops back in Republic City inside the vans that got blown up? What about the White Lotus members who got thrown over the railing into a volcano? And while he didn't die, what about the delivery guy who they were holding hostage and ready to run through if he disobeyed? And as is seen in this episode, Zaheer is keeping the others in check. How far would have Ming gone with the radio guy to get her way? Sorry, but I while I understand their cause, I don't like them at all. Same way I felt about Amon.
 

Tanis

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When the title for this episode came out I was thinking...
No, they won't do that...it's a NICK show.

But, then they did.

Earth Queen, Boom Boom man, Jet.
Death comes in many ways.
Zaheer totally reminds me of Henry Rollins.
 

Mike Hoffman

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Tanis said:
Zaheer totally reminds me of Henry Rollins.
I cut a couple sentences out of this review about how awesome a casting decision Henry Rollins was. And he plays the character so well. This episode more than the others left me appreciating his voice work for this character.
 

SilverUchiha

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Perhaps we don't need to view them as straight villains then. Yes, what they're doing, on a fundamental level, is wrong. Yes, removing the Earth Queen is good, but what are the overall costs to that decision? The Earth Kingdom (Ba Sing Se especially) will be thrown into chaos and more lives could be lost in the process. If people follow the Red Lotus, because people trust their judgment having killed the Earth Queen, what's to stop them from becoming power-hungry monsters like her? They've destabalized a region for their own philosophical agenda and we can't expect things to ever correct themselves, least not anytime soon.

That being said, while I strongly disagree with their methods, their message isn't wrong at all. I feel like level headed discussion and reasonable logic from someone like Korra and Tenzin could reach out to them and resolve this peacefully before more lives are taken away. Tenzin would be especially helpful given Zaheer's respect for the Air Nomads and the philosophies they concocted. But this last episode was a nice (dark) surprise and I'm interested to see where things go from here.
 

Saltyk

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This episode really made me appreciate Asami all over again. She was great in this episode.

Zaheer's dealing with the Earth Queen was rather surprising, but I would be lying if I said I missed her. Seriously, the Earth Kingdom does need to do something about their rulers. The Earth Queen was evil, the Earth King before her was naive, and we know Kyoshi had to deal with a previous Earth King herself and even formed the Dai Li.

That being said, I can't say I like the Red Lotus. Their goal seems to be anarchy. Ba Sing Se is a terrible place, but going the opposite direction will likely lead to several people being hurt and killed. Their goal is most acceptable there, but I don't think the Republic City President was a bad person, nor do any other leaders we have met.

Still enjoyed Bolin talking to the members during their trip. I wonder which of Bolin's guesses was wrong...

Dreadman75 said:
I still can't help but smile like a madman when I remember Zaheer offing the Earth Queen. It's odd how I never once thought about airbenders having the power to bend the air out of a person's lungs like that. It makes total sense in hindsight but because most airbenders revere life the way they do I've never once thought of an airbender doing something so...brutal. I mean damn, I hated the Earth Queen (like everyone else I'm sure), but I never thought a Nick show would allow an actual execution to occur in almost full view.
I've actually heard it suggested that it's what Monk Gyatso used against the firebenders that attacked the temple.


That's a lot of firebenders who were powered up by Sozin's Comet.​
 

Tanis

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@Mike Hoffman:
I had to look that up, but Rollins IS the voice actor.
XD
 

Dreadman75

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Saltyk said:
Still enjoyed Bolin talking to the members during their trip. I wonder which of Bolin's guesses was wrong...
Oh god I cracked up at that scene, but then I recoiled when something important finally dawned on me. *ahem* HOLY CRAP MING HUA AND GHAZAN! WHEN DID YOU TWO GROW PERSONALITIES! Seriously, up until that point both he and Ming Hua had probably less than 10 lines of dialogue in every episode they were in. It is nice to know that they have actual human sides, and aren't just the glorified minions.
 

Robot Number V

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So...Am the the only one[footnote]Suck it, people who take shit too literally. I know what I said.[/footnote] who thinks it's a little strange that the show is apparently allowed to show someone being murdered in close-up, explicit detail...But they're not allowed to actually say the words "murder" "death" or "kill"?

Still, awesome episode, awesome season. I'm glad they got over that hump in the second season. But I'm still sad they're probably going to keep getting fucked over by Nickelodeon's incompetence. (Better watch this one on TV because you WON'T FIND IT ONLINE!....Just kidding, now it's only online. Of course, if you watch to watch it on our site, you still need to prove you have a cable provider. You know, so you watch the show that's NOT EVEN ON TV.)
 

CGAdam

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I'm in the camp that thinks they're still Bad Guys. There's a lot more required to fix problems in a country than simply killing the leader, the Red Lotus don't care about that. They're anarchists, pure and simple. They don't care about 'the people', they just don't like they way the world is set up. Going Mad Max or Escape From LA is not the answer. Pure chaos is not more beneficial than a rigid caste structure.

On a meta note, it's sure as hell no accident the writers made the first person to die by the Lotus' actions someone we as an audience were certain to think of as 'evil'. Suppose the opportunity to kill Su Yin had come up during the battle in the metalbender city a few weeks back. If the Lotus had followed their goal of tearing down ALL governments, they'd have killed her. There's no way in HELL we'd be considering them even partially good guys if they'd done that. But, they set up the earth queen as a perfect target for the Lotus to knock down and 'prove/demonstrate' that their ideals are right.

On one level, it's good writing. On another, it annoys the crap outta me for its manipulative nature.
 

WindKnight

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CGAdam said:
I'm in the camp that thinks they're still Bad Guys. There's a lot more required to fix problems in a country than simply killing the leader, the Red Lotus don't care about that. They're anarchists, pure and simple. They don't care about 'the people', they just don't like they way the world is set up. Going Mad Max or Escape From LA is not the answer. Pure chaos is not more beneficial than a rigid caste structure.
Yeah, lets not ignore that was a pretty gruesome and horrific way to kill someoene. I was certainly looking forward to the earth Queen going down, but that was just overkill on Zaheer's part.
 

Scarim Coral

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Wait, am I the only one who think the Earth Queen is still alived, I mean she could had pass out from the suffucation? (Granted I am thinking of that scene from Jojo's Bizzare Adventures episode weeks ago.)

Sure while you may go on at how dark it is which is true but Bolin talking to two of the Red Lotus members crack me up the most!
http://zukoswarriorgirl.tumblr.com/post/94243038210
http://zukoswarriorgirl.tumblr.com/post/94240619149/whatd-you-do-with-all-that-time-didja-sing

A bonus scene from one of the Ming Hua comments
http://level100espurr.tumblr.com/post/94232055108
 

Velvet Green

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When you think about it, what Zaheer does is giving people a chance, even tough his methods are radical. If killing leaders brings chaos, then it is more the people's fault than the red lotus. But, what they have is the chance to choose how they live their life. It could very well bring chaos, new tyrants, or even, if we're optimistic, a state of PEACEFUL anarchy. (for those who may not know, anarchy isn't chaos, but simply the absence of leaders) This would be an intersting subversion, but I doubt a mainstream show would have the courage to show a working society without hierarchy, it would be too dangerous an idea.



By the way, feel the softness of my velvety first post!
 

CGAdam

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Anarchy may not necessarily equal chaos, but he said his goal was "disorder". And simply by both its and our own nature, anarchy as we practice it will never be civil. Especially not in a city that has a pissed off underclass, a scared upper class, a police force and army that just lost its supreme leader, and at least half the citizens have elemental superpowers.

Other than to make sure this season occurred, I've got no idea why they wouldn't have just executed those four the first time around.
 

Mike Hoffman

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CGAdam said:
Other than to make sure this season occurred, I've got no idea why they wouldn't have just executed those four the first time around.
If I remember correctly, the anarchist, societal upheaval part of their vision was never revealed, except to Korra. They were arrested for trying to kidnap the Avatar, but it was stated that they never learned why they tried to take Korra. Mako even said last episode that Zaheer never divulged information after 13 years in prison. So, a few reasons to not execute them.
 

dalek sec

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I'll be honest, for the Queen's death, yes it was brutal but considering how wicked she was she earned that ending and then some.

I agree with Zaheer's group but just killing off leaders isn't going to make the world better, all they did is turn Ba Sing Se into a battleground and the lower class must have the mother of all axes to grind with the upper class. It's going to be bloody brutal work trying to get order back into that city when this whole thing is over, I can only picture the power vacuum happening now since law and order is breaking down in there.

For me personally, there's two quotes that I recalled to sum up Zaheer's group: "Some men just want to watch the world burn." and "Let the galaxy burn!"*. They just want to smash the world down and dance in it's ashes.

*If any can guess what those quotes are from you'll get a cookie. :3
 

Imp_Emissary

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Velvet Green said:
When you think about it, what Zaheer does is giving people a chance, even tough his methods are radical. If killing leaders brings chaos, then it is more the people's fault than the red lotus. But, what they have is the chance to choose how they live their life. It could very well bring chaos, new tyrants, or even, if we're optimistic, a state of PEACEFUL anarchy. (for those who may not know, anarchy isn't chaos, but simply the absence of leaders) This would be an intersting subversion, but I doubt a mainstream show would have the courage to show a working society without hierarchy, it would be too dangerous an idea.



By the way, feel the softness of my velvety first post!
First. Congrats on your first post! ;D

Second. Anarchy is the lack of ANY authority. "a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority." & "absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as a political ideal."

Zaheer hasn't been VERY specific yet what he wants, or how he's going to do it yet, so maybe he won't mind SOME order. However, we do know he doesn't even want there to be any nations around. To get rid of nations you have to do a lot more than kill their leaders. Generally not very positive things too.

Zaheer's plain isn't to make the world peaceful. He's even said such and he plans to do more than just kill leaders. Like inciting riots for example.
CGAdam said:
Anarchy may not necessarily equal chaos, but he said his goal was "disorder". And simply by both its and our own nature, anarchy as we practice it will never be civil. Especially not in a city that has a pissed off underclass, a scared upper class, a police force and army that just lost its supreme leader, and at least half the citizens have elemental superpowers.

Other than to make sure this season occurred, I've got no idea why they wouldn't have just executed those four the first time around.
Well, the only crime they committed at the time (that we and the authorities know about) was trying to kidnap the Avatar, and they were apparently trying to find out why/if anyone else was working with them.
So, they were keeping them alive to find out what they were up to. They failed. Epic fail.;p
 

Imp_Emissary

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dalek sec said:
I'll be honest, for the Queen's death, yes it was brutal but considering how wicked she was she earned that ending and then some.

I agree with Zaheer's group but just killing off leaders isn't going to make the world better, all they did is turn Ba Sing Se into a battleground and the lower class must have the mother of all axes to grind with the upper class. It's going to be bloody brutal work trying to get order back into that city when this whole thing is over, I can only picture the power vacuum happening now since law and order is breaking down in there.

For me personally, there's two quotes that I recalled to sum up Zaheer's group: "Some men just want to watch the world burn." and "Let the galaxy burn!"*. They just want to smash the world down and dance in it's ashes.

*If any can guess what those quotes are from you'll get a cookie. :3
I don't think we can yet judge (completely at least) Zaheer's plan before we know HOW he's going to achieve his goals. Remember, he doesn't just want to kill all leaders. He wants to put an end to all nations too.
We know it has something to do with the Avatar and I'd guess the spirit would too. We'll see eventually.

As for the quotes. First is Alfred from The Dark Knight. Easy.

As for the next one, since I've been having a basic(VERY basic) education on the Marvel universe I'm going to guess, Thanos?

*Googles quote*

Nah, probably not.
Something to do with Warhammer right? Don't really know much about that. :/

Anyway, I wouldn't say Zaheer is driven by his love of destruction to do this. He just really seems to believe that this will be the best thing for the world. A bit nihilistic, but he seems at least sincere in his believes. If he was just in it for killing people, he probably wouldn't have held back Ming Hua from hurting that one guy.