“You think your power is limited. I say it’s limitless” – Zaheer
A word of warning: Spoilers!
I came to see Toph, and all I got was this
crappy freaking awesome wonderful episode, and ZAHEER
This was, in my opinion, one of the strongest episodes of the season. Book 4 of Korra has been a more contemplative, thoughtful season, and, although so so compelling, it hasn’t evoked the same exhilaration as the last books, particularly the brilliant Book 3, has evoked, although because of the journey Korra has been on, this hasn’t been what the book has been demanded. And the latest episode, Beyond the Wilds,’ is a wonderful culmination/sort of ending for Korra’s heartbreak.
The episode kicks off with
Napoleon Dynamite Ryu, the twenty something airbender slacker from last season, trying to do his new job as an air nomad tour guide in the spirit wilds. I love little glimpses into the world of Avatar and its citizens. Of course there would be people who aren’t quite clear about the whole spirit world thing, and ask things like, ‘are we in the spirit world now?’ It also plays to the idea of characters acting as the audience. Things take a dramatic turn when the Spirit Vines start acting up and takes (swipes? kidnaps?) the visitors. This is followed by unease from Jinorra, who is sensing spiritual imbalance, and a call to Korra, whom, after using her new found skill of being able to see people through spirit vines, (I think? Correct if I’m wrong) that Kuvira is harvesting spirit vines in the swamp for a weapon.
Another thing I enjoyed was an insight into international diplomacy. Raiko is all set to prepare for battle, Tenzin, being the leader of the pacifist air nomads, wants no part in a pre emptive strike, and Fire Izumi (!) says that she won’t drag the fire nation into another pointless war, which is a very good callback to the fact that this is very much the same world that Aang inhibited and that the consequences of that generations long war still linger, both for the Fire Nation and the other nations.
The stand out storyline, however, was the reuniting of Zaheer and Korra. Korra, after realising that she needs to face the culmination of all her fears, Zaheer, to be able to access the spirit world. I wasn’t sure whether wasn’t sure whether we would see Zaheer again, despite him not being dead, just imprisoned, but I am so glad we did. It was cool to see the amount of security that surrounded him – it gave off that ‘one huge prison, one prisoner,’ vibe, found in movies like Kung Fu Panda. What was so interesting about their interaction was that it wasn’t necessarily seeing Zaheer and confronting her fear in order to overcome it that Korra needed. It was actually the wisdom that Zaheer bestowed onto her – the fact that what he did to her happened, and she shouldn’t, couldn’t fight that – that would just make things worse, and reaffirm the things that Korra now thinks about herself – that she is weak, that she is a burden, that she is no longer needed. What was much more important, and the missing piece to her healing that was needed all this time, was that she needed to accept this. Zaheer knows that the poison was supposed to kill her, but the fact that she released herself from platinum chains and fought back with everything she had shows that she is a force of nature. It was also interesting that they evoked the logistics of this, when Zaheer told Korra that she needed to let what happened to her play out in her mind. It evokes, at least for me, how to recover from human traumas that scores of people, particularly women, face every single day.
So the episode ended with Korra being reunited with Ravva, and finding the people who were taken by the spirit vines at the beginning of the episode. It is a hopeful ending for Korra, and, as things, circumstantially are about to hit the fan, (Kuvira, a contrite lovestruck Bolin, Opal and Lin facing a family rescue mission in Zhafou) I’m hoping that Korra’s internal journey only continues it’s uphill stride.