Because fans should be critical, too

Chapter Four: “The Voice in the Night”

Thank the unseen makers of the universe that DiMartino and Konietzko were not only smart enough to know what the best moment was from “The Revelation” (Amon’s Bending-taking), but were able to capitalize on it wonderfully in “A Voice in the Night.” So horrifying was that reveal that even our hero Korra is scared shitless at the very mention of Amon. It’s a tribute to the excellent storytelling that we unquestionably sympathize with her.

Korra’s newly founded fear—and predictable denial of it—underlines much of the episode. Right from the start, we get an opening nightmare sequence of Korra being ambushed and pinned down by Chi Blockers, and then having her Bending taken away by Amon. The fact that we immediately know it’s just a nightmare doesn’t make it any less effective: the fear is most definitely real.

It also influences her decision not to join Tarrlok’s task force, which was set up to directly go after Amon. This is shocking to everyone, not the least bit to Tenzin: the Korra he knows would have eagerly jumped on the opportunity for instant action, especially law enforced instant action.

How Tarrlok, a ruthless man who didn’t often hear the word “no” growing up, eventually gets Korra to join his task force is rather brilliant. During a party he’s thrown in honor of Korra, he tricks her into speaking to an ambush of press agents, who bully her into accepting the job in the task force by insinuating that she’s a coward if she doesn’t. It’s a sly little scene about how the presence of the press can influence and even manipulate one’s image and decisions, and I completely commend DiMartino and Konietzko for putting it in the episode.

They also do a great job of incorporating the new technology of this time—which has seen great advances in the seventy years since Aang and friends’ story—within the plot. In particular, the radio is used to great effect in two ways: 1) when Amon somehow broadcasts a warning for all Benders to be very afraid; and 2) when Korra challenges Amon to a showdown at midnight on Avatar Aang Memorial Island. Seeing how Amon’s surprise broadcast sent Korra into a state of paralysis, it’s almost funny how she tries to produce the same effect on Amon by calling him a coward if he doesn’t show up to fight her.

Her actual encounter with Amon, on the other hand, is downright scary. In a way, you sort of know that nothing too bad could happen to Korra—the show still has about eight more episodes to go at this point—so the scene kind of loses tension in that respect. (It would be interesting if he did take away her Bending that night, though; what direction would the show have taken then?) That said, his promise not to turn Korra into a “martyr” and to hold off destroying her until the time is right more than makes up for that.

We’re just have to wait and see. But that’s just the main interest of the story.

In the meantime, Mako has likely found a girlfriend in Asami Sato (they met when she hit him with her motorbike). This is good news, because her father is Hiroshi Sato, the incredibly wealthy creator of the Satomobile (probably named so because Latin doesn’t exist in the Avatar universe), and he’s willing to pay for the Fire Ferrets to enter the Pro-Bending Tournament. Groovy!

Well, there are worse ways to meet women…

…but charming the Dad is the best way to secure them.

Oh, and we get to see Lin again, for a second. I want to see more of her.

Speaking of brief appearances, I can’t stress enough what a wonderful presence Tenzin and his entire family are. Hell, his wife Pema doesn’t have a single line in this episode, but she manages to make a great impression with her one appearance. When Tarrlok invites himself to their family dinner and Tenzin has no choice but to be hospitable, the pout she gives him is hilarious. You get the impression that Tenzin has a history of doing this sort of thing way too often.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think it’s great that Korra constantly shows that she feels extremely inadequate as the new Avatar, and how insecure she is about just about everything. Antithetical to the concept of a “strong female character” (that vague and ultimately meaningless label that I hate with a passion)? Absolutely not. On the contrary, it nicely humanizes her and adds tension to the series. Unlike with Aang, I don’t necessarily feel like Korra is “doomed to succeed.” Will her insecurity and fear get in the way when it’s time for action? I can’t be sure, and that’s a good thing (for the audience, that is, not for poor Korra).

If most of this review has just been summary, that’s because there’s not really much going on in this episode beyond the plot. That’s not a criticism so much as an observation. This episode is very tightly written and all things considered, only makes me anxious to see the next episode. How will the setups of this episode being paid off later on? How will Mako’s relationship with Asami affect how Korra obviously feels for him? What is Amon’s evil scheme?

I’m eager to know. And that is the highest compliment I can give the show right now.

All screenshots taken by me.

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