Because fans should be critical, too

Quick Impressions of “Reunion”

Starting with “Battle of Zaofu” and continuing with “Reunion,” The Legend of Korra is rapidly turning into The Varrick and Bolin Show. Having escaped Kuvira’s clutches, the two goofballs now have a single objective: get to Republic City and warn the officials of Kuvira’s plot. Their subplot clearly lacks the narrative and thematic complexity of the main story, and that turns out to be its greatest asset. Instead of careening through obvious dialogue and contrived emotionality, the characters and their situation are allowed to breathe and develop in interesting and hilarious ways. It helps immensely that voice actors P.J. Byrne (Bolin) and John Michael Higgins (Varrick), two natural comic actors, are consistently getting material worthy of their talents. The same goes for the animators, who haven’t been allowed this much visual comedy since Book One. If the adventures of Varrick and Bolin seize after this episode, I’ll gladly cherish what we’ve been given.

I can’t say the same for the main story, which reunites Korra with Mako and Asami after three years. They’re accompanied by Prince Wu, who has become more tolerable, though still unfunny (that said, his attempt to join in on the group hug in the end was adorable). I think it’s the voice actor that’s letting him down. Perhaps a young Christopher McDonald could have pulled off the sleaziness required of Prince Wu, but not Sunil Malhotra.

The exciting train sequence notwithstanding, the main story felt flat and perfunctory, especially compared to the Varrick and Bolin antics. Much of the characters’ interactions reeked of melodrama and bad action serials, especially in the absolute need to spell out everything with dialogue (the most egregious example being the “just like old times” prattle near the end). It’s quite amazing how poorly the episode portrays their alleged friendship (meanwhile, the bond between Varrick and Bolin gets stronger by the minute).

Aw, well. At least this episode has yet another great cliffhanger. What will become of the great swamp? Will it all be plowed away, or will we get a sequence of Toph Bei Fong fighting against (and likely losing to) the unstoppable onslaught of fascist industrialism? We’ll just have to wait and find out.

What did you all think of this episode?


7 responses

  1. I’m actually really curious as to how the Red Lotus will become relevant again. I mean there was a mention that they’re still out there, and they sure won’t want a ruler like Kuvira. I just have a feeling that she’ll become a target or something.

    November 14, 2014 at 2:40 pm

  2. tox

    I actually really enjoyed this one. I think I agree with you on the “main” storyline/ reunion of Asami, Mako, and Korra, but I still found their scenes to be enjoyable. The train sequence was fun, Wu had a couple of funny moments, and it was well-paced, if a tad melodramatic. There was some obvious dialogue in the reunion, but there were also moments when it felt like a real friendship. I also liked the Korra moments; it’s small things like connecting to the roots that make her feel like a fully-fledged Avatar (though I do wish they didn’t have to point it out explicitly).

    As with the previous episode, the Bolin/ Varrick sequences were delightful. It’s neat to see how much better Bolin has gotten at bending working under Kuvira and to see him get legitimate opportunities to use lava, and Varrick creating an EMP was a clever turn of events I should have seen coming but didn’t. Finally, Kuvira using the Swamp was a really clever way of bringing the story full-circle without being contrived. I can’t imagine Toph is going to be very happy, and I’m curious to see what her role is going to be heading forwards.

    All in all, I’d say this was one of the stronger episodes of the season.

    November 14, 2014 at 3:03 pm

  3. daciio

    I agree with almost everything you said. Bolin, Varrick and those fire and waterbenders were the only ones who managed to turn this thing into an overall decent episode to watch.

    Man, I’ve never really cared about Varrick, but this chapter made me feel more attached to his character.

    Regarding Toph, I doubt we’ll ever see her again. Yeah, she lives in the Swamp, but it was heavily implied that she doesn’t care nor wants to get involved in world affairs anymore.

    And tbh, if she does appear later on in the series, it’d be a poor decision made by the writers. I appreciate that they brought her back in episodes 2, 3 and 4, but if she makes even more appearances in the show, I’d really just see it as absurd fanservice. This is not the Gaang’s story anymore. We’ve moved on from that.

    November 14, 2014 at 3:44 pm

  4. Clander

    Yes this one was much more entertaining then the last.

    I also enjoy Varrick and Bolin’s exploits. I really like Varrick as a character and even though I’m not wild about Bolin, I consider it a good thing that he is there to bounce of Varrick and vise versa.

    I also agree with your take on the three friends feeling the need to spell out what emotional state they are/were in for the episode was entirely unnecessary. I was rolling my eyes because the conversation felt so contrived. Though I did kind of enjoy how the three of them would get into little tiffs every now and then. It feels like a good way to remind us that these characters aren’t just supposed to be so one note and have some genuine emotions. To me the best example of this is when Asami bit Korra’s head off for what she said about her father. It really cements the idea that Asami is very controlling about what others are allowed to say and think about her father, other than herself of course. I like this because it’s consistent with her character. Back in book one she got very upset that anyone would accuse her father of wrongdoing; even if they had justifiable cause. Then after he was caught, Asami would say some harsh things about her father. This just serves to show me that Asami is one of the better characters in the show and that she does have quite a bit of depth to her.

    Then again maybe I’m reading too much into it

    November 14, 2014 at 6:49 pm

  5. JMR

    Whatever the overall quality of the episode, I think it was definitely the right decision to give us a few moments away from Kuvira. While we still see plenty of her machinations about, I’m pretty sure this is the first episode so far where Kuvira only has a minor role. It’s nice to get a chance to get away from the main plot and allow things to breathe a little bit.

    The only thing is I’ve never been entirely able to buy the friendship of this “new Team Avatar”, especially here without Bolin around to be genuinely, y’know, friendly. I know that groups of friends feud and snipe at each other all the time, but the speed with which these three start into taking shots at one another after just meeting again after three years makes me question how genuine that friendship is. It’s not even any sort of friendly ribbing, its serious anger. I blame the love triangle from Season 1 for damaging doing so much damage to these relationships before they had really even had a chance to form.

    November 14, 2014 at 7:35 pm

  6. rosemon

    Considering how much time this season has spent in the swamp, it is interesting how there have been no swamp-benders so far.

    November 14, 2014 at 8:45 pm

  7. ChaosJumper

    Isn’t this kind of a pattern with L.O.K.? With all the character’s ability to interact or express their characters, it feels like a very well done show but with Korra we are still in this restriction of Back-to-the-basics development. This Book, it’s Bolin and Verrick, last season it was Zehere. Even when Korra has PSD, her plot fails in comparison to the comic relief!

    Like I said on the last Quick-thought; Varrick and Bolin together was the first thing in the list. Anything with Korra either falls flat or doesn’t have the gravity it should have because her character isn’t as well rounded. We have a personality, we have a good voice actress, we have a major inner-conflict and we’re on the last of 4 Books. When all of this is behind the main character and her plot isn’t as good as the Goofball character’s, that’s not a good sign.

    November 14, 2014 at 11:08 pm

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