Because fans should be critical, too

Quick Impressions on “Beyond the Wilds”

Let’s start with the good news.

The good news is that the final four episodes of The Legend of Korra will be on television! There’s a slight compromise here–they’ll be on Nicktoons instead of the official Nickelodeon channel–but don’t let that cloud the issue. Korra is back on the televised grid, and that’s cause enough for celebration.

The bad news has to do with “Beyond the Wilds.”

The problems I have with this episode have been addressed in one way or another in previous reviews, and to address these now, with four more episodes to go in the series, would be unseemly. And let’s face it: after the horrors of “Remembrances,” the series can’t possibly sink any lower than that. As such, I’ll try to refrain from nipping at poor formal choices unless something truly egregious happens.

So for now, I’ll just discuss what’s good about “Beyond the Wilds.” And there is plenty.

For one thing, the reunion of Korra and Zaheer came as a complete surprise, yet made perfect sense within the logic of the story. Even more remarkable is that it is he who is responsible for helping Korra out of her spiritual block, thanks to their shared goal of ending Kuvira’s reign of power. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but seeing Korra finally get back into the Spirit World after all this time was actually cathartic. I haven’t been this happy for Korra in a long time.

Actually, I’ve never been happy for Korra before. Guys, I think this girl is starting to grow on me! (And only four more episodes to go? How cruel!)

Meanwhile, Varrick and Bolin have made it to Republic City and gone their separate ways. The dynamic duo may have split, but at least they’re still very funny (if John Michael Higgins and P.J. Byrne had a podcast, I’d listen in, no matter the subject matter).

All-in-all, a good episode. Let’s see what next week has in store for us.

Before I end this, I do have a quasi-criticism that I’ve been meaning to address for some time now: what is the deal with Opal? She seems so…angry and narrow-headed, especially towards Bolin. She strikes me like one of those college-level environmental activists who just recently became an environmental activist, with all the passion and none of the poise of a veteran activist, spouting their beliefs and statistics, guilt tripping unsuspecting passerbys with almost fascist glee. And what’s with that ultimatum that Bolin can “win her back” (what is this, the 50s?) on the condition that he helps her rescue her family? Bolin, buddy! You need to stop falling into these unhealthy relationships!

Am I the only one who feels this way about Opal? Or this episode, for that matter?

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13 responses

  1. daciio

    I’m not sure why, but Korra regaining her ability to enter the Spirit World didn’t feel cathartic to me. Maybe because now everyone on Earth can go there through the portals if they want to. Heck, even Korra did that in episode 2.

    As for Bolin and Opal, I always thought that BOTH of them should apologize to each other, and not jut the former. Yeah, he worked for “The Great Uniter”, but he didn’t know her true intentions, and all he wanted was to help people. Still, his ignorance shouldn’t just be forgiven so easily.

    Opal had the right to be angry, of course. It’s understandable considering the situation she’s in. Plus, it was unclear to her if Bolin was truly on Kuvira’s side or not.

    That’s why up until now I was fine with Opal hating on him.

    But now that he came back and told everyone the truth, and after seeing the way she treated him in the latest episode, I have to agree with you. She’s totally narrow-headed. She is ignoring the fact that Kuvira manipulated his ex-boyfriend, and that all he did while serving her was to help people in need.

    November 28, 2014 at 12:44 pm

  2. tox

    The most prominent part of the episode to me was the music. Zuckerman’s score was absolutely perfect. Especially Korra’s scenes with Zaheer: the transition from the unsettling Theme of the Red Lotus (or specifically Zaheer?) to the eventual spiritual catharsis as he led her there was fantastic.

    Re: Opal, I would say her character is understandable and realistic, and that manifests through rather frustrating choices. Obviously she has a ton of negative emotions swirling inside her as her entire family is captured, and, fair or not, much of that anger is directed towards Bolin, who she felt betrayed her. I’d say it’s fair to mark her character as flawed without it being a criticism of the show.

    All and all I’d say this was a pretty good episode. The biggest issue that I can think of here is that all this time with Zaheer reminds me how much better Season 3 was than this season (and how much better the Red Lotus were as villains compared to Kuvira).

    November 28, 2014 at 2:17 pm

  3. It’s a really funny sense of irony when you think about it. At the start of this season it seemed like Kuvira had taken up the same mindset Zaheer had. He hated world leaders like the queen and the Republic City president and so too did Kuvira. And now Kuvira has become power hungry with Zaheer helping the same person he tried to kill to stop a person that previously had the same mindset as himself.

    November 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm

  4. daciio

    Oh, I forgot: it seems like the animation is finally getting decent again. I guess they were saving their budget for the last episodes.

    November 28, 2014 at 5:40 pm

  5. rosemon

    I think Zaheer becoming “good” and helping Korra makes not a lick of sense, considering he tried to kill her and his comrades had died because Korra’s group fought them off. It just seems like a weak, contrived link made to the previous season. As for Opal, I think she’s justifiably angry about what happened to her family, but her anger seems unjustified considering mother got captured because she had fallen for a pretty obvious trap to begin with. Someone as serious as her could never make a good match with a clown like Bolin anyway, since that’s what he still ultimately is, what with him regulated to ‘comedy’ hijinks with Varrick nowadays. Opal may be a little harsh, but Bolin’s attempts to win her back seem pretty pathetic for now. At this point, the romantic drama between characters is nothing but unwanted white noise to the political scandal of the week in this show. Nothing would really be lost if the writers had taken out all of the romantic subplots, including the stuff with Opal and Bolin, despite it being the least problematic romance in Korra (that’s not saying much, though). One last thing, despite Bryan hyping up the fact that there’s female leaders in his world, the Fire Lady doesn’t seem to have much of a role in this season beyond cameos and denying reinforcements.

    November 28, 2014 at 6:09 pm

  6. Italianbaptist

    I’ve yet to see this episode but I look forward to seeing zaheer’s turnaround. They’ve gotten repentance and redemption right in this series before (Zuko, and to a much lesser extent Desna and Eska), but I feel like I might be asking too much this go around when I’m looking to delve into zaheer’s character more.

    November 28, 2014 at 9:11 pm

  7. Clander

    In my opinion, the moment with Korra and Zaheer was the best in the season so far. Probably the best in the past couple of seasons. It just sort of clicked for me. It made sense. Though I do think they may have stretched it to make Zaheer a little more cooperative than he might have been otherwise but I still think that’s debatable anyway. I did really like this though especially because we are seeing more development for Korra. A few episodes back I commented on how once Korra got the poison out of her body it looked like Korra was back to her normal undeveloped self. I am happy to say I was wrong and they are still expanding on it. Though I think just like a couple episodes ago, the dialogue is too on the nose: “Now that I can accept what happened, I am more powerful.”

    Opal does seem to have had an odd change from the last season to this one. My first impression of Opal was that she was kind of a moe, anime stereotype. You know, dough eyed, shy and innocent. Nothing about her seemed very interesting but then in the blink of an eye she is spunky, hard headed and somewhat rude. It has been a few years but it still does seem like a little too much. Though I am on Opal’s side about Bolin. If only because I hate Bolin.

    November 28, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    • Italianbaptist

      I was looking for the right words with the dialogue and “on the nose” is close to perfect. The kicker for me was Asami and Varrick meeting up and spelling everything out. I’m one of those wierdos that likes to read the synopsis first on avatar wiki before I watch the episode (it saved me from having to read twilight but still being able to get the gist of it 😉 ), and the scenario seemed perfect. I was even excited for zaheer’s seemingly contrived redemption story, but the truth is I should expect at this point that Korra is quite literally more talk and very little action.

      November 29, 2014 at 6:41 pm

  8. Thank god this article/thread has been created so I can voice my opinion on the latest episode of Korra. It was good, I wouldn’t say great there was way too much that annoyed me for it to be great.

    Firstly, has the voice actor of Mako just given up? The scenes where he greeted Bolin again sounded like a nine year old being forced to greet their distant auntie, complete lack of charisma and realism.

    Secondly, some of the dialogue continues to make me want to die, the scene where the ‘basement nerd’ wakes up and says “I feel all spirity” was like a slap in the face, even if I guess it fits with his ‘character.’

    Thirdly, it is high time that the creators of the show make Prince Wu likable. There’s only four episodes left and I’m pretty sure the plan is to install Wu after Kuriva is removed. The problem is there isn’t much time left for the creators to change his personality around without it seeming like a deus-ex-machina. Honestly it would of been perfectly believable if Wu started developing his character after all he did spend some time around Mako and Bolin’s family. It’s sad that the girl who had a crush on Zuko; Jin, is more memorable and human than Wu after this many episodes.

    Fourth, high credit for the Zaheer and Korra scenes, I wouldn’t comment further on this because it seems like everyone is in total agreement, unpredictable, logically and fantastic.

    November 29, 2014 at 4:35 am

  9. Brian

    Is it just me or is the animation lacking in this episode? I’m mainly talking about body language and facial expressions, which seem more subdued than normal.

    November 30, 2014 at 4:25 pm

  10. JMR

    I gotta say, give the show credit, it certainly assuaged any fears about Korra’s issues being handled quickly and easily. Having her actually confront the source of her fears like this and in turn learn to accept what happened to her and let them “flow down the creek” was a great way to put a cap on this character arc.

    Other than that though, just a really solid overall episode. Some wooden dialogue here and there, but come on now, at least it wasn’t a Tim Hedrick episode. I can also totally understand how Opal can foist her anger about Kuvira onto Bolin, even if he’s not at all the one responsible for what’s happened to her family. It’s not fair, but it definitely feels like something a real person would do.

    November 30, 2014 at 9:32 pm

  11. Fun fact- the voice actress that plays Pema actually plays Ryu’s mother.

    December 2, 2014 at 3:41 pm

  12. rosemon

    “I know you don’t want me back buuut…that doesn’t mean I’m gonna stop trying to win you back.”

    Is it just me, or can Bolin never take no for an answer when it comes to the ladies? I know he’ll be rewarded for it at the end of the next episode. All this stuff does is to help impressionable young boys grow into future “Nice Guy” creepers, or at least it would if any kids even watch this romance shlock.

    December 5, 2014 at 11:53 am

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