So… can we talk for a moment about this, fandom?
Sooooooo. Am I the only one who was really really disturbed by this scene? Like, here’s Mako threatening an equalist mook with a FIST FULL OF FIRE, and this guy, he doesn’t have his hood on, he has a face and everything, and he’s scared and has no defenses against this firebender and he doesn’t even have anything to do with what’s bothering this firebender and he’s about to get his face burned off anyway. Like this is EXACTLY what he feared and that’s why he’s an equalist mook in the first place.
This is a clear example of why the equalists exist but a) the show didn’t comment on it in that context at the moment (more on this later) and b) from what I’ve seen, the fandom was too blinded by shipping love/hate to analyze the moment. Unless I’ve completely missed the huge discussion we should be having about it, which is TOTALLY POSSIBLE because I’m ancient by fan standards and actually have a life/husband/kid/work/dog/hobbies/friends that I need to attend to so the blink-and-you-miss-it pace of tumblr is just too much sometimes.
ANYWAY. I just wanted to comment on this scene and how Mako is, let’s be honest, abusing his power here. Imagine if you were a nonbender, and you live in a world where anyone could be a bender and you wouldn’t know it right up until the moment they decide to earthbend you into a wall or bloodbend you or burn you. It’s like that thing some girls are taught, that all men are potential rapists (not talking about the truth or validity of that, just that it is A THING); you live in a world where anyone could be a bender and hurt you in ways that you just can’t prepare for. Knives and guns in the Real World are scary, but no one is born with a knife or a gun in their hand, and EVEN THEN it’s definitely a weapon that can maybe possibly be defended against. What are you going to do if an earthbender decides to open the ground under you and swallow you up? How do you defend against a flamethrower that you can’t see coming? And this usage of power just comes so easily to Mako that he doesn’t even seem to think about it. (And this is NOT character hate, it’s just an example. Sorry Mako, you just kept popping up on my dash; it is worth noting that Korra does this shit, too, especially in the first episodes, like with the Equalist rabble-rouser on the corner with his megaphone.) All the benders in the show seem to do this (except maybe Tenzin because he’s a monk and the airbenders seemed to realize that with their power came the responsibility to not use it against other creatures, as evidenced by Aang’s reluctance to kill and vegetarianism, etc). Piss off the wrong person and you’re subject to demigod powers, not just an angry dude with a knife.
(As an aside, this was one of the things that made Zuko and Iroh so interesting in season two. They couldn’t use their bending in public. They had to hide and it really made for interesting interactions. This is also one of the reasons why Zuko rules so much as a character; yeah, he’s not the greatest firebender in the world, but he learned some serious combat skills to make up for it.)
Back to the point, the scene in question up there just made me sick to my stomach. The guy’s just this guy, you know? Yeah, he’s on the side of the antagonist, but that doesn’t make him evil or bad, and he’s about to get face-melted by an angry teenager and he’s scared and helpless. And fire hurts. Recovering from burns is awful. It ooks me out in ways I can’t explain that the protagonists are shown in this manner. I’m hoping the show, in the next season, goes into this further. There are moments in season one that hint that this might be a possible direction for the series. They aren’t commented on in the context of the show (again, this scene, korra bullying the equalist dude, raiding the equalist training camp and really fucking those people up REALLY BADLY), but if Korra’s bending is taken in the finale, I would be happy to see this angle explored. I’m hoping someone else has better thoughts on this than me, because I’m scattered and need to get back to work, and also I wrote this post while eating white queso nachos and so yeah now i have to clean my keyboard.
So that’s my word-vomit about a children’s cartoon. Thoughts? Gifs? Angry anonymous asks?
Reading this after seeing the finale really makes me hope that season two takes its good ol’ time with different events that go about hinting and explaining this concept…
I feel like they just rushed over compacting all of what just happened into 11 episodes (most of which occurred in the last one) and missed some of the lessons, themes, and development that a:tla was really spot-on with addressing. Not to say they don’t talk about any great morals (that one allude to the underground where benders and non-benders got along equally for the sake of surviving under strained circumstances was great in the finale), but even most of them feel constricted by time management.
I’ve more to rant on, but I have to leave soon so overall: legend of korra book 1 was really great to follow along with and it was easy to jump back into after five years of no avatar, but the main set-back of the series was poor pacing.
So bryke and the team definitely have more in store for the other books (considering they just introduced 2 more characters and still have a whole world outside republic city to explore), but I really hope something regarding the non-benders’ perspective of all this is brought into focus some time.