The Legend of Korra Episode Review: 3×08 “The Terror Within” and 3×09 “The Stakeout”

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These past two weeks have been weird for The Legend of Korra. Midway through San Diego Comic Con, it was announced that Korra would no longer air on Nickelodeon. Instead the episodes would release weekly on Nick.com, transitioning from cable to online only. While the reasons behind the decision are still kind of fuzzy (more people watch Korra online, I guess?), it doesn’t seem to mean anything about the future of the series. The episodes, including the ones that have previously aired, are available now on Nick.com, and will continue to be released every Friday as normal.

“The Terror Within” wraps up the Zaofu storyline and throws Korra and her friends back into the action. Zaheer and his posse finally come for Korra, and they’re only barely thwarted. Only Bolin’s astute earthbending skills give Lin enough time to rescue a sedated Korra from her would-be kidnappers. It then comes to light that someone on the inside is responsible for sneaking the four criminals in.

From that point, “The Terror Within” plays like a detective episode. Mako, one of the more sensible members of the group when not romantically involved with any of them, gets to show off his impressive police chops. As Aiwei, Suyin’s lie detecting advisor, interrogates all of the guards, Mako becomes more and more suspicious of him. A search of Aiwei’s house reveals that he is the actual traitor. He makes his escape and destroys the evidence of his involvement for good measure.

Mako is a naturally intuitive person when it comes to cases, but he doesn’t do it alone. Varrick plays a slightly more important role this time around, hilariously cluing Mako in to Aiwei’s shadiness by referencing his own framing of Mako last season. While Varrick sometimes seems out of place, his antics are a welcome addition to the otherwise pretty serious goings on of the season. It amuses me how everyone seems to have just let his past betrayals go. Maybe he’ll become their Token Evil Teammate in the future.

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She must get really good benefits or something.

The fight between Zaheer’s gang and Team Avatar is epic, but I missed Opal this time around. She makes way for the Northern Air Temple pretty early on, which leaves her out of the fighting. Considering her prodigal airbending skills, I was hoping to see her use them in an actual fight. Hopefully we’ll see more of her once the plot focuses back in on Tenzin and the airbenders.

Team Avatar leaves Zaofu to track down Aiwei on Su’s request, but I wonder what her real goal is. It’s quite possible that she’s being played as “shady” as some kind of red herring, but who can say at this point. It’s difficult to believe that a daughter of Toph would be evil, but that’s the beauty of Korra. You never really know.

“The Stakeout” follows Team Avatar as they track Aiwei down to Misty Palms Oasis, the previously derelict little town that Aang and his friends visited in Season 2 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. One of the reasons Korra is so dramatically improved this season is because it’s expanded its horizons. Revisiting places from the original series to see how they’ve grown is a real treat, and this is no different. Since the 100 Year War, Misty Palms Oasis has experienced a renaissance of sorts, becoming a city filled with people and spirits alike.

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“Come on bro, we gotta go cook–I mean find Aiwei!”

The gang follows Aiwei to a small inn, and stages a stakeout to watch his movements as he prepares to meet with Zaheer and the others. While Korra and Mako keep watch, Bolin and Asami play and discuss Pai Sho. Pai Sho is such an important aspect of the Avatar world, and it’s nice to see that people still play it. Asami proves she’s the Pai Sho master when she wins every game.

I love Asami, and I especially love her relationship with Korra. The two spend some time sleuthing in this episode, and their friendship is developing nicely. I’ve said it before, but Korra is so much better when it doesn’t focus on romantic entanglements.

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Maybe they should just date each other.

Korra takes a trip to the Spirit World this episode, when she realizes Aiwei isn’t going to physically meet with Zaheer. There, she witnesses Aiwei’s “death” at Zaheer’s hands, and meets with him herself. Zaheer reveals his reasons for his repeated attempts to kidnap her. He’s essentially an anarchist, the leader of a rebel faction of the Order of the White Lotus, called the Red Lotus. He tells Korra about his dreams of complete chaos in order to rebuild the world from scratch. Naturally, Korra thinks his ideas are extreme, and she hurries back to her body when he reveals he’s sent Ming Hua and Ghazan after her.

While Mako and Bolin fight and are ultimately captured by Ming Hua and Ghazan, Asami attempts to escape with Korra, only to be captured by the Earth Queen. She’s ordered their arrest, as retaliation for freeing the imprisoned airbenders. Earlier, Zaheer mentions his desire to see the Earth Queen (and President Raikou) removed from power, a sentiment that most everyone seems to share. It’s not hard to believe that Zaheer and the Red Lotus could actually get a rebellion going with such reviled figures as targets.

Korra and the others have hit rock bottom, with everyone in grave danger. No doubt Lin will be integral in saving them, as she previously left to find them once Su admitted she’d sent them to find Aiwei. I imagine a big damn rescue is in order.

You can watch a new episode of The Legend of Korra every Friday on Nick.com.

Images are copyright of Nickelodeon. 

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