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The Legend of Korra - "Peacekeepers" Episode 17 Recap

Korra returns to Republic City to ask the President for help to defeat the Northern Water Tribe and save her hometown.

It took five episodes, but I’m finally fed up with Korra. She’s relentlessly aggressive when things don’t go her way and snaps whenever someone so much as lifts a finger. She’s hostile to her friends and family and refuses to back down despite countless examples of idiocy that rarely lead anywhere. Korra isn’t getting it and after a certain point, her attitude grew tiresome. I get why she’s mad: her home has been invaded, her loved ones are under threat, and her own uncle is at the heart of the madness. She has a lot on her plate, but she’s like a firecracker waiting to go off, except she already went off several times. It’s self-destructive. Frustratingly, that’s the whole point and “Peacekeepers” might be its catalyst.

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Korra may need an anger management course, but she’s never rewarded for her actions and the episode ends on a karmic note. Mako breaks up with her when he’s had enough of her stupidity, President Raiko refuse to lend a hand (for good reason) and steps in whenever she tries to get sneaky, and Korra gets a nasty run-in with a spirit that ends with her potential demise. I may be casually optimistic when I say everything she’s been through and acted against during Book Two has built up to this moment, because the consequences are severe. “Peacekeepers” makes it very clear that Korra cannot keep acting like this, because this behavior is self-defeating and won’t get results. I’m not sure what her fate is, but I expect it to be dramatically life-changing. I really hope so because I don’t think Korra’s attitude problem can get any worse than here. If she doesn’t change after what I assume is a spiritual journey, then there’s no hope for her.

I wasn’t sure if they were going to go anywhere with Mako’s girlfriend issues, but it came back in a big way. Finally, Mako has a story. He tried to help Korra by giving advice and comfort, but she caves in to her emotions and he’s left exasperated. Things turn for the worse when his job gets in the way of the Avatar’s need to gain an army. Mako informs Raiko what his girlfriend is up to because it’s the right thing to do, and subsequently ends their relationship after Korra confronts him. It’s a great subplot and gives Mako a weighty issue where he’s forced to choose between his girlfriend and his duties.

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Bolin still seeks a purpose in life; everyone else has places to go and people to meet except for him. Varrick figures he needs a pick-me-up and dazzles him with the world of stardom. Bolin eats it up, but I can’t help but think it’s temporary. When he’s being interviewed Bolin pours his heart out but nobody cares, so he panders to the fans and calls it a night. It’s shallow and I wonder if the superficiality will dissatisfy him later on.

It seems Varrick has an interesting influence on Team Korra. While all his decisions ultimately affect his money and influence, he frequently assists the characters free of charge, yet his train of thinking is very amoral. He directs Korra to ask the United Force to retaliate against Unalaq’s army without the President’s permission, blatantly tells Asami to profit from war, and encourages Northern hatred through propaganda. Korra’s team easily takes to his schemes and there’s an unquestionable gray area they’re walking into. I actually kind of like it. They’re not obligated to always be morally good just because they’re “the heroes.” There really isn’t any mandate for them to do so, with the possible exception of Mako due to his job. I guess the Avatar has to uphold some sort of compromise, too, but I always figured they have carte blanche to do whatever as long as it serves the greater good of the people. Then again, it’s also possible that this may be a commentary on how desperate our heroes are that they would go beyond their usual methods; Asami needs money to sink into her company and Korra wants to save her tribe. It’s also very possible that Varrick’s influence is slowly spreading to the main cast and they’re being seduced by his savvy charisma.

Varrick’s entire morality is ambiguously grayer than most characters regardless. Unlike Unalaq, he’s a difficult character to decipher because I never know how long he’ll keep helping Korra’s team before he bails on them if it meant saving himself and his money. He’s not necessarily two steps ahead, but he’s a sharp one and I really dig him. I suspect he’s behind the terrorist attack, just because he’s the most likely to profit from it. Who knows what will he be up to next?

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I think if there’s one big mishap in “Peacekeepers”, it’s largely an issue I’ve been seeing in the overall show: when it comes to romantic subplots, the women get the raw deal of it. Lin’s breakup with Tenzin ended badly and she carried bitter resentment years later, partially taking her grief out on Korra just for being Tenzin’s student. Korra secretly objected to Mako and Asami’s relationship before she grew out of it, and Eska reacted poorly to her cancelled engagement with Bolin and now violently declares vengeance. This is after she treated Bolin like dirt. Lin also confessed she wrecked Air Temple Island after Tenzin broke up with her. Just before that anecdote, Korra literally kicked Mako’s desk. I can’t be the only one noticing a certain pattern: that a lot of the women in The Legend of Korra are vicious, petty, and domestically abusive when it comes to their love lives and significant others. It’s an unfortunate trait I’ve seen popping up infrequently and I don’t particularly care for it.

I don’t have much to say on Tenzin’s subplot; Meelo is young enough that he doesn’t necessary need a spotlight to himself. I suppose since Ikki got one last episode and “The Southern Lights” hints Jinora may get a bigger role, it’s only fair to give the littlest Airbender a moment in the sun. It’s largely inoffensive and doesn’t take much time from the main plot for it to feel intrusive. It also shows that Tenzin misses his time mentoring Korra and fulfills that need by helping his son. He eventually realizes that he needs to tone down his seriousness a dial or two, but I can’t help feeling that this is redundant and something that we already knew about him.

I really enjoyed “Peacekeepers”, but I feel like I’m holding my breath. Character development in Book Two has been up and down. I’m especially worried Korra’s still going to exhibit that haughty nonsense even after this episode. Despite the flaws though, Book Two is still going strong and I’m always eager to know where it’ll go next. “Peacekeepers” feels like a possible game changer, so I really want to know what’s going to happen in the next couple of episodes.

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