The Legend of Korra - "The Terror Within" - Episode 34 Recap
Zaheer’s team finally reach their destination, sneaking inside Zaofu to capture the Avatar. They nearly succeed until Pabu catches them in the act, alerting Bolin and the others. The fight between Zaheer and Korra’s team (with a batch of Metalbenders on the latter’s side) features visually impressive choreography and is one of the best matchups the show has produced. I like the creativity the Metalbenders employ by using the city’s environment to their advantage. This explains why Zaheer’s group is having a hard time in battle despite their brutality and competence in earlier episodes: they’re surrounded on all angles until they figure a way out. They put up a marvelous fight regardless, able to fight the group toe to toe in spite of their disadvantage.
Bolin is given a chance to shine during this moment when his earthbending is crucial to pinning P’Li the Combustion Woman down. Earlier he struggled to master metalbending, but he’s no slouch on the battlefield. With or without the added skill, he has the chops and is a vital member of the team. It’s something Bolin needed after a lousy day.
A huge complaint I made about Book 2’s “The Guide” is that much of Mako’s subplot during that time required a great deal of patience to sit through. Nearly everyone gained this sudden blissful ignorance and refused to believe his assertions. Even if Mako did have flimsy evidences to back up his claims, the fact that none of his trusted companions would give him the time of day was ridiculous. They were made stupid for the sake of plot and the convenience was insulting to say the least. I bring that up because “The Terror Within” gets it right this time. Using his detective skills, Mako realizes there are holes in Aiwei’s story. Aiwei’s earthbending allows him to detect liars and with it, he pins a young soldier as the traitor who let Zaheer’s team in. Mako immediately assumes something is up when Aiwei refuses to question the soldier right after they find evidence of his wrongdoing. When Mako relays this to his team, they actually listen this time. Nobody is acting like an idiot. Something is up and they’re going to find out what it is.
Aiwei’s betrayal is predictable, but I think the episode knows it. The entire scene before he reveals his true colors is amazingly tense. We’re not waiting for a twist to happen, we want to know how Aiwei will react once the gig is up. The way Korra’s team just sits there on edge while Aiwei calmly explains himself is nothing short of a heart pounding moment. He escapes through a secret exit, but not before rigging a bomb to prevent Team Avatar from following him.
Korra suggests they use Naga pick up his scent and track him down, but Lin shoots her down. Surprisingly, Suyin agrees – that is, until she sneaks Korra a key to a truck, asking the team to bring Aiwei down so he can suffer the consequences. The Beifong sisters are dealing much better with each other, but there are a few relapses. It’s to be expected; you don’t up and change instantly after thirty years of bad blood. I feel like this is why Suyin secretly went behind her sister’s back and snuck Team Avatar out of Zaofu without Lin knowing. It connects with her shady past and she’s always been the pragmatic of the two. But I do think Lin overstepped her boundaries when she accused Suyin of being the traitor. I thought that was just a little below the belt.
That is, unless that scene was specifically added as some manner of foreshadowing. There’s a small part of me that wonders if it’s really just Aiwei who betrayed Zaofu. Suyin is livid when she hears there’s a traitor in her midst and takes it very badly when it happens to be Aiwei, but what if it was just an act? What if she purposely sent Korra to her doom? I mean, she’s practically handing Zaheer the Avatar in a nice gift package. Maybe Suyin was the one who betrayed Korra and had Aiwei take the blame. I’m not particularly sure why I’m offering this theory. It could be a part of Suyin’s background as a criminal; maybe she hasn’t changed as much as she claims and if “The Metal Clan” is anything to go by, she does only offer a certain percentage of the full story. It could be that one split second scene where Suyin averts her gaze after she finds out about Aiwei’s betrayal that drives possible suspicion. Or heck, Suyin could be innocent all along. The series is good at pulling a fast one from under our eyes that I am genuinely expecting something like this to happen. I’m hoping it won’t be the case after past episodes did a great job sympathizing Suyin in spite of her past, but what a plot twist it would be if it was!
“The Terror Within” didn’t disappoint. The entire episode was intensely driven and the stakes are significantly higher. Zaheer’s team may have been sitting ducks in Zaofu, but I don’t think they have to worry as much once Team Avatar comes knocking on their doorstep.