Team Avatar ventures off to the Zaofu, home of the Metal Clans after receiving word of another Airbender in the midst. At the same time, a reluctant Lin is forced to confront her past.
I dig Lin. I like her no-nonsense attitude and her flexibility in spite of her position as a member of the law. She possesses a number of traits that clearly indicate that she is Toph’s daughter, such as her forward nature and blunt honesty. Her Metalbending is second to none and she remains one of my personal favorite characters. But I’d be remiss if I said her story was interesting before because all it really amounted to was an awful love triangle (the B-plot to Korra’s Mako/Bolin/Asami’s A-plot, if you will) that did little justice to her character, making her come off as negative and spiteful.
This time around, Lin gets the second chance she deserves with a much improved arc, one so personal she kept it a secret for thirty years. Of course, it is within her character to hold grudges and that same attitude occurs when she reunites with Zaofu’s leader, her half-sister Suyin. The sisters contrast each other with Suyin thriving on creativity and free-thinking while Lin remains straightforward and rigid. The former is interesting in a historic sense because she embraces the changing world and ability to think outside the traditional mindset. Even her opinion of the Earth Queen has her declaring the concept of monarchy as outdated, a cultural thought and attitude that echoes in the current present over on our end. This is visually reflected by her city. Zaofu is massively different than anything Avatar and Korra has punched out, preferring to look futuristic (albeit in a retro kind of way) and alien as oppose to traditional Asian housings and early 20th century buildings. It keenly represents the heart of Toph’s mentality: the endless possibilities one can achieve.
Both sisters have certain bits of Toph in them, but neither one balances each other out. Suyin tells Korra why they split up, but it’s obviously filled with holes and doesn’t answer much of anything. Why is Toph disappointed with the both of them? Suyin notes the two were furiously competing for their mother’s affection which also makes me wonder how distant Toph was. She’s not a sentimental person, so that could have made it harder on the both of them. But it doesn’t explain why Lin specifically ran out on her sister. All we get is Suyin’s side of things which means Lin arguably has justification to break off with the family.
From what little hints I could scrap by, most of Toph’s actions is believably in-character. She’s always been the one out of the main Avatar cast with the least defined rules or moral code. She’s ostensibly a good person and her heart is always in the right place, but Toph lives off the chance to pull something risky or amoral. Living a strict, sheltered life, it makes sense Toph would try a more hands-off approach to parenting. Heck, having multiple husbands over the years seems like a very Toph thing to do; I can’t picture her having a very traditional family structure. The possibility that she may still be alive somewhere is probably the most exciting news about her. I’m not sure I believe in Aiwei’s assessment that Toph left to achieve enlightenment. That’s mostly because I think her kind of “enlightenment” involves bossing people around (which is partially why I think she became Chief of police) and Earthbending the heck out of anyone who crosses her path. Then again, maybe that’s what he meant.
I don’t have much to say on Opal at the moment, but her name and personality are both sweet. I do admire her time with Bolin. We may have the most stable romance yet! There’s no drama, the two clearly like each other, and it seems they’ll hook up without a third party squeezing in. I could do without the love subplot, but at this rate, I’m happy just to see a couple getting along without needless complication. Bolin’s had a terrible love life so far, maybe Opal will break that streak. Also, I can’t be the only who thinks Bolin has the potential to learn Metalbending in Zaofu, am I?
I was hoping for Varrick’s return. He was the best thing in Book 2, able to maintain both an eccentric background and scarily manipulative tactics. I never knew what he’d do next and where the show would take him; he provided an unpredictable foe that absolutely worked to the narrative’s advantage. His return has him lose none of his touch,Varrick is still hilariously questionable as before. He works under Suyin with yet another invention up his sleeve, but he’s mostly there to showcase her philosophy on giving people second chances, including former criminals. Either way, I’m all for more Varrick.
Zaheer is fast becoming an effective villain and may even give Amon a run for his money. He sneaks into Air Temple Island under the guise of a humble Airbender. Though his expertise causes Kya to suspect and later recognize who he is, Zaheer managed to gain information on Korra’s whereabouts and successfully escapes. The fight between him and Kya is fast and engaging, the latter using techniques that would make Katara proud.
“The Metal Clan” is chock full of goodies. Much of Suyin and Lin’s rivalry as well as Zaofu’s origin neatly traces back to Toph. They’re all certainly a level below her, but that’s really the point, isn’t it? Suyin and Lin make up one whole of their mother and it’s their lack of unity that currently pushes them apart. Being the daughters of a noted prodigy like Toph surely must raise a lot of pressure between the two of them. It connects brilliantly and adds another family dilemma on top of a long list of family dilemmas. Unlike Aang’s children though, this one looks to be far more bitter and complex than either sisters wants. I can’t wait to see how this will turn out.