Lin is forced to confront her past. Meanwhile, Suyin teaches Korra metalbending while a dejected Bolin watches in envy.
One of the scenes in “Old Wounds” has Lin butting in between two relaxed Zaofu guards, criticizing them for their lethargy. Neither of them is under her command and she has no reason to boss them around. She makes an excuse and states Korra needs protection whenever Zaheer arrives, but it’s clear Lin is in denial and trying to distract herself her inner turmoil.
Suyin shared her story behind her sister’s estrangement in “The Metal Clan”, but we only heard from her point of view. Here, Lin finally recollects her past and we learn why she’s been resentful for over thirty years. Even as a young woman and a rookie cop, Lin remained starch and uppity. Suyin went the opposite direction and became a rebel engaged in criminal activities. Most of it is petty thievery, but it leads to a clash with Lin when she’s forced to arrest her sister. Toph reacts in frustration, ultimately sending Suyin away while destroying Lin’s police report. Lin later blames Suyin for forcing their mother to resign as Chief of Police a year later, claiming Toph was racked with guilt for what she has done.
The scene is telling and answers a lot of questions from the last episode. Because Toph allowed her children to pursue their own goals, both daughters were left pining for their mother’s attention in their own ways. Lin followed in her mother’s footsteps while Suyin became a rebel. I think it was within Toph’s character to do what she did; she’s moral enough to throw down the gravel, but also slippery enough to overlook her own child’s criminal record and send her away for her own good. This background may also explain a subtle cue concerning Lin’s interaction with Korra. Briefly in the episode, a delirious Lin mistakes Korra for her sister. In hindsight, it makes you wonder if part of her problem with Korra stems from similar behavior patterns Suyin exhibited.
The reveal neatly explains why Suyin is open to second chances. Turning over a new leaf after a life of crime is a drastic change, but Suyin proved capable. This is why Zaofu was created with the idea that anyone can be anything they want to be, regardless of where they came from. This is also why Suyin values family, as she never had a stable one back in her youth.
Lin’s actions have their justification, but by the end of “Old Wounds”, she’s the one having trouble letting go. Perhaps a battle between sisters was not necessary to get thirty years’ worth of anger out, but it worked and both are significantly better for it. Lin is absolutely at her happiest at the end, indicating that perhaps she can stop being so bitter and lonely.
I was hoping at some point in the series that Bolin would tackle metalbending. His older brother already has lightning down as a firebender, which reflects his maturity and focus. Bolin lacks the discipline to go any further than what he’s got, but not from lack of trying. He confesses it’s been an issue for a while, but his self-esteem issues prevent him from achieving his goal. Zaofu’s culture of self-actualization simultaneously inspires and challenges Bolin. He has every means to try learning now, but he still has a rut to get out of first. I really hope he does, because the poor guy could use a boost.
Opal eventually confronts Bolin about it and in embarrassment, he denies it. I really appreciate how they’re handling her character. Despite Opal’s sheltered upbringing, she’s sharp as a tack. She knows when Bolin is lying and disapproves of it. In his defense, he is quick to admit and the two are startlingly honest with each other. Bolin wants to metalbend, Opal wants to leave and train under Tenzin despite fears her mother will be upset for leaving the family. After past romantic arcs relied on miscommunication and lies, it’s just refreshing to see a couple opening up to each other, admitting their failures, and encouraging one another. This is what I want to see more of.
There isn’t much to say for Zaheer’s team. The group largely spends the episode getting from Point A to Point B, presumably so we can focus on Lin’s story until they finally strike. The most interesting aspect is Zaheer’s ability to point out the Avatar’s location. I’m going to assume this is a spiritual Airbending technique, possibly boosted tenfold with the spirit gates open.
“Old Wounds” is a lovely wrap up to “The Metal Clan.” The sister rivalry is handled beautifully with layers of complication and sympathy. I liked how Lin and Suyin had to essentially go in the opposite direction of each another in order to change. Suyin gave everyone headaches as a child, but eventually grew up and changed. Lin carried a grudge to all the way to her adult years and only now does she conquer her inner demons. Major kudos to the voice actress who portrayed Young Lin, I think she especially nailed the emphasis Older Lin often places on her tone.