The Calling: Building Up

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I don’t know where that feeling that the last 2 Legend of Korra episode are just a slow build up comes from. It’s probably part anticipation, part fear that I’m not going to get the finale I’d like to see, and part the fact that things are just building up. “The Calling” is another pretty slow episode. It is interesting, in that we get to hang out withTenzin’s kids as well as Korra and Toph, but it has even less action than the previous episode. Come on, guys! I want more bending. Moar. Bending.

korra41On Air Temple Island, Tenzin and Pemma help their three kids prepare for their big mission. Meelo, as usual, acts all self-important until his Mom gives him his favourite treats. The moment is touching and pleasant, mostly because loving families are not all that common in the show. You gotta love the airbenders for that.

Jinorra, Ikki, and Meelo leave Air Temple Island to find Korra. The first stop on the road pretty much sets up how the rest of the trip is going to go. To be honest, I prayed for it not to be too long. Yes, it was nice to spend some time with Ikki, whom we barely know and cruelly needs some development, but they didn’t really give anything to do to Jinorra aside from searching for Korra’s spiritual energy, which makes her pretty boring in this episode since she is unable to feel anything most of the time. Watching airbenders meditate is not a problem when it leads to something and it would have been neat if Jinorra had felt something else or wondered why Korra’s energy is so hard to locate. I mean, she’s done pretty fantastic things with her spiritual abilities before. Is the swamp blocking her energy? If so, I would like to know. Meanwhile, all I get to see is her passively sitting around. Not great. As for Meelo, it’s not that I don’t like the kid, but the little boy who plays tough is an act I’ve seen before and I just know I couldn’t watch it for too long. He and Ikki just need to grow up, albeit in different ways.

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There are nice touches to this little trip though. At the first stop, Meelo reveals a surprising ability to draw, for example. As they travel, we learn that not only have people not seen Korra, but some people seem to not even remember that the Avatar exists. In one of the Earth Kingdom (or should I say Earth Empire?) villages they stop by, Meelo also meets a cute little girl who sells flowers. The moment is actually fun to watch because for once, the way they flirt seems appropriate for their age.

By the way, has anyone noticed that this world is mostly composed of the Earth Kingdom? I mean, we don’t even hear about the Fire Nation anymore, wherever that’s supposed to be, the water tribes live in the North and South Pole, and the airbenders live on Air Temple Island and maybe in one other temple somewhere. The rest? All Earth Kingdom. But I digress. Our three little fellows come across the small harbour and the food booth where Korra stopped by at the beginning of her journey. It’s one little clue but it doesn’t lead them anywhere. Meelo storms off, frustrated, leaving his two sisters baffled by his attitude.

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Back at the swamp, Korra is tired of not doing anything while Toph naps all day. She tries to get Toph to tell her stories about her own Team Avatar time but let’s be honest, Toph is not the best person to ask for those things. She may perceive a lot of things with her feet but that limits her knowledge to what touches the earth, so it’s not a surprise that she’s not great at knowing more than the broad strokes. In the end, Toph sends Korra mushroom-hunting to get rid of her. Old Toph like big slimy mushrooms. Gross. And so, so Toph.

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Speaking of food, Meelo threw all the food in the river, because Meelo doesn’t have any sense of reality. It’s played mostly for laughs and to give an excuse to Ikki to go wander off on her own, however, I’d like to see Meelo face some consequences for his rash behaviour at some point. Anyway, we follow Ikki as she takes an anger walk in the forest. She makes a new flying squirrel friend (because, you know, what this show needs is more adorable pet sidekicks) and comes across a corner of forest where all the trees have been cut. Ikki realizes that she may be in enemy territory. Too late. Two men of Kuvira’s army capture her. To be fair, she is not in great danger. The two men tie her loosely to a chair and spend more time arguing over macaroons than actually trying to decide what to do with an airbender between their hands. Their only attempt to use Ikki fails miserably as she is too angry at her siblings to even reveal where their camp is. On the other hand, the two men reveal that they are in possession of the food Meelo threw out.

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In the swamp, Korra is assaulted by vivid visions of her former ennemies: Amon, Tarloq, and Zaheer. She sees herself suffering between their hands and comes to her senses, out of breath and on all fours, wondering what the hell happened to her.

Meanwhile, Ikki is making friends with the two men (she seems to be really good at that) over the fact that they all feel left out: Ikki has trouble finding her place among her siblings, and the two men have been forced to stay in a lost corner of the Earth Kingdom while the rest of the troups moved to Zaofu. This last piece of info is actually interesting, in that it proves that Kuvira really doesn’t joke around. I hope we get to see some of the action goign on over there. Anyway. The two men give the little info they have to Ikki, notably that nobody ever goes in the swamp and she shouldn’t bother going there, before being knocked out by Jinorra and Meelo, who think they’re coming to Ikki’s rescue. Before leaving with her siblings, Ikki leaves a couple of sweet buns to the men as an apology.

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Korra rests on a root, thinking about her visions, when Toph joins her. When Korra tells her what happened, Toph admits that she wanted Korra to go wander off in the swamp for this exact reason. Toph points out that maybe Korra is out of balance because she is carrying around her old ennemies like as many burdens, when she could be learning from them. Korra is sceptic, but Toph is right. Initially, neither Amon, Tarloq or Zaheer had particularly bad ideas for the world. The problem is that they were all kind of insane. Or evil. Or both. Korra is still sceptic and doesn’t see how understanding her ennemies may help her heal. Avatars. They sure can be slow.

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Jinorra, Ikki, and Meelo end up in the swamp with the help of what I like to call the plot vines (as in: Jinorra and Meelo didn’t want to stick around but the vines literally grabbed them to keep them in the plot). Meanwhile, Toph brings Korra to the banyan tree, where she tells her to re-establish her connection with the world and herself. Korra touches the roots of the banyan tree and is instantly connected to the rest of the swamp, where she feels the presence of Tenzin’s kids. Jinorra senses Korra immediately. Soon, Jinorra, Ikki, and Meelo join with Korra for a cute reunion… right before they ask her to come back and kick Kuvira’s butt. Korra doubts she can help anybody in her state but still accepts

Later that night, with Toph’s support and a good amount of guts, Korra extracts the remnants of the poison from her body and enters the Avatar state for the first time in three years.

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The episode ends on Korra and the kids leaving Toph in the swamp and leaves me with mixed feelings. In tone, this fourth episode was generally lighter than the rest of the season and less thrilling, although it was still a fun watch. Now, the question is: after removing the rest of the poison from her body, is Korra truly back in shape? Let’s find out.

Some say she’s French. Some say she’s a voodoo witch. What is certain is that Anais left her awkward print on all things artsy at one point or another in her life, performing as a singer and a pianist, exhibiting photographs and paintings, and leaving an embarrassing amount of visual proofs of those events on the internet. Anais’ dream is to be an animation writer. She thinks everything should be animated and she is more than half convinced that she is herself a cartoon character. She hopes that one day, Pendleton Ward or Jennifer Lee will read her screenplays and say they’re neat.

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