The Avatar is Back in Business!
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
THE AVATAR IS BACK IN BUSINESS. Yep, The Calling has our beloved Avatar Korra overcoming her years of PTSD and trauma and just at the right time. I’ve loved the exploration of her as a deeper character and her weakened state was the perfect time to do so. But it was a storyline that despite being so integral to the Avatar’s journey, needed to come to an end sooner than later considering the sheer amount of story that remains to be covered. Now Korra is back in business and the showdown begins. The Calling is an episode largely split between Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo’s search for Korra and Korra and Toph in the swamp and when those two story lines converge, it’s thunderous.
Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo’s journey is fantastic, complete with the slapstick humor one expects from the three of them in the first place. The three Tenzin children rarely get the spotlight even though they are given a fair amount of side material from time to time. But their distinct personalities are sharply drawn and inadvertently it is the entire team who is able to track Korra down at the end. One thing that the Avatar universe has always portrayed so well is how teams of extremely different personalities can come together and work in tandem for the very good. Meelo’s lack of maturity leads him to sail the food down for “wilderness” survival skills, which leads Ikki to be captured and find out Korra’s potential location. Ikki’s intelligence leads her to the swamp where Korra was with Toph, even if everyone else wouldn’t believe her. And that intelligence leads them towards the swamp, where they’re sucked in and Jinora can finally sense Korra’s presence.
Korra and Toph’s swamp adventures for lack of a better phrase are fantastic as usual. Toph’s recollections of her incredible days with the Avatar gang were hilarious in their sheer mundane nature. Korra leaves to find some mushrooms (the slimy ones, especially) in an especially beautiful shot where she walks through swamp grass. Suddenly visions of Amon, Unalaq, and Zaheer cloud her. Toph confronts Korra, noting how each and every single one of her major three enemies were fighting for equality but allowed the zealousness of their ideologies to cloud their humanity and nearly obliterate it. It’s an incredible note of maturity and one of the most incredibly poignant, intelligent moments I’ve ever seen on screen, period. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do, finding humanity or some semblance of common ground with your enemy and the show acknowledges its difficulty while underscoring how vital it is to do so. As Toph notes, “You can’t deal with new enemies if you don’t fight the old ones.” She had to let go of the enemies who were imbued within her like the poison metal. “That fight is over,” Toph notes, sensing Korra’s continuing memories of her previous adversaries, “release the fear.” And Korra does, letting the painful memories of her past go in spirit unity with the banyan tree. The poison metal comes out of her body and Toph encases it within rock. The Avatar is back, even getting permission to hug Toph, whose version of a hug is tapping her on the back a couple of times. They ride off into the world, the quiet before the storm drumming throughout the air.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Meelo’s drawing skills are pretty great
+The dictator Kuvira posters were a nice touch
+“I’m not adorable, I’m not dangerous.”
+“Can you keep a secret?”
+“What can I call you besides beautiful?”
+The flying squirrel chase
+“No, but try this macaroon…”
+“There will be a huge party at the end.”
+“Oh boy, you Avatars sure need a lot of hand-holding.”
+“I found a whole sack of food.”
+The shot of the Banyan tree is so gorgeous.
+The music is still amazing
+“Your grandpa was a real pain in my butt.”
+Toph approving of Meelo’s not-so-nice description of her.
-The officers holding Ikki were dumber than necessary
Title: The Calling
Written By: Katie Mattila
Directed By: Colin Heck
Animated By: Studio Mir
Image Courtesy: IGN