The Legend Of Korra Review: “The Calling”


Spoilers abound! If you haven’t caught “The Calling,” the fourth episode of The Legend of Korra: Book Four, head on over to Nick where new episodes will be streaming every Friday. You may also find a review of the previous episode here.

The episode begins with Tenzin’s children setting off on their journey to go find Korra. Tenzin sent his kids because he needed to stay in Republic City to help President Raiko find a diplomatic solution to dealing with Kuvira. The problem I’m still having with this season is that I don’t see anything that needs to be solved.

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When Pema expressed concern over her children’s trek, it was noted how Aang and his group were about the same age when they departed on their world-changing journey. However, there is a steep contrast between them.

Aang was a skilled airbender at the time, Katara was just beginning her waterbending training and Sokka was a normal teenager. They left to end a 100-year war. Their mission was the world’s last hope at preventing mass genocide.

Conversely, Jinora is a master airbender and at one with the Spirit World, while Ikki and Meelo are also incredibly skilled airbenders. There is no immediate threat posed against them; firebenders certainly aren’t trying to hunt them down. The only obstacle they face in completing their mission to find Korra is their bickering.

It just goes to show how little gravity there is to the current state of the world and that makes this season so much less interesting.

There was a three-year time skip, right? I feel like this sibling storyline already played out two seasons ago (it did). It would have been nice for them to be able to show some emotional growth during that time skip, but I guess it’s natural for siblings to not get along? Focusing on it for an entire episode just feels like a missed opportunity when there are other more interesting avenues to cover. Showing off more of the device Varrick is constructing for Kuvira, for instance. Or showing what any other characters are doing, really.

Anyways, Jinora’s borderline arrogance and Meelo’s brashness are at odds with Ikki’s impatience. They all have their own ideas on how to find Korra, but dismissing Ikki’s ideas causes her to fly off and do her own thing.

She ends up getting captured by some earthbenders who briefly make plans to also apprehend her siblings and then hand them over to Kuvira. The idea is that doing so would possibly net them a promotion out of their isolated post, but I’m curious what Kuvira would even want with them.

Kuvira wouldn’t use that as leverage against Tenzin into submitting to her. The Kuvira we’ve seen so far is too smart to keep such important characters – and children, no less – hostage. And, man, what a bummer that we didn’t get more Kuvira (voiced by Zelda Williams) this episode.

The point of Ikki getting captured, however, served two purposes. First, the earthbenders provide Ikki with a map and a lead on where to find Korra. It turns out the only place Kuvira doesn’t have soldiers stationed is in the swamp. How convenient!

Second, and much more interestingly, the earthbenders let slip that Kuvira and her troops are making their way to Zaofu. Getting consent from leader Suyin, however forcefully, will make all of the colonies of the Earth Empire completely united under Kuvira’s rule.

I suppose this is one of those “calm before the storm” kind of episodes. The relationship between Suyin and Kuvira is already strained, so the latter trying to get the former to bow to her should make the next episode one that’s high on action. I suspect that the metalbending city will be able to stave off the encroaching threat until Kuvira unleashes her new device.

Korra is still in the swamp with Toph, eager to do training of some sort. However, with Korra subconsciously preventing Toph from removing the poison from her body, Toph has little interest in doing more than lazing about. Toph sends Korra to gather some food for dinner, but since she’s quite familiar with the powers of the swamp, she knows Korra will be forced to face her own demons.

And she does! Korra encounters visions of her past enemies and Toph wants her to learn from them. Each of her most dangerous enemies had good intentions, but their goals were led astray by ideological extremes. Amon wanted equality; Unalaq united the physical and spirit worlds; Zaheer believed in freedom. This, of course, means that Kuvira is eventually going to take her desire for unity too far and that Korra will need to stop her.

By the way, for someone who’s been missing and out of action for years, Toph is incredibly in tune with the goings-on of the world. Toph then tells Korra she won’t be able to face any new enemies if she can’t let go of her old ones and she takes her to the ancient banyan-grove tree.

Meanwhile, Ikki tries to convince her siblings to look around the swamp for Korra. Infuriatingly, they shoot her down immediately with absolutely zero reasoning. Thankfully, the swamp has other things in mind. Similar to how it pulled in Aang and his pals in the second season of Avatar: The Last Airbender via a tornado, the swamp sent out huge vines to make Tenzin’s children land.

Toph is concerned that Korra has become too disconnected with the world, with her loved ones and with herself. The banyan-grove tree is so massive it’s pretty much connected to everything. Korra touches its roots and is immediately able to locate Tenzin’s kids, just like Aang did when he and his friends got separated. They’re reunited and the first thing they tell Korra is that the world needs her to stop Kuvira.

Ugh. Please stop telling me Kuvira is bad. If this season really wants to designate Kuvira as the antagonist, and if it really wants the audience to believe that, it needs to show it. This season has failed spectacularly at doing so.

After some introspection courtesy of Toph and the swamp, Korra is able to metalbend the remaining poison out of her body. She can access the Avatar State again. Yay? Why should I care if Korra is ready to fight Kuvira if I can’t even process Kuvira as an enemy to the world?

“The Calling” was really light on action and that normally isn’t a problem if the story is intriguing. It wasn’t here. Focusing on select characters without building the threat they’re supposed to face in the coming episodes was a misstep. I’m not on board with how the story is progressing right now but at least the show continues to be utterly beautiful.

Things of Note

– Toph’s presence is still the best part. The way she talks so nonchalantly about saving the world – “It was hot. I was on a blimp. I think I giant turtle showed up.” – is hilarious. I hope she appears again this season.

– At least Korra finally got that hug she wanted.

– I liked this pairing. A classic duo of affable schemers who get along with the prisoner they just captured. Their dynamic with Ikki made for a fun scene.