The Legend of Korra: “The Calling” Book 4 Chapter 4 Review

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The Calling was a deceptively busy entry for Book 4, potentially tying up Korra’s recovery, showing how several younger characters have grown, and subtly advancing the Kuvira plot.

There were a ton of emotional moments in this episode, the first being in the opening scene as Tenzin and Pema watch their children fly off on their first grown up mission. But of course, Ikki and Meelo still have a ton of growing to do.

Their adventure riding the sky bison all over the Earth Kingdom had me nostalgic for those early episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender that featured a still very young Aang, Katara, and Sokka taking the first steps to defeating the Fire Lord. Just another example of how Book 4 is really tying together the whole franchise. Who’d have thought when those first few episodes aired in 2005 that almost a decade later we’d be watching Aang’s grandchildren on a separate mission.

That said, these three also reminded me of Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi’s travels in Book 2, with Tenzin’s voice practically behind many of Jinora’s lines.

The Calling had an overall Airbender feel as it featured a much more juvenile sense of humor with Meelo taking center stage. The jokes he provide include having to pee, vomiting wild berries, and farting to break a vine in a skirmish. That last one may have been a bit much.

But the true highlight here was Ikki. Storming off on her own, two of Kuvira’s men capture here. There, she charms them to the point where they are ready to let her go. Just then, Jinora and Meelo burst in and save her by force. It was a great bit of comedy that made great use of Ikki, as well as two random soldiers with vibrant personalities, the type of side characters Airbender always found time to write in where Korra has typically sped past them.

These two also provide a very important detail about this episode, Kuvira’s whereabouts. It appears the “Great Uniter” is making good on her threat to Suyin last week and is marching on Zaofu. This was a great way to advance the season’s main story while keeping this entry focused on the characters it chose to be.

And I haven’t even touched on the tremendous character work The Calling did with the Avatar herself. Korra appears to be at a crossroads. After Toph told her that she would have to bend the metal poison out herself, Korra kind of just stuck around the the swamp, highlighting how truly lost she is.

But Korra is still Korra and can’t sit still, leading her into the swamp to find mushrooms. Instead she finds herself in an Empire Strikes Back style situation as clear visions of each of Korra’s enemies appear to her. We see Amon taking away her bending, Unalaq and Vaatu ripping Raava out of her, and Zaheer and his minions poisoning her. How often do you see action heroes suffering from experiences that would traumatize any normal person? Well, Korra has a mental block due to the emotional anxiety her past enemies have caused her.

Enter Toph for some words of wisdom. She tells the Avatar that she needs to find balance, explaining how Amon, Unalaq, and Zaheer all wanted essentially good things (i.e. equality, a return of the spirits, and freedom), but took it too far. If Korra is to restore balance to the world, she’ll first need to balance herself out. As Toph puts it, she can’t fight new enemies if she’s still fighting the old ones.

Toph takes Korra to the Banyan-grove tree, where Aang found direction in his quest to fins an earthbending teacher. See how things came full-circle again? The previous Avatar had visions of Toph in this very swamp, and his reincarnation learned a great lesson from Toph in the same swamp.

By touching the root of the tree, Jinora is finally able to sense Korra’s spiritual presence. The reunion was really quite touching, with Korra wiping away tears at the sight of the closest thing she’s ever had to siblings. The airbender kids tell her about Kuvira and how the world needs her.

The final and best scene of the episode had Korra finally find it within herself to remove the metal poison, putting an end to the journey she started at the end of Book 3. As her eyes glow, we know the Avatar is back. As great as Korra has been, I have to say I’m excited to see Korra back in her prime to take on Kuvira. The next episode could use a big action sequence.

Still, The Calling continued to do what Book 4 has done very well so far. Korra’s recovery brought in new lessons for the Avatar, while the rest of the episode brought things full-circle not only in this series, but also its predecessor. It was a true pleasure to see Tenzin’s kids on their own. Now it’s time for the heroes to meet the villains. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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