The Legend of Korra: “The Metal Clan” Book 3 Chapter 5 Review

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The team at The Legend of Korra, as well as its predecessor, have no greater talent than world building. Welcome to Zaofu, the city made of metal. In twenty-two short minutes we learned of its culture, leadership, and possible fatal flaws. Seriously, top-notch world building.

Team Avatar arrives in Zaofu and we immediately get the sense that Lin Beifong wants to be nowhere near here. The reason why is given quickly as we meet her half-sister, Suyin Beifong, ruler of the metal city. Echoing back to the deconstruction of Aang as a parent we got in Book 2, Lin and Suyin’s animosity toward each other, and clearly their mother Toph, was fascinating.

The Legend of Korra is a show fascinated with legacy, but not in a manner you would think. It loves to take characters who we believe should have these perfect or more significant lives and tears that down. As Tarrlok told it in Book 1, Yakone, the greatest criminal Republic City ever faced, failed to lead his sons to go down the same path and unceremoniously died a few years later. In Book 2, Kya and Bumi don’t share the same cherished memories of Aang as Tenzin does, pegging the only airbending child as “the favorite”. Avatar Wan may have trapped Vaatu, but then years later he died on the battlefield depressed that he couldn’t put the world in balance. Now Book 3 is doing the same with Toph, showing the flaws in her parenting and how that drove a wedge between her two daughters. It is nice to know that Toph may be alive though.

One of the first things we notice about Zaofu is that there are supposedly no secrets, Suyin’s assistant detecting Korra’s lie about Lin. It’s a clever way to set up a dystopian feel to what is essentially an ivy league city. Everyone here has a number of skills and interests and is encouraged to reach their fullest potential, as Suyin puts it.

But there’s no denying of the wonder put into this city, the dance number that introduces Suyin showcasing the elegance metalbending has reached after the gruff Toph ripped open her cage and rode off on the dirt in Airbender.

Team Avatar is here to pick up a new airbender, Suyin’s daughter Opal, who takes a fancy to Bolin. This budding love story isn’t nearly as entertaining as Bolin and Eska’s from Book 2. Actually, Opal is almost immediately annoying. Maybe the show will develop her a bit better in the future, but for now she’s kind of just a slightly awkward, too perfect addition to the cast. At least she gave way to the rewarding scene where Korra actually becomes her teacher, further developing the role Korra will play as the Avatar in this world.

The rest of the events in Zaofu are developing Suyin and having Lin clash with her family members, as well as a hysterical reintroduction to Varrick (magnets!). The episode closed with Lin crying after Opal tries to connect with her, which fails spectacularly, and Korra has some choice words for her. Looks like we’ll be in Zaofu for a while. Anyone complaining? Didn’t think so.

Meanwhile, back on Air Temple Island, Zaheer has a new look as he trains with Ikki and Meelo thinking that they will lead him to the Avatar. Kya catches on though, and she and Zaheer duke it out in yet another awesome bending battle. Kya’s skills have never been shown like this, but she held her own pretty well against the master criminal. As we approach the midway point of Book 3, hopefully Zaheer’s motives will become clear soon and he can become as big of a threat as the show wants him to be.

The Metal Clan was another strong addition to Book 3. While it wasn’t as exciting as the escape from Ba Sing Se, the unbeatable world building of the metal city was outstanding. Some more work is needed for Opal, but as a whole, this episode was another showstopper in a season full of showstoppers. If Book 3 continues on this path, it’ll be the best Book yet. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

One Response to The Legend of Korra: “The Metal Clan” Book 3 Chapter 5 Review

  1. SherryAva says:

    Hi Matt. I’m not sure why you instantly labeled Opal as annoying. She was presented as lovely, sincere and honest. This was an important contrast to the brooding, simmering and unpenetrable wall that surrounds Lin Beifong. Although Lin has proven herself to loyal and ethical, she also tends to enforce law with adherence to regulations and order while pushing compassion aside. This was evidenced when she wanted to leave Ba Sing Se before rescuing the imprisoned air benders. The innocent character of Opal was the only one who could offer Lin a true gesture of family connection. To see Lin react so angrily in response was surprising but expected. I look forward to seeing Opal serve as a vehicle to break down the emotional wall that keeps Lin separate from family.

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