The Legend of Korra: “The Stakeout” Book 3 Chapter 9 Review

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It may have taken nine episodes, but we finally know the gist of Zaheer’s plan, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Book 3, while consistently entertaining and fulfilling, has been a bit scatter brained. That’s why The Stakeout is such a necessary entry, as it ties together just about everything and gives us a direction as we head into the end of the season.

Team Avatar tracks Aiwei to the Misty Palms Oasis, a city in the desert littered with spirits. The Stakeout was one of the few episodes of Book 3 to use the opening of the spirit portals to its full potential. From Asami shooing away spirits covering her map to a bar owner claiming “we only serve humans” as spirits are swept out, the Oasis is the first location outside of Republic City and the Northern Air Temple that really committed to the big changes Korra made at the end of Book 2.

Once Mako and Bolin track down Aiwei to a hotel, Team Avatar rents a room to spy on him. This also led to the hilarious “Pai Showdown” between Bolin and Asami. The episode could have just as easily rolled over the actual stakeout, but instead gave us some of that classic Avatar humor.

Finally fed up, Korra kicks the door down to find Aiwei is actually there, but he’s in the Spirit World. Korra enters just as Zaheer does, who then throws Aiwei into the Fog of Lost Souls. And then finally (finally…), Zaheer and Korra get a chance to chat. Yes, the talk was a bit exposition heavy, but at least we have a plan now! Zaheer is a member of the Red Lotus, a group that broke off of the White Lotus once they essentially became body guards. The Red Lotus, which Zaheer tells us at one time included Unalaq, is dedicated to recreating an actual secret society that influences the world, just as the White Lotus did in Avatar: The Last Airbender. This is a great development as the members of the White Lotus have hardly been secret since The Legend of Korra began.

Up through right about there, Zaheer makes sense, agreeing with Korra about opening the Spirit Portal while also disagreeing with how far Unalaq took things. But, these guys are still the villains, so there’s going to be a point where the conversation goes sour. Turns out, the Red Lotus are anarchists, believing the world leaders have too much control and that there should be no nations. The comment about taking out President Raiko in Old Wounds suddenly makes sense.

Now, it appears Raiko, Earth Queen Hou-Ting, and other world leaders are in danger. Does that include Zuko? Probably Tonraq, Desna, and Eska as well? Is Tenzin in danger as the most senior airbender in the world? Just how far their plan goes is still a mystery, as well as why they want the Avatar (but can she not be seen a world leader of sorts as well?).

All while this is going on, Zaheer revealed the Avatar’s location to his followers, sending Ming-Hua and Ghazan to apprehend her. Bolin and Mako put up a great fight while Asami escaped with Korra on Naga, Mako vs. Ming-Hua being one of the bending highlights of the season.

Zaheer tells Korra back in the Spirit World that the Red Lotus has likely already captured her. Sure enough, she wakes up in chains and a straight jacket, but Asami informs her that they were taken by the Earth Queen’s forces.

Meanwhile, Ming-Hua brings a defeated Mako and Bolin back to Zaheer. It sounds like everyone is heading back to Ba Sing Se for the end of the season. With Team Avatar in quite the predicament, it’ll likely be up to the Beifongs and the new Air Nation to get them out. Now that we have direction, Book 3 has a new sense of urgency. These last four episodes will hopefully be pretty nuts. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty


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