The Legend of Korra: “The Calling” REVIEW
For some people, the beginning of Book 4 has been sluggish, when compared to the nonstop thrill ride that was Book 3. However, Korra’s extended recovery has given the show’s delightful expansive cast some more screen time. With this episode, Tenzin’s three eldest children, Jinora Ikki and Meelo, are leading the search to find Korra, which is fitting, given Korra is like a surrogate older sister to them. “The Calling” finally sees Korra regaining her strength after a long process, but also a new journey for Tenzin’s children.
Part of “The Calling” is a throwback to the old Adventures of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Both director Colin Hick and writer Katie Mattila are veterans of the original series. To hammer home the connection, the kids even mention “Grandpa Aang was around their age when he began traveling the world with his friends.” Their search for Korra takes them all over the Earth Kingdom Empire, each stop is like a very condensed episode from the Last Airbennder
Jinora, Ikki and Meelo have been a major part of the show since Book One. Jinora has since developed into a fine character, experiencing her own coming of age at the end of Book Three; however her siblings not so much. Ikki and Meelo throughout the series’ run have mostly been used for comedic relief. Jinora has clearly grown more mature. This is in stark contrast to Meelo, who thinks he’s mature, but in reality puberty is fueling his bravado. His antics are equally funny and annoying here. Vowing to live off the land, hunting for his food, but forgetting he’s a vegetarian. Hitting on his first crush, only to have his sister Ikki ruin it. Getting sick off of poisonous berries, all while trying to prove his skills as a gatherer. Meelo is following all his tendencies to the max, but this time he has no one to stop him.
Ikki on the other hand, is stuck in the middle. Not spiritually connected as Jinora or brash as Meelo, Ikki finds herself at odds between two extremes. Still she proves she has wits and reasons. After storming off from her brother and sister, she stumbles across an Earth Empire outpost and is “captured” by its two soldiers. The soldiers thinking they are in for an easy promotion, if they deliver a political prisoner like Tenzin’s daughter to Kurivia, are not aware Ikki is actually playing them. Using their loneliness and desire for a good meal as a way to connect, Ikki learns about Kuriva’s next move and narrows down where Korra could be in the Earth territories with their help. Jinora and Meelo, may have busted down the door, knocking out Ikki’s new friends, it was clear she had the situation handled the whole time. With a good idea where Korra might be, they head off to find her.
Korra, for her part, is not a fan of the Toph’s style of Avatar torment. Instead of beating her in sparring matches, she’s driving Korra restless by wanting to nap all day. Toph’s presence on the show has been a joy to experience. Her blunt, anti-climactic retelling of major Avatar moments is wonderful. Philece Sampler’s performance really captures Toph’s tough carefree attitude with a hint of sincerity, which really adds weight to the Earthbennder’s teaching style. Toph sends Korra deep into the swamp where she experiences her past battles with Amon, Unalaq, and Zaheer. Korra is not only carrying the weight of Zaheer’s poison, but all her enemies with her. Mentally she’s been holding on to all those fights and she has not learned from her antagonists as well. Toph points out Amon, Unalaq, and Zaheer each started out with noble desires, only they took their ideologies to the extreme throwing them out of “balance.” We see this with Kuvira, who will force unity on people even if they do not want it. Once Korra lets go of those past fights, she will be ready to move on.
As soon as Korra does, she instantly regains her spiritual connection allowing Jinora to find her. The reunion with the Airbennder children is heartwarming, watching the three meet up with their big sister after a long absence. While her time alone may have been necessary, Korra is out of balance without her friends and family. So of course a critical part of her recovery would involve them. With Jinora, Ikki and Meelo at her side, Korra finds the strength to remove the remains of the metal poison from her body and regains her Avatar connection to Raava.
Korra’s recovery has been a long one. It may not have been as action pack as some would have liked, but there was still plenty of bitter work that had to be done. With Kuvira marching towards Zaofu, the next episode of Korra looks to be a suspenseful affair.