The Legend of Korra “Operation Beifong” REVIEW
Prison breaks are a stable of both Avatar and Legend of Korra. Going all the way back to “The Blue Spirt” episode in The Last Airbender, each subsequent prison break has offered more elaborate escapes. Given these characters inhabit a world where some people have elemental powers, prisons are designed to limited those powers. Much of the suspense comes from characters working around those limitations and still finding creative ways to escape. “Operation Beifong” continues the tradition and once again offers action that is emotionally charged, daring and suspenseful.
Another stable of the show family – more specifically – no matter how perfect you might imagine, no family is without its issues and problems. Fans might react the same way as Bolin, when Toph joins the rescue party; however, Lin’s somber “Hey Chief” is a reminder things are not all good. Over the course of the series we have learned so much as to why Lin Beifong is Lin Beifong, the brash, stern police chief of Republic City. She’s short with people and a little cold because she’s doesn’t want to be disappointed by them. Lin’s been hurt deepest by the people closest to her (Toph, Suyin and Tenzin) and it’s easy to assume that is a big factor why she’s such a loner. If anyone is going to hurt you, it would be the people closest to you. It’s not Lin doesn’t want to have a relationship with her mother, only the relationship Lin wanted was not the one Toph was interested in having.
It’s easy to see why. Things important to Lin are not to Toph. Toph being Toph figured underplaying those issues would make them go away but in fact only made matters worse. Just because Lin rekindled with Suyin, doesn’t mean that new relationship applies to her mother as well. And it damn sure doesn’t mean Lin’s not going to be overly emotional and furious when Toph casually reveals Lin’s father – a person Lin has wanted to know her whole life – was just some dude named “Kanto.” So yes, things are tense between Lin and Toph and it adds a layer to the mission to free Suyin and her family.
Suyin and family are being held in a suspended cage in a hollow cavern, under the city Baatar Jr has been building Kuriva’s super weapon. So getting to them is not going to be so easy. Events above ground are just as interesting. Turns out, Zhu Li has been secretly trying to sabotage the project while she has been working with Baatar Jr and Kuriva. However she’s up against a foe whose ego will not allow him to fail. Baatar Jr will risk it all, when others would run away at the sounds of a super weapon about to explode, Baatar Jr is the type to stay behind to find the problem. Given that, it was only a matter of time before Zhu Li was caught and once she is, Kuriva wants to see her get blown up, along with the city they were stationed in. While Baatar Jr has no problems sentencing Zhu Li to death, we see a little of his humanity return. As he does not want the same fate for his little sister, once he sees Opal and Bolin trying to rescue Zhu Li.
The character work in “Operation Beifong” is perhaps only matched by the action. Between the break out and the Metal clan vs Kuriva’s army there were so many amazing moments. Also the episode gave us this.
So while Lin and Toph were battling it out emotionally, Suyin was battling her “daughter” Kuriva physically. There are plenty of parallels between mothers and daughters in this episode. Like how both mothers created a rift between their daughters by lack of communication and overwhelming sense of disappointment, but that takes a backseat to how badass this fight was. The contrasting styles of Kuriva’s precision and control next to Suyin’s acrobatics and inventiveness, is absolutely stunning to watch. Everyone from director Melchior Zwyer to all the storyboard artists need to be saluted for their work here. While the Beifongs may have escaped without defeating Kuriva, they do gain some important information – Kuriva is planning to attack Republic City in two weeks.
Our friends back in Republic City might not know this yet, but that does not mean they are just sitting back waiting to be surprised by Kuriva showing up at their door steps. The Asumi and Varrick collaboration has resulted in them designing a flying mecha suit; however, President Riko wants spirit weapons, like Kuriva, and isn’t too impressed with their showing. Varrick’s having none of it, vowing not to work with spirit weapons again. The meeting isn’t all unproductive, as Prince Wu has a surprisingly – if not somewhat vain – good idea to start evacuating the citizens of Republic City and Korra heads out to see if she can recruit the spirits to see if they will help defend republic city.
This task will not be as easy as she first thought, as Korra cannot get one spirit to talk to her before disappearing. Maybe this is where Wu got his idea from because the spirits have been leaving the city in droves. Even heading to the spirit world and giving an impassioned plea, not one spirit will join her to help defend Republic City. One Spirit does speak to her and it’s not what she wanted to hear; making matters worse, it’s hard to argue against the spirit. He tells her “spirits don’t get involved in human affairs (unless being forced too by dark evil powerful spirits) and that ultimately Korra wanted the same thing as Kuriva – to use spirits as weapons in a human war.” Because of that, they would not help her. Being the Avatar is never an easy job.
“Operation Beifong” is an action packed and emotionally stirring episode. This is probably the last hurrah for the Beifong clan, as far as the Avatar franchise is seemingly wrapping up fairly soon. If it is, it’s an excellent spot to end on. Things may not be perfect, no family is; however, it appears they are getting better. That hopeful optimism is enough to get people smiling and that’s good enough for Toph and her Kids.