The Legend of Korra: “The Terror Within” REVIEW
Before we get to the review, there are a few things that need to be discussed. Calm down, Korra has not been canceled.
Book Three has been great, but Nickelodeon’s handling of it has been nothing short of a kerfuffle . Last week, Korra fans were met with the news that the remaining five episodes of the season would not air on television, but instead premier digitally. This move is the culmination of Nick’s poor attempts to take control of the early leaks. No one could have guessed how much that leak would have thrown off Nickelodeon’s game. Not only did they throw out their whole promotion cycle in favor of moving up the premier, their communication has consisted of even more bad ideas. There has been no marketing or promotion for this season, no planning, everything has been reactionary. Nick’s official trailer – reactionary to the fan trailer, showing two episodes a week – reactionary to the low ratings and wanting to get past the leaked material (which were episodes 4-6 — the middle of the book Yo!), no long term plan. Perhaps worse, the communication, most of these announcements have come via twitter. Many fans didn’t even know the show was airing, much less plenty of DVRs did not have time to cycle before Nick pushed out the premier.
It’s disappointing sure, but don’t forget Books Three and Four were picked up back during the airing of Book Two, so Korra will continues. More so, there is the reassurance from the show creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino from their SDCC panel.
“So obviously there’s been a big shakeup…And things have changed just for us since we did in Avatar in 2005-2008 and then when we came back in 2012. And when Book 1 of Korra came out it did pretty good on TV but its online presence was just insane. Not only the chatter from all the fans but the actual numbers in terms of digital downloads and streaming, it’s just been huge. And as the show’s gone along, by Book 2, the numbers in the digital streaming greatly outweighed the channel.
It’s no secret that Avatar, especially Korra, is not typical Nickelodeon fare. And so they’ve had kind of a hard time fitting it into their programming. But basically the Book 2 finale, the numbers were insane when they streamed it, when it went on Nick.com. It was the biggest event they had that year. And that show, digital downloads for that season was amazing. And, as you’ve seen, not so much on the channel. So it’s just part of this shift over. It definitely caught us by surprise and it wasn’t necessarily done in the smoothest way and that was upsetting to many of you and us as well. So, we’re moving over to digital. It’s actually a plan that was in place earlier and it changed course and then went back in a bit of a messy way. But thanks for sticking with us. “
If any of that sounds familiar, it’s because Cartoon Network is experiencing similar growing pains. However, that is a topic we might have to revisit later.
“The Terror Within” is an excellent — jammed packed — episode. Both writer Joshua Hamilton and director Colin Heck are veterans of Last Airbender and Korra and it shows throughout the episode. The story begins with Team Avatar and Metal clan saying their goodbyes to Opal, who is heading off to the Northern Air Temple. Her introduction as Bolin love interest may have been a little predictable, but over time the characters have formed a genuine bond – more so than any of Bolin’s previous odd, funny guy match ups. It also helps that Alyson Stoner and P.J. Byrne work so well together. Scenes like their Kale sharing moment at dinner are both lovely and cheesy at the same time.
For weeks now, we have seen Zaheer and his Gang wreck house were ever they have gone and they almost do the same to Zaofu. Sneaking in at night, Zaheer is able to drug and capture Korra. Luckily, this kidnapping attempt on the Avatar is prevented thanks to the combined efforts of Bolin, Mako, Lin and the Metal Clan. So far with these recaps, I have not mentioned Jeremy Zuckerman’s wonderful score. Somehow he keeps getting better with each book. The motif for Zaheer’s Gang (the music heard in the Book Three Official Trailer) is a testament to this. It captures the ebb and flow and intensity of a fight plus the unpredictability of Zaheer with its calming lulls and crescendos of pounding percussion.
This fight sequence is absolutely beautiful to watch and there are so many standout moments: Zaheer’s Gang’s absolute defense, the Metal Clan’s failed attempts to cross Gazan’s Lava mote, Lin and Su diving in from the ceiling, the storyboards for this episode will be a great treat is they are ever made available. The elements that allowed our heroes to stop Zaheer — Bolin’s pin point accuracy and Suyin’s wire rope skills — were established before and are incorporated naturally in the fight.
After the attack, Zaofu is in locked down with Su having Aiwei interrogate the city’s guards for an apparent inside man. The search seems pointless until, Aiwei pegs one young bender as the source. Most of the gang feels this is a closed case, but Mako who was framed by Varrick last Book with overly convenient evidence and realizes the numbers don’t add up decides they should check out Aiwei, the only person would could lie in Zaofu.
The trip to Aiwei’s house is intense, with Team Avatar carefully choosing their words as to not trip him off Aiwei of deception and to hide what they really know. Even without lying, the Truth Seer sees threw them and makes his escape, but not before blowing up any additional evidence the team could have found. Aiwei’s betrayal strikes Suyin at her core. She has built her metal bending utopia with misfits and believing in second chances. Everyone here is as family to her. She has allowed boundless creative freedom and it perhaps because of this openness she has let a few radicals in her inner circle. Suyin is hurt and one can see it in her animations and Anne Heche’s performance. She wants answers and she doesn’t care if she has to go behind Lin’s back to get them. So she lets Team Avatar sneak out at night to track down Aiwei.
Nickelodeon’s handling of Korra has been horrible and it disappointing given the quality of Book Three. If anything it has shown the difficulties of a network trying to handle a leak while at the same time trying to adjust to the changing viewing habits of a growing demographic that is clearly outside of their core audience.