Legend of Korra, S3E9: “Once Change Begins, It Cannot Be Stopped”


By Josh Axelrod 

As “Korra” episodes go, this was kind of slow. There wasn’t much in the way of action until the very end, and the episode spent waaaaaaay too much time on the “Pai Showdown” between Asami and Bolin. But there were some big reveals here, and the pieces are starting to move into place as we head into the last few episodes of Book Three.

We picked up with Korra, Bolin, Mako and Asami tracking down Aiwei after he fled Zaofu last week. They found his jeep pretty quickly (Aiwei, you had two earthbenders tracking you. Hiding it behind a bunch of rocks wasn’t going to work). From there, Mako and Bolin left for the nearby Misty Palms Oasis to search for Aiwei, while Korra and Asami spent what must’ve been an hour or two studying a map Aiwei left behind.

Thank god for Bolin. Considering how slow-paced the first part of the episode was, his general enthusiasm and one-liners kept the episode moving. I wanted to hear more about the backstory behind his fake cop character.

In the course of their oasis investigation, we learned that Team Avatar has a bounty on their head courtesy of the Earth Queen, who is still pretty salty about them busting out her airbender army. What a buzz-kill.

GIF courtesy of Tumblr

Anyway, Mako and Bolin eventually find Aiwei and tracked him to a hotel, where Team Avatar set up a stakeout, waiting for him to meet Zaheer at the location they found in his jeep. Considering the episode is called “The Stakeout,” the fact that a chunk was spent on  one shouldn’t have surprised me. But as amusing as it was to see Asami kick Bolin’s ass at least 17 times at Pai Sho, there had to have been something more interesting to show than that. There just had to be.

Thankfully, Korra was just as impatient with the stakeout as I was. She busted down Aiwei’s door, and it turned out dude had been meditating all along. They quickly deduced that this meeting was taking place in the Spirit World, which only Korra could visit. Said meeting quickly devolved into Zaheer dropping Aiwei into the Fog of Lost Souls, before sitting down to lay out his plans for Korra.

Photo courtesy of Tumblr

Now it could be argued that this was too easy. Having the bad guy sit under a spirit tree and have a rational conversation about his ambitions and views with the protagonist could be seen as lazy and overly expository. But in this case, telling rather than showing worked. We learned a lot about the Red Lotus, including:

  • Unalaq once worked with Zaheer before branching off to pursue his Dark Avatar fantasies.
  • They tried to kidnap Korra when she was a child so they could raise her with their anarchist beliefs.
  • Their ultimate goal is to wipe out world leaders and abolish the idea of “nations” completely.

The sad part is, he makes some compelling arguments. Between the destructive tendencies and ineptitude of leaders like Fire Lord Ozai and The Earth Queen, it almost makes sense to get rid of them completely. Of course, not in the violent ways Zaheer is suggesting. The logic behind terrorism can sometimes make scary amounts of sense, but the methods almost never justify the means.

And that’s what the Red Lotus is at heart: a terrorist cell. And their leader isn’t as crazy or radical as you might want him to be. Zaheer is the kind of guy who will tell you exactly what he’s planning to do without really trying to convince you he’s right. He doesn’t care if you think he’s a radical; he truly believes in his cause and will do whatever it takes to achieve his goals. Zaheer is now officially on Amon’s level of menacing.

Photo courtesy of Avatar Wiki

While Korra and Zaheer talked in the Spirit World, MIng Hua and Ghazan went after Korra’s meditating body. This led to the episodes big action set piece: a pretty epic showdown between those two, Mako and Bolin. Unfortunately, all the two of them were able to do was hold them off while Asami escaped with Korra’s body.

When Korra returned to her body, she and Asami were prisoners of The Earth Queen, heading back to Ba Sing Se. Mako and Bolin are now held captive by Zaheer. Luckily for them, Lin and Su are still out there searching for Korra. Then again, I’m still not convinced of Su’s true allegiences, so it looks like Team Avatar in running out of friends quickly.

Hopefully Tenzin and his band of airbenders get back in the game soon. Someone has to stop Zaheer, and we’re a little short on good guys at the moment.


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