The Legend of Korra - Book Two: Spirits

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Agent Richard07, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. Reverend

    Reverend Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Plus he *was* right about the whole angry spirit thing.
     
  2. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    2X4 Civil Wars Part Two

    I'm really loving this season. I'm glad the evil uncle thing is ongoing and not resolved this quickly. It was great to see how bad ass and confident Korra was in combat. I'm really glad we're getting these Tenzin family subplots and I hope they continue.

    It would have been interesting is Aubrey Plaza's character was complicit in the evil plot. And if she isn't, what is her opinion of it? Will she turn on daddy in spite of her spurned "love"?

    The guy hiding in the platypus bear was hilarious, I thought. Especially when the tail lifted up to plop out a stack of money! Crass, but enjoyable.

    And the family of baby sky bison was absolutely adorable.
     
  3. bigdaddy

    bigdaddy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Have they explained where the sky bison clan came from?

    wish we had a connecting miniseries.
     
  4. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    There have been two comic book minseries set between A:TLA and Korra. But they take place close to the end of A:TLA so I think they mostly deal with the fallout of the end of that, rather than setting up Korra.

    As for the episode, I thought it was good. Not at all surprised Unalaq was a bad guy the whole time.
     
  5. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    The first comic mini-series, The Promise, dealt with the creation of mixed Fire/non-Fire colonies and with Zuko becoming corrupted as the Fire Lord.

    The second series, The Search, is still in progress and deals with Zuko's search for his mother.
     
  6. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    First half decent episode so far.

    - The whole bit with the weasely business guy in the bear had me laughing out loud.

    - I didn't know until a couple of days ago that Aubrey Plaza did voice work for the show. Then I just found out that she's Eska, who by the way looked absolutely terrifying when she was out in the ocean coming at them. Looked like something out of a Japanese horror film.

    - The currency is the yuan which is what the current Chinese currency is called.

    - I liked seeing that family picture of Aang, Katara and the kids.

    - I had a thought about bending… A good story would have been if Korra's bending was taken away and then she had to actually learn to bend as a skill as opposed to just learning to use the "powers" she already had. Having a story with this kind of angle would have been a great way to have her become a better avatar because she'd be learning the actual fundamentals of bending, something that can't be taken away. I would have liked to have seen a journey like that. It would have also changed what the world understands as bending. Is it something anyone can learn? Last season touched on that when they started bending the rules a bit (no pun intedned).
     
  7. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    I'm sure if they knew they were doing more than 12 episodes, Korra wouldn't have immediately gotten her powers back like that.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Excellent episode. The best part by far, though, was the stuff with Tenzin and Ikki in the cave. That was utterly lovely. I hadn't realized what a terrific father Tenzin is. I loved it how he let himself show his vulnerability and just be a friend to Ikki, which was what they both needed.

    I was wondering how much time they'd spend at the poles, but apparently we're going back to Republic City now to meet the president. I suspect that, though Unalaq's actions are unethical and power-driven, he's going to turn out to be right about the spirits being angered and unbalanced by Korra's choice to provoke a war. Unalaq was hoping to play on the Avatar's need for neutrality to keep her out of his way, but he underestimated her assertiveness. Still, he's going to be right that it creates a spiritual imbalance, and she's going to be forced to connect with the spirits in order to correct the problems she caused.

    Although Aang took sides in a war and that didn't upset the spirits. Maybe because he didn't provoke the fight in the first place but was trying to end it, to restore the balance.



    What? It doesn't work that way. You're talking about one thing as if it's two separate things. Nobody who doesn't have the innate potential for bending can learn to bend at all. When Amon took people's bending away, it would've been impossible for them to relearn the ability, because their connection to the spiritual source of the power had been severed. It was only Korra's Avatar ability to energy-bend and restore their lost connection that enabled them to bend again. (I mean, think about it -- if it were possible for non-benders to learn how to bend, then the class division between benders and non-benders we saw in season 1 wouldn't have existed.)

    And if you do have the potential, you still have to learn how to use it, as we saw with Aang in A:TLA. It's not just magically knowing how to bend; it's having an innate spiritual connection to your nation's defining element, a connection which you have to train and practice in order to learn how to harness. Korra did have to learn how to use her bending abilities; she just did so very quickly and at a very early age, and the show skipped over it (except for her airbender training) because we'd already had a series that was about an Avatar having to learn bending, and it would've been redundant to do the same thing here.
     
  9. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    That's the current thinking. What if it were wrong? What if people could learn to forge a spiritual connection to the elements consciously and deliberately like an enlightenment or a realization? If Korra could have done that, then her bending would have been a true ingrained knowing as opposed to an ability, and like I said, you can't take that away. You can take away a person's "thing" but you can't undo their understanding. I can take away your fishing rod but if you have the skill and knowledge to make a new one, you can do so and resume fishing again. Something like that would have really empowered Korra. It also would have changed the whole bending paradigm if it ever became known to others. More non-benders would start to think that maybe they could forge a spiritual connection to the elements as well. If I remember correctly, it was stated that people acquired bending from the animals at some point by watching them. That would suggest that this so-called innate ability can be forged and maybe it isn't because of a poor understanding and a belief that it just can't be done. I think it's a nice idea for the world of Avatar and wonder if they'll ever touch on it.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Given that the Avatar has a direct connection to the spiritual source, I think that if that were possible, it would already be known.


    This makes no sense. You're still talking about aspects of a single thing as if it were two separate things. We saw very, very clearly in A:TLA that bending is not an innate knowledge of how to bend. Aang was born with the capacity to bend all the elements, but he had no idea how to use that capacity at first, not until he studied and developed the skill over months of intensive training. So you're totally wrong to say that it isn't already "a true ingrained knowing." Nobody is born knowing how to bend. They have the connection, but learning how to use it does take great discipline and practice.

    Remember, bending is analogous to martial arts. Nobody's born with the knowledge of martial arts, but most of us are born with arms and legs, and with study and training and discipline we can learn to practice martial arts with them. But if you get both your legs amputated (assuming a world before prosthetic limbs were invented), you'll never do a karate kick or run up a wall again no matter how much remedial training you do.


    Again, this is because you're falsely assuming that innate ability to bend is the same as the knowledge of how to use that ability. That's wrong. Any bender starts out not knowing how to bend. They have the spiritual connection that makes it possible to bend, but they don't know how to use that connection until someone -- or something -- teaches it to them. Again, the analogy is with martial arts, so it's deeply rooted in the idea of training and discipline. (The term kung fu literally means "skill acquired through hard work.") The first benders presumably had the innate spiritual connection to their elements, but they needed the animals to teach them what they could do with that connection.
     
  11. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    Arrgh, missed the last two, don't have a series recording set up in my DVR (yet). I'm sure they're "On Demand" but I'm really surprised that Nick doesn't repeat this on Saturday mornings.
     
  12. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    Not necessarily. People didn't always know everything and we're discovering new things all the time. And don't forget, a lot of people have limiting beliefs as well.

    That's a good analogy. Let's grow some legs then. We're dealing with an intangible spiritual force that's not fully understood so who knows, maybe this connection can be forged somehow, assuming that it's not already there and buried deep to begin with.

    What if they're one and the same at the mental or spiritual level? A lot of eastern philosophies hold that enlightenment itself is due to a fundamental understanding that transforms you because of that understanding, so what if bending were the same way? A lot of abilities are just the result of having the right beliefs or eliminating some mental barrier.

    Do we know that for sure? What if that wasn't the case?

    I don't mean to sound difficult, I just think that there are some good questions here about what's possible and I'm not willing to resign myself to an "It just can't be done!" mindset. We saw some bending in Book 1 that wasn't possible before.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Just by studying/practicing? How the heck is that supposed to work? You're willfully missing the point of the analogy. Study does not create the potential, it just develops what was there to begin with. If the potential isn't there, it can't be wished into existence.


    Except that you're choosing to ignore the parts of it we do understand, the rules that have been very clearly and consistently spelled out over four seasons. That's where your argument falls apart. The fact that there are gaps in our knowledge does not mean that we can blithely disregard the knowledge we already have. Just because we don't know how to unify gravity with quantum mechanics, that doesn't mean you can declare gravity imaginary and try to walk off a cliff. The stuff we don't know yet has to be consistent with the stuff we do know.


    Let's consider this. At the end of A:TLA, Aang was the only airbender left in the world, and he'd discovered how to energybend, i.e. to take away a person's bending. It logically follows that he would have tried to use energybending in reverse, to create airbending ability in people who didn't have it. Given that the entire Air Nomad civilization was in danger of ceasing to exist and throwing the world permanently out of balance, it was absolutely urgent that he do everything he could to create new airbenders. And he had decades in which to study the problem. So if there were a way to create new airbenders other than standard procreation, Aang would've had a very, very powerful incentive to discover it. And the spiritual forces of the universe would've had a very good reason to make sure he did discover it. But no such method was ever found, despite the urgency of the population crisis. Which makes it quite unlikely that any such method exists. If it could be found, Aang would've found it.


    It's the logical extrapolation from what we already know. Again, it's illegitimate to equate "We don't know everything" with "We don't know anything." We actually have been told a great deal about how bending works, and we know from abundant evidence that it requires both the innate potential and the training to learn its use. Hell, that's what both whole series have been about -- the Avatar learning how to use his or her potential.


    But nothing that violated or erased pre-existing rules -- merely new discoveries that added to them. Metalbending is just a refinement of earthbending; it works by sensing and manipulating non-metallic impurities within metal, so it's really just earthbending with very small quantities of earth. We saw last season that a highly purified metal is immune to bending. Bloodbending, similarly, is just waterbending with the water in blood. They're new applications of existing principles -- they aren't violations of those principles.
     
  14. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    Besides, if anybody could become a bender just by practicing really hard, you could potentially have multiple Avatars running around. If a non-bender can teach themselves how to bend water, what's to stop them from teaching themselves how to bend the rest of the elements too?
     
  15. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not talking about just studying really hard in hopes of learning bending. I'm talking about something more fundamental than that. I'm talking about a serious level of discapline where one would see the mechanism behind bending, truly understand it and then learn to apply it.

    How does this relate to my suggestion for Korra's journey? Korra can bend all four elements, something no one else can do. Then she lost her ability, then got it back. How did this happen? I don't know and she doesn't know either but her ability came back and all is good. I thought a good journey for her might have been to go through what I described above… First she (possibly with the help of a guide) reaches into herself, perhaps through the discapline of meditiation and finds the exact mechanism that allows bending to work, then having seen this mechanism, she truly develops an understanding of what it is and how it works and is able to recreate it. This way, she doesn't just get her bending back, she knows it and how it works so that even if it were taken again, it wouldn't be gone because it's too much a part of her to be lost. In this, she grows as a person and as a powerful avatar.

    How does this relate to anyone learning to bend? There's a mechanism involved in bending. If Korra can reach into the secrets of life, then others can too. They can see the mechanism behind bending, understand it and learn to apply that understanding. If they have the same innate ability that any bender or avatar has, that makes things easier. If they don't, maybe they can study this missing ingredient we call "innate ability" and recreate that too. In this, bending becomes a real science that can be repeated instead of a spiritual thing that only special people can do.

    Anyone can learn kung fu. They have it in them. If they don't have legs, they'd need to go a step further and get some. They'd need to learn something about genetics, cloning and a lot of other medical stuff in order to get those legs but they can learn kung fu. Bottom line is that it's possible for anyone if they understand the mechanism and have or develop the means. That's what I'm getting at and I imagine that developing bending is easier than growing legs. In fact, it probably could be "wished" into being because as a spiritual force, the work would be done on the inside.

    I wouldn't declare gravity imaginary and walk off a cliff. I'd try to understand how gravity and quantum mechanics work so that I could understand and develop a mechanism involving antigravity before stepping off.

    Lots of scientists and spiritual seekers spend entire lifetimes searching for answers and never find them. Doesn't mean that they aren't there. Maybe a means does exist to create other air benders it's just that Aang couldn't find it in his lifetime. The fact that someone can bend air suggests that a mechanism exist to make it possible, it's just that no one has found a way to duplicate it.

    I was thinking about when Amon was able to bloodbend without a full moon. He bent the rules. :p

    Not just "study hard" as I said. But yeah, everyone would have avatar-like abilities. Or at least everyone who wanted them.

    Nothing. You'd have a total paradigm shift. Bending and avatar-ing would no longer be what the world thought it was.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, she does know, and so do we. Bending is based on a spiritual connection to one's national element, or in the Avatar's case, to all four elements. Korra's connection was severed by Amon's bloodbending, but when she was vulnerable enough to be open to connecting with Aang and the past Avatars and to enter the Avatar State. As Avatar Roku defined it in the second-season premiere of A:TLA, "The Avatar State is a defense mechanism, designed to empower you with the skills and knowledge of all the past Avatars. The glow is the combination of all your past lives, focusing their energy through your body." The knowledge of past Avatars included Aang's energybending knowledge, which Korra was able to use to restore the severed connections, both her own and those of everybody else Amon had victimized. Either that or her connection to the energies of past Avatars also let her bypass the block on her own water-, earth-, and firebending and reconnect to those elemental sources through her forebears' links to them.


    But we already had a series about an Avatar learning how to bend. It would've been repetitive to do the same thing here. Even if you dress it up as finding a whole new way to bend, it's still too much of a rehash.

    Besides, we already know the "mechanism" that allows bending to work: spirituality, the underlying spiritual basis of the elements within the show's Asian-inspired cosmology. So what you're describing is, in a way, what the season is about: Korra having to go on a journey to learn about her connection to the spirits. Not to restore her bending, because they didn't know they'd get a second season when they wrote the first and thus had to wrap it up, but instead to restore the larger cosmic balance which has been disrupted, and which I suspect her actions this week will throw further out of alignment. So she'll still need to go on a journey to learn and deepen her understanding of the basis of her power -- but it will be more about the pure spiritual side of things, the deeper underpinnings of the universe and the origins of the Avatar cycle itself, rather than just a rehash of "This is how you bend water and this is how you bend earth."


    But the show is set in a universe where spirituality is the underlying reality of things. I mean, come on, the Moon disappeared when General Zhao killed the Moon Spirit. The idea of a divide between the material/scientific and the spiritual is a Western worldview, and this show is grounded in the traditional Eastern worldview where the physical and spiritual are facets of the same thing.


    Oh, come on! You don't get to make up whatever random fantasies you want to justify things happening the way you want them to. You don't get to reinvent someone else's fantasy universe at whim to force it to fit your imaginings of how you think it "should" work. You have to understand and accept the laws and limitations that are set down within that universe and recognize that some things are just not going to be possible within it.
     
  17. Kestrel

    Kestrel Vice Admiral Admiral

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    True, true.


    Excellent Part II. This storyline with the Water Tribes is great so far, and all the focus on families with the different subplots. It'll be great to see where this goes, and looking forward to meeting the Republic President. Hopefully we'll get to see Lin Beifong for at least a small bit? One note: unless I'm misremembering, Korra and company left Senna behind at the South Pole? Based on what we've seen so far, I wouldn't put it past Unalaq to use her against Tonraq. Varrick the Platypus Bear was great humor, and I enjoyed the stuff with Bolin and Eska this time too. Also really glad to see Asami back for this episode.

    The stuff with Tenzin's family was wonderful, and after being unsure about Bumi and Kya's presence at the start of the season I'm really glad they've been here. I'd like to see more of what happened with Jinora in the Statue Room though, I feel like they set that up and just left it for a few episodes.

    Definitely agreed with this. Although now that they've gone ahead and embraced Unalaq as the villain, part of me wonders if there might be an actual twist later on about his motivations. Maybe it would make things too complicated, but what if Unalaq is being in some way manipulated/controlled by Dark Spirits, either outright corrupting him or taking advantage of his jealousy/desire for power?

    I'm sorry, but I don't think the show's ever going to go in that direction - the Avatar-verse just doesn't work that way. As noted, the moon vanished from the sky when the Moon Spirit was killed, and was replaced when Yue decided to give her life back and become the new Moon Spirit.

    Well, so far as we know. But note that Tarrlok and Yakone could do the same, and they're all related. It could simply be that they're insanely powerful waterbenders. If you remember back to the first appearance of bloodbending, Hama could only do it during a full moon because that's when waterbenders are at their most powerful (just as they lost their power entirely when the moon died, and 1st-season Katara could beat Zuko at night when the moon was up, but he easily overpowered her in the daylight). The same was true for Katara later, but Yakone and his sons might just be incredibly talented. Or, perhaps, their "character" is such that they have a natural affinity for bloodbending; remember how Zuko lost his firebending when his rage was gone?
     
  18. Reverend

    Reverend Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not that I agree that just anyone can learn bending, there is still a bit of a logic gap in the whole process. Specifically, how the first benders were "taught" by animals; badgermoles, flying bison, dragons and koi fish respectively. That last one make sense since they are incarnations of the moon and ocean spirits.

    Perhaps those other animals were also really spirits that took physical form, but if such is the case it appears that particular detail has been forgotten over time. On the other hand, perhaps the ability to bend was latent within certain human bloodlines and it just took those animals to inspire the forms of the first bending masters. On the other-other hand, maybe those are all just myths and it didn't happen that way at all.

    Either way it looks like this season will go into the history of the first avatar, so maybe we'll also learn more about the origins of bending too.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  19. SG-17

    SG-17 Commodore Commodore

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    The first element benders who learned from animals must have been energy benders, whether latent or active. The Giant Lion Turtle pretty much says that.
     
  20. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    Ideally, it would have been nice if the events at the end of Book 1 weren't rushed but I understand the reasons behind that and what you're saying, Christopher, about not wanting a rehash is fair enough. I wouldn't have wanted that either. And I yes it does look like we'll be getting some good stuff on Korra's journey and the history of bending anyway and I look forward to that.

    As for respecting the show's eastern view as well as that of the show's creators', I'd like to think that I've done both. I speculate on the nature of bending because I find the idea of power and personal potential fascinating. Also, I wasn't so much trying to apply a western view to a fantasy show based on eastern philosophy. I'm very much fascinated by eastern philosophy, I just thought I'd put things in a different perspective to better make my case.

    Will the show ever deconstruct bending further or do something where others get the ability? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, it's fun to talk about it. The show runners have created a show that's written well enough that one could do that. There's lots of good stuff about life and spirituality and it's nice to dig into it.