Korra Episode Review – K404 The Calling
K404 The Calling
Written By – Katie Matilla
Directed By – Colin Heck
Animated By – Studio Mir
The amazing start for Book 4 Balance continues with “The Calling”, what I like most about this episode is that I felt like it knew exactly what it needed to focus on and did those stories well. The decision to have this episode be about the Air Kids and Korra worked very well, as this episode really progressed things nicely more or less wrapping up Korra’s healing arc and now her story is no longer off on its own, she is now in play in the main story. From here onwards the opening introduction part of Book 4 is over and business is definitely picking up. This is a primarily character development focused episode with a few hints at the plot mentioned in passing, I really appreciated how the writers knew that at this stage in the season it was more important to progress Korra’s development rather than the main plot.
While some of the strongest moments of this episode happen in the Korra side of the story, it is the Air Kids, Jinora, Ikki and Meelo, who are the main characters in this episode. For the first time in the series the 3 of them are the complete focus of an episode, while they have all individually had their moments, Jinora way more than the other two with Meelo definitely more prevalent than Ikki, they have all remained minor characters in the series, so this episode is a welcome treat.
For me Ikki is the standout character of the 3 in this episode, so far she has had the least screen time with Civil Wars Part 2 being the most focus she has ever gotten. What I like about her in this episode is that what really comes across as her strength is that she is very likeable, her bubbly personality and charm instantly disarm an otherwise bad situation for her, she then not even through manipulation, but just relating to her captors managed to turn the situation 180 in her favour and instead of them quizzing her for info on her siblings, they were helping her to do her mission. This is a trait that Aang showed at times in ATLA, so it is nice to see Ikki having a trait that Aang used well. I just love how the episode really showed how much Ikki cares about all of the people around her even the animals, when she scared the flying squirrel she went out of her way to apologise, and despite being captured was very nice to the Earth Empire soldiers even leaving them some food and apologising when her siblings knocked the two soldiers out. This sequence meant that Ikki found the key lead in finding Korra, cleverly realising that she may have ended up in the once place no one really goes, The Swamp.
Then there is the other side of her in this episode, while she is great at dealing with others, she does get easily frustrated and impatient with her brother and sister. Meelo I think frustrated many in this episode, not just Ikki and she felt that Jinora was relying to heavily on her spirit sensing technique and not leading the others well and acting above everything. We even see why, Meelo and Jinora often vote against her ideas even when she is correct as we see in this episode with Ikki wanting to search the swamp. She even pointed out something I thought Jinora would notice first, the swamp wanted them to come there. All in all I was very impressed with Ikki in this episode, I hope we get to see her talk more in this book.
Meelo was interesting in this episode as he really did thread a pretty fine line with regards to coming across as super annoying. I have always enjoyed Meelo’s crazy antics, but nearly a full episode of them was a little frustrating to see. Thankfully, while we had moments like him throwing the groups food away, we also had nice moments for him like when he was flirting with Tuyin, it was just so funny and also cute to see Meelo have a little shipping moment. TULO 4 LYFE
It was interesting to see Meelo’s personality in this episode, in the past 3 years he seems to have become super confident and a little full of himself, thinking he can do anything despite being very young. That said, despite his antics, he did help the group in a few interesting ways, his amazing drawing skills did give them a great visual way to help their search for Korra and he did spot their first lead with the picture of Korra at the fisherman’s stall. My only wish is that if we do get more Meelo this book, I would like to see more of his serious side.
Oddly Jinora of the 3 got the least focus. Given her importance in Book 2 and 3, I expected her to make a big jump to being a main character this book. Most of her scenes in this episode were her meditating or saying she was going to meditate, I suppose what they were trying to show was that she didn’t really have Â a plan beyond meditating to find Korra’s spirit energy, which we, the audience, know is missing at the time of their search. She doesn’t give Meelo and Ikki things to do while she meditates, leaving them to completely rely on her and then come up with their own course of action. I found it interesting that she said the line “I though we were meant to do this together as a family” when she was completely focused on just her own part of the mission. In the end she does locate Korra and the 3 agree that they couldn’t have finished their mission without each other. I hope Jinora gets more time to better show off her character 3 years on.
The remainder of the episode is about Korra and Toph. I loved the first scene with the two and how Korra was so eager to do anything and Toph was happy to just relax, leading Korra to eventually ask Toph to tell stories of her journey with Aang. Again we see how little Toph cares for events in the past, I suppose already showing Korra an example of what she could do better, leaving the past behind her. The way Toph recounts these stories are very funny given how nonchalantly she explains huge events she was a part of. Eventually leading Toph to direct Korra to get mushrooms, with the secret motive that she suspects Korra will experience visions as she searches.
With this vision we see the full extent of what is really haunting Korra. It is not just last season and Zaheer nearly killing her, but also how Amon and Unalaq hurt her also. She is carrying around all of her villains with her. It is at this point Toph arrives and really steps into the mentor role, guiding Korra through the reasons for her visions. This is definitely one of my favourite scenes in the episode as Toph asks Korra to see if she learned anything from her past enemies. I loved this concept being brought up, that all of the Korra villains have had good points, but taken to a hard extreme. Toph explaining that they were all not balanced people and that right now Korra is not balanced and she won’t be able to take on future enemies is she still is fighting and holding on to her past enemies just like she is holding on to the rest of the poison. This concept is big, because I think Korra may now have a very interesting approach to taking on Kuvira, she knows that she is facing a person that had good ideals taken too far. We really see now how much Toph had changed since we last saw her, her wisdom is clear to see here, definitely not a side of her we saw in ATLA.
This is especially shown at the Banyan tree. Explaining that while the Banyan Tree connects the whole swamp, Korra has been disconnected from the people who love and care for her for too long and needs to fix that. This is a great reference to Korra Alone, where Korra made the decision to go it alone and not accept help from others any more, staying away from her friends and family. Then in a great reference to “The Swamp” Korra does the same thing Aang did, connecting to the swamp to sense who was present. What follows is the most emotional moment of the episode, as the two groups both realise the other is close by. Korra is now delighted to have people she cares about close by, and the Air Kids are so excited to see Korra again, the tears on Korra’s face as they meet really tell the whole story, she has missed everyone so much. Then for this to be followed up by Toph meeting Aang’s grandkids for the first time made for an excellent scene with a big variety of emotions. Just the idea that the current Avatar is the one to introduce the previous Avatar’s grandkids to a close friend of previous Avatar, it is a wonderful meeting of generations. And of course Meelo is Toph’s favourite.
The last thing to cover is Korra finally removing the remaining poison from herself and completing her healing. It was so interesting that such a long awaited moment, a moment filled with emotion happened with such a beautiful technique, the way Korra bent the metal out of herself and the way the scene was shot was so nicely done. The final vision interrupting the process and Toph’s final words of advice “That fight is over, release the fear”, a perfect way for Toph to help Korra finish her healing. Then when the metal is out, straight away the glowing eyes of the Avatar State returning, a really wonderful scene.
Overall Korra’s journey of recovery has been so well done, while I think we still have a little bit to go as Korra is probably still a bit rusty, the main steps have been taken. It was tremendously emotional and complex, a real in-depth insight into Korra’s mind culminating with the explanations and healing in this episode.Usually Korra has most of her development at the end of a Book, but now we have had a lot at the start, I cannot wait to see where she goes from here. And with her having been gone for so long we have a lot of things to look forward to, her reuniting with Mako, Asami, Tenzin and everyone else. I think the moment where we first see her in her Book 4 “Hero Outfit” will be fantastic and of course the first meeting of Korra and Kuvira.
As for Toph, I really enjoyed getting to see her again and see how much she has changed and also how much she has stayed the same. We really can see that she has really developed a spiritual side she never had in ATLA and while she remains that tough, no nonsense character we all known and love she also seems to be much more understanding and caring in her older years, she may have come across as reluctant to help Korra, but she wanted to see Korra learn herself and stepped in at the right moments and honestly did help Korra through her toughest challenge. When Korra and the Air kids left on Pepper it seems like that is the last of Toph we will see this book, but I have a feeling we will see her again, I think we have to see a reunion between her and Lin at some stage.
The Calling, an episode that is very fun, but also very emotional. Every episode of Book 4 so far has had something big and important happen in it, this time round it was finding out the root of Korra’s visions and witnessing her recovery. Book 4 remains on course to be the best book of Korra so far. Next week’s episode “Enemy At The Gates” looks set to really transition book 4 from early character focus episodes to big plot heavy action. I am fascinated to see what happens next with Kuvira making her big moves, while Korra returns to the world. Book 4 has deeply impressed me thus far.
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