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The Legend of Korra: The Spirit of Competition
“Love is in the air. Since Korra arrived in Republic City she’s had only eyes for one fellow… Mako. The feeling seemed mutual until a fateful accident intervened. Now Mako’s affections have fallen right into the arms of the beautiful Asami. Will love prove to be Korra’s most formidable foe yet?”
The show opens in to see the Fire Ferrets practicing for the quarterfinals as a well-oiled bending machine. To the sound of wonderful 1920s styled Asian Jazz Bolin, Korra, and Mako practice their individual attacks, chronologically knocking each other out and laughing in good humor. Proceeding Mako’s call for a huddle up, Bolin makes an “oh so” inconspicuous (not) glance at Korra, who then follows with a smiling turn to the ever obvious Mako, reacting with confusion and an “um”. Following this cycle of infatuation Mako inquires his follow teammates if they’re ready with Korra and Bolin responding with “We’re ready!” Well, not quite according to the ever beautiful Asami with comes into the gym to present the Fire Ferrets’ new uniforms with the Future Industries’ insignia. The brand-new garb is taken in positively by the team’s leader and boyfriend of the uniform provider, responding that they look great to which the female benefactor flirts back with a “You look great, champ.” The eau’ de cheesy to the gym is further fueled when the couple lean in for an Eskimo kiss (rubbing nose to nose, in case you didn’t know) to which the titular heroine (and majority of the viewing audience) respond with a look or revulsion before faking the aloof “Let’s pretend I couldn’t care less, but really do” look. Mako and Asami then proceed to leave for a lunch date, leaving Bolin to make his move.
Bolin: So Korra. There they go. Here we are. All alone in the gym. Just you and me.Two alone people.Together... alone.
Notice the abundant “Alones.”
Korra chooses the path of no confrontation and exempts herself with an excuse for Airbending training with Tenzin, leaving behind the big camelephant in the room and Bolin’s apparent disappointment. Later on in the privacy of their attic apartment, the two brothers handle separate tasks, Mako in cooking dinner* and Bolin in trying to get a struggling, yet defeated Pabu into a bath (sorry, poor guy) to look good in his new uniform. While washing Pabu, Bolin addresses a certain issue at hand.
Bolin: So, what do you think of Korra in a girlfriend sort a way?
Mako: She's great, but I think it makes more sense for me to go for Asami.
Bolin: I was talking about a girlfriend for me! Leave some ladies for the rest of us!
Mako: (Sheepish expression) ...That's what I thought you meant.
Let’s all admit that Mako did not really think that was what Bolin meant. Mako then answers with uncertainty, saying that it might not be a great idea for him (note the italicized wording) to date Korra. Bolin rebuttals Mako with his previous comment being that Korra is great two seconds ago. To which Mako tries to deny his precedent claim, responding that Korra is a great athlete, a great Avatar, and stuff, but not really girlfriend material. Concluding his argument by stating she’s more like pal. Oy, the hypocrisy. Bolin submits his opinion, believing that Mako is nuts, trying to convince him that he should date Korra because of their mutual perfection together. Mako warns him that it wouldn’t be a wise decision to date a teammate now, especially during the games. A love struck Bolin blatantly ignores the suggestion, muttering to Pabu that “You know what I’m talking about Pabu. I’m talking about real love.”
Bolin: Korra and I are perfect for each other. She's strong, I'm strong. She's fun, I'm fun. She's beautiful, I'm gorgeous!
Mako: Look, it just isn't smart to date a teammate, especially during the tournament.
Meanwhile in an alternate reality, Korra, Ikki, and Jinora are feeding the Momo- esque flying lemurs that inhabit Airbender Island. As Korra unloads the final fruit basket Jinora so subtly inquires of a “certain handsome Firebender” boy with a tilt of curiosity.
Jinora: So, how's it going with the tall dreamy fire bender boy? You've been spending a lot of time together lately.
Ikki: Oh yeah! Tell us all about the magical romance!
Korra: What? Listen to you two. I’m not interested in Mako or any romantic stuff. Besides he's all into that prissy, beautiful, elegant, rich girl. But lets just pretend for a second I am interested in him, what would I do?
Yeah, because you’re in a hypothetical situation. This is sarcasm.
Jinora: Oh, I just read a historical saga where the heroine fell in love with the enemy generals son, who was supposed to marry the princess. You should do what she did!
Korra: Tell me! (Because Korra is not interested)
Jinora: She rode a dragon into battle and burned down the entire country, then she jumped into a volcano. It was so romantic
Here comes the “umm.”Ikki then jumps in with her own helpful advice.
Ikki: No! No! No! The best way to win a boy's heart is to brew a love potion of rainbows and sunsets that makes true lovers sprout wings and fly to a magical castle in the sky where they get married and eat clouds with spoons and use stars as ice cubes in their moonlight punch for ever and ever and EVER!
Korra: ...The volcano is starting to make more sense to me now.
Surprise, someone chuckles behind the romantic advisers. The laughter belongs to very pregnant Pema smiling behind the three. A very embarrassed Korra then asks Pema how long she had been standing there. Pema replies with a “Long enough,” before expressing that she can empathize as she herself was in the exact same situation with Tenzin years ago. In this surprising insight Pema reveals how Tenzin used to be with someone else and for the longest time said nothing in the fear of being rejected. But it soon it proved to be too painful to watch her soul mate spend his life with the wrong woman. So Pema exclaimed how she plucked up her courage and concluded “the rest is history” laying her hands on her pregnant belly. Naturally Ikki, Jinora, and Korra “Wow” (yes, Avatars can love romance) ending the shot with Korra smiling, as she is inspired to make her next move.
Move on to the Probending Stadium where the Fire Ferrets complete against the Red Sands Rabaroos, whom they easily defeat in one of their all time best performances. In the locker room after the game Mako comments to Korra on well they’ve been connecting inside the ring to which Korra blushes and replies that she feels that they have been connecting outside of the ring as well. Then Korra advances to say that she thinks that they should spend some time together, to which Mako takes with confusion saying that they have been spending a lot of time together. Korra corrects herself meaning to spend time together “outside of the gym and not searching for kidnapped family members or fighting chi blockers.” In turn Mako looks uncertain when Korra takes the plunge and confesses, “Look I really like you and I think we were meant for each other.” Mako then turns away and Korra blocks her head in humiliation. Mako soon replies that he doesn’t see her romantically in that way and that he is with Asami. Not long after Bolin and Asami enters, with Asami hugging and congratulating Mako while Korra looks away in despair. Meanwhile Bolin comes in to make his move asking Korra out on a “sort-of date situation” to which she politely rejects feeling that she isn’t very ‘date-worthy’ to which Bolin counters with several compliments.
Bolin: So Korra, I was thinking, you and me we can go and get some dinner together, sort of a date situation.
Korra: Oh, that's really sweet, but I don't think so. I don't feel very date worthy.
Bolin: Are you kidding me? You're the smartest, funniest, toughest, buffest, talented, incrediblest girl in the world. (Let me just say why can’t there be more guys like Bolin)
Korra: (Blushing and giggling) You really feel that way about me?
Bolin: (Smiling so earnestly and sweetly at Korra) I felt that way since the moment I saw you! Trust me I know we're going to have so much fun together.
Korra: You know what? I could use some fun. Okay, sure.
Bolin: Yes! Who the luckiest guy in the world? Right here! Bolin!
Feeling flattered and rejected Korra happily accepts, a decision to which Bolin is delighted and Mako looks on in annoyance and perhaps… jealousy, over Asami’s shoulder. The two teammates proceed to eat at
Narook’s Seaweed Noodlery where Korra is happily chowing down on green noodles and complimenting their authenticity, admitting she is homesick for water tribe grub. In knowledge of this new information, Bolin is ecstatic in sharing the same eating preferences, “just another reason we are so great together.” However, the lovely meal is interrupted by the rude leering by a not quite so gentleman sitting at a table across the room. After Korra inquiry about the “creepy guy” Bolin reveals he is Tahno, a pro-bending member of the prolific Wolfbats, before warning Korra to mess with him, as Tahno in his words a ‘nasty dude.’ Choosing to ignore Bolin’s suggestion Korra stares back at the pro-bender who stand up to join the two. The Wolfbats’ captain then carries on provoking the two with insults and sexual harassment on Korra’s part.
Tahno: Well, well, well. If it isn't the Fire Ferrets, probending's saddest excuse for a team. Tell me, how do a couple of amateurs, like you, luck your way into the tournament. (To Korra) Especially, you. Avatar. (Intentionally mispronouncing her title.)
Tahno: (Leaning in close to Korra) You know, if you'd like to learn how a real pro bends, I could give you some private lessons.
Korra: (Stands up slowly to reach Tahno’s head) You wanna’ go toe to toe with me, pretty boy?
Tahno: Go for it. I'll give you the first shot.
The scene moves back to show a side shot or should I say lower-hand shot of Bolin whispering to Korra how Tahno wishes to egg Korra on so that in the result if she did hit him, the Fire Ferrets would be disqualified. With reflexes as quick as the ones in the ring, Korra puts her fingers to her lips and whistles loudly, signaling Naga to come and the mighty polar-dog comes in roaring scaring the prissy hair off Tahno, and sends himself and his entourage away. Korra and Bolin then proceed to laugh hilariously with Bolin commenting on how no one has ever taunted Tahno like that and stating, ‘You are one of a kind, Korra”
The two continue on their date at the bar drinking what I assume are Avatar styled Shirley Temples, one of which causes Bolin to accidentally initiate a burping contest to which Korra wins to the humor of the laughing pair and disgust of nearby patrons. The setting then switches to a beautiful viewing tower that looks suspiciously like the romantic Eiffel tower. As Korra looks on fascinated by the city’s sights, Bolin looks at her enraptured by his own view.
Succeeding the date, Mako is shown to have been waiting for Korra outside the Probending Stadium, inquiring Korra what’s her business is with his little brother. Overprotective of his brother and full of jealousy, Mako attacks Korra saying that her only reason for dating Bolin was to get revenge on him. Korra feeling insulted at the implication (even though Mako is slightly correct) defends herself before correctly guessing the real reason behind his concern. The argument results in the pair exploding at each other and stomping inside, at this point where a passerby tries to greet Mako exclaiming “Hey Makooo…” and trailing off at Mako’s expression.
Mako: What kind of game are you playing?
Korra: Uh, probending. We've got a quarter final match.
Mako: No, I mean with Bolin, you got him all in a tizzy and I know your only using him to get back at me.
Korra: I am not. We're just having fun together. What do you care anyway?
Mako: I'm looking out for my little brother; I don't want to see his heart get broken.
Korra: (Catches on) Wait a second. You're not worried about him. You're jealous! You do have feelings for me!
Mako: What? Jealous? Don't be ridiculous
Korra: Admit it! You like me.
Mako: No, I'm with Asami.
Korra: Yeah, but when you’re with her, you’re thinking about me, aren't you?
Mako: Get over yourself!
Korra: I'm just being honest!
Mako: You're crazy!
Korra: You're a liar!
The Fire Ferrets are now seen in the ring facing their upcoming adversaries, the Boarcupines, who are the former and longest reining champs, to which the Main Announcer comments is “Youth clashes against experience in a Battle between the Ages, or of the Ages.” The bell rings and the game begins. The little spat seems to have done its toll on the Fire Ferret’s mettle versus the Boarcupines, for the reason that unlike their former performance against the Rabaroos, the Fire Ferrets are functioning as well as an air glider in a hurricane. The animosity between Mako and Korra leaks into the Fire Ferrets strategy, easily causing their team to be knocked out in the first round. Noticing the strained connections, Bolin becomes the Bending Block of the team, allowing them to hastily win round two. When round three results in a tie, Bolin steps up to represent Earth in the same-element tiebreaker. An unusual decision we discover as it is indicated Mako generally takes this position, but wisely made seeing as how Mako’s head wasn’t in the game. In one of his best feats yet, a grapple and a strike in midair later Bolin wins the tiebreaker against Chang securing the Fire Ferret’s advancement toward the Championship. “Youth trumps experience tonight.”
Despite the victory, a young Avatar is seen gloomily leaning on a dock post, glazing at Yue Bay. Soon Mako walks up to Korra beginning what seems to be an insulting invective, before confessing that he thinks she’s amazing. A surprised Korra turns around to Mako to ask if he does like her, with Mako admitting yes before going on about his confusions with liking her and Asami and the complications… Korra interrupts the monologue with an abrupt kiss, to which Mako passionately replicates, intensifying the kiss.
Mako: We need to talk. Sometimes you can be so infuriating... (Nice way to start a conversion, Mako)
Korra: Save your breath, you've already made it clear how you feel about me.
Mako: No, I haven't. What I'm trying to say is as much as you drive me crazy, I also think you’re pretty amazing.
Korra: So you do like me...
Mako: Yes! But I like Asami too. I don't know things are complicated. I'm feeling really confused and I... (Korra kisses Mako)
As the two break off, Korra delighted blushes before turning her head in shame. Surprise, Mako and Korra were not only the only ones there, as a dumbstruck Bolin is seen before them holding flowers. In a scene that breaks the pitying hearts (and tickles the hearts of cruel ones in the audience) Bolin breaks down into tears before running away and leaving behind Korra’s flowers. Mako suddenly attacks Korra, blaming her for Bolin’s broken heart and the kiss. Korra fights back, saying that Mako is also to blame as he kissed her back. An angry Mako storms off to get his brother leaving behind a confused and ashamed Korra.
Mako: Great! Look what you did!
Korra: You’re blaming me?
Mako: YOU kissed ME!
Korra: YOU kissed ME back!
Korra: Well played, Korra.
Mako soon finds his brother at Narook’s Seaweed Noodlery head bent and defeated, apparently having drowned his sorrows in food. Mako tries to convince Bolin to come home with come, to which Bolin refuses feeling hurt and betrayed, yelling that Pabu is the only one he can trust and love. Doing it the hard way Mako swings a reluctant Bolin on shoulders, mentioning his earlier statement when he said dating teammates was a bad idea, to which Bolin angrily retorts that Mako is a bad idea. The two brothers exist the shop followed by broken trust and a budging bellied fire ferret.
Mako: Come on, wake up, I'm taking you home, bro.
Bolin: Don't call me that! You're not my brother! You're a brother betrayer. The only one I could trust anymore is Pabu! Pabu loves me.
Mako: You're a mess and we've got the biggest match of our lives tonight. Let’s go.
Bolin: No. I'm not going anywhere with you! You traitor!
Mako: Guess we'll have to do this the hard way.
Mako: I told you dating a teammate was a bad idea
Bolin: You're a bad idea! Put me down! Put. Me. Down! (Bolin continues to cry)
Later that night the Fire Ferrets match their next opponents in the semi-final match, the Buzzard Wasps whom Shiro Shinobi states as the only team to evenly match the Fire Ferrets in age, size, strength, and gender. The team loses the first round due to their lack of focus and communication skills, during which Bolin is pounded by a Earth coin before literally “losing his noodles” on the side. At this point the Shiro announces how “the match was brought to you by our sponsor, Flammio Instant Noodles, ‘Noodliest Noodles in the United Republic.’” In the second round Korra becomes so frustrated that she uses unnecessary roughness on her female opponent and is called out by the ref. Further aggravated Korra water bends at the ref shouting “I’ll unnecessary rough you up” signaling a yellow fan. The Fire Ferrets have become their own worst enemies. The Ferrets are done on their luck and Mako and Bolin are losing hope, much to the dismay of the Avatar.
Mako: Well, I guess there's always next year.
Korra: Come on! We still have a chance! Even if it's a slim one.
Bolin: The way we're playing, we don't even deserve to be in the finals.
Korra: Look. If we don't pull together and work as a team, we'll never forgive ourselves.
Mako: Let's just get this over with.
Bolin: The sooner the better.
In round two Bolin receives a fatal strike to the shoulder crying out in pain. Bolin’s pain strikes Mako’s fraternal instinct and as Mako calls out to his brother he is knocked out of the ring. In an incredible feat of endurance Bolin continues to play with only the use of one arm, fighting as long as he can which isn’t very long seeing as how he got knocked out not long afterwards. Now Korra is the only one who can win the game and up one against three, the odds do not seem to be in her favor.
As Bolin swims to the platform we witness a lending hand reaching out to help… Mako’s. Clearly brotherhood has not died. Mako inquires Bolin on the state of his shoulder, and maybe the state of something else, to which Bolin responds is in bad shape, but is optimistic about its recovery. Bolin then asks if they will be okay to which Mako gives an obvious affirmation. The brothers then apologize to each other and Bolin sighs before saying, “Girls,” to which Mako is in complete agreement over the whole mess.
Mako: Are you okay? How's your shoulder?
Bolin: Its messed up pretty bad. But I think I'll be alright. Are we gonna be alright?
Mako: Of course we are. We're brothers. We'll get through this mess... I'm sorry.
Bolin: Me too. Girls.
As we see from the view of the brother’s ascending lift Korra is facing the Buzzard Wasps in the last few seconds of the game surprising the brothers and the audience by astoundingly dodging the Buzzard Wasps’ attacks. She accordingly arranges them single file, prior to using a single water whip to push all three Buzzard Wasps into the water and pushing the Fire Ferrets into the Championship. What a hat trick!
After the match Mako joylessly hugs Bolin, accidently harming his shoulder in the process to Bolin’s outburst. As Korra enters the room the brothers congratulate Korra on her win with Mako thanking her for not giving up hope. Korra then hopefully asks if she and Mako can still be friends to which Mako readily agrees yes.
Bolin: That was pretty much the coolest thing I've ever seen.
Mako: Thanks for not giving up on us. We never would have made it this far without you. I owe you big time.
Korra: You’re welcome. So I know things are confusing right now, but I hope we can still be friends.
Just then the white Falls Wolfbats come in ruining the good mood by insulting the Fire Ferrets to which Korra belies by countering that the final match will prove who the real losers are. Tahno mocks Korra’s threat and enters the ring much to Korra’s provocation and growling.
Tahno: You boys smell something in here? Wait, I know what that is. That's the scent of losers.
Korra: I hope we see you in the finals. Then we'll see who the losers really are.
Tahno: Yeah, I'm peeing my pants over here.
Shortly afterwards Asami comes into the room to congratulate the Ferrets and complimenting Korra’s hat trick. Korra in turn thanks Asami and her father for providing the opportunity to complete in the ring with Future Industries’ sponsorship. Bolin soon interrupts the Thank-you fest calling for some medical help. Korra steps in to help, accidentally touching Bolin painfully to Bolin’s displeasure before revealing she is in fact a healer and soothes his wounds. Korra then apologizes to Bolin about hurting his feelings and is forgiven. The mistakes of the three are accepted and the friendship intact.
Bolin: Need some medical attention over here.
Korra: Here let me help.
Bolin: Ah! Haven't you hurt me enough woman?
Korra: Relax. I'm a healer! I learned from Katara, the best there is!
Bolin: No, no, no, no, no, ohhhh. (Sounding relieved) That's the stuff.
Korra: Bolin. I'm sorry I hurt your feelings. I didn't mean to let things get so out of hand.
Bolin: Aw, I'll be alright. But we had fun together didn't we?
Korra: I had a great time, honestly! You are one of a kind Bolin.
Bolin: Please, go on. I enjoy praise.
Suddenly the Ferrets hear a long bell signaling the victory of the Wolfbats, a quick turn of events which surprises the bending trio. Korra and the others are startled to see the Wolfbats’ opponents being led out of the ring by paramedics. Korra, Bolin, and Mako look on nervously as the outlook of the next game is grim.
Ring Announcer: Your winners, the Wolfbats!
Korra: What? How is it over already?
Radio Broadcaster: With a brutal Round One knockout, the defending champs secure their spot in the finals. I hope the Ferrets know a good doctor, 'cause they're gonna need one!
The Red Sands Rabaroos consist of three female players of whom are Adi (team captain and firebender,) Ula (earthbender,) and Umi (waterbender.) The are the only all-female pro-bending team to compete at the champion tournament. Yay ladies. Bonus trivia fact- Umi is the Japanese word for “sea”, appropriate for a water bender.
Narook’ Seaweed Noodlery is Bolin’s favorite restaurant and apparently he and his brother are considered regulars by the owner.
The tower in Korra and Bolin’s date has a slight resemblance to Paris’s Eiffel Tower and Japan’s Tokyo Tower, a coincidence linking to the show’s European and Asian roots. According to the number of couples that were on the tower as well as the bending two it can be assumed that it is a very popular date location.
This is the first episode where Korra and Mako are seen kissing.
Korra’s kiss with Mako is akin to Aang’s kiss with Katara in “Ember Island Prayers.” Guess Korra inherited more than just bending skills from the last Avatar.
The yellow fan, similar to the yellow flag, is the first to be seen used in Pro-bending.
It is revealed that along with having the ability to bend three elements, Korra can also use healing, a skill taught to her by Katara.
Amon stays surprisingly silent throughout this whole ordeal.