By now it’s no secret that our show’s writers
love to sometimes find it necessary to mess with their main character in order to advance their story. Korra is rarely allowed to fight without being hampered in some way, and she almost never gets a moment to just savor what she’s achieved as Avatar. That’s what makes this scene so very satisfying.
“Metalbending is extremely difficult,” Bolin complains. “No one gets it right away, if they can get it at all!”
Of course, Korra is a glaring exception to that rule. Suyin has already helped her through the first stage of metalbending (pointing out, much to Korra’s delight, that she’s “the first metalbending Avatar”), and in this scene Korra has one of her best chances since Book 1 to show off the ease with which she picks up new bending arts.
Her opponent is Wing Beifong, one of the best metalbenders in the family that invented metalbending, and he isn’t going easy on her. Nor is he unappreciative of this unique opportunity to not just spar against the Avatar, but to trip her up and (briefly) take the upper hand as she works to master one of her last new bending sub-disciplines. (Whoever teaches her lightningbending, for instance, won’t get the chance to toss her around with it, since lightning is too dangerous to spar with!)
Korra is back on her feet quickly, determined not to get tangled up again. Suyin’s hip-mounted cable belt may be old-fashioned by the standards of Republic City, where Chief Beifong has introduced the more modern “backpack” rig for her officers, but here Korra handles it so gracefully that she makes metalbending look easy. Once she gets up, it doesn’t take her long to knock Wing off his feet and win the sparring match.
This scene makes the list for another reason than its lightheartedness, though. See, K308 features a mid-season plot twist, and that makes this the last time in Book 3—the last time, as it turns out, for years to come—that Korra will be able to glory in her own power in such a carefree way. Once the threat posed by the Red Lotus truly makes itself felt, Korra’s metalbending will go from being a point of pride to being a vital combat skill, until in Book 4 she uses it to complete her long-drawn-out healing process. And once Zaofu’s security is breached from inside by a traitor (not the last traitor, unfortunately, who will take advantage of Suyin’s generosity), the “safest city in the world” will never quite regain the luster it had when the Krew first arrived.
But leave Zaofu’s decline for Book 4. For now, it’s enough that Korra gets to show definitively how big a fluke her difficulty with airbending was. This is what learning a new form of bending is supposed to be like for the Avatar.
[Screenshots from dongbufeng.net.]
The rest of the list so far