Platonic relationships are important but stop using them to erase queer couples in media. You know, saying things like:
“I’m all for the gay rights and everything but why couldn’t Korra and Asami just be friends.”
Lets be honest, nobody says this when it’s a straight couple. Korra and Mako kissed within the first couple of episodes and people didn’t preach about how valuable friendship is. And this is just one of many examples I have seen.
If you want to talk about platonic relationships by all means do it. But don’t erase representation. There’s plenty of stuff with a heterosexual romance where it’s not needed.
Goal: Write 1 thought every day re: why I love The Legend of Korra until I finish rewatching the series.
#165: The Mako skit in “Remembrances.”
LoK fans all know by now that “Remembrances” was born of necessity because Nickelodeon slashed Book 4′s budget and Mike & Bryan chose to do a clips episode instead of cutting staff. As a clips episode, it did somewhat stop Book 4 in its tracks and interrupt the flow of the season. But though certainly not as clever in concept (or execution) as “Ember Island Players,” “Remembrances” actually ended up being pretty enjoyable despite being a clips episode.
Surprisingly, I rather enjoyed the way it revisited the Mako/Asami/Korra love triangle from Books 1 and 2 – in particular, the self-conscious chibi character commentary, which pointed out all of the fandom’s frustrations with Mako in Book 1 (e.g., calling out Mako for kissing Korra while he was dating Asami, and for the lack of clarity in his breakup with Asami).
I love that Mako himself recognized his mistakes as he retold the convoluted story of his love life, and acknowledged that he needed to find out “who I was without a lady in my life.” And I love that this skit, which nominally revisits the love triangle, actually highlights Mako’s main character arc. Notwithstanding the love triangle drama, Mako went from this:
Mako:Bolin and I grew up dirt poor, so once I became a pro-bender, I wanted it all: Riches, fame, accolades. But all that changed when I met Korra.
Mako: Korra showed me the importance of putting others before myself. And whenever I think of her, she continues to inspire me.
The scene really helped capture Mako’s character growth throughout the entire series. He started out as the jerk who wouldn’t even say hi to Korra when Bolin first introduced her because he was so focused on winning riches, fame, and accolades. But through his relationship and, later, friendship with Korra, he shifted his focus to things outside of himself. He joined the police force, and supported Korra in her fights through Books 2 and 3 notwithstanding the disintegration of their romantic relationship and the awkwardness from the fallout thereof – because he knew there was more at stake in the world than just himself.
This little skit in “Remembrances” was not just a throwaway to needle at fans who hated the love triangle, in other words. It contributed to the audience’s understanding of Mako’s character growth, and helped set Mako up for his hero moment in “The Last Stand,” which highlights just how much he’s willing to put others before himself.
Finally, this is unrelated to Mako, but I’ll just close with the fact that the villain conference call in “Remembrances” was freakin’ hilarious:
“You want to do what?“ Mako asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Okay, so, have you seen that new Spider-Fly mover?” Korra replied, completely undeterred.
“Bolin’s in it,” Mako said. “It’d be kind of hard not to. He’s dragged me there three times already.”
“But the mover’s only been out for a week!” Korra stopped when she caught the look on Mako’s face. “Well, I’m sure you remember the scene where the Spider-Fly kisses her boyfriend while hanging on a thread, right? Varrick offered us the chance to reenact it if we let him take a picture with some new camera of his.”
“Why do we need Varrick?” Mako asked.
“Because he’s offered us the sound stage where the mover was filmed and a free picture.”
“I somehow doubt that he’s doing this out of the goodness of his heart,” Mako said.
“Probably not,” Korra admitted. “But it doesn’t really matter. I’d much rather have this in the tabloids than the usual trash they put about us.”
“Good point,” Mako said. “Now where’s this sound stage again?”
“So, uh, how’s this going to work?” Mako asked when he saw the ring on the ceiling Korra was supposed to hang from. “You’re not a human spider-fly.”
“Maybe not, but I am a metalbender.” She produced what appeared to be a reel of cable from the RCPD equipment room, and Mako’s heart sunk.
“Where’d you get that from?” he asked.
“I asked the equipment guy for it. He was happy to give it to me when I said I was your girlfriend.”
“You didn’t,” Mako said, flushing red. “Korra, do you know what he’s going to think?”
“That you have a metalbending girlfriend?” Korra asked innocently.
Korra grinned, looped the cable around him, and pulled him in close. “Afraid people are going to think you like getting tied up?”
Mako almost leapt out of his skin at the sound of someone clearing their throat behind him. Thankfully, the metal cable retracted into its sheath, and he turned to find Varrick standing behind him.
“Am I interrupting?” Varrick asked.
“Nope. Not at all. We’re ready when you are,” Korra said.
“Good job,” Mako mouthed; Korra at least had the good sense to look sheepish as she clipped the reel of cable to her belt and tried to act like nothing had happened.
Hanging from a metal cable while trying to hold the perfect position for the camera made the kiss itself far less enjoyable than Korra had expected. Instead of taking full advantage of the staging, she immediately asked “Did you get it?” the moment she heard the sound of Varrick’s camera.
“I’ll tell you in a second,” Varrick said. “Zhu Li – do the thing!”
“Yes, dear,” Zhu Li said, then immediately started twisting some cranks on the very odd looking device Varrick had hooked up below the camera. It probably only took her a minute or two, but it felt like forever to Korra, who was still hanging upside down and waiting for an answer to her question.
Finally, Zhu Li produced what looked like a completely black photograph from the machine and handed it to Varrick.
“This isn’t right,” Varrick mumbled, shaking the defective photograph. “Where’s the picture?” But after a bit more shaking, he broke into a grin. “It’s perfect!” he said.
“Thank the Spirits,” Korra said, sighing in relief. Mako helped her down from her cable, and the two of them made their way over to collect their free picture.
“So, what do you think?” Varrick asked. “I call this baby the Taqukaq machine. No one likes waiting around for their pictures to be developed, so she does it right on the spot.”
Mako looked at the picture appraisingly. “It’s a little small,” he remarked.
“It looks pretty good to me,” Korra said. “We’ll take it.”
As the two of them walked off, they heard a crash. Korra turned to find Varrick running towards them, still trying to free himself from his camera’s tripod.
“I’m going to need that picture back,” he gasped.
“No you’re not,” Mako said. “You told us we’d get a free picture if we let you try out your new camera thing.”
Varrick’s face fell; Korra knew he was kicking himself for not realizing that his camera would only make one copy.
On the other hand, she also knew that that meant that there was no way that it’d end up in the tabloids. “Sorry, Varrick,” she said. “We’re gonna want to keep this one. Thanks for the picture, though!”
A/N: For the record, the “Taqukaq” machine is a super self-indulgent bilingual pun – “Taquka-aq” is the Alutiiq name for the Kodiak bear, which sounds just enough like “Kodak” to be worth playing around with. ;)
I watched a Korrasami reaction video where everyone’s reaction was positive, and honestly, everyone seemed to be scared that Mako and Korra would kiss on that final scene but were relieved and pleasantly surprised when Korrasami happened instead. If Makorra was still that much of a threat to people and Korrasami was a surprise it really tells something.
I’ve got to assume that at least part of it was factionalization – I know I was worried in the last scene that the show would give ammunition to the people who were accusing people of being heteronormative for not seeing everything since the end of Book 3 as romantic, right up until the show decided to jump all in. >_>;
On the other hand, that last scene between Mako and Korra did leave the romantic interpretation open to the point that Bryan himself admitted that Mako still carried a torch for her, so… it’s not surprising in the slightest that people who didn’t want the two of them to get back together would find it legitimately worrisome. XD;