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The Legend of Korra... Where is the story going? Part 1
midnightchemist
I don't post too often on my journal, but when I do, it is usually related to Girl Genius somehow.  This time, however, I feel compeled to write about another favorate series of mine - Avatar: The Last Airbender... or more exactly, its sequel - The Legend of Korra. After today's episode, "Out of the Past", I feel Mike and Brian have left us with more questions than answers. That is not always a bad thing as far as storytelling goes, but it makes me question the direction it is now taking.  Let me explain,,,

I will not bore you with a run-down of episode nine.  What I will say is the events didn't turn out the way I had thought going in.  I, like many others, thought Yakone and Tarrlok were father and son, and events shown in Korra's visions would reveal the truth.  All well and good there, but I like a few others also thought that Tarrlok was also Amon - that Tarrlok had pulled a Palpatine.  Everything seemed too convenient for Tarrlok's rise in power for it not to be (or at least Amon and Tarrlok were working together to control Republic City - that may still have been the case but it wasn't made clear).  However, Amon showing up at the end of the episode blew that idea out of the water, to say the least.  So, now it appears we are back to square one concerning the identity of Amon.

Or are we?

Now that Tarrlok is eliminated as a possibility, perhaps we should start looking at some of the other, wilder, predictions?  But before I do that, we should start looking at some of the very few clues we do have.  First, let us start with Amon and what he has said about himself. 

In episode 3, "The Revelation", Amon gives us a few meger "facts" about himself.  According to him, when he was young, "his parents were killed by a firebender and severely burned him, forcing him to hide under a mask. For this reason, he developed a hatred toward benders that eventually led him to begin a group called Equalists. Their goal is to create a world of equality by taking away the bending abilities of the benders, so they will have no power over non-benders" (from the Avatar Wiki). Also according to Amon, he claims the spirits bestowed upon him the ability to take bending away from others.  However, how much, if any, of this is true is unknown.  The most interesting part of his story is his ability to take away bending. Tenzen assumes that this ability is energybending, although some in the fandom have speculated that what Amon may be doing is a very advanced form of chi blocking that takes away bending for what seems to be perminent, but will actually return in time (a very long time, some assume).  While I find that an interesting theory, the don't think it has much merit, if for no other reason than it takes way the horror of losing ones bending and the true evil of what Amon has done.

So, second, we must look today's episode to find more clues.  The more I think about it, the more I realize the whole thing with Tarrlok, Yakone and their ability to bloodbend without the full moon was in reality an elaborate foreshadowing for Amon's energy bending.  If we look at the trial shown to Korra in the visions, what ultimately condemned Yakone was Sokka's insight to realize that Yakone could do what was believed to be impossible because Sokka has known other benders that could do increadible things with their powers - either to discover abilities once unknown (like Toph discovering the secret to metalbending), or to be born with unique abilities no other bender possesses (like the Combustion Man's power to super-heat air at a pin-point, causing it to explode).  So what does this mean for Amon?  What it means it that Amon may be telling the truth about is gaining his ability "from the spirits", as it where.  Amon didn't learn his abilities, but was born with them - a one in a trilion chance.  Whether he knew he had the power to take away bending before or after the death of his parents and his scarring, we may never know, but it was the flash-point that started him on his dark quest and the justification for his cause.

If this is the case, there is an irony to be discussed here.  Before I do that, I want to discuss the morality of bending, both in general and in particular to bloodbending and energybending.

As revealed in today's episode, while bloodbending is said to be a rare ability, there is still a law in place banning its use (at least in Republic City).  May question is... why?  That may be a strange question to ask, but I as you to indulge me while I make my arguement.  From what we have seen of bloodbending, it is a very effective at taking down people, even knocking them out, but can do so without any perminent damage.  While bloodbending can be used to kill (as that is what I assume Yakone was attempting to do was to snap Aang's neck via bloodbending), mostly we have seen it used to incompacidate people to hold them or to move them or to get them to do something.  While being controled like a puppet is very disconcerting, the effects are not perminent and it is without lasting physical effects (or very few mental ones, as most of the people bloodbended in this episode recovered quickly).  The more "traditional" forms of bending are far more clumsy in that regard, as it would be a lot easier to really hurt or kill someone using them (how ironic it would be if that the firebending mugger that killed Mako's and Bolin's parents did so accidentally out of fear).

Now let us consider energybending for a moment.  From what we know about it comes from two sources.  First is from the Lion Turtle from the series finalie of Avatar: The Last Airbender.  Here is what he said:  "In the era before the Avatar, we bent not the elements, but the energy within ourselves ...To bend another's energy, your own spirit must be unbendable. Or you will be corrupted, and destroyed...".  So, engerybending somehow allows the user to alter the energy of another person, but not without risk.  The second source is Aang and his use of the power.  In both cases we have seen, he has removed the power of bending  from two people - Ozai and Yakone.  However, the Lion Turtle's description suggests that the power could be used for so much more, but the only examples we have seen have done harm - serious harm - without doing any long-term good.  Aang removed Ozai's firebending so he would no longer be a threat to the world... however being kept alive and under arrest allowed him to have a negative influence his son, Zuko, and, as of part 2 of The Promise, the world at the cusp of war.  In Yakone case, he had a son five years after loosing his bending, and  that boy grew up to be the man to nearly put Republic City under a police state.  In other words, removing bending didn't solve the problems that it was assumed it would, but likely made things worse.   Therefore, the arguemnt that removing ones bending is a better option loses traction, and the idea that using energybending is justified because it removes the potiential theat is blown out of the water.  Combine that with the fact that Amon uses his bending on innocent men (see Lin's metalbenders as a referance) and not just criminals and jerks, with the justification that he is making the world a better and more equiable place, the strains the morality of energybending to its breaking point.

So what does this all have to do with Amon's true identity?  I have three possibilies... but I will save the exploration of them for part 2.

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