Episode Five: “The Metal Clan”
Team Avatar and Lin Beifong are taking a break in an idyllic valley. Naga is in full retriever mode, wanting Lin to play fetch with her. Lin responds thusly:
The team is headed to Zao Fu, the home of the Metal Clan, as there are reports of a new airbender there. Lin doesn’t want to go, because apparently, she doesn’t want to do anything. Lin, you know I love you, but remind me not to travel with you!
As they approach Zao Fu, Korra is starting to get suspicious: why wouldn’t Lin be overjoyed at the thought of visiting an all-metal city? Lin spits out, “What’s there to see? It’s metal. Big whoop. Just find the airbender and let’s get moving. And don’t tell anyone I’m here.” Korra calls her Chief Crankypants, but does what she says.
Zao Fu is UTOPIA. Says AiWei, the team’s escort, “Here, everyone is encouraged to reach their highest potential.” Everything in this city is clean, the buildings are futuristic art-deco, there is no poverty, the people seem happy. Team Avatar is taken by streetcar into the heart of the city, where there is… record scratch!!!!
A STATUE OF TOPH.
Bolin asks the 1-million-yuan question: “Does Toph live here? ARE WE GONNA GET TO MEET HER?” Did you notice the present tense, NOCs?!?!? Toph is alive!!!!!!!!! Unfortunately, she’s on a spirit quest so we won’t see her now… but my heart dares to hope that we will sometime soon!
Apparently, the airbender is from an extremely wealthy family. Their compound is bordered by metal walls curved in the shape of a lotus flower. Inside the grand hall, acrobatic metalbenders dance around another metal lotus. One of them is “the Matriarch of the Metal Clan,” Suyin (voiced by Anne Heche: “please call me Su”).
Su is a metalbending Fembot: she is beautiful, successful, free-spirited, intelligent, liberal, a community founder and leader, a dancer, a doting wife and mother of five… and a little smug. How could someone possibly be this perfect? But yet, she seems unflappably gracious, even when AiWei outs Korra as a liar. Korra apologizes for not mentioning Chief Beifong’s presence, even if it was on Lin’s insistence.
“Lin’s here?” Su sighs. “She’s never told you about me? I’m Lin’s sister.”
Korra brings Su to the airship. “Why haven’t you ever told me you had a sister?”
“Half-sister,” Lin hisses.
“Same mom, different dads. So what? We’re blood. After thirty years, the least you can do is say hello,” Su points out.
Lin accuses Su of tearing the family apart, although Su deftly shoves that under the rug. She changes the subject by saying how much her daughter, the new airbender, is thrilled to meet Korra.
First, we meet Su’s sons: the eldest apprentices under his architect father, twins Wei and Wing are athletes, and Huan is a brooding sculptor (metal, of course). Su is so proud of them all, she can hardly contain herself. In Zao Fu, much like Lake Wobegon, the children are all above average.
Now we meet Opal, cute and sweet with big green eyes, who immediately takes a liking to Bolin. She is also very excited to finally meet her aunt Lin, but the feeling is not requited. Korra agrees to stay for a little while to teach Opal the fundamentals of airbending, which gets a literal growl out of Lin.
Meanwhile, on Air Temple Island, it’s good to see our flighty friend Daw in ship-shape, welcoming new airbenders to the island. Suddenly, another airbending pilgrim appears at the door: his name is Yoru, and he has already shaved his head! Ikki’s reaction is priceless:
Meelo is in full-on dictator mode, yelling at the new recruits as they stumble through their training.
Yoru, however, is already extremely talented. His deep interest in the whereabouts of the Avatar, as well as his sneaking around Tenzin’s private office raises Kya’s hackles. Then it dawns on her: Yoru is Zaheer! She fights him, showing us all just how powerful of a waterbender she really is, but he blasts her against a wall and flies away.
The metal lotus blossoms of Zao Fu close up for the night. We experience yet another awkward family dinner, the haute cuisine punctuated by snarky comments from Lin and Su. In spite of this, Bolin and Opal seem to be getting along nicely.
Things come to a head when in walks Varrick! He is technically a fugitive, since he skipped town before his trial for conspiring to kidnap the president… but that doesn’t stop him from charming Su giving him a job as a transportation technology director. Lin is disgusted by this and walks out of dinner.
Bolin and Mako spend some brother time in the restroom. Bolin claims Opal isn’t his type, but Mako tells him to reconsider, since she isn’t crazy like Eska and is smarter than Ginger. So, Bolin being Bolin, he greases up his hair and goes on the charm offensive, looking like a complete douchecanoe in the process. Opal immediately tells him to stop it with the PUA bullshit, and just be himself. And thousands of ‘shippers squeal.
Korra brings Opal to Lin’s quarters. Opal opens up to her aunt, hoping to begin a relationship there. Lin tells her to get out, which is ICE COLD, even for her. Korra lashes back, saying, “Su’s right. You’re never going to change. You’ll always going to be a bitter, lonely woman.”
And then, you guys, Lin Beifong CRIES.
- Even though she is voiced by Anne Heche, I think Su is meant to be a caricature of another too-perfect supermom, Gwyneth Paltrow of goop.
- Doesn’t Huan remind you of a certain dubstep artist:
- Opal is superbly voiced by Alyson Stoner (perhaps better known as Isabella from Disney’s Phineas & Ferb: “Whatcha dooooooin’?“).
- Getting to know Lin’s history is a dream come true for me. My kingdom for some Toph+Lin+Su flashback action!!!!!!!
- Tumblr fangirl ToDo Me Da VuELTaS constructed the ultimate pictorial recap of this episode. Check it out!
This entire season has rendered this section completely moot! Only one gripe with Avatar Korra herself: Lin’s obviously carrying a lifetime’s worth of baggage! Leave her be!