You have to give it to the creators of Legend of Korra for not taking the easy way out. And the easy way would have been to just rehash Avatar: The Last Airbender with new characters. Instead we have a thoroughly modern tale about when dreams turn into nightmares.
Last episode we were introduced to professional bending, a team bending sport in a tournament style where you drive your opponents back and off a platform. This episode the Fire Ferrets need to come up with a hefty chunk of cash to move on the next round of the tournament. Mako gets a joe at the power company while his brother Bolin goes for easy money doing work for the Triple Threat Triads. Ya, the gang that Korra trashed in the opening episode. Except Bolin just disappears. Mako and Korra go looking for him and end up at an Equalist’s secret rally.
Amon, the leader of the Equalists, says the time is coming near to properly balance the world by eliminating the ability to bend. The revelation is that Amon can permanently take away a bender’s ability to bend elements. The triad benders are trotted out and among them is Bolin. Amon defeats each of the benders using martial arts then strips their bending powers. Just as he is about to get to Bolin, Korra creates a steam cloud that allows Mako to grab his brother.
Escaping from the chaos of the meeting Korra runs into the elite fighters of the Equalist movement who block chi and therefore temporarily stop benders from using their abilities. Back on Air Temple Island, Korra tells Master Tensen about what she saw. Tensen is very worried because this means the revolutionary anti-bending forces much more dangerous than he thought. He is also worried about Amon since the only person known to be able to strip bending abilities is the avatar.
So much good stuff in the episode. Our masked villain has revealed his plan and basically been shown to be the anti-avatar. And while Korra is a gifted bender it shows how much growth she is going to need to hold the world together and get respect back for the avatar. Legend of Korra has a very pulp feel with lots of anachronism throw in and this episode deliveries in chop-sockey dieselpunk in spades. I love the interwar feel of the new series and a love how we are on a very different and modern journey of politics, power and how can you run a society that treats people equally even when all people aren’t equal.