Season Finale Legend of Korra Recap: "Skeletons in the Closet."
Amon is certainly enjoying his reign as supreme ruler of Republic City. Air zepplins roam the skies bedecked with symbols that remind me nervously of the Nazi swastika, and he's done some... remodeling... of Aang's statue in the harbor. They've somehow created a big Amon mask big enough to fit the stone face; it's a wonder they didn't just tear it down. Sato gloats that one day soon, all benders will lose their powers and everybody will be equal... although, as Orwell puts it, surely some will end up being more equal than others. Mako and Korra, dressed as Equalist soldiers, listen to this and then make their getaway to their hiding space underground. Korra's mad enough to butt heads, but Mako's got this strange idea that they need to tread carefully when dealing with a guy who can take away their powers by touching their foreheads, so he urges her to wait for General Iroh.
Bolin and Asami are practicing tricks with Pabu when Korra and Mako come in. Asami is feeling jealous - you know how romantic Equalist rallies can be - but Mako insists that they were just doing reconnaissance. I think Asami is more concerned with what they are thinking and feeling than what they are actually doing. After all - she's right.
A cheerful hobo tries to lighten the mood by offering everybody the very best in street grub for people down on their luck - a gruel made from only the choicest garbage from the very best dumpsters in the city. Bolin, who will eat literally anything, loves it. Asami is promptly sick. This is just the first of several really rotten things that happen to Asami in this finale; I suspect she's quite sorry she ever met up with that sexy pro-firebending star and his lovely Avatar friend.
Mako comes by to see Korra in the middle of the night. Neither one of the them can sleep. She's got a terrible pit in her stomach - apparently it's not caused by the gruel. She can't believe she's gone from practicing her skills in the arctic to being involved in a war, and Mako... can't imagine life without her. Oh, wait a minute, he's still got a girlfriend. Korra decides to go to sleep instead if continuing this conversation. Alone. As Asami knows, it's about what they are thinking and feeling, and half-saying, not what they are doing, that is the problem. So far.
In another part of town, Amon invites a long line of lucky chosen prisoners to be cleansed of their impurity, one by one. It sounds like a healing and looks like an execution.
The next morning the gang - which still remarkably includes Asami, who appears to be putting duty ahead of personal feelings - make their way to the docks to check on Iroh's fleet.
And then, they are visible. Iroh, still sounding deliciously like his formidable grandfather, wonders why they aren't meeting with resistance, but the answer comes fast enough. It's a trap. Amon is waiting for them, not with mecha tanks and airships, but with underwater mines and newly invented bi-planes, hot out of Sato's factory. "Where does Hiroshi find the time to keep inventing new evil machines?" wails Bolin, who is ever mindful that he's the one character charged with infusing a consistent stream of humor into the script. The biplanes begin to airbomb Iroh's ships, and even Korra, who has jumped in the water and is looking for mines to disable, can't figure out how to stop them.
Iroh and his followers begin to firebend in self-defense. Korra takes out a couple of planes with a water vortex and some smooth moves. Iroh fends off a missile, but finds himself blasted into the water. His fleet is defeated. He passes out and begins to sink like a stone; Korra rescues him. Now he gets to slum with them in the tunnels where only the hobos and outcasts go. I hope he likes dumpster gruel.
As Korra tends to his wounds, Iroh informs the others that reinforcements are on the way; he must warn them about the airships and mines. The helpful hobo helps them get a message to Bumi, Tenzin's brother. Iroh sends the message that he's been defeated, and tells Bumi not to attack until given the all clear. The group must ground the Equalist's aircraft before Bumi can attack. Asami decides it's time to take down dear old dad.
Korra announces that she's not going to take part in the raid to take out the airships. She wants to face Amon... alone if necessary. Iroh sees the obvious flaw in any plan that involves them splitting up, but Korra wants to end this on her terms, although there's no particular reason for her to believe that she can do this without help. Iroh knows it, too. So, of course Mako decides he's going with her, and that means the group assigned to destroy the planes must do it without two of their best benders. Oh, and Asami? Kiss your boyfriend goodbye. Iroh ponders this. He thinks WWZD? What Would Zuko Do... and agrees to allow it.
Bolin gives emotional goodbyes to both Korra and Mako. Mako approaches Asami and... oh, I hate this scene. He says he's "sorry that things got so messed up between us" as if he was not solely responsible for the way things got messed up. They declare that they care about each other in very chaste terms, and she kisses him on the cheek. Yeah, this romance is over.
Mako and Korra head to the Air Temple to ambush Amon and smuggle themselves in through a secret passage. As they go to hide in the attack, they find they are not alone. There is a forlorn, bedraggled prisoner in a cell. It's Taarlok. Why is he imprisoned here alone? Because....
he's Amon's brother.
OK, we all knew there had to be some kind of connection. Up until last episode, I actually suspected that they were the same person. Taarlok, apparently at the end of his rope, confesses his whole terrible life story to a girl who was his mortal enemy only days ago. Taarlok figured out who Amon was at the moment that Amon took his bending away; Amon used bloodbending to isolate him from his element, and he's felt Amon's bloodbending before.
Amon and Taarlok are both water benders of the Northern tribe. They are also both blood benders, trained by their sadistic father, Yakone. After escaping from justice, Yakone had plastic surgery - wow, there's an anachronism for you - and settled in the North and married a nice little Inuit lady who had no idea what kind of monster she'd just allowed into her life. They had two children: Amon, the elder, was originally named Noahtok. They had a grand old time just being little kids until they discovered they were waterbenders, and then it all got ruined. Yakone was a cruel, exacting teacher even when they were just juggling little sacks of water around, especially to Taarlok. However... when he took them on a "hunting trip", the situation really got nightmarish.
First, he hauled them out in the middle of a blizzard. Then, he told them that he was a dangerous crime boss who vowed revenge against the Avatar who took away his bending. Yakone regarded bloodbending as the most powerful and rare form of bending in the world, but Katara declared it illegal. Now, he wants to teach his sons this power so that they can take over Republic City and avenge what Aang did to Yakone.
"The good days... were behind us" says Taarlok grimly. Yes, discovering that Dad's a psychotic criminal and you are going to be his new weapon might just put a damper on things.
So... Yakone took the boys out during the full moon and taught them to make cattle dance stiffly in the sky. Taarlok protested that they were hurting the animals, but Yakone told him to toughen up. Later, he taught them how to do it anytime. Taarlok hated it, but Noahtok was an expert by the age of fourteen. The responsibility took a toll on him; he became cold and detached.
Finally, Yakone went too far; he ordered the boys to bloodbend each other. Noahtok went first, and forced his brother into an excruciating stiffness that left him screaming with pain.
"Excellent," hissed Yakone. Then he did something that showed a complete lack of good sense, let alone morals. He had just forced his older, stronger son to torture his younger, weaker son terribly. Now he wanted the younger, weaker son, still wracked with agony, to bloodbend his stronger son.
Ah no, Yakone. That's not happening. Taarlok, the soft-hearted, refused to do it. Yakone went to give him a brutal punishment - and felt the icy grip of Noahtok's bloodbending in his veins. It appears that this was the exact moment that Noahtok realized he was more powerful than his father was... which also shows Yakone's complete lack of good sense. Ok, don't torture your kids by teaching them how to torture others. It might not end well for you. Noatok declared the Avatar more powerful than his father, and he refused to help carry out Yakone's revenge. He wanted to run away, and take Taarlok with him.... but Taarlok was unwilling to leave his mother. Noahtok declared Taarlok a weakling, and disappeared into the blizzard.
Stunned by the loss of Noahtok, Yakone stopped training Taarlok, and his mother was never the same. It doesn't quite explain why Taarlok was willing to bloodbend during the events of this year, but Korra declares it the saddest thing she's ever heard. Taarlok fears that both he and Amon are still soldiers of revenge, and Amon thinks that bending is the primary source of evil in the world.
So how can they beat Amon? They can't ambush him... but they can tell his followers the truth about his identity at the rally. They thank Taarlok for his help. Taarlok asks them to defeat Amon and put an end to the sad story.
Season Finale Legend of Korra Recap: "Skeletons in the Closet."