Preamble: I do not hate Mako, Asami, or anyone else.
Okay, I mentioned this in a previous post, and promised I’d explain it in more detail. I like Mako, but don’t really feel he belongs on the team. This is why.
In Aang’s team, the danger was intense, but everyone had good reasons to take that risk. Katara wanted to end the war that had been ravaging her people for a hundred years, and find a waterbending master. Sokka also had an interest in ending the war, didn’t want to be separated from Katara, and wanted to prove himself as a warrior. Toph wanted to get away from her controlling parents and experience freedom. (Also, she is made of tank parts and wasn’t afraid of the whole Fire Nation trying to kill them thing.) Zuko had the most elaborate reasons of all, going on a long emotional journey to find that helping the Avatar was his destiny, and the only way to restore his honor and the honor of his nation. Even Suki, who I suppose got Team Avatar status in the last few episodes, very obviously had an interest in doing the right thing and was already a brave warrior facing difficult odds even when she was somewhere offscreen having her own adventures.
Now let’s look at Korra’s Krew.
There’s already a lot less pressure behind them. Korra met them in peacetime, with no one trying to kill any of them at the moment, and bonded over playing sports together. This is obviously a more casual bond. Episode 3 does go a bit towards deepening that bond, since Bolin is drawn into Amon’s game through no fault of Korra’s, and Mako needs to work with Korra to save him. But then it gets muddled in episodes 4 and 5, where Korra clearly separates her srs bsns Avatar duties like the Taskforce from fun and games with Mako and Bolin.
So far, Asami is the only Krew member with actual good reasons to have Korra’s back. She feels betrayed and lied to by her father, she just lost everything, and as a non-bender, Amon’s bending-removal holds no fear for her. She also clearly has a tolerance or even a liking for excitement/danger (racecar driving, plus her canon calm in a fight), and a strong moral compass (electrocuting her father must have been hard, but she did it because it was the right thing). She also, in her own words, likes Korra and thinks she’s amazing. Basically, she has strong reasons to help Korra, no strong reasons not to help her (except possibly jealousy over Mako? But she doesn’t seem that shallow) and nothing better to do.
Bolin’s reasons…he has kind of a crush on Korra and wants to impress her? He’s grateful for her saving his ass from Amon? Okay, he’s kind of immature and impulsive, I can buy these reasons being enough. They’re not great reasons, but they work.
Mako, though. Let’s talk about Mako.
Mako is a bit of a mother hen. He’s had to basically raise Bolin, keep body and soul together on the streets, and he’s very protective of the people he cares about. His first priority is always going to be Bolin. His second priority, right now, is likely going to be Asami, his girlfriend. (He’s very protective of her in episode 7, much more than he is of Korra.)
Leading both of them into a dangerous revolution where they could get killed, and he and Bolin could both lose their bending, and with it, their livelihood, and the thing that’s probably helped keep them alive since they lost their parents…that’s not protecting them. That’s being incredibly reckless.
I get that he likes Korra too. She did help save his brother, and he’s grateful for that, plus…look at her, dude, how could anyone not like that amazing girl. But she’s the Avatar, and it’s always the Avatar’s job to go find trouble and sort it out. It’s not his job. It’s certainly not his baby brother’s job.
Keeping out of trouble is exactly why Mako stayed away from the Triads, and wanted Bolin to as well. They got tangled up with them before, but it was just too dangerous. It’s Mako’s job to keep his family (and girlfriend) safe.
Mako’s logical place in the story, then, is to create conflict by respectfully saying that he wants no part in this, and appealing to everything he can to try to stop Bolin and Asami from following Korra into danger. Not only is conflict generally an interesting and good thing to have in a story, but it would test Asami and Bolin’s loyalty to Korra, proving the strength of it (or possibly disproving it?) and if they stayed with her, you’d feel the friendship all the more strongly. It would also emphasize that yes, this is dangerous, and yes, people other than Korra don’t have to be involved, it’s a choice, and a scary one.
I imagine that Bolin’s bond to Mako is going to prove stronger than his crush on Korra, but Asami’s reasons will be stronger than whatever hold Mako has on her, and she will resent him trying to control her life just because he’s her boyfriend.
And who else will be in my Dream Team Avatar? Well, this was obvious, but Tahno.
I understand how parts of fandom are frustrated with other parts’ obsession over Tahno. But Tahno kinda stole the show, not even gonna lie. He’s a fantastic character. And he also has excellent reasons to join—he wants revenge, pure and simple. His old life, like Asami’s, is in ruins, so he has nothing better or safer to tempt him, and because Amon already took his bending, he’s hardly going to be afraid that Amon’s going to take it twice.
Also, I just really love the idea of Korra’s team against Amon consisting of a non-bender and an ex-bender.
And as someone who has had some pretty wild adventures in my time, and has asked people along for the ride, I’m going to tell you this straight: people don’t take insane risks when they have something to lose. Security can be like a prison. As long as you have a roof over your head and food on your table, you will be enslaved to that. You will be a coward. It’s only when that’s ripped away that you discover that you’re brave.
I’ve lost count of the people I’ve known who even stayed in abusive situations for the simple reason that their abusers fed them. The survival drive is strong, folks, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Mako and Bolin are survivors, and Mako’s been doing most of the work in figuring out how they were going to survive. That’s a habit that’s pretty much impossible to break.
Additionally, we aren’t really given a particularly strong moral reason why Mako would go against that. What is Korra’s cause that he believes in so intensely that he puts himself, his brother, and his girlfriend at risk? How is Amon significantly worse than the Triads from his point of view? They’re both dangerous people you want to stay out of the way of, from his perspective. Why does he believe it’s personally his job to deal with Amon?
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