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I've read many reactions to the Legend of Korra season one finale, and as per suggestion, I've decided to write a blog about it instead of bogging down the comments. My main intention is to give perspective and hopefully, some insight to the negative and overly positive (that become negative when they viciously attack the opposed and defend their beloved cartoon) viewers.
Amon a.k.a Noatok
Let's first address the man behind the mask.
Abilities: I'll start by saying that my theory of Amon was that he was a waterbender that used bloodbending to remove bending. After I saw that someone stated that the blood flow would return to its normal state once the bloodbender released their control, I let that theory go. What supported my initial thoughts were his skin color, the full moon in "The Revelation" (where we first see his bending removal abilities), and the non-visual of any bending.
Amon's skin color was similar to that of Water Tribe characters. It was the same color of brown (reddish brown?). Unfortunately, this idea sank when he held Korra's face in "The Voice in the Night," and he was noticeably paler than she. Additionally, dark skinned characters were also found in the Fire Nation and especially the Earth Kingdom; so Amon could have come from either of those nations, making his skin color theory a weak one. However, when Tahno was introduced, it sparked life in this little piece of evidence. Then I remembered back to Book 1: Water. There were paler (yet still brown) Water Tribe members. Amon could be like them.
The full moon was more reliable at the time. Up until that point, bloodbending was only performed during a full moon. Amon's revelation happened during such a time.
The lack of visual of bending was thought of after I observed the full moon. Energybending at the time was still known to require a magnificent light show. Lightning generation would have shown, well, lightning. Obviously, earth- and airbending were out of the picture which left waterbending. Healing always showed a glowing light, but bloodbending only distorted a person's movements. There was no light unlike with the other three aformentioned techniques. Perhaps he mastered waterbending as we know it was very basic in Hama and Katara's time. There was so much more they could do and explore with it that they didn't.
My best explanation to how Amon was able to remove bending through bloodbending is that he disrupted/distorted the blood that was connected to the chi flow. Healing followed the chi paths. Perhaps he learned how to twist the blood in those paths with an extensive knowledge of healing to accomplish this. I'll direct your attention here to read the definitions of chi for yourself. As chi deals with yin and yang, so does waterbending. It's not as farfetched as we think/thought.
I imagine the chi of the Avatar is different from other benders in that there's not one flow of energy, but four (perhaps five because of energybending?). Since Korra only unlocked (for lack of a better word) three, that was why Amon only locked three. In so doing, he unintentionally allowed her dormant airbending to move into her newly suppressed chi paths. I know this probably doesn't make sense or hold much merit, but it's the best assumption as to what he did that I can think up.
Side note: I'm glad Amon didn't have mechanical parts.
Korra: But there's still good in him!
Tarrlok: He's more machine now than man...twisted and evil.
Identity: Initially, I thought Amon would be a new character that wasn't biologically connected to anyone in the first series. Perhaps he did have a connection, just not a blood related one. I later theorized that maybe Amon was one of the few people Aang recruited (again, for lack of a better word) to be an Air Acolyte. I imagine Aang established these people to care for the air temples and carry on the Air Nomads' traditions as there would be only so much Tenzin and his offspring (and their offspring and so on) could do until the people were re-established. If Amon was one of these acolytes (I assumed Amon was about the same age as Tarrlok, and that being so, he would have been twenty when Aang passed. So he became an acolyte as a child or teenager), it could have explained his movements. He may have learned of Aang's successes and realized that removing a bender's power was a great thing. He could have taken it to an extreme by suggesting Aang take the bending of more people that were not as dangerous as Ozai or Yakone.
When one person theorized that Amon could be Tarrlok's brother, I didn't brush it off like I did with the BUMI IS AMON! theory. What was there that could disprove Amon being the brother to Tarrlok? Their skin color being varying tones? This is a poor excuse. I personally know full-blooded brothers/sisters that do not share the same skin tone.
While people are disappointed that Amon turned out to be the son of Yakone and brother of Tarrlok, think of how much more disappointed you would have been if Amon turned out to be related to a character in the old series. What if he actually was the son/grandson of Sokka, Azula, Aang, etc.? That would have been poor writing.
Even if Brychael (so much funnier than Bryke) wanted to go for another jaw-dropping twist similar to Roku being Zuko and Azula's great-grandfather, it's not like it was the worst twist they could have come up with...Buuumiii. Actually, they probably wouldn't have considered that option.
I don't believe that identifying Amon as such was a bad choice. I see it as two brothers that were attempting to avenge their father's defeat in different ways. Amon knew he was stronger and more successful than Tarrlok. The flashback showed that he did consider Tarrlok weak. Both brothers seemed to suffer from Zuko syndrome (I don't mean suffer in a bad way for the story). Amon was Zuko's more season one, I-have-to-do-this sort of thing with the minor feeling of torment while Tarrlok was more of the overall suffering and resolved Zuko of the entire three seasoned arc.
Their summary of Amon and Tarrlok's shared past was well-developed and thought out. It was clear that this was planned from the beginning and not something they made up in the process of writing the season. It genuinely felt like this was the big story and idea behind The Legend of Korra. They planned out Zuko's character in the same way; he was always meant to be Aang's firebending teacher.
For Amon to have developed a cold demeanor over the years of his bloodbending training was believable. To protect his weaker brother, he became powerful to oppose their tyrant of a father. I was right about one thing, Amon did take power to an extreme. He decided to protect what he believed to be the weak (non-benders) from the tyrants (benders). He was a hypocrite which makes the villain not black and white, but gray. If you'll remember, Jeong-Jeong didn't take much pride in his bending abilities. He seemed to loathe being a firebender despite his level of skill, control, and wisdom.
This might be a little weak and entirely untrue: Amon could have actually despised Aang and the Avatar in general because they are the ultimate bender. They could easily oppress everyone which is exactly what Korra displayed.
Maybe he didn't hate Aang, but he may have hated the Avatar. Korra threatened and almost killed his brother. While Amon did detach himself from his family, he always felt at least a little love for his brother despite his harsh parting words. This could be why he knew Tarrlok and Korra's whereabouts in "Out of the Past" because he was watching him most of/that whole time. He took away Tarrlok's bending both or either because Tarrlok finally bloodbent his brother/was a legitimate threat/was standing in his way and/or Tarrlok became what he never wanted to be.
This also allowed for Korra's hallucinations to hold more meaning. Aang was never (or maybe only partially) trying to warn her about Tarrlok, but about Amon. Somehow he knew that Amon was Yakone's son. He knew that even though he took the crime boss's bending, he could still have children that would possess the same power. Since Aang must have known Yakone escaped prison, he didn't rule out the fact that Yakone could start a family to avenge him. It bothered me that Aang was supposedly only trying to warn Korra about Tarrlok who soon was no longer a threat. And by the time she knew all of this, it was too late. Her first vision came when Amon knocked her out, not Tarrlok.
As for this being a deus ex machina, no. It was too well thought out. They probably believed it was truly a good idea and plot twist. And even if it was, that could be our fault. The fans have placed a great deal of pressure on these guys so for their sake, we need to back off and lighten up. We're teenagers or twenty-somethings watching a show designed for children who, might I add, are not as critical or judgmental as adolescents and adults.
Revolution: As the backstory explained, Amon always desired equality. However, this, like his personality, became distorted over time. Maybe it's what he intially started out to accomplish but became drunk with power. His pride and power consumed him.
Yes, he was always a calm and collected villain, but how was this suddenly dissolved when his identity was found out? He was always calm and collected since he was fourteen. He was confident in his abilites. Nobody could touch him, much like Yakone thought. And he became an even greater bender than his father. I think the fact that a bender was leading a campaign against benders was hypocritical which created a more interesting villain. Every bad guy in Avatar: The Last Airbender used his bending to oppose benders and non-benders alike.
Amon fought for non-benders. He had a great motive, until he took the bending of some douchebag teenagers. It was at that point I believe Amon took a turn for the worse. Or perhaps he always desired to equalize everyone so he was the ultimate power in Republic City. What then could anyone do to him? Not even the Avatar, whom he planned to deal with last, could touch him. Perhaps he desired the same power the Avatar possessed and equality. Amon is a great case of not practicing what he preached. How does that make him a poorly developed villain?
Amon's identity reveal is not going to necessarily rid Republic City of the equalist movement. I think it would make for a great plot (if minor) for Korra to repair the damage of the revolution. There should still be avid followers of this movement. I don't care if they were shocked that Amon wasn't who he said he was and that they were conned. That doesn't mean that non-benders are going to revert back to taking abuse from benders. I'm confident that Brychael are aware of this potentional story arc.
When the one non-bender woman pleaded with Korra to help them, saying that she's their Avatar, too, I thought this could be a great development for Korra. Maybe she will help non-benders achieve equality in a fair and non-lethal or threatening manner. Perhaps the Avatar can push for a non-bender on the council now that Tarrlok's position will need to be filled. She knows that Sokka was a prominent member of the council as well as an Air Acolyte. Additionally, Korra could help rid Republic City of the Triple Threat Triad gangs since they are the most oppressive benders in the city. She could even make an example of Tahno.
The Lieutenant's development was a great one. He felt conned and used by Amon which he was. He wouldn't stand for that. As for other followers of Amon, this might not be so true. The Lieutenant was his right-hand man while the equalists and common citizen followers weren't that close to him. They may all feel his revolutionary ideas need to be carried out even if he was a hypocrite.
Death: I thought Amon could return as a villain in season two despite Brychael's claim that his story would be resolved. I even thought Tarrlok would be the villain next season before Amon took his bending, and he underwent a serious attitude change. When Tarrlok commited suicide and murder in one shot, those hopes were gone. Unless they somehow survived that explosion (which explosions have only been barely survived by Zuko and Iroh II, both firebenders), I'm convinced that they are dead.
The scene was a sad one, though. Tarrlok's major change made him realize that his brother was just as, if not more, dangerous as/than their father. He may have thought that Amon had to die in order to be stopped since he knew Korra couldn't energybend (logical assumption), and he was at peace with having to die himself since he created such a mess and committed horrible acts with an art he despised. Maybe Tarrlok believed that Yakone's reign of terror had to end with them.
If there was anything I missed, I will add it to this later.
Ultimately, I believe Amon's character arc was good. He was not quite as black and white as the villains in the first season. I enjoyed the opposition of his movement against Tarrlok's more now that it's been brought to light that they're brothers.
Thank you for reading my long-winded blog if you took the precious time out of your day to do so.
Coming soon: Bloodbending and Energybending further examined.