Bolin is my favorite character in Legend of Korra, so I tend to overthink his character and gush about his awesomeness and utter adorkableness. I tend to focus on scenes that involve my favorite characters, so you won't find much on other characters or plot developments here. If, for whatever reason, you would like my opinions on anything else, feel free to post a message for me. I have way too much free time, and very much like to bore people.
If you recognize some of these points, it's because I may have expressed them previously in comment sections, or on the TVTropes' Legend of Korra's Fridge Brilliance/Horror page. If the latter, I'll make a note of it by putting "Fridge Brilliance/Horror" by the paragraph in question. I may tidy things up by trying to integrate them into the narrative, or keep them seperate to keep from causing too much clutter.
This post is an analysis of Bolin by Episode. (Okay, so it may turn out to be less analysis and more gushing about him, but still.) For a more general analysis and theorization regarding Bolin, see my other post.
Keep in mind that this is a work-in-progress. I will of course update as new episodes premier, but as I tend to re-watch episodes numerous times, the older ones may be edited as well. I will try to put an update date on them if I do. Basically, my analysis or entries may never be complete.
I may have to divide this into individual posts, it's getting a bit lengthy.
Analysis of Bolin by Episode
Ah, the episode in which we are introduced to Bolin. There are many great Bolin scenes in this one, starting immediately, where we see him walking in the background and freezing mid-stride when he sees Korra. The way he easily covers for her, and interacts with her, is rather demonstrative of his helpful, carefree personality, as is his taking her to the Ferrets locker area before the match. The fact that he does this so quickly, and has obviously done so before, indicates to me that he is also somewhat eager to please. He quite clearly enjoys positive attention, his posing for the crowd before and during the match reinforce this.
In the locker room, before and after the match, he reassures Korra when Mako brushes her off, it appears he is rather aware of people's feelings. He is very willing to help her when she asks for it, even before knowing who she was. Again, he's a very helpful guy who's a bit eager to please.
Learning Korra is the avatar doesn't seem to change his opinion of her much, aside from his initial awe. He still teaches her, and actually critiques her form, rather than just praising her. Compare what we see of his teaching style (which is admititly very little, and in an element familiar to Korra) with what we see of Tenzin's. Tenzin seems to be trying to teach her by giving her instructions and having her try to repeat them until she gets it right. He seems to become frustrated with her frustration. And at first, he completely discounts the idea the pro-bending is even worth observing, much less considering it as a possible training tool.
When Bolin trains her, he offers praise with his criticism, offering a reasonable explanation for the need to change her stance and giving her a demonstration. He is also willing to train her despite the assumed difference in bending elements, ("I'm just not sure how my earthbending would translate to your waterbending, but we'll figure it out.") The scene change from training session to training session illustrates this, showing her joy at getting things right vs. her frustration at not succeeding. Again, this could be attributed to her comparative familiarity with the two elements.
When she volunteers to help the Ferrets, Bolin's only reservation seems to be rule-related, he's otherwise fine with Korra joining, especially as it means they're back in the match. Mako actually seems a bit out of character here. His apparent pride overriding his desire to win the tournament, and it's prize money, seems to conflict with his determination to provide for Bolin and himself.
"Fridge Brilliance" Korra initially has trouble with moving like an airbender, as she tends to charge in headfirst and rely mostly on her strength to force things to dodge her. After she watches the match, and sees modern techniques for the first time, she is highly impressed, and gets help from Bolin. He teaches her how to be light on her feet, to not be so solid, and basically shows her the advantages of being able to react quickly and being able to dodge as opposed to planting herself to the ground and leaving herself open. Like Iroh figured out how to redirect lightning by watching waterbending, Korra figured out how to move like an airbender at least partially based on learning from an earthbender. The fact that both sets of elements are considered opposites probably helps, as it makes the benders look at things from a whole new perspective. Tenzin isn't the only one who "taught (Korra) those moves" when she starts moving like an airbender. As said in the episode, "Bolin's got some moves."
Poor Bolin! All he wanted to do was help his big brother! And is it just me, or does Bolin look unusually young in this episode? Or at least in certain parts of it?
We get to learn quite a bit more about the brothers' situation. We already know they live in the attic, but with Butakha refering to them as his "hard working street urchins" we learn that this hasn't always been the case, and they have lived on the streets before. The joy with which Mako recieves their money, and his disappointment when it rapidly disappears, shows how much they need money. Despite their pro-bending fame and winnings they're just about breaking even. This is still obviously an improvement over living on the streets, though it makes the earlier episode where Mako didn't want Korra to join the team seem rather odd. We learn that they've lost their parents, and have been on their own for quite some time (about 10 years). Bolin states this rather openly, if a little sadly, after Mako speaks irritably with Korra.
Bolin's enthusiasm for his suggestion of earning money with with Pabu is pretty cute, which makes his hurt at Mako's flat-out dismissal that much more painful to watch, and his determined look after Mako automatically, if somewhat rudely, assumes responsibility makes it obvious that he has made it his mission to be helpful to his brother.
The circus act, with his over dramatic presentation and fake moustache, is reminiscent of some of the more ridiculous scenes in the original series. The way he encourages Pabu "the fantastic fire ferret" throughout the trick is adorable, as is the way his fake moustache actually droops with his disappointment. Also, fire ferret fez. That is all.
Mako getting Bolin his favorite dumplings after having worked all day is very sweet, as he had been glaring at him earlier for the grocery loan. His immediate concern with Bolin being missing is understandable, especially given his "knack for getting into stupid situations." That statement, and the fact that he knows where to look and who to talk to, implies that Bolin does indeed have a history getting himself in trouble.
It's a bit odd how little damage there is to the Triple Threat's headquarters, considering there was a fight there involving benders. There should probably have been some scorch marks at the very least. And there were only five people there? At the headquarters? While "all the triads are muscling up for something real big"? Or did everyone else get away, without leaving any evidence of a bender fight? Oh, or maybe they were on the front lines of the possible gang war? If that's the case, it's kinda sweet that Shady Shin got Bolin on guard detail (which is truthfully not really "crooked") and not in a more dangerous area. Well, supposedly less dangerous. And looking again at that pic, the way he's looking at Bolin, is that concern? Guilt? Is he fond of the kid, knowing him as Mako's adorable little brother from back in the day? Is that why he offered the job in the first place? Whoops, I may have just given myself a headcanon. I think way too much.
Anywho, that shot of Bolin tied up and gagged in the back of that truck was a very 'oh noes!!' moment, and one of those scenes I was talking about where he looks so young. Seeing the brutal efficiency of the chi-blockers against Korra and Mako, and knowing that they had been able to take down five benders previously, and with little apparent property damage, makes me wonder how intense and terrifying that fight at headquarters must have been. And poor Bolin had only been there to help out his brother. He had been hesitant to take the offer, but accepted when he was told there was "nothing crooked" about the job he was hired for, and was shown how well it would pay.
Frankly, the chi-blockers and Equalists are scary scary people, and the thought that they have the triad members and Bolin (especially Bolin) captured for at least a night (which we saw when Mako and Korra were searching) and a day (from the time the search party wakes up to the time of the rally, which is 9 at night) is terrifying to me. (see fridge explanations below)
And the rally? Also terrifying. Poor Bolin gets dragged up on a stage with the triad members, who he is associated with, but not closely. He faces a gigantic crowd of anti-benders, who hate him just because of his abilities and supposed affiliations. It is announced that they intend to take his bending away, and he witnesses that happen to at least three other individuals. One of which is Lightning Bolt Zolt, the leader of one of the most powerful triads in the city, who is literally brought to his knees in a matter of seconds. Another is Shin Shady, who hired Bolin in the first place, and seems to know Bolin fairly well, at least more than a passing aquaintance would. The earthbender he may or may not know well, but the look they exchange is just, I don't even know. It's just wow, you know? And another scene where he looks a bit young. The crowd is basically calling for blood, and the fourth man (bender? non-bender? accountant?) on stage is absolutely sobbing. Then Bolin gets untied and shoved out into the limelight to face Amon...
...Who he promptly addresses as sir and attempts to reason with. Oh Bolin, y u so cute?
His reaction to the explosion also makes him look unusually young. I don't know why, it just does. Anyways, this part, where he gets grabbed from behind by a chi-blocker and is obviously frightened, and his extreme relief at Mako's appearance is one of my favorites. I have no idea how many times I rewatched it just to hear the mook's scream/bird-like caw as Mako flings him across the stage is just addictive to listen to. And the way Bolin reacts, proclaiming his love for his brother and going for a hug only to get dragged off to freedom is positively adorable.
The fight with the Lieutenant is totally unfair. I've seen several comments along the lines of this proving how badass he is, or how bad at actual fighting the brothers are, but I strongly disagree. The boys were hardly in any condition to fight in top form. Mako, in addition to being worried about Bolin for a whole night and day, had been awake and searching for his brother all of the previous night, which was after a long day of pro-bending practice and working at the power plant. The fight with the chi-blockers also would have contributed to a weakened state. Bolin had been kidnapped, presumably after a fight with the Equalists, and had been held captive for at least a night and a day. The conditions in which he was held are unknown, but I assume that, at the very least, the captives would have been kept bound and chi-blocked. Aside from that, can you imagine the mental and emotional strain that would have caused? On stage, one of the older men is sobbing. Bolin is only sixteen. I'm quite a bit older, and personally would probably have had a complete breakdown. Basically, both would have been exausted, emotionally, mentally, and physically, so it's really no wonder they were taken out so quickly. The Lieutenant is comparatively "fresh and juicy." And then they start off the fight by being electrocuted and falling off of a ladder. You actually see Bolin get the spittle knocked out of him.
Anyways, another young looking Bolin scene, when he and Mako bounce away from where they've fallen and get ready to fight. Maybe it has something to do with looking at him from a side angle, reduces the appearance of his broad shoulders or something. In any case, I was glad to get to see him actually fight a little. Actually, being able to fight against the Lieutentant at all after everything they'd been through would have taken a lot of guts, so that's pretty awesome for both of them...even though they get electrocuted for their efforts...
And finally, we have the actual escape scene with Naga. Gotta love Bolin's little scream and his discomfort at being bounced around hanging from Naga's mouth like that, especially when one considers that that's how mother dogs will carry their puppies around, by the scruff of their necks. D'aww.
"Fridge Brilliance" It seems rather convenient that Bolin is the last one in the line up, until you realize the first one is a notorious criminal. As he's the first demonstration, the crowd is likely to give immediate support, and likely to get more supportive as the demonstration continues with the other criminals. By the time they get to Bolin, the crowd's probably so riled up that they don't have the sympathy that they would have had earlier for a poor, wide-eyed, and obviously frightened teenaged boy. This could also explain why they skip the sobbing man in the line-up after Zolt. The guy is obviously terrified, and could garner some sympathy from the audience because he would seem more humanized by his fright, and fighting him would make Amon appear cowardly.
"Fridge Horror" When Bolin was kidnapped, he was missing for at least part of the night and an entire day. In the hands of the equalists. Who hate benders. Who believe him to be part of a well known and much hated bender gang. That much is fact. Now think on this. Would they have been fed during that time? How much did they have to interact with their captors? Were they bound the whole time? Did the chi-blockers constantly block their bending abilities until showtime? Were they informed ahead of time what was planned for them, giving them time to contemplate just what was going to happen, and how that would impact their lives? "Interest of fairness" indeed.
"Fridge Horror" Bolin is kidnapped while doing work for the Triple Threat Triad, who Mako mentions they had worked for in the past. The other individuals taken, at least Shady Shin and Lightning Bolt Zolt, are members. Obviously Bolin knows Shady Shin, but it's likely he was at least partially aquainted with the others, having been with them at the headquaters. These weren't just some random strangers he met on the street, they were people he knew, who he had spent a night and day with as a fellow captive. Mako likely knew them as well. And both have to watch them get their bending stripped away.
The entire scene where he visits Korra to thank her is splendid. Singing to himself? Presenting her with a flower and a fancy pastry? Thanking her for saving him? All incredibly sweet. His "acting" abilities and getting protective about Tarrlok were amusing. But the best part of the scene for me was when he told Korra he was still having trouble sleeping a week after his ordeal with Amon and the Equalists. He's so very open about it, so trusting. A sharp contrast to Korra, who is stubbornly keeping her fears to herself.
At the gala, his grabbing Mako in a shoulder hug in his excitement at getting a sponsor, his cheerfulness while informing Korra that Asami had crashed into his brother, literally, his shared look with Mako at the news that Korra would join the task force, I found all of the subtle sibling interaction absurdly sweet and significant.
And finally, his pouting when realizing that Korra wouldn't be at practice was was so wonderfully childish.
Bolin heavy episode = lengthy post. In case you haven't noticed that already. And there was much 'squeeing' and not-quite 'tearbending' on my part throughout. Ye hath been warned.
This is probably my favorite episode so far. I'm not a shipper, so the actual relationships don't really matter to me, but there was such wonderful character development, and the whole situation seems feasible. Some have complained about the focus being on romance, but personally I love the fact that they were able to condense it and have all of the characters make it clear who they liked, rather than dragging it out over all of the episodes for the dramaz (although with these guys it may be more for the lulz/evulz). I've actually stopped watching some shows when they've over-played up the whole UST thing. There's more to life than romance, and I think true love is just a different kind of deep friendship, which isn't always portrayed well. I have every confidence for the creator's ability to develop the romance in a satisfactory manner.
And now, the actual episode. It was nice to see them practicing again, and learning that Korra was able to take a break from the whole task force fiasco. Bolin being 'smooth' was a bit cringe-worthy, but the actual wording is hilarious, and reminiscent of Sokka 'wooing' Yue. And for some reason, his downcast 'aw' expression makes me think of Zoidburg. On an unrelated note, I like Asami. She seems sweet.
Pabu gets a bath. And sneezes soap bubbles. Need I say more? Bolin asking his brother for advice so openly, their whole conversation and casual interaction just so well illustrates their close bond. And I loved being able to see them in their living space. It's amazing how well their poverty is conveyed with all the little things, like the holes in their shirts and the patch on Bolin's shorts. Looking at the space, you can tell it's not really meant for habitation. You can see barbells and other gym equipment laying around, as if in storage, and there's hardly any personal effects. From the openness and the giant windows, I would think it would be poorly insulated, it would be scorching in summer and freezing in winter. It confused me why they would be sitting around in their training clothes, then I realized, maybe the outfits they wear otherwise are their good clothes. Other than the uniforms and the new suits from Asami of course. And a related note from further on in the episode, Korra is wearing a jacket on their night out. Bolin is not. Let me restate that. Korra, the girl from the southern waater tribe, is wearing a jacket. Bolin is not. Returning to the plot, Bolin has some wonderful lines in this scene. I doubt they need quoting here.
Not much to say about the actual match against the Rabaroos, other than the aftermath of it. Again, we see Bolin basking in the cheers, which was a great way to keep him out of frame and unaware of Mako and Korra's conversation. The way he asks Korra out is much smoother this time. I love how his expression gradually shifts while Korra declines, he is not disappointed, but concerned about her being so downcast. His words of encouragement are just the bestest, and are geared towards cheering her up rather than trying to flatter her into going out with him.
Now comes the date. Great goodness me, the date. He takes her to a restaurant speciallizing in water tribe food. Sure, he may call it his favorite place, but still. Korra's comment about not even realizing that she "missed Water Tribe grub" just makes it sweeter. The scene with Korra and Tahno is great. Bolin obviously doesn't want to mess with him, which makes me wonder about any encounters they've had in the past. Korra is amazing here, her outright ignoring Bolin's words of caution, her defiant glare, her being totally up for a fight until informed of the consequences, and her ultimate reaction to the situation by using Naga's assistance, it's all just so in line with her personality and hilarious. Bolin saying "You are one of a kind, Korra" in that soft spoken, almost adoring tone is absolutely lovely. Whenever he uses that soft, calm voice, instead of his normal voice, which is usually energetic, upbeat, cheerful, high-spirited, etc., it just makes a scene seem that much more intimate, personal, meaningful.
The belching contest is so. freaking. adorable. The first burp seems like a naturally thoughtless one a teenaged boy would make when hanging out with other guys. He's a novice at dating, but obviously comfortable enough around Korra to not give it any thought...until afterwards. His 'oh dear' look of embarrassment is possibly the cutest one I've ever seen. And then Korra proves her awesomeness once again, and the two, without sharing a single word and with no hesitation, start their competition. The expressions of the other customers are priceless, especially the guy in back.
Then there's the tower. One of those scenes without dialog that say so much. The setting is beautiful. The joy with which Korra looks at everything, with which Bolin points things out. The way he looks at her as she enjoys herself, softening from pleased to content to something else. So elegantly simple.
I believe that Mako is genuinely concerned about his little brother when he confronts Korra, though he also seems to be rather arrogant in his assumption that Korra is only going out with Bolin to get back at him. This makes me wonder about previous relationships the two brothers have had. Mako is well aware of how sensitive Bolin is, and the idea that others may have used this tactic to get to Mako before is just horrible. Other than that, the escalation of the argument seems natural to me.
This is one of my favorite pro-bending matches, because Bolin is just awesome in it. After that first round, he really steps up his bending, becoming a "one-man bending battalion" and basically winning the round for them. The way he's able to step up and tell Mako that he's not focused enough to fight the tie-breaker is great, he's upfront and reasonable about it, there's no room for hard feelings on either side. That fight is great too, we see him matched against an older, more experienced player, from one of the best teams out there, and he wins. He seems to have some knowlege of wrestling, and is rather agile, being able to dodge the close attacks and to attack from midair. And is it just me, or did that attack he dodged under look like a head-shot? Anyways, his jumping around in obvious joy is precious. Which makes the next part even worse.
The kiss. Dear spirits the kiss. First of all, I don't actually blame Mako or Korra for anything other than being confused teenagers. I've seen a tumbler post somewhere stating something along these lines, with well stated reasoning for each character. I may be paraphrasing some of their arguments here. First, Korra is a teenaged girl who has been shut off from the rest of the world, and possibly is experiencing her first crush. I mean, earlier she asks a ten year old and a seven year old for dating advice ("The volcano is starting to make more sense to me now"). The advice she does get from Pema isn't exactly the best either, as it applies to a completely different situation, with a relationship and crush that had been going on for years. Korra is straightforward and impulsive, as we see when she initially confesses to Mako. It isn't really that surprising that her first instinct is to kiss him when he admits he does like her, despite his confusion over the situation. As for Mako, he tries to deny his feelings, being in a relationship already and knowing of his brother's feelings, and tries to keep his priorities (the tournament) straight. When he does confess, he states how complicated and confusing his feelings are, when he is kissed by Korra he is taken completely by surprise. His reaction, namely to return the kiss, is completely natural. Asami and Bolin hold no possible blame in my opinion, Asami is completely unaware of what's going on, and Bolin did nothing wrong, unless you count being too emotionally attached to both Mako and Korra.
And then we see Bolin standing there. I believe the proper term is 'feels,' though I'm not sure where that comes from (seriously, can someone explain this to me?). In any case, his expression, eyes wide and mouth slightly open, just standing there staring as the wind blows past, ruffling his hair and rustling through the bouquet of roses, is absolutely devastating. The poor boy is crushed. And this happens not only shortly after his adorably heartwarming date with "...the smartest, funniest, toughest, buffest, talentedest, incrediblest girl in the world," but also takes place shortly after the game. The game which Bolin pretty much single-handedly won. As mentioned earlier, look at him jumping around in excitement after the tie-breaker. The elation from his victory probably gave him some sort of confidence boost...which would have made the kiss that much more disheartening...
...And then he starts bawling pathetically and takes off running like a girl. Yeah, even I found that amusing. Heh. Bawlin' Bolin. I'm a horrible person.
Regardless, it's completely in character for him to be so in touch with his emotions and so expressive of them. He's been shown time and time again to be trusting and honest and open. All of these are part of, or contribute to, his somewhat sensitve, naive nature. And his utter lovability.
His reaction to Mako at Narook's seemed a bit off to me at first, but also works with his character. First, let me note that one does not have to be drunk in order for one to act as out of it as Bolin does. A long night of crying following a highly emotional event could easily do the trick. Heck, just your average depression combined with poor sleep and mild dehydration can really mess with one's mind and temperment. Not that I would know anything about either. Ahem. Anyways, we have a normally upbeat but currently rather upset teenager who has been crying his eyes out over several bowls of noodles with only his trusty fire ferret for comfort and companionship. He has obviously been deeply hurt by the event, and feels betrayed by his beloved brother, who's response to his pain is something like 'time to go home, you look ridiculous, we don't have time for this, and by the way I told you so.' I'm paraphrasing of course. Mako actually behaves in a much more 'reasonable and caring older brother' manner, which fits well with Bolin's 'childish but justifiable temper tantrum...ing...' um, manner.
And then we have the match. From the very beginning, when Korra enters and sees Bolin just sitting quietly slumped over on the bench, we know it's going to be a tough one. And it looks like the universe has decided to kick our dear sweet Bolin when he's down. Well, maybe less 'kick' and more 'hurl an earth disc into his stomach hard enough to make him vomit mid-match in front of his crush, his brother, and an enormous crowd.' And then, the universe, deciding to add insult to injury, has Shiro Shinobi (who is awesome by the way) announce such misfortune over the radio for all to hear, and throw in a well-timed promotion for their "sponsor, Flameo Instant Noodles! Noodliest noodles in the United Republic." Noodliest noodles. I love it, one of my favorite lines right there. The way Shiro says it is wonderful, and to me it sounds like the slogan writer was on cactus juice or something.
Okay, and the universe clearly hasn't finished yet, having more fun with the second match. Bolin quickly gets knocked off the ring after being blasted in the back by Mako's firebending. Because back-stabbing is for metalbenders.
It's really hard to see Bolin basically give up hope at this point. For the last round, the universe seems to decide it's having a swell old time at Bolin's expense. The hit to his shoulder looks absolutely painful, he cries out when he gets hit, and then makes a pained noise again afterwards. Now Bolin seems pretty darn tough, we've seen him take some hard-looking hits without complaint. The noise he makes is enough to garner Mako's immediate attention and concern, distracting him and getting him knocked off the ring. True, Mako's hardly been in top form this match, and he's probably hyper-concerned for his baby brother due to guilt or something, but it still seems to rattle him more than a typical hit would.
The fact that Bolin continues to play while injured supports this idea of him being rather tough, or at least having a high pain tolerance. It even seems to impress Shiro, ("I gotta hand it to him, this kid's got grit!") who has seen many pro-bending matches. It's unfortunate he gets knocked out so quickly, I would have liked to have seen more of him being awesomely tough.
The interaction between the brothers is very sweet here. Mako helping Bolin up and instantly expressing his concern may somewhat reinforce my idea that Bolin being hurt is unusual, but also displays Mako's big brother instincts and worry for his little brother. And we get another instance of Bolin's more subdued voice, he's vulnerable, almost timid when he asks if things will be okay between them. You can see how he stands up a little straighter when Mako apologizes, he's still quiet when he reciprocates the apology, but you know he's on the mend. And when Korra wins, the celebratory hug is perfect, especially as somewhat reserved Mako is the instigator and lifts Bolin off the ground a bit in exuberance. Too bad about the shoulder, I want to see more bro-hugging.
When Korra returns, he immediately praises her for her amazing win, giving credit where it's due even though they haven't yet resolved things, as he points out when she starts to heal him. He quickly forgives her when she apologizes. He says he'll "be alright," which implies he isn't entirely okay now, but he knows he will be. When he asks to make sure she had fun on the date, and accepts her compliment with an offhand comment, it seems to be his way of re-establishing that they're friends, and showing that he's back to normal. Whether or not he actually is, I couldn't say.
The way Bolin makes up with Korra is a bit different from his making up with Mako, but has similar elements, namely his quick acceptance of their apology and his subtly asking for some sort of reassurance. Also, he's a bit quiet when reassuring them that he'll be okay, but perks up at the end of each reconciliation.
Now, hopefully, the universe is done messing with the dear sweetheart. It probably isn't, but a girl can dream.
Oh Bolin, you and your enthusiasm. His radio announcer impression is wonderful, and his attempts to 'help' Mako and Korra argue with the council are "...an inspiration to everyone!" Tarrlok even comments on his "naive idealism," although that comment is probably aimed at all of the Ferrets.
His giving a pep-talk to Pabu, his pride at their subsequent performance, his pouty "whatever" response to the Wolfbats over-dramatic entry, and his reassurance to Pabu that their act was better are absolutely adorable. You can see how proud he is of his little buddy, and how close they are.
During the match, we get to see more of Bolin's abilities, as he is able to ricochet a disk off of the ropes, which probably takes considerable aiming skills. He also seems to catch the worst of the Wolfbats' schemes. He's the first to be fouled against, until Tahno hoses him, the Ferrets have no idea what they're up against. The second time Tahno cheats against him, he slips on the ice before falling and getting blasted out of the ring by fire. If you watch closely, when he's knocked over, he slams on the ground across the top of shoulders and the back of the neck. When he hits the water, it's pretty much a belly flop, and his eyes are closed. Could he have been knocked out by that? Then there's that last rocks-in-the-water-blast that knocks all three out of the ring.
And then they get electrocuted in the water. We see Mako and Korra floating face up, but don't see Bolin. Is that because he's face down? Is that why the Lieutenant pulls him out first? So he doesn't drown? Why do I always assume the worse when it comes to this poor kid? I'll just blame the universe and it's apparent continuation of sadism from last episode. Or fandom. Mostly fandom.
Anyways, the Pabu to the rescue scene is awesome. His dog-paddling over to his owner in the midst of chaos, his being able to understand Bolin's chattering, his not instinctively darting for cover during the explosions, his ability to ignore the ongoing destruction with some simple encouragement from Bolin, and his ultimately freeing the three make him a truely admirable pet, and again illustrates the bond between the two.
First of all, Bolin using Pabu as a puppet is just adorable, especially as Pabu seems to play along. Is it any wonder Korra can't resist agreeing to his request?
It's a bit sad to see the brothers packing up, mostly because of Bolin's sad tone while reminiscing about the good times. And when Korra makes her offer, and mentions that they don't have to go back out on the streets, it really hits that this is their home that they're losing, not just a job or whatever, but the place that they live, possibly the first permanent place in quite some time. As we see, it's winter time in the city, and the idea that they would be stuck on the streets in the cold, that they have been out on the streets in the past, is just sad. Luckily, they have the wonderful offers from Korra and Asami.
The pool scene has not been entirely well-recieved, many seeing Bolin's interactions with the butler as incredibly rude, even cruel, and so make the character less likable. That, or he's acting extremely out of character. I disagree. First of all, I don't think Bolin intended to insult or otherwise annoy the butler, it's much more likely that he is so extremely excited and enthusiastic about being pampered that he wants to take every chance to enjoy such treatment. Notice how he leaps at the chance for a makeover? Asking to be dried off was just his way of showing Korra how neat living at Asami's mansion was. The reason he jumps back into the pool because he was having fun swimming, he had only gotten out to greet Korra and share his excitement with her. It probably never crossed his mind that he was acting rudely or thoughtlessly. Such enthusiasm and minor obliviousness is hardly out of character for him; outright patronization or just plain mean-spiritedness would be. Also, seeing him play with Mako in the pool? How's that for brotherly interaction?
One downside of the pool scene? That horrible bathing suit. Don't get me wrong, I love those old fashioned things, the colors of this one just weren't right for Bolin though, the white stripes were too close to his skin tone or something. Also, his shoulders seemed unusually large in this scene compared to other ones. That could have been because he was standing next to the tiny butler though. Actually, maybe the bathing suit selection was the butler's passive-agressive way of getting back at Bolin for something he had done earlier. Of course it would have gone right over Bolin's head, but the butler could still get some enjoyment out of doing it. Hmm.
We never actually see if Bolin is willing to believe Korra's accusations or not, as she only interacts with Mako and Asami during the confrontations. It would have been neat to see what his reaction was, and how he would have handled things. Personally, I think he would have been inclined to believe her, but would also be inclined to disbelieve the accusations due to Asami's kindness and Mr. Sato's apparent generosity. It would have been interesting to see him challenged like this, what with his tendency to trust others easily.
It was great to see his teamwork with Mako, how they were able to form a plan to take out Officer Song by just glancing at each other. Seeing them sneak in the factory, and getting oh-so-close to being able to drag Korra, Lin, and Tenzin to safety was rather amazing. I adored puppet!Tenzin and Bolin trying to talk nonchalantly to Mr. Sato. and Bolin being the last one out, just barely avoiding another electrocution, before covering their escape route. I can see him thinking something along the lines of "women and children and injured and brothers first!" Or actually I can see him not thinking it, it being instinctive.
Not much of Bolin in this one unfortunately. Stupid need for plot condensing. Anyways, what we did see of him was great as always. Need to rewatch to fill out this analysis.
Loved the interaction between him, Pabu, and the airbender kids, what with Meelo being a "...sweet little monk child" and the Q&A session with Ikki. I would love to see more of that, I could see them all being great friends.
It's kind of sad to see the huge difference between the amount of stuff that Asami brings as compared to the brothers. I know it's mostly played for laughs, but where she has cases and cases of stuff, Bolin and Mako just seem to have those little knapsacks they're carrying over their shoulders. They may have also had a case or something for more stuff, like their new suits, but it may also be that they left them behind, maybe not wanting a reminder of Mr. Sato's 'generosity'. I can actually see Mako thinking that way, Asami certainly seems to appreciate the lack of reminders when shown her new room.
I quite liked the scene where they comfort Korra. It's sweet how Pabu is the first to find her, and licks her tears away. It also seems to me that Bolin is the most concerned here, they way he calls out looking for her is a bit more intense than Mako's. Also, when Korra explains what's wrong, Asami and Mako immediately reassure her on her abilities as avatar, while Bolin's reassurance revolves around her feeling alone. When he declares they are the "the new Team Avatar!" the others follow suit, but he is the first to really establish that they are in this together, and perhaps the most insistent with the idea. Also, "Naga, away!"
The chase scene was amazing as a whole, but I was most impressed with Bolin and Korra's earthbending teamwork. Earthbending a ramp may sound simple enough, until you consider they're in a fast moving vehicle. Which is rapidly approaching the area the ramp must be placed. In a rather do-or-die type of situation. And the actual ramp is just a solid incline, but two individual ramps for the wheels. That means their height, incline, starting point, solidarity, pretty much everything had to be pretty much the same. And they pulled it off. Um, wow. And then they do it again when they need to make the turn, those panel things would have had to be pretty sturdy, have the proper curvature, and meet pretty consistantly to form a smooth enough surface that the car didn't just crash or veer out of control. Yay for over thinking things! Oh, and Bolin also manages to rapid-fire lots of earthen projectiles and take out a motorcylist.
And of course, Bolin gets hit by chi-blockers. On the same shoulder that was hit in "The Aftermath". While in the middle of a car chase. And he's the only one that gets injured. Really universe? Really?
Then comes the 'rally' scene. You would think Bolin would have a little more hesitation about going to one of these, considering the last one went so well for him. I was a little disappointed that he didn't really do or really say much of anything, but I guess that was in character. He tries to actively avoid confronation, as with Tahno, and automatically resorts to talking when unable to avoid things, as with Amon and Mr. Hiroshi. He also seems to have a tendency to let Mako do the talking in tense situations, occasionally adding a quip or trying to smooth thing over when Mako may have ruffled some feathers. With him being so innocent, naive, and idealistic he probably has no idea how to react to what's going on, other than be horrified at the situation. When he's arrested, it's not because of anything he has done. When Mako yells at him, Tarrlok automatically has Bolin arrested as well ("Arrest him and his brother!"), despite the fact that he hasn't said a word.
When Mako cautions Korra to keep her from getting arrested as well, he is cool and practical, appealing to her to maintain a sense of reason in the situation. Bolin also tries to do this by assuring her that they'll "be alright," appealing to and reassuring her emotionally. Interestingly, this is the same reassurance that she later offers Naga before her confrontation with Tarrlok.
And now that she's disappeared, what's going to happen to the rest of Team Avatar? Tarrlok made it pretty clear that they were arrested so he would have hostages, but what purpose will they serve him now? Unless he intends to use them as leverage against Tenzin.
As for them being in custody? Seeing as the police force is composed of metalbenders, I would guess they have taken plenty of precautions for imprisoning other metal and earthbenders. Maybe wooden cells? Which firebenders would just burn down, so they probably separate all the benders from each other as well as the non-benders. Oh gosh, not only has Team Avatar been taken away from Korra, they've probably been completely separated from each other as well! The poor brothers!
Aside from that, they were involved in the arrest of a great number of non-benders, who will likely continue to be arrested in large numbers. How crowded will this make the jail? How much hatred will this produce against benders, metal and earthbenders specifically due to the arresting officers and jailers? And how could this not encourage the jail to be attacked by the Equalists, who also hate benders and know the three captives personally? Over all, this does not bode well.
"Ziiip." And with one sound effect, Lin officially becomes my second favorite character.
I mean, of course she was an incredibly cool character before, but seriously, she showed so much more personality this episode instead of just pure awesomeness.
Anyways, back to Bolin. Luckily my fears about the boys' captivity were unfounded. They are kept together, but their cell is rather um... ew looking. That whole jailbreak scene was priceless though. Love love love the Bo-Lin interaction. So cute. And Lin just casually breaking them out? So cool.
And now we take a break from our regularly scheduled program to squee about the ATLA characters. All together now:
Twinkletoes! Boomerang! Rambling! Righteous Aanger! I was so glad to see how well they maintained the characterization. I was not quite sure of Sokka's voice when he first started speaking, but then he started to ramble and it was perfect. They were all so well done. Kudos to everyone involved in making that scene.
Aaand back to Bolin. And the reminder that he had been kidnapped by the Equalists. Poor guy doesn't seem to be bothered by it, just eager to help as usual. "This way kinda... smells familiar." Oh Bolin, you're so you.
Now then, I'll have to rewatch this part to get the more subtle things, but I approve of the brief Bolin/Asami interaction, even though it's all about Mako. I would really like to see these two interact more in a more casual situation, we haven't gotten to see any of that yet. Seems like the Makorra is pushing these two aside. Do not want.
Anyways, we see Bolin is a terrible liar, at least in personal situations with people he knows well. I like how Asami was able to coax the truth out of him so easily, and that she is so gentle in her interaction with him. She wants the truth, deserves the truth, and he's a very honest character, it takes hardly any prompting on her part to be upfront with her. And when he does, he immediately tries to reassure her it probably meant nothing. Again, I need to watch again to see the subtleties, I really want to look more in depth.
Mako Mako Mako. I am disappoint. I found you rather obnoxious my dear. Throughout the entire episode. I wish Bolin was able to be there to freak out over your freak out, and knock some sense into you. It'd be interesting to see how he'd react, and how you'd react to his reaction. And yes, I do realize I'm attempting to scold a cartoon character. Your point?
The poor metalbenders make me sad. So does sad Lin. Apparently I need to watch that awesome tram escape scene again, because reportedly Bolin's bending and taunting the pursuing Equalists makes one of the former cops smile. I need to see this.
I suddenly like the Council Page. I mean, I kinda liked him before, as a semi amusing minor character, but now he has a little more depth. Yay character development! Or plot-convenient exposition, whatever. Lin's little wake up call for Tenzin was pretty great too.
As for Bolin waking up and thinking it was a dream? It's obviously intended to be funny, but the ease with which he mistakes reality with a dream is rather frightening. Remember how he was still having trouble sleeping a week after being kidnapped? Just how realistic are his nightmares? And how bad are they that he calmly refers to "Korra was taken by this evil bloodbender" as just an "awful dream"?
Need to rewatch the reunion scene again, Mako kinda stole the show in that scene. The jerk.
This episode had very little Bolin in it, however it was so full of amazing that I feel the need to rant and rave. Especially about Lin and the Airbenders. I will focus on Bolin here, but will probably discuss the rest of the episode, and other episodes in general, in a seperate post. And like the other more recent ones, I will have to rewatch to pick up on the subtleties.
First off, more of Mako being annoying. Blegh. But seeing Korra eating and discussing the situation was interesting. The camera's initial point of view seems to be from slightly behind Bolin, so we don't see much of his reactions unfortunately. But it does show that he is there and included in things. Switching to the aerial view, we can see him snag some of Korra's food, which I find absurdly cute. It's subtle, and seems like something he would do normally, though probably more subdued than usual. He's still acting like himself, or at least seems like he is. He's not in the foreground as much as Mako, but this is partially because Mako is being more out of character, he's actually the more down-to-earth brother at the moment, maintaining some sense of normalcy for himself or the others. Whether he's conscious of this or he's so far out of his depth he just doesn't know how else to react I don't know. I'm sure it makes things at least a little easier for the others, not having to worry about him freaking out in the midst of all the craziness that has become daily life. I really want to see more of this though, at least enough to support my interpretation.
For some reason, I like the fact that Mako is oblivious as to why Asami is angry with him, and that his reaction to her knowing about the kiss is to immediately be upset with Bolin for telling her the truth. Somehow it seems like he's more in character than he was previously. I also like that Asami calls him out on this. I don't know why I like that, but I get the feeling that innocent-bystander Bolin is going to be the one who ultimately suffers the most from this love triangle. Again, I blame the universe and fandom. Mostly fandom.
Their finding the Satomobile was pretty great. Bolin paying Korra a compliment after Asami critiques her parking (Asami-"Wow, nice parking job! Korra-"Hey, you guys got arrested and left me alone with a car! I made it very clear I don't know how to drive." Bolin-"All things considered you did a great job!") and worrying about mundane things like the parking tickets was again very much in line with his personality. Mako's response (burning the tickets and saying "Relax, the city is under attack. The police have more important things to worry about.") was perfect, and again much more in line with his character than his freak-out over Korra. Same with his grumpiness at being sent to the back seat (the couch?).
Now, the fight scene! Love how Bolin 'ramps' it up again, single handedly this time, and how he's able to help take out the tanks with his earthbending, when it's been made obvious that metal-bending just won't work. Take that specialization!
The island evacuation again had very little Bolin involvement, so back to over-analysing minor things. As well as a need for re-watching. The face he makes when standing with Asami and watching the airships approaching was rather reminiscent of his expression when getting brought out on stage and when getting shoved infront of Amon in [The Revelation]. Now that I think about it, several times we get to see him be frightened, but we've never seen him panic (unless you count that brief moment when the Lieutenant comes at him and he throws up the wall, but that's more 'oh crap!' than 'OMG we're all going to DIE!!' or whatever). He's pretty good about staying calm despite everything that's going on. Another mild thing, it confused me at first that he sits in between Mako and Asami on Naga when he was the very last one on during the last riding attempt. Then I realized it created a slight barrier between the two. It may have been his idea, or Asami planned it that way, or it may have been entirely unconscious on everyone's part. Either way, it seemed sad and yet somehow sweet.
Naga was great, carrying all four of them, and swimming them to safety. And the way she just batted away "mustache guy" with no apparent effort? Amazing.
And then we have the last scene with Bolin in it, the team watching air temple island while standing in the drainage pipe. Again, it's overshadowed by Mako and Korra and Asami's glare, and again, it's very simple, and again, it's overly meaningful to me. The others stand there watching the island, but Bolin is facing Naga, and seems to be petting her. He also has Pabu on his shoulders. It took me awhile, but then I realized it reminded me of a scene from Watership Down, a book by Richard Adams. As I recall it, two rabbits are sitting on a hill after having escaped certain death when their warren is destroyed. They sit there, unable to do anything but watch, and one starts tending to the other one. This is compared to a senior field officer starting to take care of a junior one after a battle, when there is nothing more to be done. It's a beautiful piece, I have to find the quote for it. In any case, the group can't do anything but watch from afar, and try to comfort eachother. Korra has Mako, and Asami is obviously keeping a distance from the others. And so, Bolin turns to the animals, comforting them and probably being comforted in turn. It's so simple and subtle and sweet and sad.
As it has become a standard for my entries, I will need to rewatch this to catch the subtleties. Also, it has been a while since I actually watched the finale, and my anaysis may suffer from it, but please bear with me, okay? Okay.
Personally, I find the Korra/Mako interaction a bit annoying. I like both characters individually, really I do, and it's not a shipping thing really. I just feel that their relationship has been shoved to the forefront, possibly to the detriment of the story and other characters. Ah well.
On the plus side, it gives Bolin time to interact with Asami, which is awesome, because I see her as his patient and indulgent big sister. That little smile she has watching him play with Pabu? So cute. And then the dinner scene, where he praises Gommu and thoroughly enjoys the food? It just really illustrates his character so very well. He's not letting their circumstances bring him down, he's determined to make the most of it, and incredibly grateful for what they have. The fact that he's so upbeat, and has so much gratitude for being fed what is basically garbage just makes his past seem so much more heartbreaking, especially when compared to previous allusions or outright statements made by Mako.
The telescope thing could have been very poorly played, but the way he immediately notices his error, his little 'oops' and quick self-correction came off as a cute mishap and not a depiction of stupidity. And his reaction to Hiroshi's new inventions was very in character too. He's not afraid, he's not angry, he's just bewildered, and his tone is one of simple exasperation. And back at the hideout, any negativity he harbors due to their situation is immediately lost when Iroh expresses his determination.
The parting of the ways was very touching. In the hug between the brothers, Mako's embrace is rather traditional, and very fitting. The way Bolin gives Mako a pound on the back seemed odd at first, but was also fitting. The gesture conveys a sense of strength, toughness, reassurance, support. It's almost a subtle way of saying 'This is no big deal, I'll be okay. And you'll be okay too.' And they called eachother 'little bro' and 'big bro,' and both said 'I love you.' D'aww!
And his goodbye exchange with Korra? Also D'aww!-worthy. His lines consist of a call-back to a great line from their date, and a request for her to be careful. Simple, sweet, and loaded with meaning, like so many of Bolin's words and actions. And then during their hug, he makes pretty much the exact same pouting pose/face as he had in " The Voice in the Night," when he learned Korra wasn't coming to practice. Although this one is more sad-pouting than disappointed-pouting.
Then Korra wishes him luck, and has him take Naga along. Naga. Her best, possibly first, and, for some time, her only friend. How sweet is that? Then she tells Naga to take care of Bolin. For her. And then Naga licks him. How sweet is that?
Not much else Bolin-wise to say regarding this episode, aside from Tarrlock's past. Holy moly, Tarrlock's past. Despite obvious differences, there are many similarities between the Tarrlock and Bolin. It's absolutely terrifying how much little Tarrlock looks like Bolin. Rounded face, wide eyes, thick eyebrows, facial expressions, hair curl. And aside from appearences? A broken family struggling to live in a harsh environment? A younger brother over-shadowed and protected by a serious, overburdend, talented older brother? A sensitive, innocent, naive, eager to please child who doesn't want to hurt others and is more concerned with other's welfare than his own happiness? Little Tarrlock is just heartbreaking.