lizbee: Mid-shot of Lin Beifong, a slight pout on her lips (LoK: Lin (pout))
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I finished my LoK rewatch on Saturday night, and I really don't know what to watch next. So I postponed the decision by sitting down on Sunday afternoon and listening to all the commentaries for Lin-heavy episodes.



Thanks to avatarspirit.net, I can provide actual transcript for "Welcome to Republic City"!

Mike: So here is, uh ... Lin Beifong, played by Mindy Sterling.

Janet: Such a great character.

Bryan: Mindy is awesome.

Janet: She is so great.

Bryan: Yeah and she loves this character. It's so, it's so like ... heartwarming to talk to her about this character. She just uh--
Mike: I'm trying to remember when we were like "Oh! Toph's daughter is gonna be a main character." I think we had thrown around ideas, like, you know ... we knew there would be characters like Tenzin who kinda were tied to the old characters or related to them.

Bryan: I mean, I do remember there was a point where we had like "Everybody's kid is a character." [Mike and Janet laugh.] And then we said, "Okay, this is getting a little ridiculous." And we settled on these two uh ... as the main ones but--

Mike: Yeah and we needed Korra to have a kind of foil ... you know in the city other than just the Equalists to kind of set up some conflicts with her and uh ... Lin Beifong ... it seemed like Toph's daughter would be a ... kind of a ... tough lady. [Bryan laughs.]

Janet: She is so great. Whenever anyone says what other character do you love besides Korra that you would want to play or that you just admire, I say Lin Beifong. You know ... particularly because of her arc, you know, through season one. It's just so beautiful.

Bryan: She was fun. I mean you know like ... you never know what the audience's reactions will be but ... I, Mike and I were pretty confident, we're like, as were writing we were like "Wow! This character is gonna be cool and I think people are really gonna like her." So there is a little moment-- [Referring to Korra's gesture to Lin on the way out.]

Janet: I love that moment.

Bryan: A little moment when we used ... uh that's some stuff we used uh video acting reference where we act out stuff for the animators to uh-

Janet: I don't know why I have never been asked to do that. [Bryan and Mike laugh.] But I am very bitter.

Mike: I remember, too, when we first wrote this first episode, we hadn't figured out yet that uh ... Beifong and Tenzin ... we know they had a history, you know, because they obviously knew each other for a long time but we hadn't ever ... we hadn't hit upon the idea that they were an item back in the day but uh--

Bryan: I think that was still ... I think that was your idea.

Mike: Yeah. One day, I was like, I was thinking of that scene "That's like an old couple who ... you know, know each other so well."

Janet: I love it. I love that.

Mike: And they must have dated for a while.

Bryan: But just like if you ... you know are in a real situation like that ... you know even though we didn't have that totally figured out, you go back and you go "Oh! That ... that adds a whole layer to that conversation."

Janet: It makes so much sense too because um ... and I know that you guys did ... I think we do talk about this on future commentary but this idea of Tenzin wanting to be so peaceful and really being more like Korra than he is willing to admit and you can so see how that relationship with Lin would have played out and that he ended up with someone very sweet and even-tempered cause even he needed more of that in his life and he was probably at odds with Lin.

Bryan: That's ... that's a good observation. [Laughs.]

Janet: I could write a whole backstory episode about these guys. Clearly, I have given it a lot of thought.

Bryan: There is also that idea that um ... you know when you get to be ripe old ages like ours [Mike laughs.] that there are people who you will ... who will be a big part of your life that you love but maybe that's not the person you are meant to be with your whole life and ... but they teach you a lot about yourself and about relationships and stuff. So it's like ... I love this idea that he, you know Tenzin, will always love Lin and she always will love him and ... but there is like a dynamic that just wasn't healthy or wasn't like conducive to a life together but ... you know they were still very valuable to each other.

I had listened to the other Book 1 commentaries up to "The Aftermath" back when I first got the Blu-Ray, and knew they didn't discuss Beifong at length, so I skipped those and went to "Out of the Past".

(An omission that I find deeply amusing: Seychelle Gabriel is on a couple of the Book 1 commentaries, and there's no mention whatsoever of her involvement in The Last Airbender. She played Princess Yue, and by far had the worst dialogue in the entire movie. So I'm not surprised it's not discussed on record, I'd just love to know what she thought of it, especially since she does talk about how much she loved AtLA.)

Anyway, let me try to reconstruct the other commentaries from memory:

"Out of the Past"
  • A lot of these Book 1 commentaries are dedicated to Bryke defending Mako, whose romantic misadventures they based on their own experiences in college. As you'd imagine, they were kind of weirded out when fandom reacted as if Mako was the worst and most irredeemable character ever. They're pretty blunt about thinking most of the critical fans were very, very young.
  • They don't actually explain why Tarrlok had a metal box in his basement -- maybe I needed to go back to "When Extremes Meet"? -- so I have to wonder about that forever.
  • "That's Lin's other outfit," someone -- I can't distinguish voices as well as I used to, so I'm just gonna attribute it to "Bryke" -- remarks as Lin puts on her trench coat. "She has her armour, and her armour without the badge but with a coat."
  • A scene was scripted where Lin goes into police headquarters, and someone tries to tell her she's not authorised to go into the prison area before being stared down, but it was cut for time before it got to storyboarding.
  • Casting voice actors for the adult Gaang was really hard, and Bryan(?) says something about one having to be replaced. But they really love Kate Higgins as Toph. (She also plays Barbie in Life in the Dreamhouse, if you needed a mild headspin.)
"Turning the Tides"
  • Bryke adore scenes of small domestic conflict, like Asami and Mako arguing in the kitchen, and regard that scene as being bookended by Tenzin asking Lin to protect his family.
  • When Pema interrupts them, saying, "I didn't realize you two were out here," Bryke (one of them) says that she is misinterpreting Lin's "platonic shoulder touch". Which I totally didn't get at all -- I thought she was attempting to be lighthearted, but revealing her insecurities! Which I guess is still possible, I just ... I dunno, Pema's relationship with Tenzin seems so solid and stable that I have a hard time picturing her being threatened by Lin. On the other hand, she's in labour -- and probably has been for hours, if not all night -- and presumably spent sleep-disturbed night worrying about Tenzin and Korra/sharing her bed with her three kid, andthen cooked a vast meal for Korra and the assorted randoms Tenzin keeps bringing home. It figures that she'd crack a bit.
  • One of the most terrifying things about Meelo is that he was based on a real boy.
  • Bryke adore self-sacrifice, and Lin's is their (his) favourite. [At least at the time of recording this commentary, I would assume that Korra's in Book 3 overtook it.] And they're both really puzzled by the fact that fans called them trolls for that. I'm pretty sure it was Mike who says, "My whole reason for writing is to get an emotional reaction! It's not a bad thing!"
  • (Their ongoing confusion at the change in fannish culture between AtLA and LoK deeply amused me, since I was also confused by the same thing.)
I skipped the finale, but I'll probably go back to those commentaries at a future point, because IROH. *heart eyes*

In fact, I moved right on to Book 3, specifically...

"The Metal Clan"
  • Zaofu was based on science fiction utopias of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including the deliberately uniform clothing.
  • A lot of actresses auditioned for Su, but they liked Anne Heche for her old Hollywood enunciation, and also because her line readings were a little reminiscent of Mindy Sterling's for Lin -- they sounded like they had been raised in the same household.
  • Zaofu and its multitalented leader were conceived separately from the Beifong storyline, but it very quickly made sense to use Suyin as a foil to Lin. Hence the five children to Lin's none.
  • Bryan (it was definitely Bryan) has a lot of vegan feels about all the meat consumed in the Avatarverse, and also the junk food in general. He is very opposed to the consumption of fictional fish by fictional people.
  • Jeremy Zuckerman, the composer, is also part of this commentary. He created a motif for ~Beifong memories~ that's used mostly in "Old Wounds", but is set up here, appearing at the beginning of the scene where Su tells Korra about their childhood, and again when Lin cries at the end.
  • The baby photo glimpsed on Su's desk was based on a real one. Bryke have decided it's Huan, purely because it has great hair.
  • Opal was created because they wanted a female character who was completely sweet and wholesome without being a pushover. Her hairstyle was inspired by Dolly Haas.
  • They liked that she called Bolin out for his romantic shenanigans, but feel like she could have taken it further.
  • The scene at the end, where Opal attempts to reach out to Lin, was meant to lull the audience into expecting a quick reconciliation with hugging.
"Old Wounds"
  • You know, I love this franchise a lot, but it doesn't have many female writers. But this ep was written by Katie Mattila, and she also features on the commentary. (She also wrote "The Beach" and "The Tale of Zuko", so I have a very high opinion of her work in this universe.)
  • Lin is also Katie's favourite character, so maybe I'm biased.
  • Anyway, Katie talks about how she sees Lin as a person who compartmentalises a lot -- she hasn't spent thirty years being sad about Su, or even thinking about her, she'd much rather go to work and do her job than waste time on feelings. The memories raised in acupuncture aren't repressed in the sense that Lin has forgotten about them all together, she just refuses to think about that.
  • Katie tried acupuncture as research for this script. She did not experience any flashbacks.
  • One half of Bryke, and it might be Michael, grew up as the youngest of five in a big, noisy family, so he's weirded out when fans interpret any sibling drama in the series as a sign of abuse or profound, unfixable dysfunction.
  • Lin is either a beat cop or in the police academy at the time of the first flashback -- Bryke don't agree here, but either way, she's very junior. (They are kind enough to explain that the first flashback is set a few years before the rest -- don't laugh, it took me a really long time to figure that out, even though Lin gets a haircut and Su changes her clothes in between.)
  • Lin hallucinating that Korra is Su was a later addition -- it was originally just Korra yelling at her, but they wanted to make it clear that Lin was pretty out of it.
  • Toph's old office, the site of painful memories, is now Lin's. That's how much she has to compartmentalise.
  • Bryke describes Su's remark about Tenzin ("No wonder he ended it with you") as "tasteless", but Su chose it because she knew it would hurt.
  • But, again, the fight between the sisters isn't meant to be a battle to the death, and the reactions of the Beifong men underscore that -- they stand around gawking (or cheering, in the twins' case) until Opal finally breaks it up.
  • Lin's change of costume at the end is meant to signal a new openness towards Su and Zaofu, but they point out that she's not up to hugging yet -- the sisters' reconciliation is marked only by a handshake.
  • Lin has the fewest costume changes of any major character, and that's deliberate, although they don't go into what their thinking was.
  • They're kind of dismissive of the role Toph played in the dispute between the sisters -- or, at least, I feel like Toph's actions were a lot more serious than Su's.
  • There is speculation as to what a dance performance directed by Lin would be like. Stomp was cited as a point of comparison, if you were wondering.
  • Bryan has a lot of feelings about kale smoothies.
Then I did just one episode of Book 4 ... of course it was "Operation Beifong"
  • This is Jeremy Zuckerman's last commentary, so a lot of it is about the music, and military tattoos, and the use of percussion in Kuvira's theme. And the whole process of composition, a lot of which went straight over my head.
  • Anyway, Beifong stuff.
  • They super love the whole Beifong family, and this was the last opportunity to get everyone in the same place at the same time.
  • There was suggestion of doing a sitcom about the whole family sharing a cave in the swamp. Look, I'm not proud, but I'd watch it.
  • The whole thing about Lin and Su not knowing their fathers was to highlight that not everyone finds their true love at 12, and that the entire Gaang wouldn't get together, and also that Toph just didn't need a man to complete her story.
  • But they also think her refusal to discuss it with Lin was pretty unfair, and that Toph just handled that whole thing badly where Lin is concerned, and Lin's anger is justified.
  • At the same time, again, this isn't something Lin has been stewing about constantly for years. It's just one of those things where she and Toph tend to communicate past each other.
  • But overall, I'd say that was a pretty slight commentary, just as the whole episode felt too short to contain the plot. (Maybe I should check out the commentary for "Remembrances"?) There was a lot of technical stuff about music and cartoon weapon design that went over my head.
  • Bryke took the opportunity to reiterate that they do not approve or endorse nationalist or fascist regimes, even though they loved writing the whole Earth Empire plot, BECAUSE APPARENTLY THAT HAS TO BE SAID NOW.
And then I was done. Well, I'd reached the end of the Lincentric episodes and I was also sort of burnt out on commentaries.

But now, of course, I'm still done with my rewatch, and a tiny bit devastated about it. It's been really great for my fannish productivity, and also a welcome escape from the garbage fire of real life!

(Remember when the fandom said that Nazi comparisons were odious because they were cliche and no longer relevant? Yeah.)

Maybe I'll watch Ice Fantasy next. Right after I'm done with rewatching season 4 of Archer, because the democratically elected government of Guatamala isn't going to overthrow itself.

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