[ Now Rebloggable! ]
Y’know, during this scene I actually started thinking about ways they could have salvaged Mako’s arc and actually maybe have integrated him into the narrative and… you know what?
If they wanted to make Mako an exceptionally good firebender, they should have just gone all the way and made it an important part of his characterization rather than a vaguely informed character trait.
oops All of Mako’s traits are vaguely informed.Have Mako be a firebending prodigy. Have this get him exactly nowhere but in trouble due to his and Bolin’s status as street urchins. He spent his entire childhood being taken advantage of in one way or another just to survive. By the Triads, by factories, hell - they could even have played Pro Bending as just a means to an end rather than something he’s really passionate about. The show implied early on that Mako had done some ugly stuff to keep Bolin innocent. This could have been nicely paralleled/contrasted with Amon and Tarlokk’s relationship. It also would have given Korra and Mako some real tension; after all, her entire life is bending when to him, it’s always been something he hasto do and it usually means someone wants something from him. His relationship with Asami has a different dimension in this scenario as well, since she’s “the girl with everything” when they first meet. They have fun together. She shows him what to do with all that time he never had because he was too busy making sure that Bolin never had to work as hard as he did. Adding a few layers to Mako helps Bolin get a decent arc as well. Bolin grew up a homeless orphan, but his brother worked hard to shelter him to almost an absurdly detrimental degree. What if Bolin had lost his bending back in the first half of the series? Mako fails to protect his brother for the first time in his life and the dynamic between them changes as Bolin learns to protect himself/live without bending. Mako’s paternalistic and controlling protective streak could have been played as an interesting flaw.
Because here is the thing: as much as I hate Mako and am sick of his face, he and Bolin needed to have stronger arcs than they got. They could have potentially provided an interesting counterpoint to Amon’s argument. They show another side of the story - benders who have lived in squalor, who have had to sell their talents and barely manage to scrape by despite having a “natural advantage” over non-benders. Hell - their actual backstory is identical to the one that Amon concocted for himself. Addressing their backstory again helps Asami (my darling Asami) along as well because she and the brothers share a tragedy in common, something that never comes up???
Long story short: it took me about thirty seconds to think up a character arc for Mako that ties into the over-arching themes of the series. C’mon, Bryke - I even made sure to leave enough man-pain in for you.