Who is Amon? Speculations on the Legend of Korra
UPDATE: Since the rather underwhelming revelation of Amon’s identity, perhaps this post should be renamed: What Amon Could’ve Been: Envisioning a Better Korra
Ever since the first airing of The Legend of Korra, fans have been abuzz with speculations over the identity of the masked antagonist, Amon. Some theories have been plausible, others have been completely asinine, like “Amon = Aang!”
But one theory that I rejected, only to come back to now, is that Amon is Aang’s son, Bumi. I rejected the theory because it was too simple, and seemed kind of trite. I mean, the whole “spurned son” (I wasn’t good enough for Daddy so I’m gonna become the bad guy!) storyline has been done to death, and Konietzko and DiMartino have shown a reluctance to relying upon – if not a complete aversion to – genre clichés.
But as the first season of Korra has unfolded, the evidence for Amon being Bumi has mounted, and I am now pretty convinced. Here are some of my main reasons:
1. Amon can take away bending, an ability that only Aang was known to have.
This didn’t convince me until the episode revealing Tarrlok to be Yakone’s son, and that he inherited the ability to blood-bend (Book One, Chapter Nine: Out of the Past). The creators didn’t use that plot device for nothing. It shows that a specific powerful ability – not just regular bending – can be directly passed from parent to child.Also, in the same episode, Korra assumed that the visions were intended to warn her about Tarrlok, but perhaps she’s not looking deeply enough. The real warning was about inheritance in general, to hint at the fact that the ability to take away bending might also be inheritable, thereby pointing to Bumi being Amon.
2. Amon gave Lin the opportunity to keep her bending.
Bumi would’ve grown up with Lin, which explains why he would’ve given her a chance he did not give to anyone else.
3. Amon’s incredible agility and air-benderish movements.
Even though not a bender, he would’ve been trained by Aang how to live like an airbender, and how to defend himself.
4. Amon’s resistance to bloodbending.
This can be explained in two ways. First, he’s descended from a waterbender, and although he didn’t inherit the ability, he may have an innate resistance to it. Second, Aang in the flashback showed that the Avatar state can totally neutralize bloodbending, and Amon is clearly a spiritual fellow, so he might’ve inherited a little of that “avatar state” ability as well. This show seems to have a general current of inheritance running through it, after all.
5. Amon has communicated with the spirits.
Yet another ability he could’ve inherited from Aang instead of bending. I have more thoughts on this below.
6. Amon’s face is hidden.
This one’s more obvious. Why hide Amon’s face? Just because he’s been burned? No, that’s just a cover-up. Clearly he’s someone who has to be hidden, because he’d be recognized by the major characters in the show.
7. Bumi has a “Blum-face”.
Look at Bumi’s face and think about Amon’s voice. Can’t you imagine Steve Blum’s voice coming out of it? Maybe this is a stretch, and granted, Blum has played so many different characters that maybe there isn’t such a thing as a “Blum-face”, but it just resonates with me.
The only reason this theory doesn’t work is the story Amon told in The Revelation, about his family living on a small farm, and a firebender taking his family away. But, of course, that could just be a lie to garner sympathy and empathy from his followers. It also gives him an excuse to wear a mask.
Next, I’d like to throw out some more speculations about Amon, and the show in general.
Amon has mentioned that he has “communicated with the spirits”. This is interesting because other than balancing the four elements, the Avatar is supposed to maintain balance between the physical world and spiritual realm. We know that Korra currently has zero ability to commune with the spirits, so it makes sense for her main adversary to be someone who does have that ability.
More importantly, perhaps it is not something so trivial as a “spurned son” or “sibling rivalry” for Amon (if he’s actually Bumi), but taking Aang’s philosophy a step further. Amon, in The Revelation, commented that bending has been the source of all conflict in the world in every age (a little nod to the atheist indictment of religion). If this is the case, then it’s a natural conclusion to draw that eliminating bending altogether would be the best way to achieve “balance” in the world.
If Amon has communicated with the spirit realm, then he could’ve learned about the time in the world before bending even existed, a time when there was peace and balance in the world. It’s possible that he is trying to return the world to that age.
Finally, I’d like to throw out some of my more far-fetched ideas about the direction that Korra might be taking. Consider this. When else have we heard this language of “took away my face”, as has allegedly happened to Amon?
Take a minute.
That’s right. Koh the Face-stealer.
If Amon has communicated with the spirits, or has gone as far as to visit the spirit realm, then there is a strong chance that he has encountered Koh. The Face-stealer is probably old enough to remember the time before the Avatar, and could’ve been the one to share that information with Amon. We also know that Koh has an ancient rivalry with the Avatar, one that extends way back into the history of the world. Let’s also remember that the Avatar is the “spirit of the planet” – which means that inherently, he/she shares some sort of kinship with Koh.
In any case, perhaps Koh is manipulating Amon for a bigger purpose. Revenge against the Avatar? Returning the world to an earlier state? Claiming the physical world for the spirits? All of these are possibilities. Amon would represent the perfect opportunity for Koh to unleash these kinds of plans, especially if he is Aang’s son, because the Face-stealer is not without a sense of irony.
Bringing it all home, what I’m thinking now is that Koh, not Amon, is the main adversary. In Airbender, I never really felt that the threat that Koh presented was resolved. Here is the chance for that to happen. Furthermore, we know that Korra lacks the ability to communicate with the spirits, which is an essential feature of every Avatar, as it is the Avatar’s job to maintain balance between the two realms.
It would make sense if at some point Amon recognizes Koh’s deception for what it is, especially if his own justification for his actions is to realize his father’s vision for equality and balance in the world. Something as irrational as revenge really can’t work as a motive for too long, and so I think that the conflict will turn to something bigger. At the point where Amon realizes that his way of doing things cannot work, perhaps he will be the one to aid Korra in nurturing her spiritual side, so that ultimately she can take down Koh and fulfill the Avatar’s older mission of restoring balance between physical and spirit.
So there you have it. My theories about Amon and the greater conflict in The Legend of Korra. I’ll be watching from the edge of my seat as Konietzko and DiMartino slowly reveal their hand over the coming months.