So, like most of you Korra fans out there, I saw the Season 2 animatic from the Comic-Con panel. And since then I’ve been thinking: it really doesn’t make sense for Mako to be a cop. No, not because of the massive fandom headcanon for Metal Cop Bolin. Not even because Mako decided he was justified in burning up parking tickets (though I’d be lying if that bit of hypocrisy didn’t cross my mind). No, the reason it doesn’t make sense for Mako to be a cop….is because he’s a firebender.
Now, before you cry out “discrimination!”, let me say this: I’m not saying that every single cop in Republic City has to be a metalbender. Heck, if Mako just had a desk job, or even just didn’t bend while on duty, that’d be fine by me. But it doesn’t make sense for a beat cop to be a firebender, using firebending in the pursuit of criminals.
Here’s the thing. It makes sense that the majority of RC cops are metalbenders. They can efficiently restrain criminals without necessarily harming them using cables, can traverse the streets easily without disrupting traffic, either by ‘spidermanning’ around or grinding on the metal lines set up throughout the city, and aside from the obvious exception with the Equalist shock gloves, their armor severely decreases the chance of an officer getting harmed in the line of duty.
Of course, I’m not saying that EVERY cop has to be a metalbender. Beyond any mundane non-bender cops, I’d say it also make sense for waterbenders and earthbenders who can’t metalbend to be part of the force. Once again, they can quickly restrain criminals, either through the use of ice or earth manacles, respectively, without necessarily harming the suspects through doing so. Additionally, most, if not all of the collateral damage caused by these two types of bending can be easily repaired, either by remelting the ice, or by repairing the ground with fairly simple earthbending.
Now, lets look at firebending. As cool as it is, its use is fairly limited to destruction, which doesn’t work well for an officer of the law. I’ll lay out my problems with it in two main points:
1. Restraining Criminals: The only real way for a firebender to restrain a criminal is blasting them until they can take no more. This means that whenever a firebender attempts to bring in a suspect, that suspect will almost assuredly be injured, or in a worst case scenario, even killed(causing a serious issue with civil liberties). Additionally, because firebenders, unlike the other types of benders, have no way to quickly restrain criminals, other than blasting them with more fire, this would greatly increase the likelihood of cops, or even civilians, being harmed during these (if you’ll excuse the puns) firefights that would occur while capturing suspects.
2. Collateral Damage: Any blast of fire that does not hit a suspect has a chance of hitting a civilian or building. And, given how close together the buildings in RC are, and how most of them have wooden components, if a blast actually starts a fire, it fairly good chance of spreading and burning down quite a few buildings, costing a fortune in repairs(and causing a huge outcry by the citizens affected). Also, in case the throng of people killed by firebenders didn’t make this obvious, firebending is pretty clearly the most deadly element of bending. If a civilian was hit by a stray blast, it’s pretty likely they’d be badly injured. That’s not even considering what would happen if they got hit by a stray lighting bolt. Additionally, let’s not forget that firebenders don’t have a huge amount of directional control over their blasts. Once they shoot it, it’s pretty much going where it’s going. There’s no reaiming it to hit a suspect who moves out of the way. This just increases the likelihood of collateral damage.
For an example of this, lets look what happens in the animatic. Mako is chasing down a truck on his motorcycle. He eventually overtakes it, blasts the engine, sending it reeling, end over end, until it comes to a stop, the baddies fall out dazed, and he gives his silly one-liner. Now, what’s the problem with this? Well, firstly, the fact that Mako needs his ‘totally rad’ motorcycle. That costs the department money, for purchasing it, maintaining it, fueling it, etc. Money that wouldn’t need to be spent on metalbenders. Secondly, while it doesn’t seem like it happens in the animatic, sending a truck end over end like that is EXTREMELY dangerous to anyone in or around the truck, and could EASILY cause a large amount of collateral damage, much like Korra caused in the first episode. Thirdly, if any of those baddies weren’t just sent into shock by Mako’s one-liner, and intended on resisting arrest, as he doesn’t have a good way to restrain them(as mentioned above) he would be forced to engage in a fight on the city streets, once again, increasing the chance of collateral damage.
Now, what if this matter was handled by metalbenders? Well, if you’ll allow me my interpretation, I see it happening much like what happened with Korra in the first episode. The truck races down a few streets, then cables are deployed from the police airships, wrapping around the truck and lifting it off the ground. The suspects, unable to flee or fight back, are then detained by more cables, and taken into custody. There is no dangerous car crash, no chance of collateral damage, and no chance for an all-out bending battle on the city streets.
The police are there to serve and protect the citizens of Republic City. Having active firebenders on the force would only put them in greater danger. Firebenders just aren’t cut out for defending the peace.
I did look at the animatic and I was like, “Okay, so if someone was in the way of the truck currently careening out of control… what would happen?”
Look, I think Mako possesses the traits of a cop but I think being a firebender maybe a bit of an issue. Of course, he could use his lightning and “taze” the suspects, like he did in the car chase… *shrug*