I usually don’t fangirl or rant about my shows on my blog, but I need to get this out.
I have seen so many people say that they hate Mako, how he’s such a jerk for leaving Korra to fight Amon herself, for not falling at her feet, not opening up to her, and not always having her back. Let’s get something straight. Since his parents were killed by a firebender, Mako has been living on the streets of Republic City, playing provider, protector, and guardian of his younger brother who is too trusting, too naive, and too hopeful to survive the grit of homeless life in a city that has a hatred of benders in its seedy underbelly. He has done everything for his brother - worked long factory hours, gotten them to the semifinals in probending, secured them a home and a profession. He’s done crooked jobs and has probably harmed people in trying to save Bolin after being betrayed or abandoned by some person or another. That’s why he had words with Hasook and was so harsh with him - because he wasn’t giving his all to the team, and therefore, was just another outsider who betrayed them.
That’s what Korra is. She’s an outsider, and like many people who are distrustful, Mako tests her again and again to see if she’ll run away from him like so many other people have. Mako was never mean to Korra. He has been cold, reserved, and tactless, but he has never been cruel, and in fact, has been very open to her. He has held her skills in awe, has admitted it when he was wrong or unfair, and has let her help him. He also cares enough about her to give her his father’s scarf during the revelation because he probably feels bad that he’s dragged her into his and Bolin’s mess. But he doesn’t trust her yet. With Sokka and Katara, they found Aang and therefore were responsible for him - he was a child with no family and no home and was deeply in need of them. This is a reflection of Aang’s personality - humble, hesitant, unsure of his worthiness and strength as the Avatar. Korra bursts into Bolin and Mako’s world without any apologies; she’s headstrong and unwilling to show restraint or seek any sort of guidance. The relationship between Korra and the brothers begins as a strictly probending partnership, brought on by Bolin’s crush and her own headstrong nature. Mako lets her into his life because of Bolin, not because of her. They get a water bender and possibly a friend, but they are also inadvertently caught up in the Equalist Revolution and are thrust into even more of the public eye than they were before. Mako never signed up to fight a revolution, but he is willing to fight for Bolin.
Sokka and Katara signed up. Bolin and Mako haven’t yet. Maybe Bolin, in his own way, has, but Mako sure as hell hasn’t made any vows or bonds to fight this war by her side, because it isn’t his war. Maybe he would have been caught up in it anyways, but more likely he would have taken Bolin and fled if things got really bad, kept a low profile. Protected his brother. He’s not a jerk for being with Asami. She has money; her father offered to sponsor the Fire Ferrets and Mako had the humility to accept that money. He is a young man who, remarkably, isn’t prideful. Why would he, at this point in time, have abandoned this opportunity to actually compete in the tournament and win it? This is his and Bolin’s dream and life’s work - it’s their life of scavenging and fighting in the streets and getting caught up in gangs finally paying off. And you want him to abandon everything he has worked for, stood for, fought for, scavenged for, to fight alongside a headstrong, ill-tempered, ‘over-priveleged’, and capable Avatar whose duty is to the city, and would probably never forgive him for the seedy things he and Bolin did to survive when it was really rough, who probably views the tournament as a training exercise?
I think that, in the future, he will see that the only way to protect his brother and give them the comfortable life they want is by being at Korra’s side and fighting Amon. The fact is that Korra needs probending in the exact same way that Bolin and Mako need probending: It represents discipline, freedom, aspirations for a future where they don’t have to depend on others, and though Korra doesn’t seem to want it consciously, a peaceful life and a family. Korra needs friends that aren’t Naga or Tenzin, which is what she has found in Bolin and Mako. Mako will see that being her team mate and captain means that he has her back, all the time, just like he has Bolin’s back. That he’s her friend and can help her show restraint and find peace while she can show him power and trust in his own abilities. If they fall in love, I will probably die from happiness, but there is a really long journey towards friendship first, if not love. Because Mako doesn’t trust anyone, not even his brother all the way. He’s had too many things taken from him to let her take another. It doesn’t make him cruel. It doesn’t make him a jerk. It makes him a stone, cool under fire, and a brother first.