Legend of Korra
2 x 1: Rebel Spirit
2 x 2: The Southern Lights
Episode Summary (from the Avatar Wiki): Team Avatar and Tenzin’s family travel to the Southern Water Tribe to attend the Glacial Spirits Festival. While there, Korra’s uncle, Unalaq, attempts to persuade Korra to let him advise her about the spirits, but both Korra’s father and Tenzin assert that she needs to focus on her airbending. However, during the festival, Korra discovers that it was her father and Tenzin rather than Aang who kept her locked away, and after a Dark Spirit attacks, Korra breaks off her studies under Tenzin and takes up Unalaq as her instructor. Korra and Unalaq travel to the deeper parts of the South Pole to open the mystical portal between the spirit world and the physical world in order to release the long-gone southern lights into the sky.
My Initial Thoughts: Legend of Korra is back! Never make us wait fifteen months again!
Nice of the show to give us a bit of a refresher on who everyone is and what they’ve been up to, but where’s Lin Beifong? Mako mentions her, but I was sad to miss my favorite metalbender. Then again, there was a lot to catch us up on. Asami’s appearance felt a bit rushed as well. I almost wish they’d started with Team Avatar and caught us up on Asami in a future episode, when they could devote more time and attention to her character.
I appreciate that we jump right into the conflict and imbalance of the spirit world, and that these are antagonists Korra doesn’t understand, let alone know how to control. The backstory suggests the imbalance is the fault of Korra’s father, but the show also seems to be working really hard to make Unalaq appear shifty. A between-the-lines reading could suggest that Unalaq is the one who set his brother up, first summoning the spirits to attack the Northern Water Tribe, then sending them away again once his brother had been shamed. We see hints of Unalaq’s envy, and the appearance of his army at the end of episode two certainly makes him look like a bad guy, not to mention the rather slimy overtones as he manipulates Korra to turn her against Tonraq and Tenzin.
I hope that’s not where they’re going. It seems too obvious, and I want more complexity with my show. The conflict between Tonraq and Unalaq is deep and old. I’d love to see them forced to work together over the course of the season.
I’m not sure yet what to think about Eska and her brother, Unalaq’s Spock-like twin children. I think Bolin’s attempt to woo Eska could be a lot of fun, but it could also go off the rails. The bit where she used waterbending to separate Bolin from Korra was both amusing and cringeworthy. I think I’m going to withhold judgment until I see a few more episodes.
Meanwhile, back at an air temple, Tenzin’s daughter Jinora is communing with the statue of Aang, and is drawn to the very old and crumbling statue of an avatar she doesn’t recognize, a statue that lights up when Korra opens the spirit portal. Interesting…
We also get a bit of grumpy Korra. While it was frustrating to see her snapping at everyone, I also think it helps emphasize that “spirit” really isn’t her thing.
Thoughts From the Eight-Year-Old: “I liked it! Some of the bad spirits scared me. But it made up for it when they were turning the bad spirits good. I don’t like it when good guys turn bad, but I do like it when bad guys turn good, and there hasn’t been anything lately that has bad guys turn good. I really liked when Korra went into the Avatar State and made it so now there are southern lights, and not just northern lights. I saw the preview, and I think that I might know how the first avatar became the first avatar. The only way that I’ve come up with is that four people would come, one for each of the elements, and they’d use all the elements of bending and come together to become like a shiny gold ball in the sky that’s called the spirit ball, and it would choose one of them to become the Avatar.”
Overall Rating: Not bad, but not the greatest episodes I’ve seen, either. It felt a little like we had to stop and get our bearings again, and I’m hopeful that things will tighten up now with future episodes. I like the setup with the spirits, and the contrast with last season’s conflict. Mostly I’m just happy the show is back!
Predictions: The obvious conflict is between Tonraq and Unalaq, and through them, the Southern Water Tribe vs. the Northern. I don’t suspect we’ll see outright fighting right away, but it’s probably coming unless a bigger threat comes along. A bigger threat presumably tied to the spirits.
I’ve heard Korra will be communing with the first Avatar this season. I haven’t gone looking for spoilers, so I don’t know if the statue Jinora found was of the first Avatar. It would be sweet to see Korra have to go up against some kind of Fallen Avatar, a dark character whose her equal in power, with a connection to the spirits… Probably not, but I’d happily watch it.
And I hope we get a bit more humor and lightness. There were a few good moments, and the brief shot of Meelo sprawled across the bottom of the bed made me smile with recognition. But I want to see more of those moments, more of Asami (who I’m assuming will be brought into the conflict eventually), and bring back Lin Beifong!