WARNING!!!!!: This review contains spoilers for the first three episodes of Season Three of Legend of Korra. If you have not watched them yet….WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING HERE??!?!!?!!
Ahem…shall we begin?
When Legend of Korra premiered on Nickelodeon a few years back, we all wondered if it would live up to the legacy The Last Airbender left it. The answer was an emphatic, “YES!”, however it wasn’t a perfect thing. Then, Season 2 came along and there was a lot of dissention in the fanbase about some things that happened (which we actually talked about with Korra herself, Janet Varney in an interview!!!). From plot points, to character interpretations, to the switching of animation studios, to the “rushed” feeling the season had, a lot of fans weren’t happy. Now, with the arrival of Book Three, titled “Change”, this season truly has a lot to live up to. Thankfully, I like to think this season started off on the right foot.
“Change” is a pretty good name for this season, and within the first three episodes we see a LOT of change. Not just from Season 2 to now, but from The Last Airbender to Legend of Korra.
The true premiere episode “A Breath of Fresh Air” dealt with the immediate aftermath of the Season 2 finale. AKA Korra leaving the spirit portals open, allowing spirits to roam free in their world. The writers could’ve easily gone the safest path and showed human and spirit living nicely with one another…instead, they went the more bold (and to be honest, the most logical) path and showed that not everyone was happy with Korra’s decision.
First and foremost, the vines that Unavaatu (when did that name happen?) created in Republic City were still there, and by there I mean EVERYWHERE!!!! In the streets, on buildings and monuments, it was almost all consuming. And from the common citizen to the President himself, they wanted things back to normal.
You have to sympathize with Korra here. She did something she believed to be right based on what some of her past lives (Wan in particular) told her. Korra truly believed that leaving the portals open would bring balance back to the world. Yet with everyone questioning her (an 8% approval rating?) it’s hard not to feel bad about yourself and wonder if you made the right decision. Yeah, about that…
The vines weren’t the only side effect of the portals being opened. To everyone’s shock (and to Tenzin, a certain degree of horror…you fans know what I mean) Airbenders started popping up all over the city. First Bumi, then a common citizen named Daw. What does it all mean? Is the Air Nation about to be reborn?
I love how the writers gave two different takes on how Bumi and Daw reacted to being Airbenders. Whereas Bumi saw this as nothing short of epic, Daw saw this as a curse. Constantly blasting people with his powers then apologizing profusely. Talk about a bad day huh? Well it didn’t end there. As Daw was so depressed he tried to kill himself! Thankfully Korra saved the day. But now just with her skills (and new staff), but with her words. Many have noted how Korra tends to act first, think second. Well here she not only calmed the guy down, she really connected with him, recalling how her day and his day were really similar. It was a simple yet very well done moment, as Korra showed she has grown since we last saw her.
With Bumi, Daw, and reports of other Airbenders popping up all over the Earth Kingdom, and a certain person being “banned” from Republic City, the new journey was set. It’s time to rebuild a nation!…if only it was that simple.
Oh yeah…and those weren’t the only guys to get powers. The ending showed that a criminal named Zaheer also got Airbending…this couldn’t possibly going wrong..
“Rebirth” was the simplest of the three episodes. Yet one that again showed that the easiest path isn’t the best way to go in terms of writing a good story.
That’s not an insult, that’s a praise, cause again, the writers of Korra showed they know how to put a twist of what we expect to happen.
Purpose restored, and a “fully equipped Future Industries airship” (thank you Asami!!!), Korra, Tenzin, Team Avatar, and Jinora set off to find the new Airbenders and bring them to the Northern Air Temple to truly rebuild the Air Nation. However, reality soon hit them hard in the face, as they found out that the people who got the powers were unable to go, unwilling to go, or just didn’t care enough to go.
At first, you might think “why go this path?” Well think about it from the perspective of the first guy we meet. He has a family, he has a farm, he has a life, why should his powers change that? If anything he could find a way to use his powers to make his family life better. Why change that? Why should you give up everything for a people you don’t know? Even if it’s a noble cause? Think about it this way, if you got Airbending tomorrow, would you drop everything to go to an Air Temple to be trained by a guy you never met?
While you ponder that let’s continue. It was hilarious to see Tenzin basically go door-to-door, doing a salesman pitch to try and recruit people. And just like most salesman, it didn’t work. But leave it to Bolin and Bumi to figure out the best way to show off why people should join them. A demonstration, circus style!
Creative? Yes. Funny? Yes. Effective….yes! As we get to meet Kai, an orphan with Airbending and a desire to leave…as in now…as in right now…nothing suspicious about that right?
Yeah, right. We find out our eager little Airbender is actually a thief, and is wanted for stealing a lot of gold. Just when you think we lost the recuit, Korra goes sage Avatar again and takes custody of Kai, who promises to turn over a new leaf…again, yeah right!
Kai quickly became my favorite character as this episode and “The Earth Queen” showed that how you use bending is up to the user, and Kai is a very devious user. Speaking of dangerous people…
Zaheer showed us just how dangerous he was, as he used his newfound power to breakout a powerful Earthbender named Ghazan, AND a Waterbender named Ming-Hua. Each of whom had very unique styles of bending, and each one showed they’re totally epic bad guys. Seriously, I think they set the standard for how bad guys should be introduced!
…but the big reveal was the arrival 80 years in the making! Old man Zuko! Sorry, Lord Zuko, complete with Iroh style hair and beard, and a dragon! His words rang heavy as he expressed what needed to be done. Why did they ring heavy? Well, if you’re Zuko, and you’ve seen a lot in your lifetime…what do you have to fear? Exactly.
The final episode was “The Earth Queen”. Which picked up the storylines considerably, and took all our team to Ba Sing Se. Which as mentioned at the beginning, has changed a LOT in the time between TLA and LOK. New ruler, new laws, and a new look and…smell to things in the famous walled city. But perhaps the biggest change was the events that impacted our heroes.
Korra’s “meeting” with the new Earth Queen was interesting. As we saw the Queen wasn’t anything like her father (who we meet in TLA) and was instead ruthless, demanding, loud, and frankly not very polite. Yet she seemed happy to help Korra…provided she help her out first.
Cue Korra and Asami team-up! This has been a long time coming. And these three episodes truly showed off the friendship that many have wanted Korra and Asami to have. Even Korra said, “I don’t have any girlfriends to talk to”, so it was seeing them together. And then kicking butt together!
All the fights in these episodes were touch notch, but this one stands out as we got to see Asami show just how tough she is. Using her glove, flipping guys off of bikes…epic.
After getting some EXP…I mean the tax money they returned, only to find the Queen was not so helpful, claiming that no Airbenders resided in Ba Sing Se, and demanding they leave…does she even know who Korra is? That’s not going to happen. One has to wonder though, why so blunt about this?
Bolin and Mako found out. Albeit in a round about way. Kai vanished early on to do some “sight seeing” and the brothers volunteered to find him. It quickly became evident what “sights” Kai had his eyes on, so Mako and Bolin tried to save him from himself…and failed. But it was funny! That’s for sure.
What followed was a trip down memory lane for the two, though maybe not down a lane they wanted to remember. This lead to a fairy predictable (literally, Bolin predicted it!) but very interesting revelation. They had family…and a LOT of them!
While some may downplay the importance of Bolin and Mako finding out they had uncles, aunts, cousins, and of course a grandma, I found it riveting. Why? Because it adds a lot of depth to the two in my opinion. For two seasons we believed (and they believed) that the two only had each other. Thus why they did all they could to survive and find a path on their own. Now, with a full family to support them, I truly think this’ll change them. Mako already showed the effects of meeting them by giving his fathers scare to their grandma Yin. A simple yet touching moment that hopefully won’t be the last of its kind.
Back to point, after they mentioned their purpose for being in Ba Sing Se, their uncle revealed that a neighbor got Airbending powers, but soon was taken by the Dai Li (what is it with these guys and kidnapping?!?). This hit close to home and we saw Kai get taken as well. What’s the play here? What does it all mean? And why is the Earth Queen doing this? Time will tell.
What’s that? What about Zuko? Oh, well he went up to the North Pole (with Tarloq) to check on another “special prisoner”. It’s here we find out the Twins are now in charge! *shudders*. Though no action came in this storyline we had easily the best dialogue exchange in the premiere, with Zuko and Desna their “I almost killed the Avatar” stories…classic.
Before I give my verdict I just want to make some notes on the premiere as a whole. First off, it’s great to have Korra back, and everything in my opinion is top notch. The look of the show is crisp. The sights, the sounds, the motions, everything just feels perfect.
Though the premiere was very much a slow burn in terms of plot, I really enjoyed it because it allowed the characters to shine with the story instead of getting steamrolled by it. Which in my opinion happened a lot in Season 2. From Korra and Tenzin bonding, to Korra and Asami, Bolin and Mako, it was all just great. I really hope this season will continue to show these great character moments.
In the end, the three part premiere of Legend of Korra was amazing on almost every count imaginable. A perfect premiere? No. There were a few hiccups, a few predictable moments, etc. But the start of “Change” showed that this season may just be the season a lot of fans have been wanting. Good story, good villain, a callback to TLA, and fun all around.
4 out of 5 Nerds