Take a deep breath, no seriously, you’ll need it. Why? Because we’re officially halfway through Legend of Korra Season 3….
See why you needed the breath now? Yes, even though its’ only a month since Korra debuted Book Three, we’re already halfway through the season. It’s sad, truly it is, but thankfully the episodes are holding up, making this journey (even if only a quick one), worth it.
“Old Wounds” was in my opinion the best episode of the season. And unlike last year where you could say that about “Beginnings” and everyone would go “well duh!” because the quality wasn’t always there. This episode shined above episodes that were all very good.
The biggest takeaway from “Old Wounds” was that it was more-or-less focused on Lin, and what she had been going through since she arrived in the Metal Clan’s city. Which we apparently find out is quite a lot. I loved how this episode blended the natural and the supernatural together in such a way that it actually felt believable. Lin’s stress was high, so high her body wasn’t being able to contain it, this led to an experiment with acupuncture that was way more than meets the eye.
This was that blending I told you about. In our world, acupuncture is used for treating pain (among other things) and helping muscles. Whereas here, it’s used to return the flow of chi to its natural course. And from our experiences in Season 1 of Legend of Korra, we know how important that is. A side effect of acupuncture in this world is the seeing of repressed memories, and it is through here we learned we Lin hated her sister Su so much.
And for the record, it’s justified…well depending on how you look at it.
In “The Metal Clan”, Su talked about how she saw her life, and how different it was from Lin’s. Yet you could tell something wasn’t right. Call it omission, suppression, or a straight-up lie, you knew Lin couldn’t hate Su for such simples reasons. As we find out, Su kind of deserved the hate, in more ways than one.
It all centered around one incident, where served as a getaway driver for some Triads in Republic City. Lin stopped them, then tried to stop her. Her reward was the scar she saw on her cheek. Some may think of the “polar opposite sister/sibling” plot shown here is overdone, but when done right, it’s refreshing. That’s how it is here, especially when Toph gets involved and the results are NOT to Lin’s liking. It’s interesting to see another one of original Team Avatar play parent, and yet again not exactly be a good one (see: Aang and his treatment of Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi). Toph covered up the incident and made Su leave the city, which incidentally leads to her wandering the world. Another side effect is the anger that is left in Lin.
An interesting thought occurred to me as this scene played out. Many note how uptight and angry Lin is, and how very unwavering she is, especially when it comes to justice. This episode, intentional or not, gave me a reason why that is. It’s that Lin has been disappoint by almost everyone in her life, save for herself. Her father? Not there. Toph? Didn’t discipline Su like she should have, which later cause her to retire. Tenzin? Dumped her for Pema. All she’s ever had is herself really. Which explains her interactions with Korra in Season 1, and Mako in Season when he was accused of sabotage. It was easier to buckle down and not trust them, instead of getting emotional and believing in them. Anyway, that’s my two cents on the matter.
Another side effect of the acupuncture was Lin’s fire getting relit, and making her go after Su, which led to a Mortal Kombat style fight scene, with both Earth and Metal in full effect. While the stakes may not have been high, the fight scene was very well done. The ending was also good, as Opal stopped them both before serious injury occurred, which was good as Lin passed out soon after.
“Reborn”, Lin made peace with both Opal and Lin, which was nice, and based on how they talked, there could be a family reunion on the way…
Another big topic during “Old Wounds” was Metalbending. Korra got to be the first Avatar to learn the art. And Bolin, reluctantly, asked to learn as well. This was good on both counts, as it shows how much like the world is growing, so should the Avatar. On Bolin’s side, we got to learn more about what motivates him (*cough* Toph *cough*), and that he actually tried to be a Metalbender before but failed.
Once again, Opal was there to motivate Bolin to try again. Opal is quickly growing as a character, and hopefully is showing people that simple, yet caring characters still work in TV shows. Oh yeah,
Zaheer and Team Anti-Avatar (you like?) faced the consequences of infiltrating the temple last episode, as they had to make an escape, US Marshals style!….that was a movie reference. A curious ending though makes you wonder just how powerful Zaheer is. As he KNEW where Korra was, after meditating of all things! What is going on with this guy?
All in all, “Old Wounds” showed deep character development, masterful storytelling, all the while maintaining the flow of the season. A true gem for the season.
“Original Airbenders” on the other hand was easily the first filler episode of the season. Which was both good and bad. Like “Old Wounds”, this episode showed some great character development. In this case for Tenzin, Bumi, Jinora, and Kai. On the other hand…some things were heavy-handed, which may have left you wondering why they did it.
With Korra finding the Airbenders, it was up to Tenzin to train them. Which, as many might of guessed based on previous episodes, was not an easy task. Unlike his kids, or other Airbenders from the past, this new crop weren’t exactly what Tenzin had in mind for students. Either they didn’t care about the work, were bored, or wanted to do exciting things like ride Air Bison. What’s a master Airbender to do? Ask Korra!…yeah like that won’t backfire.
Korra’s advice? Trick Bumi into giving advice. Why? Well, Bumi was head of the navy for a while, and he does know how to lead people…again, this couldn’t possibly backfire.
Bumi’s advice? Rule with an iron fist! *rubs head*…yeah, you know what I’m going to say. While it was enjoyable to see Tenzin take Bumi’s advice and run/fly with it, you knew it wasn’t going to work out in the way he wanted it to. This became evident when Bumi quit a training session, and the recruits wanted to go home.
To make matters worse for Tenzin, Jinora (with prodding from Kai) pressured her father to let her get the Airbending tattoos due to her skill. This led to a very real father/daughter fight, which led to Meelo leading the troops.
On the whole, this wouldn’t have been a bad storyline if it had taken less time or fleshed out the conflict between Bumi and Tenzin more (yes, I’m getting to that part, hold on!) like they did with Su and Lin. But when you’re almost 3/4 of the way through the episode and things are only now getting serious, you may have a problem.
Said problem for our characters was a group of bison stealing thugs, who were…I can’t believe this…going to serve them to the Earth Queen. As in a meal…like Bison meat…like Air Bison…man she’s evil. To make matters worse (no, not the “she ate the dancing bear” thing) Kai and Jinora got kidnapped. Who could possibly save them?
Say…some original Airbenders? Yep, thanks to Jinora and Bumi’s ability to chat with spirits (“I get the jist”) the others were sprung into action to save the day. And oh how they did it! Feeling the air current on your bald head? Classic. Meelo beating the head bad guy? Epic. Team Airbenders fighting as one using the training Tenzin taught them? Priceless.
The finale of the episode was very touching, Tenzin and Jinora reconciled. The Air Bison were rejoined by their cubs, who learned to fly for the first time! So…moving…
There was also a very touching moment between Tenzin and Bumi, the latter of whom admitted that he didn’t want to believe himself a failure as an Air Nomad. And that even though he was a son of Aang, he never felt on with the culture. To which Tenzin happily replied, “You are now.”
I want to give a special shoutout to Pema. Because it was her more than anyone else who consoled Tenzin when he needed it. Pema has been very comic relief in Legend of Korra. Unlike Bolin though, she doesn’t like being that. From how she wanted to have a single child that wasn’t an Airbender, to how she was treated by the acolytes (see: they wanted her to be bald), and the recent comment from Bolin saying that she was the “put upon mom” you have to sympathize with her.
Yet just like in Season 1, she shows she is truly the wisest character on the show. This time recalling how she had to leave her comfortable home and life to join Tenzin in the temple after they were married. The transition was not easy for her (despite Tenzin’s preconceived notions), but she knew she wanted to stay, so she adjusted. Sometimes it’s the simple things that puts it all in perspective. I hope Pema gets more moments like this.
One final thing before we wrap up. Though “Original Airbenders” was good, there is one nagging sensation. And it all has to do with the beginning of this review. We’re halfway through the season. Book Three has 13 episodes, which (if they continue this trend) means that this season will end in three weeks. Or three airings, whichever comes first. Why is that a problem? Well, this episode featured no advancement in story. And though we can guess that Team Anti-Avatar will strike on the Metal Clan’s turf next time, we’re starting to enter a time crunch. Things have to escalate soon, else they’ll fizzle out at the end. Not unlike what kind of happened in Season 2. But much like Pema said, “you have to be patient”. So I will, and I hope you will too.
In the end, “Old Wounds” and “Original Airbenders” delved into our characters and showed advancement with them and the story. While there are still many mysteries to be solved, it’s important that we don’t get overinvolved in the seasonal plot, else the characters will be brushed to the side. That said, if things don’t pick up soon, things might take a turn for the worse. But for now, it’s easy to say that these were some great episodes, continuing a great season.