Legend of Korra Premiere Mega-Recap: The Winds of Change
Korra's got her groove back.
I recently had to re-watch the finale of the second book, and in watching it, I was reminded of how weird it felt. I know I’m not alone in thinking that Book 2: Spirits felt a little off. Considering how the show spent so much time fascinated with the spirit world it’s little wonder that the story fell short. Let’s face it, we all knew the team behind Avatar could do better. Thankfully, the sophomore slump is over, if the first three episodes of book 3 are any indication! Korra’s got her groove back!
In respect to Bryan Konietzko, Michael DiMartino and the entire team behind Korra this will be a leak-free zone. Any spoilers from the leaked episodes will not be discussed here. With that said we’ve got a three episodes of material to cover, so let’s get started.
The world is safe. Kaiju Una-Vatu has been defeated. The Harmonic Convergence is over. Everything is great, or it would be, if you know keeping the spirit portals open had no effect on anything. Unfortunately, wild vine forests have been sprouting all over the city choking up everything. Korra’s doing her best to get rid of them, but that doesn’t seem to be enough for the President Raiko and his entourage of press. Nevermind she saved the city from Kaiju Una-Vatu, or the world for that matter – Korra’s got an 8% approval in polls (when did that become a thing?!). Everyone seems to hate her for one thing or another. Sucks to be the Avatar.
But the Harmonic Convergence isn’t all bad news, turns out it may have given birth to NEW FREAKING AIRBENDERS! Bumi’s the first to discover his new found power, but as the episode goes on more people discover they have it too – including a pretty bad dude the White Lotus have been keeping locked up named Zaheer. Nevermind the guy has had powers for like, a day, Zaheer still manages to kick everyone’s butt and escape after waxing poetic about airbender poetry. Of course no one knows about Zaheer’s love of poetry or his escaping…yet.
Back in Republic City, President Raiko has had it with Korra. Being a huge drama llama about how ~THERE’S A CRISIS EVERYDAY~, he throws a fit and basically banishes the Avatar from the city because fuck reasoning. Of course this hasn’t got Korra down! Now she knows exactly what to do! It’s Airbender huntin’ time!
The episode is ripe with gems of our favorite characters, from Asami and Korra girlfriend/driving lesson time (“FINALLY!” sigh all the Korrasami fans ever), adorable moments with Tenzin and the babybenders, Bolin mocking Mako, Korra mocking Mako, and Mako showing us why everyone’s mocking him:
While the episode could have very well ended on a sadder and more brooding note, it doesn’t. Korra takes a bad situation and turns it into a positive one, leaving behind the city to find new airbenders! The sense of excitement on the promise of a newly reborn Air nation is infectious, leaving the viewer eager to see more. Thankfully, we got more!
With the promise of new airbenders popping up across the world, Team Avatar has to hit the road, or well the sky thanks to Asami providing a sweet airship. Of course all the babybenders are super excited to go, but Ikki and Meelo quickly find out they have to stay home. Kaya reminds them that the new airbenders will need teachers, which seems to put Ikki at ease, and Meelo on an instant power trip.
Of course Mako shows up, and the awkward reaches stratospheric levels before Korra’s humor saves us from the second hand embarrassment. He bows out from going on the trip, but is pulled back in through Bolin’s brilliant use of the sad/dying grandma card. With Mako on board (and the promise of more cringe worthy moments ahead) Team Avatar sets out to bring the Air Nation back. YAY!!
But there’s a problem. It seems like every new airbender they find wants nothing to do with becoming part of the Airbending culture. Tattoos, flying bison best friends, and vegetarianism just don’t seem to fly with a lot of people. After being turned down by absolutely every new airbender, there’s only one thing to do: IT’S STREET SHOW TIME!
With the clever use of Tenzin’s shirtlessness, Korra tornado-ing Mako, and Jinora’s gravity defying acrobatic skills, they finally impress some people! Team avatar lands their first recruit in a young airbender named Kai, who apparently has outlaws after him. Kai is also a lying little turd, but even after they find out he’s a greasy thief Korra decides to take Kai along anyway. Mako’s not convinced this is a good idea, and a lot of fans suddenly find themselves siding with Mako. Meanwhile, Kainora becomes an instant thing, and Bolin is super excited about his new little brother. How could this go wrong?! /s
Elsewhere, we find Zaheer is busy getting his crew together. First with an earthbender named Gazan at a wooden prison (who the hell thought putting firebenders on a wooden prison was a good idea?), and then the two guys bust out Ming Wa, an armless waterbender. This lady is INTENSE, she hasn’t been on screen for five minutes and I love her.
At the end of the episode a man stands over Ming Wa’s prison, brooding. At first glance it’s a guy in red, with a white beard and hair knot.
What’s Roku’s ghost doing here? OMG WAIT A SECOND THAT’S ZUKO!!! Of course Old!Zuko is kinda pissed about the White Lotus losing Ming Wa, explaining that these convicts are bad news, especially for Korra. It turns out there’s still one prisoner left to bust out, and Zuko knows exactly where she’s at. So Zuko hops on his Monstrous Nightmare dragon and flies off to warn the Northern Water Tribe about the oncoming attack.
The one thing that really bugged me about this episode was how Tenzin and Korra didn’t really seem to realize what they were asking of the new Airbenders. While the idea of being an airbenber is cool, it’s hard to simply uproot a person from their normal life, and I was happy to see that reality thrown in their faces. That said, I did feel really bad for them. Rebuilding the airbender population is such a big deal! COME ON, THIS IS FOR THE GREATER GOOD YOU GUYS!!!
Anyway, after the end of this episode I didn’t really think it would get much more awesome, but I was wrong.
So in the last episode when Kai was caught he talked about how he wouldn’t steal anymore because now he was an airbender and that had ~changed~ him. The opening of this episode determined that was a lie. Kai is easily a powerful bender, but seeing as he steals Bumi’s wallet I’m calling BS.
This episode centers around Ba Sing Se, and Bolin is peddling his excitebike because they’re finally seeing the city where their father, San, grew up. The Earth Queen, Hou Ting is who they’ve really come to see though. When they land in the middle ring, it’s pretty clear that the Queen isn’t anyone’s cup of jasmine tea. The Queen is pissed about a lot of stuff, like her subjects refusing to pay taxes, bandits stealing her cash, the fact that the United Republic sits on earth kingdom territory, and that topiaries are too close to the koi pond. After complaining forever, the Earth Queen finally says she’ll consider helping Korra out, but only if Korra escorts her tax money safely to the city. Korra begrudgingly agrees and taps Asami to come along. The two take off without the others, because they’ll be fine. I mean what could go wrong aside from everything?
Meanwhile, everyone (okay, Jinora) notices that Kai’s missing! Mako and Bolin end up searching for him, and find the little jerk robbing people in the streets. After a brief chase, Kai gives them the slip and the brothers find themselves suddenly stuck in the nasty lower ring of Ba Sing Se. There, after a brief mix up about stealing fruit, they meet their cousin, Tu and then the rest of the family too! Cue super cute, bittersweet and awesome family reunion. Eventually the topic of airbenders pops up and the brothers learn the Dai Li have been snatching any known airbender from the city streets.
Korra and Asami finally get to the village to collect the Queen’s tax money, but of course they get attacked by bandits who look like they belong in a Norwegian metal band. The girls fight together in pretty much the best bending scene in the entire episode. The badits run, screaming that the money belongs to the people, not the queen. Clue number one. The cash in tow, Korra returns to the Queen. When asked about the airbenders the Queen brushes Korra off, telling her “There are no airbenders in Ba Sing Se.” Clue number two.
Of course we do head to the Northern Water Tribe for a quick detour to visit Desna and Eska. Old!Zuko warns them of the coming attack and they check the prisons forces to make sure everything is ready. Of course the prisoner, P’li, is sufficiently interesting (Sparky Sparky Boom Boom Woman!) and creepy. If anything this entire sequence only proves that Old!Zuko is still the Zuko we remember.
As the episode ends (holy crap, they packed a lot in this one!), we find Kai, doing his airbending robbing gig. No one seems to be on to him and he’s been living the highlife through the whole episode. The self satisfied jerk quickly finds himself in a world of trouble when two Dai Li agents grab him. Clue number three. Kai’s thrown into a cell with several other criminals – OH WAIT. Those aren’t criminals. OH WAIT. Those are airbenders?! OH CRAP, THE QUEEN IS BUILDING AN AIRBENDER ARMY?!
So that’s the beginning of the first season. A very strong start, and while I was originally a bit worried I’m definitely pumped for the rest of this season! A friendly reminder that the next episode will likely not air until July 11th (Nick hasn’t put out an official word yet). What did you think of the premiere?
By day, Carrie is the co-creator, artist and production coordinator of Kamikaze. By night a writer, budding comic nerd and passionate feminist. Occasionally she takes pretty photos. A devoted scholar to film, animation and storytelling Carrie is feared wherever books are sold, and enjoys the company of animals, geeks and artists equally. Feel free to follow her on Twitter.