The Legend of Korra Newbie Recap: “The Guide”
Catch up with the rest of the Korra newbie recaps if you’re behind! If you’re really behind, head back to the ones for Avatar!
With its two-part flashback out of the way, Korra’s second season has now firmly entered its second half. I’m ready for wheels to stop spinning and things to start actually happening, and lo, it looks like “The Guide” might actually deliver on that front.
To start with: Tenzin & co.’s momentum-killing history vacation is about to come to an end, praise be. Korra shows up to rendezvous with her old mentor at the Eastern Air Temple. Upon arriving there, she learns that—hilariously—Tenzin has no idea what’s been going on the past few episodes, i.e., Korra opened a spirit portal and later went missing, and oh, a civil war started. Whoops.
Tenzin’s response: “I knew this would happen.”
Oh, Tenzin, I’ve missed you!
A guilt-laden Korra tells Tenzin it’s all her fault that Unalaq’s trying to free Vaatu, which Tenzin slaps down as the victim-blaming nonsense it is. Unalaq’s the dickbag in this situation, he explains, and now it’s up to us to get off our asses and get shit done.
Since Unalaq and his forces control the Southern Water Tribe, Korra will have to close the open portal from inside the Spirit World, utilizing Tenzin’s meditation mojo to cross between realms. Tenzin, at first all MY TIME HAS COME, is eventually forced to admit that, for all he’s Mr. Spirituality, he’s never actually been able to get into the spirit realm. It’s OK, Tenzin. It happens to every guy eventually.
Kya, however, has noticed something odd about Jinora—she’s been communicating with creatures that no one else can see. Those creatures, as it happens, are spirits, and she’s been able to see them since Korra opened the Southern Spirit Portal. Tenzin, though a bit bitter at his inability to live up to his father’s memory by getting into the spirit world, is nonetheless proud that his daughter can succeed where he failed.
Because it wouldn’t be the ATLAverse if there weren’t wall-to-wall shitty parents, let’s move over to Unalaq! Before, he thought only Korra would be able to open the second portal, but now, with Korra ostensibly dead, he’s determined to try and do it with good ol’ fashioned waterbending. He enlists the help of his children, Eska and Desna, to blast the portal from the inside. Desna gets injured, but Unalaq doesn’t even pause, continuing to powerblast the portal and insisting that Eska do the same. Instead, Korra’s answer to that goth chick you knew in high school ignores her father and takes Desna back through the portal. Methinks I see shades of Mai and Ty Lee turning on Azula here.
Now we head back to Republic City, where the love triangle subplot is laying in wait for me. I think you know my feelings about that.
Mako tries to convince Asami and Bolin that Varrick’s the one behind the attacks on the Southern Water Tribe cultural center and Asami’s jaeger stock. In response, Asami gaslights the hell out of him: “Oh HAHAHAHAHA. HA. You’ve been under a lot of stress lately. Maybe take a nap?” Gaslight’s not the right word, because it’s not like Asami does know Varrick’s the bad guy, but there’s still this weird “Oh, honey! Look at you, trying to solve business problems! Go throw a ball around and leave this to the experts” vibe that I’m more used to seeing from men, directed at women. As much as the “make Mako look like a lone wolf fighting for justice by turning everyone around him into idiots” plotline continues to piss me off, the gender subversion inherent in Asami’s ‘tude here is hilarious.
Bolin senses that Asami and Mako are back together, and his response—“JESUS CHRISTMAS, MAKO, YOU AND KORRA BROKE UP LIKE A WEEK AGO!”—is the best thing the love triangle has given me.
Mako is cornered by Varrick’s guard and escorted to the man himself, my one and only true love, who responds to Mako’s “Torture me all you want, I’m not gonna talk!” blovating with “Calm the fuck down, Serpico, I just want to offer you a job.” Varrick refuses to say outright that he knows Mako’s onto him, because he’s King Drama Queen. Instead he lays down all this totally subtle language about how if Mako worked on his security detail than he’s be ideally positioned to stop any completely accidental damage that may or may not, in theory, be visited upon hypothetical persons whose names may or may not rhyme with Brasami and Brolin.
Actually … hmmm. Brolin. Soft brolin Soft bro Bolin. It’s not inaccurate.
Mako refuses Varrick’s offer and goes back to his apartment to get all smoochy with Asami. Lin barges in and interrupts them—the best thing she’s done so far this season—to ask Mako, “Hey, WTF’s up with that time you, A POLICEMAN, hired the mob for an unauthorized operation that went behind my back?” KICK HIS ASS, LIN.
Mako, instead of hiding under the coffee table as I would have done, apologizes for his momentary lack of anything remotely resembling common sense. Turns out the mob turned on Mako—ya think?—and accused him of robbing the Future Industries warehouse. In addition, someone planted a bag of money and explosives in his apartment, framing him for the terrorist attacks. Even Mako, Mr. Sure I’ll Hire the Mob For a Secret Operation, What Could Go Wrong?, isn’t dumb enough to leave a bag of evidence just lying around. But, par for the course for this season so far, Lin fails to realize that he’s obviously been framed and has him arrested.
Lin’s playing the long game, right? Like, she knows Mako’s been right about everything, but she’s playing the dumb cop to lure Varrick into a false sense of security so he’ll make a mistake and she can take him down in one fell swoop? Or she’s been replaced by an alien? Those are literally the only two explanations for her behavior so far this season.
Back at the Eastern Air Temple, Jinora’s new spirit BFFs lead Tenzin, Korra, Kya, and Bumi to a run-down meditation circle, which Tenzin makes as good as new with a “spiritual cleaning ceremony.”
Korra gives Tenzin a little pep talk, apologizing for rejecting him and saying she needs his help now more than ever. But he still can’t get into the spirit world. Ever-perceptive Kya, again cutting through the bullshit, points out that it must be Jinora’s destiny to lead Korra into the spirit world. So the pair of them hop, skip, and jump on over there, Tenzin and his siblings staying behind to guard their bodies. No bickering while lives are at stake, kids!
The episode ends with Vaatu, still trapped in his tree, telling Unalaq that they still might be able to get the portal open, because not only is the Avatar not dead, she’s just entered the spirit world.
Nobody better hurt a hair on Jinora’s head, I swear to God.
Rebecca has newbie recapped Avatar and Battlestar Galactica for The Mary Sue before. She photoshopped The Rock’s head on a dolphin once. You can find her at Film Journal International, Pajiba, or on Twitter.
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