Episode One: “A Breath of Fresh Air”
Two weeks have passed since Avatar Korra’s amazing triumph against UnaVaatu during Harmonic Convergence. The portals between the Spirit World and the human one have remained open all this time, with at least one annoying side effect: giant Spirit Vines have been growing all over Republic City, taking over entire buildings and displacing many people from their homes. Korra has yet to figure out how to deal with the vines, so her approval ratings are down to a dismal 8%, with even President Raiko distancing himself from her. Our poor teenage Avatar is questioning whether her victory was a victory at all.
On Air Temple Island, however, things are on the up-and-up. Uncle Bumi, after chasing Bum-Ju off a cliff, has discovered he can now… airbend!?!?
To make things even more epic, Asami and Bolin are now living with Korra and the Family von Airbender! And Bolin fans can finally rest easy: our hilariously upbeat, foolish-but-not-stupid rock-hurler is back! Mako is still around as well, but he is opting to sleep under his desk at the police station. I don’t blame him: living with his brother and both of his ex-girlfriends doesn’t sound fun.
Speaking of Mako, he receives an urgent late-night call from a Republic City citizen. The caller’s brother, Daw, has suddenly turned into an airbender as well, although for him, it was not such a welcome development. He cannot control his new powers, so he is panicking and running rampant all over the city. The next morning, he and Chief Bei Fong head to Air Temple Island to tell Tenzin the news, and of course, with Korra and Asami also there, things get… awkward.
Despite all the relationship drama of last season, Korra and Asami seem to be the best of friends! During a driving lesson, Korra and Asami both confess to kissing Mako while he was going out with the other one. Their reactions:
It is so refreshing to see two female characters not claw each other’s eyes out over a boy. As a side note, there must be at least ten Studio Mir animators assigned solely to Asami’s hair this season. It is out of control.
Oh, and this happened:
And before all the Korrasami shippers got too excited, Korra almost runs into a vine and starts arguing with a leafy spirit hedgehog.
Korra tells the hedgehog that people don’t mind the spirits and want to work together, but the vines have to go. “Spirits? Vines? We’re all the same. Seems like the Avatar would know that,” he replies before leaving in a huff. This inspires Korra to attempt to spirit-bend a set of vines away, but to no avail.
Tenzin has a tender moment with his children, telling them how significant it is, after 170 years, there may be enough airbenders to make a tribe again. If only their grandfather, Avatar Aang, lived to see it! Also, he now has a huge responsibility: to gather together all the new benders, take them to Air Temple Island, and teach them the ways of the Air Nomad.
One of the major consequences of the battle between Korra and UnaVaatu besides the vines overtaking the city is that Korra has lost her connection with all her past selves, and cannot consult them for advice. She feels adrift, and doesn’t know whether she ruined everything or not when she left the spirit portals open. Then Tenzin gives her some sage advice: “You didn’t ruin anything. You did what you thought was best for the world. And now things have changed. Change can be good or bad, depending on your point of view.” He reminds her that bringing back the Air Nation is the act of a great Avatar.
The Avatar Wisdom Session is interrupted by Bolin, who reports that Daw has finally been found, this time on top of Kyoshi Bridge. Korra talks him down and introduces him to Tenzin, who offers to teach him how to control his powers. President Raiko, seeking to improve his own approval ratings, banishes Korra from Republic City. Korra and Tenzin then vow to travel the world, discovering new airbenders and making the way for the re-growth of the Air Nation. The Avatar and her team traveling the world by Sky Bison and having wacky adventures along the way? Where have I heard that plotline before?
Quick cut to a very remote prison cell holding a grey-haired pseudo-philosopher named Zaheer. Turns out he is one of the new airbenders, and he uses his powers to defeat the White Lotus guards. As he leaves his cell, he vows “This is the dawning of a new age. The end of the White Lotus, and soon, the end of the Avatar.”
- During a press conference, a member of the Republic City media yells out his very New York Post-style headline: “Raik-OH NO! Polls Pan Prez Plans”.
- Bolin describing Tenzin’s family: “You got the grumpy dad, the wacky uncle, the put-upon mom, the crazy kids! No, this is great!” (Correction, Bolin: YOU are great!) Later he says: “Mako? Oh, you mean the brooding teenager?” and gives us a killer David Faustino impression.
- Tenzin’s reaction to the MaKorraSami love triangle reflects how we all feel:
- The witty Redditor who made this GIF wins five Internets:
- Meelo’s first reaction to hearing about the new airbenders was to put them all in an army he would be commander of. So cute… but also foreshadowing of dark things to come.
This season premiere was OFF THE CHAIN. The show creators brought back the charming-yet-family-friendly humor of Avatar: The Last Airbender and at the same time, pruned the corny teenage romantic drama that just seems so petty compared to everything else going on in the world.
The only small “meh” I noticed was Henry Rollins’ stilted over-enunciation as the voice of Zaheer. But still, Henry Rollins as airbending bad guy??? He is forgiven!