Joey Sack ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
From now until the end of the season, we’re getting two new episodes of The Legend of Korra every week. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? In some ways, it’s both. It’s good because fans will be getting new episodes of Korra faster, but it’s bad because, at the rate we’re going, Book Three will be over on August 8th. In addition, you can’t help but think that this is Nickelodeon’s attempt to catch up to the episodes that were leaked online on MundoNick while also getting Korra fans out of their hair. While it’s great to get to see more Korra, it’s really a shame that we don’t get more time to let the events of each episode sink in. With a gradual release of episodes, fans are allowed to savor and speculate with each new twist and turn of the story. That was one of the great things about the first two seasons; people were able to speculate over the course of weeks and months wondering who Amon was, or what Unalaq’s master plan was. Now, there’s no major sense of mystery between episodes. But let’s not dwell on the negative; let’s just focus on how these episodes stack up. And how are they? They’re very good episodes, but they don’t really fit well together.
The first episode, “In Harm’s Way,” opens with a great fight which featured Lord Zuko, Tonraq, Desna and Eska, going up against Zaheer, Ghazan, and Ming-Hua, as the latter group attempts to and succeeds in breaking out their firebending comrade, P’Li. It’s great to see that even at the age of 88, Lord Zuko can still hold his own in a fight, especially seeing as he’s fighting a team of benders that he himself said could take down any opponent individually. It’s also great to see this criminal team fighting against characters that we’ve already seen prove themselves in combat, and to see Desna and Eska fighting in their typical synchronized movements. The scene then cuts back to Mako and Bolin rejoining the group to tell Korra that the Earth Queen is rounding up all the airbenders in Ba Sing Se, including Kai, to serve in her army. The captured airbenders aren’t really having a great time, especially Kai, who a Dai Li agent has singled out for torment and ridicule. With the help of Jinora’s ability to manifest her spirit outside of her body, Korra and company first try to find the airbenders in the Dai Li’s old headquarters underneath Lake Laogai, but when that doesn’t work, Jinora is able to find them by meditating on her “connection” to Kai. At this point, Lin shows up to protect Korra from the escaped criminals, and we finally find out the whole reason behind why Korra’s father, Tonraq, and Tenzin decided to keep Korra at the South Pole for her training. There’s then a rescue mission where the conflict between Korra and the Earth Queen comes to a head, and there is some good action with a few Kai/Jinora moments thrown in.
The main conflict that was set up in the last episode, the airbenders being rounded up, was solved a bit too quickly, though it’s understandable, given that there are now only nine episodes left in the season. This is indicative of the creators and writers not wanting to waste any time with the episodes that they have remaining, but it also seems that the writers are trying to cram in as much content as possible this season. It doesn’t seem like we’ve seen the last of the Earth Queen, as she looked ready to declare war on Korra and all of her friends and allies. It’s unclear whether or not Kai has really changed his ways, but the way that he stands up for his fellow airbender prisoners and how he comes to Jinora’s aid shows that he has the potential to be a better person, and by extension, a better airbender. The episode would have worked better if this one and the previous one, “The Earth Queen,” had been aired together. On its own, though, it’s a good episode with some good action, some good comedic moments, and even one or two touching moments.
The second episode of this hour-long block, “The Metal Clan,” sees Korra, Mako, Bolin, Asami, and Lin Beifong traveling to meet another airbender in the city of Zaofu, a city made entirely of metal. When they arrive, it is revealed that the creator and the leader of Zaofu is Suyin “Su” Beifong, Toph Beifong’s second daughter and Lin’s half-sister. But when the two siblings see each other for the first time in 30 years, it’s anything but a joyful reunion; for reasons that are left unclear, Lin and Su don’t get along. Lin blames Su for tearing their family apart, where Su somewhat resents Lin for not trying to keep the family together. While this is going on, there are some great scenes of new airbenders training at Air Temple Island, including a now bald Zaheer, though he’s soon discovered by Kya and forced to flee. The design Zaofu is really interesting; the city is divided on several platforms that look like giant metal flowers, and at night, metalbenders close up the petals of the flowers as a form of security for Zaofu.
One of the things that this episode does really well is show how metalbending has evolved since its creation during the Hundred Year War; in the original show, and even in the first two season of Korra, we mostly saw people roughly tearing metal apart, with only a few metalbenders using this subskill of earthbending in a more precise manner. Now there’s an entire city made out of metal, dancers who use metalbending as a part of their dance routine, and sculptors who use metalbending in their artwork. It’s really interesting to see. The scenes between Lin and Su show that Lin is the one who holds more of a grudge against her little sister, and that both Su and her now-airbending daughter Opal would love for Lin to be a part of their family. It’s interesting to see Lin starting to go from a tough as nails police chief to a woman with a troubled past. We had gotten hints of Lin’s feelings about her family, seeing as she almost never mentions her mother, but now we’re definitely going to get some concrete answers about this police chief’s past. This episode was probably the most visually interesting of the two, mostly due to the use of metalbending throughout much of the run time. It looks like Korra and friends will be sticking around Zaofu for awhile, and with such an interesting and beautiful design, it’s unlikely that the fans will be complaining about that.
These episodes, on their own, are good episodes, with the same great quality of voice acting, animation, music, and story telling that we’ve come to expect from Avatar and Korra. With that said, however, these two episodes don’t really fit too well together in terms of the main plot. In hindsight, the third and fourth episodes of the season, “The Earth Queen” and “In Harm’s Way,” would have fit together better in terms of a story arc. These episodes were basically finishing one story arc while starting another, which is normally good, but here it doesn’t seem like Nickelodeon has thought out their schedule for this season too well. But “In Harm’s Way” and “The Metal Clan” are still really good episodes, building on the great season premiere and continuing to enthrall viewers with great storylines and characters. Book Three of The Legend of Korra just seems to get better and better, and we can only hope that the season continues on this great path.
Overall Grade: B+/A-