Joey Sack ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Book Three of The Legend of Korra continues its winning streak with “Old Wounds” and “Original Airbenders.” The former episode was the final episode leaked onto MundoNick several weeks earlier, and now everyone is up to speed and in the dark about the rest of the season.
In these episodes, we see Lin and Suyin’s conflict reach some sort of a conclusion while also learning more about how their conflict arose, and we see Tenzin struggle to find the right balance between drill sergeant and patient teacher as he tries to train the new airbenders at the Northern Air Temple. As expected, the voice acting, animation, and all of that good stuff are really good, and the storytelling continues to get better and better, both with and without the presence of our main hero.
In the first episode, “Old Wounds,” Su offers to teach Korra and Bolin how to metalbend, though Korra much more readily accepts Su’s tutelage. Meanwhile, Lin delves into her memories of when she and Su were younger and what drove them apart. While all of this is going on, Zaheer and his friends escape from Republic City after failing to locate the Avatar on Air Temple Island. The scene where these criminals escape is brief, but that’s a show of how powerful these benders are, and it’s really great to see this team working together. It really depicts them as a real threat for any opponent, even the Avatar. As Korra learns the basics of metalbending, we learn that Bolin has tried to metalbend before, but has been unable to succeed, which he sees as a failure on his part, since he considers Toph Beifong, the inventor of metalbending, to be one of his personal heroes. It’s great to see Bolin evolve a bit more beyond just being comic relief and Mako’s brother and teammate. This was something that started to happen back in Book Two, but now that Bolin has a love interest and is building more self-confidence, it’s safe to assume that he will have a better balance between being comic relief and having real character growth.
The flashbacks to Lin and Su’s past are really interesting to see, and it shows that the siblings’ animosity really goes back further than the events shown; the events that we see are simply the final act that drove the sisters apart, both literally and figuratively. In addition, it’s great to see a certain someone from Lin’s past in these flashbacks, and how that person’s actions influenced Lin’s life from that point on. Throughout Lin’s recollection of these memories, it becomes clear that much of Lin’s stress and anger comes from keeping these memories locked away, and once she lets these memories out, she has a noticeable change in demeanor. There’s also a really exciting fight scene between Lin and Su, as Lin is unwilling to let go of what her half-sister did. It’s great to see these two masters of earth and metal using both forms of earth to fight each other, and it’s really impressive to see Lin hold her own against her sister, despite being weaker than usual.
This episode has the most going on in terms of subplots; we have the plot with Lin and Su’s past, the subplot of Korra learning metalbending, the subplot of Bolin feeling like a failure of an earthbender for not being able to metalbend, and we have Zaheer and his gang escaping Republic City. The great thing is that none of the subplots feel unnecessary and no parts of the story are shortchanged for another. We only need to spend a little bit of time with Zaheer and his gang to establish what their next move is, and Bolin’s story about metalbending is just getting set up. For the moment, the conflict between Lin and Su seems to have reached some sort of resolution, but we’ll see if anything changes as the season continues.
The next episode, “Original Airbenders,” only features Korra and her friends in Zaofu for about a minute and a half; the rest of the time is spent with Tenzin, his children, and the new airbenders training at the Northern Air Temple. In typical Tenzin fashion, he starts by boring most of his students with a long story about an Air Nomad who didn’t eat for 98 days and just meditated. Quite a riveting story, don’t you think? Neither do the new recruits. With some advice from Bumi, Tenzin decides to become like a drill sergeant, pushing his new airbenders way too hard, enough to make them even less excited about being a part of the new Air Nation. These moments are pretty funny, but it does beg the question: how is it that Tenzin needs help to figure out how to train new airbenders? He’s already trained three of his children and the Avatar. Perhaps it was easier for him to mold the young minds of his children to enjoy learning about Air Nomad culture and easier for him to be patient with a teenaged Avatar; with these new recruits, a lot of them are adults, who may be in their 30s or 40s, and people can get pretty set in their ways by the time they reach that age.
One of the best parts of the episode is when Kai and Jinora spend time going to visit a herd of wild sky bison, including several bison calves who are too young to fly; these two young airbenders are really starting to form a bond. While at some points their adventures come across as your typical “bad boy influences rule-following girl” story, it doesn’t stick to that formula so much that it’s insulting. There is also some conflict between Jinora and her father, since the young airbender feels like that she has mastered airbending and deserves to get her airbending tattoos. It’s great to see Jinora evolve more as a character as the series goes on. When the series started, she and her other siblings were simply there to be cute and funny; now in addition to being cute, they’re growing up, and Jinora is growing up more than any of them. Near the end of the episode, in order to save Kai, Jinora, and a group of captured sky bison calves, Bumi and the rest of the new airbenders work together and, in the process, realize how amazing it is to be airbenders. This episode had some good heartfelt moments, the young flying bison are adorable to watch, and the way Tenzin and his family grow in this episode is really nice to see.
Episodes with more of a focus on Tenzin and his family have always been top-notch, but this is an episode where Korra is only in it for about a minute, and it still works. The fact that episodes have been working both with and without Korra being in them is proof that all of these characters have really come into their own and are being utilized properly by the writers. The episodes with Korra are great, and the episodes with Tenzin are just as great; that is the mark of a solid cast of characters in a really solid show.
These episodes are really good, continuing the string of great story arcs that The Legend of Korra has had since the beginning of this season. New episodes of The Legend of Korra air on Fridays at 8/7c on Nickelodeon. Tune in to see the increasingly great adventures of the New Team Avatar.
Overall Grade: A-