Joey Sack ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
After a relatively short hiatus, The Legend of Korra is back in Book Three: Change, and change is definitely upon us. The season premiered Friday, June 27th with three episodes: “A Breath of Fresh Air,” “Rebirth,” and “The Earth Queen.” The episodes featured old friends, new friends, new enemies, some old enemies, and new challenges for the young Avatar and her allies. These first few episodes show that there is a lot of promise for this season, though there were a few flaws in this premiere. But one thing is for certain: we’re not in Republic City anymore, literally.
The first episode, “A Breath of Fresh Air,” takes place two weeks after Harmonic Convergence, and Korra has been dealing with the many changes to Republic City, namely the vines that have sprouted up all over and causing problems for everyday citizens and for President Raiko, who, in typical elected official fashion, keeps trying to put all the blame for recent events on Korra in order to save his own career, when everything that has happened is just as much his fault as it is hers. On top of that, Bumi, Tenzin’s older brother, has discovered that he can airbend as a result of the energy shift that Korra felt after the events of Harmonic Convergence. And Bumi is not the only one; at least one other person in Republic City has developed the power to airbend as well. This is unexpected and welcomed news for Tenzin, who sees this as an opportunity to realize his father’s dream of rebuilding the Air Nation. But it’s not all good; in addition to Bumi and some others, a criminal named Zaheer, held in a special prison by the White Lotus for an unknown reason, has also become an airbender, and uses his newfound power to escape his captors.
This episode shows that Korra is beginning to doubt her decision to leave the spirit portals open, as these changes seem to be causing more harm than good to Republic City. The episode shows some great Tenzin-Korra teacher-student moments, as well as some good bonding Asami-Korra “the guy we both used to date is being really stupid and awkward around us” moments. The Mako-Korra moments left a little to be desired. It is expected that there would be some awkwardness between the two, seeing as they only broke up a few weeks ago. But the awkward levels are a bit too high. If they still care for each other, there’s no need to make it so awkward that it makes viewers cringe. The most touching moment in the episode, by far, was when Tenzin talked to his kids about how there are now more airbenders in the world, while noting that he wished that his father was alive to see the rebirth of the Air Nation. Of all the episodes that aired on Friday night, this is the better balance between action and heartfelt moments.
The second episode, “Rebirth,” shows Tenzin, Korra, Bumi, Jinora, and the rest of Team Avatar traveling to different towns throughout the Earth Kingdom where airbenders have popped up. The only problem they face is a lack of cooperation; nobody wants to give up their normal lives to rebuild a nation. They do find one willing recruit, however; a young orphan named Kai, who has a knack for getting himself in trouble by stealing. Kai is your basic young street urchin character, but he does seem to have a bit of chemistry with Jinora, which is nice to see. While Team Avatar tries with very little success to win over other new airbenders, Zaheer uses his airbending abilities to break out two of his friends, kept in similarly remote prisons guarded by the White Lotus.
This gets the attention of the now 88-year-old former Fire Lord Zuko (sporting a look that is equal parts Sozin, Roku, and Iroh). His inclusion in the episode shows that, while no longer the Fire Lord, Zuko is still very much involved in keeping the Avatar safe and the world at peace. One of the better parts of this episode is the subplot with Zaheer, as it is really interesting to see different benders with unique abilities and how they might present a threat to the Avatar and her friends. While the main plot is by no means bad, the majority of the time, their lack of success in finding willing volunteers is played for laughs. There is even a montage that shows Tenzin going door to door and continually getting the door slammed in his face. There are some really good moments in this episode, but overall, this is the weakest of the three.
The third episode, “The Earth Queen,” sees Korra and company traveling to Ba Sing Se, the capital of the Earth Kingdom, to meet an admittedly stereotypical Earth Queen. To say that she is stereotypical is to say that she is very much a cliché of a ruler who thinks that they control all that they survey and they are entitled to anything they want. One interesting thing about the Earth Queen, however, is that she feels that the land used to create the United Republic of Nations belongs to the Earth Kingdom, and it seems like she would very much like it back. Given this introduction, we’ll see if she turns out to be a villain later on this season. The speed in which Korra and company reach Ba Sing Se is indicative of the show not wanting to waste any time and get right down to business with its story. In this episode, it is apparent that the Earth Queen is not loved by all her subjects, as Korra and Asami have a pretty cool fight with a band of barbarians attempting to steal tax money intended for the queen. It’s great to see Korra and Asami fighting side by side, showing Korra and her brute force bending approach and Asami and her more precise fighting.
We also see that old enemies of the original Team Avatar have survived in the form of the Dai Li, who now serve the Earth Queen directly. It is strange to see the Dai Li return, seeing that the group turned against the Earth Kingdom during the Hundred Year War. Still, it was great to see them again, even though they mostly just stood around and looked intimidating (but then again, the season has just begun, and one of the things that Dai Li agents do best is look intimidating). One of the episode’s subplots involved Mako and Bolin meeting some people who knew their father, San, who grew up in Ba Sing Se before moving to Republic City. These scenes are among the most touching of the episode, as we didn’t really know much about Mako and Bolin’s parents, only that they were murdered when Mako and Bolin were kids. The ending of this episode is the perfect way to leave off, and will tide fans over while also leaving them incredibly hyped until The Legend of Korra continues at its new timeslot at 8 PM, starting on July 11th.
The premiere of Book Three: Change of The Legend of Korra clearly shows us that we are in for a treat with the change that has taken place in Korra’s world. This isn’t like Aang’s world anymore; there are new villains, old friends, and unknown adventures in store for Team Avatar. We’ll just have to wait and see how much change Korra and her world can go through.
Overall Grade: B+/A-