AniMonday: Legend of Korra Book 3 Review (chapters 1-3)

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She’s baaaaaack. And better than before (Thank God). Nickelodeon gave us three awesome season opener episodes to watch this past Friday. So let me break them down individually.

(Beware spoilers)

Chapter 1: A Breath of Fresh Air
Forgive me for the obvious but this episode really was aptly named. Such a breath of fresh air after the stench left behind from season 2. We got a quick little recap of the ending of last season (much needed since I’ve been trying to forget it tbh) and then it was on to the aftermath of Unalaq’s destruction. So much of Republic City is covered in vines and Korra is being blamed for a lot.  Her approval rating is down and she’s trying her best to clean up the mess (her best isn’t cutting it though). I really enjoy seeing a Korra who is actually maturing in her role as Avatar, doing her best with the knowledge she has (and seeking Council from others),  while still being a tough girl who is capable of fighting her own battles and caring about those around her.

We get a great moment with Bumi, Tenzin’s nonbender brother,  chasing after Bum-Ju (that blue bunny looking spirit from last season) because he wants it to wear a sweater (Bumi is the best). But while chasing the spirit he falls out of a tree and looks like he’s about to die WHEN SUDDENLY he air bends at the last second. Say what? He repeats the bending for his family (after a hilarious exchange at the dinner table), lest it was just a fluke.  Obviously it wasn’t.

We learn there are people all over who can suddenly airbend. Mako runs into one while on duty (he’s sleeping at the police station,  fyi, because he feels too awkward around his ex. Wah wah, Mako). Apparently because of harmonic convergence,  people are being given the ability to airbend. The realization leads to a touching scene with Tenzin who tears up thinking about Aang’s desire to rebuild the Air Nation.

The newfound benders aren’t all good, however. In this episode we meet Zaheer, some prisoner locked up and guarded by members of the White Lotus. He was a nonbender. But in the time since harmonic convergence he’s been able to master air bending. He seems like a cool baddie, intelligent and maybe a bit philosophical,  and I’m looking forward to finding out his story. 

For me, though, the best part of this episode was Korra and Asami. Their budding friendship is a freaking delight. I’d rather see them in a romantic relationship than have Korra get back together with mako. By far. They seem to really balance each other out. Where Korra is brash,  explosive, Asami is more patient and level headed. It doesn’t hurt to see them crack jokes at Mako’s expense. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Mako. I hope his character is redeemed. But for the time being this is hilarious.

Moving on.

Chapter 2: Rebirth

Zaheer, after escaping, goes to free two people. Ghazan (who is ridiculously good looking… What?) who is this crazy amazing earth bender that can somehow turn rocks into magma or something. And Ming-Hua, a water bender that uses her bending to give her arms that look like crazy tentacle type things she can swing around on and whip people with. She seems so cool. They all do. And apparently there’s another woman, Zaheer’s girlfriend who is no doubt equally dangerous. I can’t wait for her!

They hate the order of the White Lotus. And guess who just so happens to be the leader? Zuko. Z U K O! You have no idea how excited I was to see old man Zuko being still the awesome badass dude he was in the original Avatar series. I hope he’s in every episode. Seriously.

Team Avatar (along with Jinorah) decide to go looking for more airbenders. It doesn’t go well. Because the new benders they find don’t want to leave their lives to become air acolytes. Go figure,  right? But they do meet Kai, a lovable scamp who is actually wanted by the police for robbery (I’m totally singing Aladdin songs in my head now). What I love about this kid,  besides Jinora’s already huge,  obvious crush,  is the way Bolin takes to him.  In Kai, Bolin sees a younger version of himself. He becomes Bolin’s “little brother.” Equally as enjoyable is Mako’s reaction.  Immediate distrust. Because both Mako and Bolin have been that kid. He knows what’s up.

So,  with soft hearts (for the most part) Team Avatar accepts Kai and they head off to Ba Sing Se. Which leads us to…

Chapter 3: The Earth Queen

All is not right in Ba Sing Se and it looks like all hands point to the Queen. Team Avatar notices it as they fly in,  the lower circle (the slums) are filthy,  stinking and devastated by poverty. When they reach the upper circle,  the queen’s right hand man paints a terrifying picture of her. Make sure you bow low enough, don’t look her in the eye, don’t eat before her. Yeah, she sounds like an awesome lady. For sure.

Kai takes off the minute he sees jewels,  his reformed, bending is a gift schtick disappearing. Bolin and Mako go searching,  find him using bending to pick pocket,  and the chase is on! Kai is a sneaky devil, though,  and leads them to the lower circle,  steals their money and leaves. Effectively stranding them. This leads to one of the most amazing discoveries of the entire Korra series m IMO.

You see,  at a fruit stand,  where Bolin contemplates stealing, they have a run in with the merchant. And the merchant’s father. Who knows their names. That man is their uncle,  Mako and Bolin’s father’s brother! They’re taken to a house where there are TONS of family members. Most notably,  their grandmother. We learn Mako and Bolin’s father had a falling out with his family,  they hadn’t seen him since before marrying and having the boys. They didn’t even know he’d died. My heart hurt a lot at the grandma’s retelling of events. Sorrow at never having met her son’s wife. And then,  in a move that was so sweet and symbolic, Mako gives his grandma his father’s red scarf. I feel like this is a sign of Mako’s maturation. He is going to let go of the past and move forward. Here’s hoping we see this in the way he interacts with Korra and Asami (but not to the point either get back together with him).

And Bolin,  who has always craved family,  now has all of these people to get to know. As long as no horrible villains decide to attack their way of life.

Right.

Zuko goes to meet up with hot dad Tonraq and the weird incestuous Southern water tribe twins, Eska and Desna. We get classic Zuko here. He describes Zaheer’s girlfriend as being such a powerful fire bender she can use her mind to kill people. And then casually throws out hiring a guy with a similar power to kill Aang. “Didn’t work” though. Zuko is the best. His comedic factor is gold. 

So. The girlfriend. P’Li.  They keep her locked up in a frozen wasteland. That would suck. What did these people even do? And what do they want to do now?

While all this is going on Korra and Asami go on a date mission for the Queen. See, she says she won’t help the Avatar locate new airbenders unless they help her recover tax money she has on an off site location.  Apparently renegades have been stealing her money. They predictably show up. And Korra and Asami kick ass. Those dudes run scared. But their parting words make Korra stop and reassess the situating. Is this really the queen’s money?

And then we learn even more. That supposedly the Queen is capturing all the airbenders in the earth Kingdom. So,  remember Kai? Who ran off and started using his bending to steal? Guess who finds him… The Dai Li. Yeah,  remember those corrupt mother effers? Looks life they’re still around. Who even knows why. They inform Kai he will now serve in the queen’s army. Sounds ominous,  yeah? Makes you wonder at the real bad guys in this season. Hmmm.

All in all this season is proving to be fantastic. I know some were worried the show was being rushed to air. But the writing sure wasn’t. This is the type of quality story telling I associate with the original Avatar series and so desperately long for with Korra. I’m really excited and I didn’t think I would be after last season. I really hope the show continues in this vein and week after week delivers awesome Avatar-ness. Just not next week because it’s not airing due to the holiday.

If you loved the first 3 chapters of book 3, let us know! What do you hope happens to our favorite characters?

– Steph

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