So, this weekend, not one, but two episodes of Legend of Korra premiered on Korranation. And they’re good. They’re real good. Any concern that when the series was brought back it would be diminished has left me. The animation is still, just, so purdy. It’s no Aang versus Ozai, or Zuko versus Azula, but none of the fights in these episodes were really that epic. Voice acting is strong. When Avatar started, I feel like a lot of the actors took a bit to find their place. Well, except for Mako, who was awesome, always. But they start start of right out the gate in thie one. Janet Varney as Korra is fantastic, the the real star is JK Simmons. Not surprisingly, he continues to be awesome, like he is in everything (even those State Farm commercials), and easily bounces between serene holy man and aggravated teacher. He really sells it.
So, first episode. Korra finishes her fire bending training and is supposed to move on to air bending training, but the only air bending teacher, a man named Tenzin, who also happens to be Aang and Katara’s son, is too busy trying to keep the capital of their new Republic from collapsing. So Korra follows him back to the capital, with the stunningly original name of Republic City (Zuko and Aang might have been good at ending century old empires, but not so good at picking names) to convince him to teach her. She gets there, and realizes that Tenzin was right about the capital being a mess. She runs into a bunch of homeless people, finds a group of anti-benders protesting, and interrupts a gang attempting to extort money from shopkeepers. When she takes them down, she gets arrested for vigilantism, gets bailed out by Tenzin, and she eventually convinces Tenzin that she’s needed in Republic City to try to fix things.
So, this is a good pilot. It’s kind of a cheat, because obviously we know a lot about this world already, being the continuation of another show. But still, there’s a lot we need to learn about this new world, and that learning happens pretty seamlessly, without a bunch of obvious exposition. We know that the new Avatar is kinda dumb. She takes down a bunch of criminals, then resists arrest. She’s the Avatar. She’s personally knows one of the leaders of the city. Surely she can get out of this. But instead she goes on a wild chase. But then the flip side is that we learn this new world doesn’t really have as much respect for the Avatar. The old world would have happily rebuilt the collateral damage, with a thank you to the Avatar for fighting those criminals. And, of course, we meet these mysterious anti-benders. What’s their deal? Oh, and by the way, cars? And electricity? What happened? The technological jump was crazy huge.
Second episode, Korra is trying to learn airbending, but her training is going poorly. She sucks at the meditating and spiritual side of the deal, and airbending is pretty much all that. At least, that’s what we’re assuming. Aang was the only airbender around, and he was all spiritual. Maybe there’s another way to learn, but since that’s not how Aang learned, it was lost. Who knows. Anyway, Korra rebels against this slow, boring training. She wants to go check out these pro-bending fights, but Tenzin forbids it. So, of course, she does that immediately. She meets a dorky earth bender who tries to teach her about pro-bending, to get into her pants, and his older brother, a fire bender who’s really angry about stuff. Eventually she joins their team, and almost loses the game for them. Tenzin shows up and scolds her for joining the team, but she refuses to quit. She eventually learns some stuff about air bending, she and Tenzin make up, and Tenzin reluctantly agrees to let her continue.
Now, I’m not saying this episode was bad, because it wasn’t. But the writing bugged me a little. Everything was just so telegraphed. Tenzin says Korra can’t watch pro-bending? Well, then she’s gonna be on a team by the end of this episode. We could all guess that even if we hadn’t seen that promo video where she was on a team. They made it really obvious. The the two brothers. The younger dorky one is falling over himself to impress Korra, while the older one is curt and angry the entire time. So, which one will be the eventual romantic interest? I wonder? And finally, I think we all guessed a second into her training that she wasn’t going to learn air bending the “traditional” way. And the moment they mentioned pro-bending, it was obvious where this was going, but it still took forever to get there. That being said, it gave them an excuse to have awesome bending fights for almost an entire episode. And that’s fun to watch. Success there.
Some other thoughts after the jump.
So, right away, Aang’s dead. That’s a bummer. But to be expected, how else were we going to get a new Avatar? Sokka’s dead. Bigger bummer. Katara’s still kicking, that’s cool. No word on Toph. We meet her daughter, but it’s never expressly stated if she’s alive or not. Bumi hung on for forever, so maybe earth benders live longer. Toph could still be alive. Hopefully. Zuko, probably not. But we haven’t met the council or whatever. Maybe he’s just really old, and doesn’t leave.
So, the story is that Aang and Zuko turned the Fire Nation colonies into this new country. Now, wait a minute. Fire Nation colonies? Isn’t that code for “parts of the Earth Kingdom the Fire Nation stole”? They didn’t give them back? That’s awkward. Hope that’s covered. Maybe the Earth Nation agreed to allow those areas to be a new neutral nation, since there were so many Fire Nation people living there.
They just keep the Avatar locked up in the south pole until her training is complete? That seems dumb. Surely visiting the nations where these powers are used on a constant basic would be a better system. But I guess I’m not an expert on training Avatars.
Tenzin’s kids are awesome. That is all.
There’s a bit where Korra’s about to explain what happened with Zuko’s mom, and she gets interrupted. Sick burn. The writers are assholes. That being said, it was pretty funny.
Polar Bear dogs are cool. As cool as sky bison? I dunno about that. But it’s not Momo, which is nice. Stupid Momo.
Korra runs away from home with no money. That’s stupid. What’s worse is that Katara knew she was leaving, and gave her blessing. “Good luck, spiritual leader and keystone of our world! Hope you don’t starve to death!”
Bending seems much less important in this new world. With cars and electricity and blimps and whatnot, the magic powered people seem less vital. That being said, the anti-bender thing still seems weird. I understand the jealousy aspect, but they’re not jedi. They interact with normal people and help improve the world just like you, just with their own abilities. Quit being jerks.
Lotta metal benders. I understand that you don’t want that ability to die with you, but training everyone in it seems silly. If all the cops are good guys, that might be okay, but the more people that learn it, the bigger chance it will be used against you.
So, Toph invented these metal bending cops. And then Toph’s daughter is now their chief? Nepotism?
I understand that this city was built by Aang, probably with the help of his friends, but when half the people we meet are related to Aang in some way, the universe seems small. It’s like Star Wars. The same eight people are responsible for pretty much everything that happens.
I’m glad that at least Tenzin has issues with the pro-bending. It just seems like they were given these powers for a reason, and knocking each other around the court seem like that was not it.
The older brother’s introduction is kind of obnoxious. Korra introduces herself, and he flat out ignores her. Of course he will be the romantic interest. Gross.
Korra agrees to play this game, but literally doesn’t know any of the rules. She knocks people out incorrectly, steps over foul lines who’s purpose is obvious, regardless of knowing the rules of the game, and despite promising to use only water bending, uses earth bending within seconds. She’s really bad at it.
I love Tenzin’s plea to his daughters after getting frustrated with Korra:
“You must promise me that your teenage years won’t be like this”
“I will make no such promises”
Supposedly the guards on this island are supposed to keep Korra from leaving. But they’re really terrible. She’s leaving all the time.
That last moment, when asshole older brother is staring wistfully at the island? As though we hadn’t already guessed what was going on there? Double yuck.