The Legend of Korra Book 3, Episode 7 Review: “Original Airbenders”
In the second episode from The Legend of Korra‘s friday night double dose, we got another diversion type episode following the new group of airbenders at the Northern Air Temple. I don’t exactly want to use the word filler, because I think LoK makes better use of the side story lines than most shows do, but when Korra and even the villains are barely in the episode it does seem to know the flow of episodes off track a little.
“Original Airbenders” spends the majority of its runtime following the difficulties that Tenzin is facing with creating the new Air Nation. He wants to rebuild, but getting a group on fresh Air benders doesn’t automatically make them Nomads as Tenzin soon finds out. Throughout The Legend of Korra, Tenzin has been amongst my favorite characters right from the start. His wisdom and sensitive nature make him a naturally balancing tutor and mentor to Korra. They are yin and yang. Korra embraces the physical attributes most benders desire, while Tenzin offers the wise spirituality that many benders of the past held dear. He is part of a seemingly dying breed of men who think before acting rashly. Watching him attempt to get a bunch of amateur benders interested in the 100 year history of an ancient guru probably isn’t the best way to catch young peoples’ attentions.
Korra, in a pleasant change of pace, offers Tenzin the advice of seeking Bumi’s council. After all Bumi was a naval commander and has something of a natural leadership ability that Tenzin simply doesn’t possess. The advice however seems to heed the opposite effect and Tenzin winds up pushing them from bored, to frustrated. Tenzin decides to go the route of the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. He wants to break down his troops so he can “build them back up”! Unwittingly though, he sort of alienates his daughter Jinora. Jinora, with a little encouragement from the lovable scamp Kai, decides to take off and have a little fun with some young air bison. Trouble quickly ensues however as Kai and Jinora get captured by a group of angry bison hunters.
Aside from the concepts of building up the new Air Nation, much of this episode’s plot line was a minor diversion as opposed to hard hitting side storytelling. I must admit that the humor in this episode was some of the strongest so far this season, with Tenzin and Bumi constantly playing off each other and a typically hilarious drop in line from Bolin. The ideas of finding that balance with oneself reverberated heavily throughout the episode, and as Tenzin learned, you are never to old to gain new knowledge. Korra has had a long history of these kinds of side character driven episodes so it’s not a big surprise we get a couple this season, but in some ways the fact that we know it’s all going to wrap up neatly in the 20 minute air time is slightly off-putting. I’m never against side characters getting their due development but I think this episode could have upped the tension or suspense a bit instead of going for the mild kidnapping plot, one we have seen before in Avatar and earlier Korra seasons.
For the most part, this was probably the weakest overall episode of the season thus far, but it’s also far from being a bad episode. On the contrary the episode itself didn’t have any major hitches or flaws aside from the above mentioned. Saying an episode of LoK is weaker within a season is still like saying the worst Krispie Kreme donut is bad. Even the weaker ones are still better than the vast majority of its competition, and even though this is my lowest grade of an episode so far. It’s by no means a grade to look down your nose at!