The Legend Of Korra: “Old Wounds” & “Original Airbenders” REVIEW
Lin Beifong is one of the best characters on The Legend of Korra. She has long and complicated relationships with both the Avatar and Tenzin. Still that did not stop her from sacrificing her bending to save Tenzin’s family at the end of Book One in an act of true selflessness and love. Since her introduction, Lin has been a tough and astute lady and that’s part of the reason why many felt she was short changed in Book Two. So far, Book three as been very exciting for all characters, especially Lin.
One could make an argument The Legend of Korra is as much about the dynamics of family, how our relationships are constantly changing and being worked on, as it about people who can control the elements. Co-creator Mike DiMrtino frequently speaks to looking inward at his own relationships with his brothers and sisters as inspiration for Korra and cast on multiple commentary tracks for Books One and Two. Tenzin was in the spot light last season, now the Beifong Metal clan’s dirty bits are on full display.
First, a quick update on Zaheer and gang, who are in the process of trying to sneak out of Republic City, now on high alert because of his discovery at Air Temple Island. Zaheer may not have the charisma as Amon, but damn his is presence just as threatening. It’s great each member of his gang has a high level bending technique rarely seen in the world of Avatar. Their scenes may be short; however, they make for some creative and daring sequences. Some might find it weird Zaheer being so spiritual, having the ability to locate the Avatar through meditation alone; those viewers forget spirituality seldom boils down to good or bad in many Eastern philosophies.
In Zaofu, Lin is not doing much better since exploding at her niece, who is bonding with Bolin over their shared insecurities. Bolin feels bad about not being able to metal bend while Opal doesn’t want to upset her mother, by leaving to train at the Northern Air temple. All of Lin’s built up anger is starting to affect her health. Following a pea from Su’s truth seer, Lin seeks out the aid of an acupuncturist. During her treatment, Lin experiences the source of her anger – some deep seeded memories involving her sister. Su glanced over her adventurous youth, but failed to mention some of the finer details. While Lin was trying to follow in the footsteps of their mother, joining the police force, Su was running around with a couple of Triad kids, committing robberies and such. The sisters back then still didn’t get along, but it was more rebellious youth instead of “I hate your guts.”
Things take a turn for the worst once Lin foils an attempted robbery only to discover Su as the getaway driver. Su doesn’t see her actions as “that bad” and doesn’t believe her sister is serious; however once Lin tries to arrest Su, she resists, cutting Lin’s metal line, sending it violently back at her, giving Lin her distinctive facial scars. Toph would cover up Su’s involvement and send her away. A move that would force her early retirement from the force and Lin’s everlasting resentment for what she did to her and their mother.
Su and Toph would come to an understanding later, but Lin would not and how could she? Every day she looks in the mirror, Lin is reminded what her sister did to her. More telling, we can reasonably assume part of the reason Lin is so short with Korra at times is because she sees her sister’s bashfulness in her and knows the pain that can cause to others around them.
This builds to a good old fashions sister-sister earth bending throw down. The fight is amazing; as we get to see two masters — the children of Toph — give it their all. Even better are the subtleties of the animation. Lin’s movements are large– filled with rage and she’s off balance at times, while Su is more restraint – there is precision in her strikes, gracefully avoiding and attacking when there are openings. Before any real damage can occur, Opal puts an end to the fight, just as Lin passes out.
The next morning Lin appears to be a new person, smiling and enjoying a cool drink of Kale, coconut water and walnuts. Not only does she apologize to Opal, she encourages her niece to join the other new Airbenders at the Northern Air temple. Lin also makes nice with Su and it looks to be a new start for the two sisters.
The Second episode, “The Original Airbenders” focuses almost entirely on Tenzin and the new Airbenders. Tenzin’s learned a lot since Book Two. He’s had to do a lot of growing as a teacher, father, brother and son and it shows here. Old Tenzin would not have been so open about seeking help from his brother, but this is still Tenzin, so of course his stubbornness is going to show at times.
They may be at the Northern Air Temple, but it would appear only Tenzin and a new bender hilariously named “Otaku” are the only ones excited about Air Nation history (Otaku is a Japanese term often use to denote people of different fandoms). Tenzin can’t seem to hold the new recruits attention, unlike Bumi, who is proving to be quite the class clown. Following a suggestion from Korra, Tenzin seeks advice from his brother. Bumi’s knowledge isn’t bad, only Tenzin’s interpretation of said advice doesn’t really help him make better progress with the recruits.
There are plenty of funny bits of what is basically an extended training montage, like Tenzin selecting Dow to get his head shaved only to reveal it’s a personal choice after the fact or lemurs engulfing Otaku while he tries to balance on a small pole. The new recruits are miserable and Tenzin fails to see this, unlike Meelo who gets great joy from their misery. Pema gives her husband some much needed perspective by recalling her own experience becoming an Air Acolyte. Reminding him, these recruits are not necessarily Air Nomads and many are probably having a rough time with the transition.
Jinora in the meanwhile is spending more time with bad boy Kai. The two have been sneaking off to visit wild sky Bison cubs up close. It’s also during these escapades Kai tell Jinora he thinks she should probably have her Airbennding Master tattoos. Of course her father is having nothing of it. It’s not that Tenzin doesn’t recognize her skill, but this is his daughter asking about getting tattoos all over her body. However, for Jinora that’s exactly what their argument is about. On one of these trips Jinora and Kai are captured by some Bison rustlers working for the Earth Queen, who continues to be an awful person even while off screen. Her and the other rich folk of Ba Sing Se pay top dollar for Sky Bison meat. Even worst, there’s rumor she even ate her father’s pet bear. #RIPBosco.
Jinora is able to get a message to Bumju and Bumi, who rally the new recruits to stage an impressive rescue. The rescue was what the recruits needed to unite them together.
“The Original Airbender” is a fine episode, if not containing many past themes from various Book Two episodes. Bumi’s insecurities being the son of Aang have been touched on before, along with Tenzin having to recognize Jinora’s maturation. They have even done the Sky Bison mirroring the changes of principle cast as reflected by the end of the episode metaphor before. But hey, these things take work and while these issues with Tenzin and family are mostly the same as before, this isn’t a simple rehash. The characters have grown since then, and they tackle these issues with that growth and new perspective.