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The Legend of Korra S03E01, S03E02, and S03E03: "A Breath of Fresh Air," "Rebirth," and "The Earth Queen"

I normally do my best to manage my personal expectations of new shows and new seasons, but considering that Legend of Korra's Book 1 was one of my top shows for 2012, Book 2 had me pretty excited. Then Book 2 aired, and I grew less and less excited—and based on responses from you all in comments, I wasn't the only one. Slipshod animation, haphazard narrative, and a lack of follow-through on the big ideas that the show had made gestures toward being interested in left me decidedly disappointed, and I know that some of you, while perhaps not as extremely frustrated as I was, were still pretty miffed.

Going in, my expectations for Book 3: Change were, as you might expect, pretty low after the hot mess that was Book 2. As a result, I'm not entirely sure how my response to the first three episodes has been colored by these lowered expectations. But that's always the challenge with TV shows, isn't it? We come to them with all kinds of expectations and baggage and moods and different ways of approaching television, and sometimes it's difficult to get a bead on what's influencing us that day. 

So, what's the very early prognosis for Book 3 based on these three episodes and the weird soup that is my mentality toward Legend of Korra? "Optimistic" is probably too strong a word, but I at least enjoyed Book 3's opening salvo more than most of Book 2, which is a start.

The immediate thing that I think we can all agree on regarding Book 3 is that it's a real pleasure (and relief) to have Studio Mir back in the animation driver's seat. Studio Pierrot did half of Book 2 and the result just wasn't pretty, especially after we were spoiled by Studio Mir in Book 1. With Studio Mir back, so too are evocative faces (no unmoving expressions while animated mouths make word shapes!), sharper-looking action sequences, and painterly frames. I mean, just look at the Republic City bridge:

The metalbenders have shadows, for Pete's sake, even the one that's way, way up on the left, where, really, you could get away without doing a shadow, and no one would notice or even probably care. The city skyline beyond the bridge has some depth to it as well. That's craftsmanship right there, and it's very good to have that attention to detail back on the screen. 

So far as the narrative is concerned, Book 3 appears to be something of a departure from Books 1 and 2. While there are a couple of big ideas in play—we'll get to them—they're not as big-seeming as Book 1's notions of equality and Book's 2 undercooked approach to spiritualism in an increasingly secular world. So far, Book 3 feels less ambitious than its predecessors, but I'm not bothered by that in a way that I might've been had Book 3 actually followed Book 1. Between the search for new airbenders and Zaheer's gang of super-criminals with an ax to grind, Book 3's vibe feels more straight-up action-adventure-y than overly meditative. It's potentially less ambitious from a thematic perspective, but if Korra wants to tell a supervillain team-up adventure yarn, I'm game for that.

If anything, this trio of episodes ultimately felt like a return to Avatar: The Last Airbender's tone. Most of the episodes took place during the day, TLA's roadshow format seems poised to return, and there's a stronger emphasis on action and humor. This isn't to suggest that Korra didn't have an emphasis on action and humor in Book 1 and Book 2, but there's a lightness to the both the action and humor in Book 3 that was mostly out the window halfway through Book 1 and never really found its footing in Book 2. The fate of the Air Nomads may hang in the balance, but everyone, even Tenzin, seemed pretty laid back about it.

Those are some broad-stroke reactions. Below, you'll find capsule reviews of the three episodes to fill in some detail. 


"A Breath of Fresh Air"

It's only been two weeks since the battle with Vaatu, and Republic City was covered in vines from the spirit realm. President Raiko was unhappy. The press was unhappy. Korra's poll numbers (have I mentioned how much I love that Korra has poll numbers?) were in the basement, and she couldn't figure out how to get rid of the vines. Right off the bat, I appreciate that we're not getting a huge jump in time from the start of Book 3 and the end of Book 2. Some things were still fresh, like Korra's insecurities about being the Avatar, but some things were also sticking, like the smoother relationship between Korra and Tenzin. Nothing's been wiped away or ignored—even Mako's being weird around Korra and Asami!—from the finale, and the show addressed the impacts of its finale head on.

The biggest impact being, of course, that people who had no bending power at all can suddenly airbend, including Bumi. Tenzin saw it as the spirit world providing a correction to the lack of airbending in the physical world following the Fire Nation's genocide of the Air Nomads centuries ago. There's no rhyme or reason for this to have happened (yet), but I don't think one's really necessary, either. It's a good enough of a story idea that simply saying, "The universe is balancing itself out" worked for me, and worked for the world: no one understands the spirit world any longer, especially since Korra's access to her past lives was removed.

The episode also set up Book 3's other presumptive story engine: Zaheer, a criminal so dangerous that he's kept in an isolated mountain cell and is guarded by the White Lotus. Except now he can airbend, and he's looking for vengeance. Zaheer (voiced by Henry Rollins), like Amon and Unalaq before him, seemed like a blend of intelligence (he enjoys ancient Air Nomad poetry!) and strength (he seemed to have already pretty well mastered airbending). Like his predecessors, there's also calmness to the character, so already I'm happy that the show is continuing its tradition of making the villains proper foils for Korra's more aggressive, head-strong attitude.


"Rebirth"

What do you do when a culture is thrust upon you? Well, if you're any of the folks who have suddenly become airbenders, a strange bald man with an arrow tattoo will come to your home and demand you leave behind your old life and join him in an isolated temple in the mountains. While the montage of Tenzin attempting to woo people to the life of an Air Nomad was funny in and of itself—"Your best friend will be a giant bison!"—it did raise the dilemma of how to bring these new airbenders into the fold. Korra's still interested in this idea of spiritualism in a secular age, and aside from Unalaq, the Avatar universe doesn't get much more spiritual than the Air Nomads. They're monks, after all!

So instead of selling the trappings of the Air Nomads, Bolin came up with the idea of putting on a bit of a show, sort of an Air Nomad tent revival that used spectacle to get the possible converts interested. It's a fun little sequence, and one that reminded me a lot of TLA in its execution and tone. It's successful insofar as they managed to recruit Kai (Skyler Brigmann), an orphan and thief. I'm holding back judgement on Kai since, right now, he's just a stock street-urchin character, but he's at least providing Mako and Bolin with a way to begin thinking about their pasts.

Meanwhile, Zaheer's going around to other White Lotus prisons and freeing his own gang. They included an Earthbender named Ghazan (Peter Giles) who could apparently heat up rocks while bending them and Ming-Hua (Grey DeLisle-Griffin, who voiced Azula in TLA), an armless waterbender. Their oh-so-easy breakouts got the attention of Lord Zuko (!!!) (Bruce Davison), who, like Sozin and Roku, had a dragon to fly around on now. The show is taking this Zaheer thing slowly, which I appreciate. Obviously there's a big showdown coming, but I'm happy to let it develop as the B-plot for just a little bit.


"The Earth Queen"

Ba Sing Se was still terrible, even decades after we last saw it. In fact, it seemed to have gotten worse. The lower ring, in particular, had become a legitimate slum, and even more heavily isolated from the other rings: people needed a ticket and a passport to leave. The Avatar world has used Ba Sing Se to great effect at showcasing class issues, and "The Earth Queen" kept that thread going not only with the city, but the outpost Korra and Asami went to to collect the tax money. It's not just the outer ring that's suffering from the Earth Queen's expensive tastes, but the other areas of the kingdom as well. 

But lest we forget that Ba Sing Se was not just the city of walls but also the city of secrets, there were still shady dealings with the Dai Li happening, but this time at the order of the Earth Queen herself as she's decided to round up all the airbenders (using the Dai Li, of course) for her own personal army, including Kai. Given her attitude about the United Republic of Nations, if the Earth Queen isn't gearing up to reclaim some land or, at the very least, exert more control over Earth Kingdom villages, I'd be surprised. 

A lot of this could feel like a rehash from TLA—lousy leader of the Earth Kingdom, classism, the Dai Li abducting people—and truth be told, it was "The Earth Queen" that locked in my sense of Book 3 returning to a TLA vibe. However, if the show is going to rehash things, I'd rather it rehash from the high points than the low points, and Ba Sing Se is a very high high point.

Mako and Bolin ran into their family, including their father's mother, and it's a big, mostly happy, reunion that shed some light on their father's past. Like Bolin's attachment to Kai and Tenzin's desire for the Air Nomads to become strong again, the meeting of the family emphasized the notion of strength through bonds, particularly familial ones. It's something of a carryover from Book 2 with the struggle between Korra's dad and Unalaq, but one that the show seemed a bit more interested in exploring.

Even Zaheer and his gang, who didn't make an appearance in this episode, could be seen as a unit strengthened by their bond in hating the Avatar. There's one last criminal left, and it's a Combustion Woman named P'Li. She's being held in a secret prison at the Northern Water Tribe city, and Desna and Eska were mostly annoyed no one told them they had a secret prison. Sadly, I imagine that even the combined might of Zuko, Desna, Eska, and Tonraq won't be enough to keep Zaheer from getting his band back together.



LEAVES ON THE WIND

– Future Industries must be doing okay if Asami can just loan out an airship. Also: I love that she and Korra are totally cool with each other and it's Mako being all weird and unsure.

– Bolin was pretty much on fire in all three episodes. His Mako impression was great, the grandmother was terrific, and I loved his mustache during the airbending demonstration.

Jon Heder, he of Napoleon Dynamite fame, voiced Ryu, the 22-year-old whose mother couldn't wait for him to move out.

– Exchange of the night: "We built this place secretly with your father to hold a very special prisoner. She's a powerful firebender name P'Li who can create explosions with her mind. Ironically, I hired a guy with a similar ability to kill the Avatar myself once. ...Didn't work." "Don't feel bad. I tried to kill Korra after she ruined my wedding. It happens." I love the shifty eyes that occurred in that scene. Little details mean so much. 

– I am super-interested in knowing how Ming-Hua waterbends. Obviously she's super-powerful.

– A reminder: At least the first six episodes of Book 3 were leaked online. Please do not discuss Episodes 4, 5, or 6 in the comments below, or even make allusions to them if you've already watched them. I'll just delete the offending comments, and I hate deleting comments that aren't spam. 

– Korra's off next week for the 4th of July holiday, but it will resume with Episodes 4 and 5 on Friday, July 11. 


What did you think of Book 3's first three episodes


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 12/19/2014

Season 3 : Episode 13

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A feeling swept over me while watching these episodes. It wasn't bitterness or disappointment like I felt in Season 2, but rather I felt genuine enjoyment for all three of the episodes. It reminded me of how much fun I had watching TLA. It wasn't perfect or anything, but I still found myself looking for the good instead of pinpointing the bad.
I still am hesitant if this season can maintain this standard, but already it seems like they are going to have trouble balancing the "Change" theme that this book is suppose to draw on. It was very important in the first episode but it seemed completely forgotten by the third. I don't have too much of a problem with that as those deep spiritual themes weighed down the show in season 2 as the writers couldn't follow through with it, and hey a Team Anti-Avatar is just awesome and enough to keep me satisfied.
Most importantly, I think so far the characters are clicking much better. At first I shouted at my television screen when Asami and Korra appeared together, saying "There is no good reason for you guys to be hanging out!" but I was pleasantly surprised when they aired out all the dirty laundry, were completely cool with it, and had Mako be the awkward one. The show needs to keep Mako and Bolin together because that seems to be the only way to make them interesting and watchable and the big emotional moment with the scarf actually hit me pretty hard in the feelings. Bring on the rest of Season 3!
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I seriously didn't know Korra had returned until I saw the three-part premiere this past Friday. And wow, am I hooked already.

That being said, I already have a theory on this series villains, though I don't know how valid it will prove as the series progress. But oh well, here it goes:

I think Zaheer and his friends might have killed Aang or be responsible for his death.

My reasons:

A) So, Aang died in sixties, correct? Now considering how long people can live in the avatar world -- even when they aren't avatars -- and the fact that Aang was always a fit/healthy guy, it's possible he didn't died of natural causes. And if I recall, his cause of death was never explicitly stated.

B) Zuko was very concerned about Zaheer's escape. This is a man who isn't easily frazzled. His dad tried to destroy the world and his sister was certifiably insane -- if something rattles Zuko, you know it's a big freakin' deal. And it would explain why their securities so tight.

C) Zuko was adamant that the current avatar be protected. Meaning he knows Zaheer will be targeting Korra. Which would make sense IF Zaheer has been known to be a threat to avatars in the past - namely, Aang.

D) Someone in an earlier post mentioned something about how it was weird that these highly dangerous criminals weren't simply executed. I could totally see a fatally wounded Aang on his deathbed asking that his killers not be put to death for his crimes - b/c that's the kind of man he was, true to his ideals 'till the very end.

Of course, this is all just speculation, and since we don't know what Zaheer's motivations are yet, it will be interesting to watch it develop on the show.


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* Regarding Future Industries, the stock only went down because the CEO and large shareholder was essentially a terrorist. Asami now is CEO and it seems has all her father's shares. Asami is working with the Avatar and is likely considered a hero by the people. Future Industries still is the best car company and its still the best weapons maker.

In terms of wealth and power, Future Industries is probably something like General Motors, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin all rolled into one company. I forgot if Future Industries makes the ships the Military uses. If so, add General Dynamics to that.

Despite the Earth Queen's hoarding gold and whatnot, it's possible Asami is much wealthier.

* These episodes were delightful. The major problem with them is that if those 4 criminals were so dangerous, Why weren't they simply executed? Imagine how much money and resources were put into keeping those four prisoner. People are starving in Ba Sing Se. How much the Order of the White Lotus people the people instead of guarding 4 prisoners.

* How much is Asami taxed? The Earth Queen's pointed comment about how Aang and Fire Lord Zuko essentially stole Earth Kingdom land to create Republic City was perhaps the most important and best point since The Last Airbender. Team Avatar essentially staged a military coup and put Zuko on the throne. The Fire Nation loved Azula and didn't like Zuko. Team Avatar conquered the Fire Nation and Zuko had difficulty eating Fire Nation troops out of the Earth Kingdom. And Republic City was put on Earth Kingdom land. But Republic City is its own thing. Asami's taxes -- if she get taxed -- would go to Republic City.

* Republic City is ruled by what increasingly seems like a dictator. The Northern Water tribe was ruled by an evil man and now its ruled by his two evil children. The Earth Kingdom is run as the Earth Queen's personal piggy bank. And there doesn't seem to be any industry or whatnot in the Earth Kingdom. Its worse off than it was before and now is probably poorer than Republic City. How did the Water Tribes get nicer and the Earth Kingdom get worse? And the Fire Nation is ruled by Zuko's daughter. Therefore, most of the world is ruled by incompetent people and it seems the only modern city in the world is ruled by an increasingly power hungry and dictatorial leader.
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– Future Industries must be doing all right if Asami can just loan an airship out. Also: love that she and Korra are totally cool with each other and it's Mako being all weird and unsure.

Asami is actually doing very great. Yea, I am absolutely turned by the first few episodes where instead of Mako gt together with Asami, at the same time in a dilemma about his feelings with Korra and the story goes over and over again.. he was the one weird out!! Logical, but not always achievable in reality. Korrasami is way better than Makasami or makorra.

– Bolin's pretty much on fire in all three episodes. His Mako impression is great, the grandmother is terrific, and I loved his mustache during the airbending demonstration.

Yeap... his character is the only one progressing from Book 1 to Book 3.. From an immature underdog to a seemingly analytical and mature joker.. See what happens when he experienced a thing for Eska.


Jon Heder, he of Napoleon Dynamite fame, voiced Ryu, the 22-year-old whose mother couldn't wait for him to move out.

Classic teenage geek.

– Exchange of the night: "We built this place secretly with your father to hold a very special prisoner. She's a powerful firebender name P'Li who can create explosions with her mind. Ironically, I hired a guy with a similar ability to kill the Avatar myself once. ...Didn't work." "Don't feel bad. I tried to kill Korra after she ruined my wedding. It happens." I love the shifty eyes that occur in that scene. Little details mean so much.

Honestly, these three new criminals are promising.. they are working as a team with all four bendings.. and the leader is the new airbender. Honestly, Zaheer didn't look grim and evil like Amon and Unalaq (or Fire Lord Ozai).. They were both one man show and making use of their high ranks power to tipped the balance.. These three villains have obsession for power.. While Zaheer, he is actually loyal to his friends. Though it seems too soon for me to say.. He looks generous and his cause might actually be legit... it would be a challenge.

– I am super-interested in knowing how Ming-Hua waterbends. Obviously she's super-powerful.

If she can blood bend.. That would have put Noatak to shame... She must have been bending the water with her mind.. How awesome is that? The only bender with disability since Toph.. who was blind and great at what she does... AWESOME!! She reminds me of a combination of Toph, Katara and Azula..


It is nice to see new airbenders poping out of nowhere and bring bending balance to the world. However, it raises more question than that.. How did they get their skills without a lion turtle? Lion turtles don't even live in the spirit world.. SO, HOW ON EARTH DID THESE PPL GET THEIR AIRBENDING??!!!
AND WHY ONLY AIRBENDING?? WHATABOT OTHER BENDINGS?? WHERE IS THE SENSE IN THIS??

It is nice to see more airbenders again.. and does anyone sees Aang in Kai? Even his voice, so like Aang's yet it was not from Zack Tyler Eisen.. Zack probably don't sound like that anymore.. Anyone, Kai brought some Aang into the team, perky, witty, fast, he just apply all these wrongly that's all.. Welcome to the team Kai..

And the Earth Queen.. I know her father is the past Earth King, but I would like to think that she is Long Feng's daughter instead. So, despicable..
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I kinda forgt about Zuko.. Still everso serious... but I like the fact that he keeps his beard like Iroh's.. At 86/87, he sure kept his belly intact..
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Like you, I am loving the fact that Asami and Korra are cool with the 'aftermath' of their weird love triangle while Mako is the one unsure and awkward. I'd love to see the writers focus more on Asami and Korra's friendship. It felt like a breath of fresh air to see Asami be the one helping Korra out, instead of another bender.

So far I'm digging this season.
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Very excited about what looks like a return to form! But the beginning of book 2 actually set up what looked like interesting story lines at the beginning, and then for me it was the execution, notably the time it spent on the increasingly messy and not all that interesting storyline in Republic City, that was its downfall. There were a lot of good story lines being started in these three episodes, between the effects of the harmonic convergence and the search for air benders, the mysterious league of evil benders, the classism and oppression in ba sing se, the earth Queen gearing up to declare war on the republic etc. I just hope book 3 does a better job at executing them and tying them together.

Then, everything looks good so far and book 1 is one of my favorite things ever, so let's not be negative and hope for the best.
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First i am very happy that it is back and totally agree that the expressions and the rest looked as it should be...that said..
First i cannot wait, till the four villians and the avatar will have their fight, as we all know it will come to that point....very clever to use all elements against her, with four different and very bad people...
Second, i really like Bumi from the first episode and know he can bend, i love him more..he is sooo funny..
Tenzin really cracked me up, while he was trying to convince everybody...hahahahaha still laughing when i think about it..
Loved that the whole group is together again...funny to see Mako, so confused and so official hahahaha nicely done that part..
Zuko! Wow....he could cool and has a nice dragon now...nice...loved to see the twins again...they were awesome last season...
Somehow i fear, that they will not long last against the villians...lets hope for the best..
The Earth Queen, was so annoying....i had a complete different idea about that title....but at least they found another bender Kai...even he is a handfull, but it is nice...
The show was very cooly done...poor Mako..
I am glad that she left the city and hopefully we wont see the annoying and negative president...
Really liking where they going with the story....nice job.
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Just wanted to add, I'm afraid they just brought Zuko back to die heroicly... Hope I'm wrong bout this one..
:(
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Had exactly the same feeling. Sadly it feels very probable. :(
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First 3 episodes were great!!! Nice mix of action, beautiful animation, & fun storytelling... It's also nice to have clear cut villains Unalaq was too ambiguous.....a team of super-villains is very super hero comic book-y, I DIG!!!

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I am so happy even though we are only three episodes on the run I feel hopeful, mostly cause the animation feels so smooth and the storylines don't feel so forced.
I specially apreciate Bolin's humor and loveeed Zuko's little appearance (I had a major crush when he was in A:TLA)
Korra is still the headstrong girl and I like it but I hope she can get a little more of common sense in this season.
And is it me or the spirits are only in Republic city? why is that? shouldn't they be everywhere?
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Maybe they all crossed over to republic city and haven't started spreading out yet? But yeah I hope the show covers that point and comes back to how the spirits fit in the post-harmonic convergence world at some point.
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Didn't even think about the fact that we don't see any spirits in the rest of the villages, good catch!
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Even though I knew in terms of timeline that the fire bender girlfriend that they were going to break out of jail couldn't be Azula I was hoping it was & then when I heard the name I was gutted.

Imagine my delight when I heard her speak & it was the same actress who voiced Azula, I screamed with girlish glee!!
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I love this season - reminds me of ATLA! Kai is great character! :)
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Yeah, everyone already has established goals. I like where this is going so far!!!
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I'm so HAPPY!!! And No way am i watching a seedy quality leak on the internet
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Finally The Legend of Korra is back :)

1. Awww Korra and Asami are besties now. I loved how Asami tried to teach Korra driving.

2. Boomi is the air bender now! I'm so happy for him. He's definitely one of my favorite characters of the show.

3. Great music is back!

4. Kai is awesome. More of him please!

5. Bolin and Mako found their granny. I really like her.

6. Ming-Hua looked fantastic with her water arms. She remind me of Japanese horror monster-ladies.

Thanks for review, Noel :) Are you going to review Star Wars: Rebels in the fall?
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No way of knowing about Rebels yet. Way too far down the line for Jen and I to even discuss it.
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Ok wait....isn't Ghazan Firebender??? That whole scene confused me...if he is Firebender,then why would they have other Firebenders there,then I thought is he Earthbender,but how come he is heating those rocks...guess that's some next level of bending,but then again he was on ship made out of wood. But then again Earthbenders could become metal benders,so why didn't he meditate or something and used whole ship:D !?!!?!? Do you see my tiny brains at work,trying(read fail) make sense of thing...

Apart from this and boring Asami,Mako and at time Korra...these 3 episode were pretty good...dare I say awsome...I do dare...they were awsome. Personally I don't give a shit about President and Korra's poll(one of most idiotc things to come up with),but I love,love,LOVE Tenzin and his family,Bolin always funny,Desna and Eska,Zuko!!!
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He is an earth bender, but he heated the rocks w/ friction.
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No way Ghazan's a firebender. Putting a firebender in a wooden prison (remember, they don't need fire around them to bend it) would be the dumbest way to keep him captive. It's why they need the intense cold to keep P'Li from bending.
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Ghazan seems to be using friction to heat rocks to a magma- like state. It is the reason he was held in a wood prison. The setting for each prison is amazing. And they are part of the continuity with A:TLA: wood for earth, ice for fire, metal over heat for water. Not like that crap movie where the earthbenders were on a prison of earth.
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Yeah that's why I said,must be some next level of earthbending...yeah I also love setting for each prison...hope they don't derp us and have Zuko fight down there...that would be derp of year
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I think he probably had a mother/father who were both benders and instead of one ability taking form, he has one more than the other. But we'll have to see to what extent he can firebend, if he can at all. Zuko was correct in that these guys alone could probably take out any bender, one on one. Outside of Aang, I don't think we've seen anyone be portrayed as a agile and fluid as Zaheer was in the first episode.

Although, I must agree Book 3 so far has been amazing. I do get that restored feeling of Ba Sing Se and I'm glad that things didn't correct themselves because it gives the Avatar and the world to work towards something better.

Seeing Zuko made the show all better and truth be told, between TLA and TLK, the writers have something to work toward (i.e. the original battle that led to the capture of these guys).
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thanks for telling me the first 6 were leaked, i can go watch them now
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Anyone else wonders if the trapped combustion woman is really Mako's mom?
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Personally I wondered if she was related to someone from AtLA, and specifically Azula. The hiding the face thing definitely feels like her identity is going to be some kind of twist.
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Ah, I'm an idiot. Sorry - that was an inadvertent spoiler, because I gave in to temptation and looked up those leaked episodes that the review mentioned. I've removed the comment to prevent more accidental spoiling! But in any case, I don't think that seeing her face really either proves or disproves this question...

So let me rephrase my reply to the spoiler-free 'Yes, I wondered that too! Not sure it's super-plausible though - but definitely wondered.'

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Well, I suppose that puts it as a "no" :)
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Wait, what tattoo? I didn't see the prereleased episodes, but from what I recall, they never showed combustion woman's face.

Only her mouth.

Maybe I have to watch again.
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You took the words right out of my mouth, Noel.
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Zaheer seems like a really interesting character to me, or rather like he will be in episodes to come. His and his groups past is really curious, for example was he a non-bender before or did Aang take his bending away. At someone point it was said that they've been in prison for 13 years which means Aang would be dead at that point and Korra a toddler, however it might just have been one of them that has been locked up for 13 years and he's been in prison longer, I can't remember the specifics. Because Zuko referred to them as a dangerous group of benders so presumably the leader of three powerful benders would also be a bender, right? So that leads me to believe he was a bender in his own right and had his bending taken away, but if not by Aang then who? I have no idea, and that's exciting, I really hope they delve into his past, preferably his entire group's past but at least his. I also want to learn more about P'Li, specifically her form of bending, we learned a bit about it in the original series but not a while hell of alot, for a start I want to know how common this power is, how one learns it, it's been established it's a form of fire bending but can you still do normal fire bending? These are the kind of questions I want answered, more than anything this season I'm excited to see what comes of those benders.
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I think P'li and combustion man can still do normal bending. Remember Combustion man burning the letter sent by the fire nation soldier without using his mind power. But maybe it was his mind power but at very low power. Who knows, we will see
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I don't know if they'll go into answers as to how it works. We didn't get much info about Amon either. They just said at the trial that some benders are super powerful and that was it.

I was wondering too if Zaheer was a bender before or not. It seems he got to control his bending a heck of a lot better than most of the new airbenders. Heck, better than Boomi and he had the only(!) living airbenders to teach him.
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Going back to my previous comments...FIRE THE PRESIDENT OF REPUBLIC CITY!! Avatar series seems to display how corrupt governments are, but its good to have Korra back, and these episodes were fantastic and ZUKO!!!!!
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Can we please talk about how Zuko has his own dragon. Zuko has a dragon, that's so cool.
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My theory is that this dragon is the offspring of the dragons from the episode "The Firebending Masters" in Book 3
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YEA!!! Good stuff!
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I must admit the animation in these episodes was very crisp. I've actually just been watching GTO and noticed that Studio Pierrot's work there wasn't all that great either, good to see Mir has returned.

I enjoyed these episodes quite a bit. I'm not sure I liked them as much as the starts to the previous two seasons because like Noel said Season 3 doesn't appear to hinge on a grand fantasy, world-building theme like the others. I do hope this season's conflict remains personal to Korra and maintains her character development.

I'm thrilled the show's back and can't wait for more.
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Pierrot's animation is typically just...eugh. They do excel at doing a lot of work very quickly though, otherwise they'd never be able to keep churning out Naruto. They did do Polar Bear Cafe, but...not exactly the same as an intense action series....
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Wait..they aired episode 3? I didnt see it!
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I disagree with you on that no big ideas/serious issues weren't introduced. The big issue here is Air Nation should embrace change or be stuck in tradition. What Tenzin and Korra didn't realize was that they expected people with their own lives and families to drop everything to embrace a culture that is not their own and live a demanding life style of nomads/monks because their air benders now. They did what they faulted the people of Republic City were doing in not embracing the change by not compromising with new air benders to master their new skill and keep ties to their old lives, and forcing them to live the life that the original Air Nomads lived nearly 2 centuries ago.

It mirrors how Aang and Zuko had to learn that they couldn't relocate all the Fire Nation citizens who lived in the Earth Kingdom colonies because they blended together, so they had to rework that with the United Republic Nations. The Air Nation can't go back to the way it was if it is to thrive. Tenzin and Korra have to realize that and embrace change that Korra set in motion.

The first 3 episodes were good. I don't necessarily think LoK should try to replicate A: TLA like some fans seem to be championing. LoK isn't a perfect series I felt it tackled more serious issues than the last one did as you mentioned like equality and modernization vs. spiritualism. Three episodes were similar to A: TLA that it still retained its own uniqueness that made this show stand apart from its predecessor. The issue of change is being looked at as a gray issue just like if humans and spirits should live together or if non benders were being oppressed by benders were. The writers and crew are fully capable of learning from their mistakes and that is what made these 3 episodes better or improvement to book 2.

Bolin, Mako, and Asami having relevant plotlines and exploring the first two's pasts through Kai and their family. They're balancing the characters better. Zuko didn't steal all the time away like Tenzin's family did last season. Korra's improved attitude is probably another aspect that most fans will respond to better. She writers kept her from sliding back to bratty teenager (if I'm honest that felt real/natural development with teenager. People slide back into old habits more than they realize). The villains are a step up from Unalaq simply because they aren't one dimensional as him (ironically enough Unalaq mimicked Ozai too much (generic villain) instead of following the trend of Amon as a big bad with actual depth). The elements that I liked about this episodes weren't returning to A: TLA roots, but simply improving on flaws book 2 had.
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Finally! This is the followup to Avatar The Last Airbender that I've been waiting for!!
THIS is where the series should have started. Book 1 Air was a waste (and not as much about Airbending as the name would have you think). And except for Wan's backstory and Harmonic Convergence, Book 2 Spirits was mostly underwhelming too.

But had the Legend of Korra started with Wan's back story, Harmonic Convergence, and now the emergence of new Airbenders, I would've probably liked LOK from the start.

It's long overdue that they get out of god-awful boring, modern Republic City. I still never understood why with all the fantasy and mystical elements in the Avatar world- the main thing most of us LOVED about Avatar, they would waste 2 seasons on a 1920ish city, pro-bending, and crap like that. So glad they've started a world quest again. That was 95% of the fun of Avatar.

Korra is still not very likeable, and neither are some of the other members of her entourage. But the premise of this season, in addition to more prominent roles for Jinora, Bumi, the introduction of Kai, and the reintroduction of the Order of the White Lotus, and an elderly and distinguished Zuko has me really excited at the potential for this season! And this seasons baddies seem pretty awesome too! I only wish this is where the entire series started so that we had more Books and episodes to look forward to instead of just this final one.

A very good start. I'm excited. I hope it doesn't disappoint.
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Only disagree about Korra...she's much better so far this season!
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As I recall, Aang started learning firebending only after the half-way mark of the third book, so I won't second your first complaint. Other points do make sense though.
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Complete agreement but I also do think my expectations were greatly reduced because of Book 2 to further appreciate Book 3. Book 1 was fine, I didn't mind it, because it stuck to the theme of it, learning airbending, although this season is probably going to do more for airbending than Book 1 did.

I hate how it's all becoming advanced, flying hoverships and etc, I liked it how Zuko kept it old school and took a dragon to the North Pole.
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I very much agree!
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There's supposedly going to be be at least one more book, and possibly two. They have a series order for 52 episodes, so the series will have about as many episode as The Last Airbender.
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I think it would be actually awesome if we get another series after this one that shows aftermath of Ozai and how Zuko's search for his mother turned out. It would be badass to see Aang go out fighting, apparently he dies really young in comparison to Roku.
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Yeah, that'd be really cool. It looks like they're doing some more flashbacks in Korra now. Who knows, maybe now that Zuko's in it they'll develop that story more?

I was also reading that Aang died young from being frozen/in the avatar state for so long. His death was just from natural causes supposedly.
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Was the guy who voiced Jet, voicing Mako and Bolin's cousin? Sounded like him, and given this is a Dai Lee related episode, it would be a great throwback. I love it when they do stuff like that.
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I did not see Crawford Wilson's name in the credits, so it seems like someone just doing a similar-ish voice, maybe?
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Nevermind. I looked it up, it's the guy who does Beast Boy (Teen Titans) and some other characters I like. It sounded like Jet for a second, and in my head I was like, that wouldn't be a stretch, given the plot.
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Three cheers for Useful Asami!
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So far so good. I like that they're getting away from the city and more into traveling around. It has more of a Last Airbender feel to it.
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Strong start, but season 2 had a solid premier before it went off the rails. Guess we'll have to wait and see
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That was a much better premier than all of season 2. The supermax prisons, Zuko, airbenders, and strong North Korea vibe. Super good
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Season 2 had Beginnings! But then troll Korra f-ed it all up...
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