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The Legend of Korra S02E06 and S02E07: "Old Wounds" and "Original Airbenders"

We've already reached the halfway point of Book 3! And because the season's only been running for three weeks, having a State of the Show-type of conversation feels decidedly weird—but here we are, so I suppose it's time to discuss everything we've seen thus far.

At this point in Book 2, we were entering the "Beginnings" two-parter, which would turn out to be the season's only legitimately good pair of episodes. By then, many viewers pretty firmly believed that Korra had taken a severe dip in quality, both in terms of narrative and in terms of animation, and that there was very little the show could do to recover. In contrast, at this point in Book 1 we had just finished "And the Winner Is..." and "The Aftermath," episodes that escalated the plot and then dealt with that escalation. In other words, by the time we had diagnosed Book 2 as beyond saving, Book 1 was just getting cooking.

Book 3 is somewhere in between, as it exists somewhere in between Books 1 and 2, quality-wise. There's no clear sense of what the second half of Book 3 will be about—presumably, it'll follow Zaheer and his gang as they step up their game, now that they've determined where Korra is, and I suspect the Earth Queen will return in some capacity—but at least its first half was more coherent and entertaining than the first half of Book 2.

But everything comes down to expectations. While Book 2 was a mess, it was a quasi-ambitious mess that the writers hadn't properly planned out and didn't want to commit to... or in the other words, the exact opposite of Book 1, which was grandly ambitious and paid off those ambitions. Book 3 has dialed back on all of that. It's good, and it's entertaining, but I do miss Korra's ambition. I'm hoping that things will shift in the back half of Book 3 as we uncover Zaheer's plans. I want to know about his apparently "righteous" path, and what it has to do with the Avatar.


"Old Wounds"

"Old Wounds" was something of a shaggy episode, and it was the weakest installment of Book 3 thus far. I say "weakest" as opposed to "bad" because the episode itself wasn't bad in terms of its content or purpose; rather, it was herky-jerky in how it presented its story and got to the endpoint of Lin and Su reconciling and Opal making her decision to join the other new airbenders at the Northern Air Temple.

For instance, there was no real reason for Lin to leave the acupuncture session that was our gateway to the source of Lin's resentment toward Su. It served to reinforce that Lin didn't want to deal with her past, but there was only one scene for this to register before she was back on the table with more needles in her, and it wasn't even much of a scene, as she hallucinated Korra as the younger incarnation of Su. A longer, more elaborate sequence of Lin stumbling around Zaofu might've provided more justification, but what we saw instead felt pointless.

What all that needle work stirred up wasn't pointless, however. Lin's scar was the result of attempting to arrest her own half-sister decades ago, leaving Lin with a reminder of her half-sister's devil-may-care attitude and Toph's willingness to let Su get off scot-free. Carrying that sort of emotional baggage could drive anyone to feel bitter, but to see it every day when you look in the mirror? It's little wonder that Lin would be unwilling to talk to Su or the rest of her family. But all was well by the end of the episode, with Lin and Su ready to move on, and to start a new chapter of their lives.

Opal is doing the same by deciding to head off to join Tenzin, thanks to Lin's advice. Unfortunately, the tension that spurred Opal to leave came out of nowhere. There had been no hints that Opal's hesitancy to leave Zaofu had anything to do with disappointing her parents, or that she had any hesitancy at all. It existed purely so Lin could have a bit of emotional redemption at the end, and things like Su saying that she never gave Opal enough freedom we have to take on faith, because it's not like Korra has given any indication that Su locked Opal away in Zaofu.

Zaheer and the gang suffered from similar problems this week as they tried to escape from Republic City. They had no problem sneaking in, apparently, but sneaking out required hijacking a vehicle and its driver... and then stealing the vehicle outright and getting out of the city. These scenes likely could've been cut in order to give Lin or Opal—or Lin and Opal—more time to flesh out their respective stories, but I guess we really needed to see Zaheer divine that Korra's at Zaofu. I guess we'll also see just how safe that city is, and soon, hopefully.


"Original Airbenders"

So the question of how (and if) these new airbenders would fit into the Air Nomad nation was addressed in "Original Airbenders," though not in a very interesting way. There was plenty of grumbling and such as the folks adjust to itchy robes that didn't keep them warm and sat through long stories about gurus and monks, but the new airbenders didn't seem resistant to the idea of becoming Air Nomads so much as they were just resistant to how Tenzin was attempting to integrate them into the culture. As a result, the clash is less one of culture and more one of personality. 

Taking this path sidesteps the thornier, more complex issue that the Air Nomad culture may need to adjust to bring new airbenders into the fold. It may still happen later on in Book 3, but as presented here, it's just that Tenzin is—again—a very lousy teacher who just assumes everyone is as passionate about his favorite subject as he is, and is flummoxed when they're not. Thank goodness Pema reminded him that these are still people like who, like her, are willing to enter a new culture -- hard beds and all -- and they just need a sense of community.  So far as teaching and integrating people into a culture goes, this is probably the best approach. People need a sense of investment in something before they can personally commit, and while certain aspects of Air Nomad culture may need to be adjusted -- i.e., seeing family members who don't want to become Air Acolytes like Pema -- once the airbenders feel like they belong to something meaningful (achieved with the rescue effort), then they may be willing to listen to all the guru stories Tenzin has to tell. Maybe.

In addition to coping with these new airbenders, Tenzin also struggled with Jinora and her Kai-influenced bursts of confidence regarding her desire to be tattooed as a master airbender. Two things about this, and both of them positive. 1.) Kiernan Shipka is doing a bang up job with Jinora, and has been since the first episode of the series. She was one of my favorite aspects on Mad Men before I quit the show, and she's one of my favorite aspects of Korra. 2) I'm really happy to see that the show isn't dropping Jinora's development that started last season. I thought she'd have more to do last season, but I've come to like the small, steady steps the series is taking with her. Like with Tenzin's stories last season, and the Lin story in "The Metal Clan" and "Old Wounds," the show is doing a nice job of fleshing out its non-Korra characters, and I'm glad Jinora's benefiting from that.



LEAVES ON THE WIND

– Zhu Li still has the worst job in the world. I hope she quits one day.

– I think about mustaches, too, Bolin.

– I guess Asami just stayed aboard the airship this week?

– Mindy Sterling, who voices Lin, and Anne Heche, who voices Su, both give great performances when they're talking to one another. It's a testament to their skill and Andrea Romano's voice directing (not to mention the show's editors) that it sounded like they  were recording at the same time when that probably wasn't the case.

– P'Li's character design is just so up my alley. She's all lanky limbs and that long hair braid (plus her combustion forehead, of course). She's a very unique-looking character for the show.

– Baby. Sky. Bison. SO CUTE. I WANT ONE.

– "Bumi ruins everything."

– "I even heard she ate her dad's pet bear!" NOT BOSCO!

– For those of you who are potentially wondering, female airbenders don't seem to shave their entire heads. It appears that they just shave the front half—so the tattoo is visible—while keeping the hair on the back half of their heads. Additional fun fact: The Eastern and Western Air Temples were for the female Air Nomads, while the Northern and Southern ones were for the males.


What did you think of "Old Wounds" and "Original Airbenders"?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 12/19/2014

Season 3 : Episode 13

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* The point of the hallucination is that Korra reminds Lin of Su.

* I consider the main point about Su is that she considers herself above the law and that being the daughter of Toph gives her special privileges in the world. That's why she simply dismissed that she could be arrested. Su made her own town and seems to consider that the Earth Queen -- and likely Republic City -- has no authority over her.

* I consider that Tenzin actually broke up with Lin because Lin wasn't an airbender and wasn't an air acolyte.

* I figured that while Korra was in Zaofu that Asami maybe was doing some business. She still is running probably the biggest, most powerful, and most important company in the world.

* Probably the oddest thing in these two episodes was Lin's mentioning that Su now lives in a big house and has a fancy chef. Toph would have inherited everything when her parents died; therefore, it seems Lin and Su would be super wealthy unless Toph never gave them money. Are we actually supposed to believe that Lin Bei Fong lives only on her police chief salary?
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How did the original Team Avatar become such terrible parents
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I thought it was pretty clear that Opal didn't really leave Zaofu and I figured it was due to her mom being overprotective. I thought the ep covered that with her wide-eyed reaction to how much experience Bolin had in the world.
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Is it just me or does Mako badly need something to do this season? He's just taking up space at the moment, seems an unfortunate waste of an established character and voice talent.
Apart from that, I liked the battling Beifongs, and the return of wacky old untrustworthy Varrick. Season 3 is looking good so far, too bad it'll be over so soon!
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Liked bot episodes....was funny to see Lyn, dealing with old wounds..and know we know why she has that scar...loved the fight between the sister and then the talk Lyn has with her cousin..
Like how the Avatar can also metal bend now...

Bumi was so cool the episode with the Airbenders...still funny to see Tenzin find his way with the new airbenders...

Like where this is going !!
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I was kind of let down at a missed opportunity with the episode "Original Airbenders." The writers of Korra could have made this episode about the original air nomad airbenders, and have their history run parallel with this new generation of airbenders. I was under the impression from the episode title that we would learn about how the airbenders first founded their culture, and maybe even implement some real life Buddhist philosophy. Alas, this probably would've been too high expectations for this show.
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gtfo, "original airbenders" obviously refer to the sky bison. The episode did a great job developing the minor characters on this show.
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...And they didn't even bother to develop that point either, how did the sky bison teach air nomads how to airbend? Where does the air bison influence come into air nomad culture?
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i agree, although I don't think it's having too high of expectations of this show, if you include the last airbender at least, I was hoping for something like the episode where they learn firebending from the dragons and learn about the origin of firebending being with the sun tribe, or the episode where Toph learns earthbending from the badger moles, but good episode none-the-less
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My biggest question is why was the chick with no arms the one driving?!
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Hey, can someone please confirm for me whether the Evil water bending girl has no arms. I know she uses water bending as arms, but until this episode I thought she was water bending on top of her arms. If she actually does't have arms, that's really creepy. How did she lose her arms? Was she born without the limbs?
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Not only does she have no arms, I'm wondering how is she even bending with just her mind? We've seen all the benders use arm gestures and motion to direct their bending, she just does it from sheer mental will. I find that interesting.
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Yes she doesn't have arms.
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EARTH QUEEN NEEDS TO GO DOWN!!!!!!
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I miss the emotional-ness and art of ATLA. Like the Agni Kai, huge shows of bending abilities, evil crazy ambitious sisters, duel swords, the long forms of bending, hair loopies, penguin sledding, fantastic shopping sprees, and deeply developed characters.
Plus, General Iroh. Must have more of that, please.

Legend of Korra lately seems... half hearted and just warm fuzzy feelings. I'm betting that this season's bad guys, actually aren't all that bad either. They seem pretty likable and haven't even hurt anyone yet. I would love to know how Zaheer is such a well developed Air bender already, without any training what-so-ever.

Continuation also seems like an issue this season. For instance, did Korra just say "to hell with it" when tying to figure out why the spirit vines were taking over certain buildings? Isn't it part of her duty to find the balance from the spirit world and hers to make them cohesive?

So far, this seems like a lot of filler episodes, or a filler season I guess. Season one was plot focused and I think that's what made it so good. This season is all about developing characters and ... other stuff.... which makes it less plot driven, slower paced, and more warm fuzzies. Which are good... but, it leaves me left wanting more. I won't even mention season 2, let's just pretend that never happened. I would, however, like to see a resolution about Korra's past lives. This is a fairly spiritual/air bending focused season, maybe somewhere in there, when ever Korra gets to balancing out the two worlds (hers and the spirits) maybe she's slowly tap back into her former lives. They're still there I think, just repressed or something.
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The problem with season 3 is that it is basically an attempt to reset the world once more. However, we have started to learn more about other characters such as Jinora and Bumi.

I do not think there will be a restoration of balance in the same sense as before. The previous Avatars just maintained balance by preventing war. This time, the sense of balance is between humans and spirits, which is something completely different. Republic City was completely absent of spirits probably due to the heavy focus on technology. As a result, the spirit vines have completely taken over much of the city in an attempt to restore that balance. If this is the case, then the fact that Korra left it alone meant that she did her job properly.

I feel that this season will focus more on the consequences of Aang and his Team Avatar. We know that Aang and his friends essentially created Republic City and brought it to the way it was by creating a representative council. However, they have been showing that not all the decisions they have made are good and that there are serious consequences for their decisions. Korra's decision to keep the spirit portals open is having similar consequences and we will probably see the fallout of Aang's decisions.
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Well she was kinda banished from Republic City...
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I'm sure her world and the spirit world are unbalanced in more places than just Republic City.
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I missed this episode because I was a party, anyone know where I can watch it for free? Nick.com used to have them, but it for some reason they stopped.
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Yeah, I have no idea. They are not streaming anywhere. The Nick thing is especially frustrating. I don't know if you can get them on iTunes, but I know that Amazon is getting episodes on a week's delay. Not sure about VOD options, however.
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I guess I will have to get an Amazon account to watch it. Thanks for your help!
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I have to agree, these two eps have been soso, but overall i am liking the season so far. The pace is slow, but at least it is more competent than last season. Last season became a mess starting off with a civil war to war profiting to spirits battles. There was nothing that joined them competently and it became two differing plots happening side by side as if the creators didn't know which story to use. I am hoping the action picks up soon. The slow buildup is driving me nuts. I want to see the confrontation bw korra and the bad guys.
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I didn't really think Old Wounds was that bad.It is still leas and bounds better than the former seasons. I think that episode just showed that maybe the Avatar gang aren't the best parents. This is clearly going to be the best season of LOK so far.
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1. Baby Air Bison were adorable. I want a plushy one!
2. We've finally found out the origin story of Lin's scar. I'm glad Lin made up with Su. I hope we will see more Opal in the future.
3. I really like Jinora and Kai together. They're so cute.
4. Asami was probably sleeping.
5. Bumi was awesome as Air Nomands Commander.
6. Bumi's spirit friend is one of my favorite parts of book 3.

Thanks for review, Noel :)
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I have a plush of Appa, and I love it.
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Awww it's so cute!
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I love how they keep hammering home how much of a s***hold Ba Sing Se is. Now we have to live knowing that they eat exotic animals for fun (btw Charles Darwin did this, 40 tortoises got on the Beagle none were alive when it got back to England), that is just messed up. And it especially hammered home that we are supposed to hat the Earth Queen because she ate Bosco (not cool).
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Old Wounds was so-so...only things I found interesting,were Toph,Korra metal bending and Bolin wanna to metal bend(wchich he probably will,if he has to fight Ghazan,seeing how that dude can also metal bend? I swear I don't get that dude at all...episode on him alone would be nice). Ok,fight scene was kinda nice,but Lin is such a drag to watch.

Now Original Airbenders...I loved it. Love,love,love! From the guy with shaving head,Tenzin saying it's optional to shave,then that guy dodging net,because he had shaved head...to the cute bisons...to the hateful poachers(should've killed them all)...to the best female character LoK has - Jinora....Original Airbenders is my favourite and best episode of season 3 so far.
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I have to agree. This season isn't really bad but isn't that great either.

Zaheer and his gang are the most interesting thing and their story this time around was really dumb. Really? They needed that fake out to get out of the city? They have an earth bender, he can't make a tunnel?

It was essentially a waste of time. Which frankly a lot of what this season is about feels like it. What bothers me even more is that he says they are in the metal benders city, so obviously they are going there - but what on earth is Korra going to do there? She already has Opal agreeing to come with her. Why stay there?!?

As for Lin's story, it wasn't bad but it just wasn't that interesting to be honest. I'm not a huge fan of the whole "2 people hate each other until there's some dramatic talk and now they are BFFs" type of episodes, though I admit that is my opinion personally. At the very least if there was some twist to the whole thing... But there wasn't.

As for the air benders episode, I liked it a lot better but it still feels like dragging the feet in the ground. We already know the issue is Tenzen trying to get everyone to be like him and frankly I'm not sure what exactly is all this "training" about considering the air benders seem powerful and skilled as is since they took out the hunters rather easily.

It's something that this show constantly shifted - even in the original show. Ang was a kid when he fell into the ice - how much training did he have? He seems to master himself perfectly. Korra had how many lessons?
Heck, Zaheer is a powerful master and he bends for what? 5 minutes?

It bothers me because it sort of makes the entire training sessions completely redundant. Everyone in this world seems to just get the gist of it and are good enough. Heck, Kai took out Dai Li soldiers before getting a single lesson.

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He's saying that this season is good, but it's hard to say what the second half will look like.
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Pretty much. It's been an overall competent, if unambitious season. Nothing wrong with that since the execution has generally been quite strong, but it's not Book 1 quality for me, not by a long shot. At least not yet.
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I'm surprised that Tenzin isn't more open to adjusting the Air Nomad ways- after all, he has already broken the rules by having a family. Obviously he wants to preserve this lost culture, but some of the ways are going to have to change.
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I don't think Air Benders aren't supposed to have family - if they were all monks, they'd go extinct.

Okay... They almost were extinct... but we're supposed to believe that's because of the fire nation attack. Not lack of procreation.

One would assume the monks we saw who raised Ang were just the monks and not the entire nation.
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It's never explained exactly how the Airbenders reproduce, but it has been confirmed that the temples house the entire populace and that they were ALL airbenders. The women lived at the Western and Eastern air temples, and the men at the Northern and Southern. They all lived lives of religious devotion, and, as such, did not have traditional families. None of them seem to be raised by their families...
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I'm not sure about this - in Wan's story there was whole towns where all people where airbenders (men, women and children) - they are all monks but not in the traditional (our) sense.
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Did the Air Nomads have a parents or where they just mystical babies that came out of nowhere?? I mean they have never shown Aang with a mother or father, only really a father figured council. Also the Air Temples have always seem more community oriented than family oriented.
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I don't know if I have a psychological problem, but I really wanted Lin to kick Su's ass for good. And, honestly Toph, I thought you were a straightforward person who deals with problems instead of evading them. Shame on you for getting so much out of character (and I seriously hope the writers are aware of that).
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Toph came from a very privileged aristocratic family, so I'm not surprised that affluenza runs in her family. I do however find it out of character for Toph to become chief of police. She never seemed to be a very idealistic or bound by duty kind of person. Neither is she the kind of person who would abandon all her things and then "walk the Earth." I sure hope they elaborate that some more.
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Keep in mind that it's been a long long time after the original show ended, people do change you know...

Also, I don't think it was that out of character. Toph was constantly breaking every rule in the book, from how her parents raised her to her mischief scams in the fire nation. Saying the law says this or that but I'm above it seems right up her alley.
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Am i the only one who got really upset at the fact that the Hunter was wearing a sky bison fur! Shame on them
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That was so upsetting. second only to the fact the Earth Queen ate Bosco
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It's been established that when sky bison shed, they shed like crazy. I don't think they would kill one to get the fur I think they just harvested what fell of when the creature was loosing it's winter coat.
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Wishful thinking. If only we really do that in real life, just wait for animals to shed to wear them as coats.
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It would be nice if was shed hair, but the pattern is too prefect and can only come from skinning the animal.
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Its not impossible to put hair into a specific pattern. Granted, it would probably take it a long time to do, but its not impossible.
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