Last week I reviewed the extra long premiere that combined episode one and two, which you can find here if you haven’t read. If you aren’t sure what the show is, or want a description of the world and last season, check my first review out.
Episode three starts off immediately where the last one left off: with her uncle Unalaq, chief of the Northern Water Tribe, landing his troops in Southern Water Tribe land. He says his intent is for Avatar Korra to open the spirit portal in the north, which he says will unite both tribes, but I don’t trust him at all. Maybe it’s the foreboding music that plays when his troops march through the city, forcibly moving people out of their way, or maybe it’s just that he seems so power-hungry and sinister.
Understandably, the Southern Water Tribe see Unalaq’s troops as an invasion. They hold a meeting, with Korra in attendance. Korra attempts to sue for peace, whereas the ridiculously boisterous and outspoken trader Varrick pushes for civil war.
The show cuts back and forth between that drama and where Tenzin is at the air temple relaxing with his whole family, including his “normal” brother and his waterbending sister. We find out that one of his children has run away after his two other children teased her. So Tenzin and his siblings, Bumi and Kya, go to search for little Ikki.
As they search, it becomes clear that they have very different memories of their childhood. Tenzin has sugarcoated the whole affair, whereas Kya and Bumi think their father, former Avatar Ang, favored Tenzin. They all have their resentments, which they argue about.
I actually really enjoyed the parts between Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi. Watching as an adult, I can see the message the creators are trying to get across to the kids watching. It seems to me they’re trying to show that no family is perfect, and that everyone has their own problems.
This theme is even more apparent at the end of the episode. Korra’s mother comes to Korra’s hut to ask her about the troubles between Korra and her father. Korra and her mom talk, and Korra finds out that Varrick is attempting to plan a revolt against Unalaq. Most shockingly, Korra’s mother says that her father might be involved.
Korra, in a very Korra fashion, does not stay to talk to her mother (despite her pleas), but instead rushes headlong to the palace. There, she finds Unalaq being captured. She immediately thinks one of the masked men is her father, and pleads with the kidnappers to stop now and avoid civil war. They refuse to stop, and a battle ensues, which Korra obviously wins. She saves Unalaq and finds that the man whom she thought was her father is, in fact, not her father.
Worried about her father, she rushes home and finds him safe and sound. A very emotional reunion takes place, with both of them apologizing. Here, we again see the theme of strife that goes on in families. To me, it showed that even if there are problems, if you talk reasonably with everyone involved instead of running away or ignoring the problem, you can find common understanding and a resolution.
I loved this part for another reason too. I loved that both Korra and her father admit guilt and apologize. I thought it showed that Korra is growing up. Throughout the episode, she attempts to be a force of temperance. She doesn’t just throw punches and think later. I think this is a major step in her becoming an adult and growing into her Avatar powers. She is trying to think for herself and make good decisions, not fast decisions. She convinces Unalaq to give the kidnappers a fair trial, when he would have just thrown them in jail. Her advice is that if he throws them in jail, he will just anger the people more, so these men should get a fair trial, which is every person’s right. That’s absolutely great advice, because then the tribe will see their guilt and equally condemn them to jail, whereas if Unalaq attempted to just throw them in jail with no trial, the people would have seen that as a tyrannical move and revolted. On top of stopping and thinking, she’s willing to admit when she is wrong and apologize, which is really hard to do sometimes!
One part of the episode I didn’t really care much about was Bolin dealing with his misguided foray into a relationship with one half of the ice twins. I think they were playing a bit much on the stereotype of the overbearing and controlling woman and the whipped man. Also, Mako’s description of breaking up with a girl (do it quickly, like pulling off a bloodsucking leech) kind of offended me a bit. I could see what the creators were going for with Bolin’s ridiculous relationship, but it didn’t come off as that funny to me most of the time. Mostly, I just wanted to go back to the parts about Tenzin and Korra.
I also didn’t much care for how Mako is often asking if he should “just listen to Korra’s problems or offer advice.” It seems like that might be continuing the stereotype that woman and their emotions and problems are a mystery to men. That’s a little sexist, just saying.
For the most part, I super enjoyed this episode. I think it really dove into the meat of the story, whereas the first two episodes felt very exposition-y. I thought the bending fight was awesome, because Korra did some inventive fighting. She managed to stop the kidnappers without even really hurting them much, which is pretty cool. I also loved the deepening of the relationship between Tenzi and his siblings. It’s really interesting to find out through their descriptions of how Ang was as a father. Even the Avatar isn’t perfect, which I think is a great message! I really loved how Korra’s character progressed. If you recall in my previous review, one of the major beefs I had was with Korra’s attitude. This episode shows her growth, and makes me even more excited for more episodes.
Oh, and did I mention they left us on a cliffhanger? After Korra’s emotional reunion with her father, Unalaq shows up at their hut and says he’s arresting Korra’s mother and father. Remember how I said I don’t trust him? Yeah, this makes it worse. Needless to say, next Friday can’t come soon enough!
New episodes air Fridays at 7pm, EST.
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I absolutely and positively hate Mako as a character, and I think it’s so disrespectful to the real Mako (voice of Uncle Iroh) to have such a boring character share his name. The “I’m just a dumb boy I don’t know what you want from me but it’s easy to break girls hearts” combination just made him seem super shallow and unworthy.
Yes, that’s precisely what I didn’t like about him. He seems way too based on the stereotype of “Men never know what women think/want. Women are such mysteries.” And I really don’t like that message being told to kids.
Yeah, and the break up comments were really harsh. That super put me off.
I really liked the episode too, but I think you might be being a bit harsh on the sexism call. Really, I think Korra might have been a little hard on Mako in the last episode, but I can hardly blame her. She’s got the weight of the world on her shoulders. She’s not really mad at Mako, she’s just frustrated she doesn’t know the right answer. One can be a strong, courageous female lead and still have flaws. I also don’t think it’s disrespectful to all women to have a couple of domineering ones. I agree Bolin’s part was a weaker point of the episode though. I didn’t really find it that funny either.
Mark, like I just said to Sarah, is that I don’t like the stereotypes they are playing on. There is a stereotype of the domineering woman “whipping” the weak male. And then there’s the stereotype of “women are so mysterious and incomprehensible that men can never figure out what they want.” And I don’t like either of these stereotypes. Life is much more complicated that than, and I think the show has a responsibility to not teach children that that’s the way things are. They are doing such a good job showing that family relationships are complicated and not perfect, but they are kind of failing on the love relationships between their main characters right now.