These two episodes are aptly named Beginnings Part 1 and 2. Why, you ask? Because we get to see the Avatar’s origin story. Which is awesome, by the way. Also awesome is the amazingly beautiful art style these two episodes have. It’s like a beautiful inky water color, which you can see in the picture above. Stunning.
The episode starts with Korra being taken into the center of a temple on an island. She is lowered down into the water below the temple, because the wise woman says that Korra is corrupted by dark spirits. In order for her to regain herself, she has to connect with the spirit of the Avatar. (Side note: isn’t it convenient that Korra ended up on the random island that just happened to have a cleansing temple in it? Just saying.)
Enter Wan. A nice-looking guy who promises to show her how he became the first Avatar.
Wan’s world was a very different place than the one Korra lives in now. He lived in a city on the back of a mighty turtle-lion. Spirits roam the earth, but do not come into the city. Wan’s turtle-lion controls the element of fire, which it bestows on its humans when they go into the forest in search of food. The fire is necessary to protect them from the spirits that lurk in the woods, but it’s forbidden to take the power of fire back into the city.
Wan is a peasant, living on scraps. He tricks everyone and manages to get the power of fire, take it back into the city, and start a rebellion against those in power. He is caught and banished. But the turtle-lion allows Wan to retain his power of fire, so that he can survive in the wild.
Wan battles spirits and is run ragged, when he chances upon an oasis. The spirit in charge throws him out, but informs Wan that there are other turtle-lions with humans on their backs. So he sets out to find them. On the way, he spots a trapped cat-deer (man, the animals in this show are super-weird!), and pledges to free it instead of eating it. But in order to save the cat-deer, he has to battle humans from his city. The hunters best him, but the spirit in control of the oasis saves him, and allows him to come back and learn from them.
After a year, Wan sets out again to find other humans. On the way, he sees two giant spirits fighting, one dark and one light. The dark one plays upon Wan’s sympathy, and Wan frees him. Which is bad. It turns out that this is Vaatu, the spirit of darkness and chaos, and Wan just released it into the world.
To cut a long story short, Raava (the spirit of light and peace) and Wan join forces and go from turtle-lion to turtle-lion and collect the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Wan trains to use all of them in order to help Raava best Vaatu again. Their fight will happen during the convergence, which occurs every 10,000 years. If Vaatu wins, the earth will be covered in darkness and destroyed.
So why does a hugely powerful light spirit need help? Because every time Vaatu corrupts a spirit, Raava becomes weaker and Vaatu becomes stronger. In the end, the only way Raava wins is through combining with Wan, and they become the Avatar together. Wan, the first Avatar, imprisons Vaatu in an ancient tree and closes the portals to the spirit world, forever trapping the dark spirit there.
The spirits in the human world go back to their own world, and so do the turtle-lions, which is how the world became like the one Korra knows now. But it’s not just rainbows and unicorns. The world is still beset by the darkness all humans carry within them. Wan is not able to bring about total peace, just help balance the world. This is what being the Avatar is all about.
Korra wakes up and remembers who she is, and now we as the audience know that, oh shit, if she doesn’t close the portal to the spirit world, Vaatu will come through and perhaps win. And oh man, the harmonic convergence is super soon. Her healers give her an air bison and she takes off, hopefully to close the portal.
These two episodes were awesome. Beautiful art, beautiful story, and beautiful writing. It was so cool to get to see how it all began. The way things worked was so different in Wan’s time. The whole story felt like an ancient myth; it reminded me of the different creation stories of our own world. I mean, he stole fire and their cities were on the back of a gigantic turtle! Epic! Also, before now, we had no idea what the Avatar was an avatar of. Now we know i’is Raava, the spirit of light and peace. Hopefully, this story will help Korra see that her job is more than just worrying about and protecting her family and her loved ones. Her job is to literally stop the darkness from taking over and destroying the world.
There are four more episodes left in the series, and I’m super excited about them now. I really hope that Korra will come into her own and start acting like the Avatar and not like a spoiled teenager who wants to get her way. I also think we’ll see Mako come into his own when he proves that Varrick is behind the bombings. Who knows, maybe we’ll even see more of Tenzin and his adorable family!
New episodes air Fridays at 8:30pm, EST.
Now on to watch Full House, which for some reason airs after The Legend of Korra. Man look at how cute and tiny the Olsen twins are! *drifts off into nostalgia*