Friendship has been an integral part of the Avatar: The Last Airbender/The Legend or Korra series, and for the latter it was hard fought for. Off the tails of the first, where we watched core relationships develop over three seasons and had very little doubt in our minds that these individuals, as young as they were, would fight for each other, it was hard for audiences to stomach the forced friendships in season one of Korra. More than anything, it seemed like the showrunners were trying to recapture the structure of the groupings without any of the essence. Two seasons later and we understand that Bolin, Mako, Tenzin, Asami, Lin and Korra were all willing to put themselves in the face of danger without question. However, it took a while to believe, and now it’s tough to see the show pulling them all apart at the seams when their dedication to one another was so hard earned.
My biggest problem with episode three, especially considering how strong last week’s “Korra Alone” was, is how far removed all of the characters are from one another, especially when you realize we only have ten episodes left of the series. Bolin is off serving the totalitarian Kuvira, having convinced himself that what they’re doing helps; Mako is keeping his place in serving the spoiled Prince; and Korra is off in the swamp trying to heal herself with the help of an elderly, but no less spirited, Toph. I understand why in terms of storytelling the writers would think this is a good idea: it adds a level of stakes, it ups the ante so to speak, and it will make the reunion between Team Avatar all the more satisfactory. My concern is that with the amount of episodes left and the amount of storytelling that still needs to be done, it will end up feeling rushed.
For one, Korra is still in the swamp by the episode’s end, and still cut off from her loved ones. Tenzin is sending out his children to find her, but who knows how soon they’ll find her. She’s been sparring with Toph, a master, trying to regain her strength when suddenly Toph tells her that there’s still some of the poisonous metal in her blood. Toph tries to remove it from her but is unable to, due to Korra’s inability to relax, or, as Toph points out, possibly her reluctance in getting back into the ring. In her weakened state, Korra has an excuse to forgo Avatar duties, which means she can’t be hurt like she was last time. Korra has seen battle, she has suffered emotional and physical turmoil, and maybe she is simply holding herself back so that she doesn’t have to experience it again.
It’s an understandable approach for a character that hasn’t had it easy these past three seasons, and one I’m glad the show chose to take. Not every hero can be one without question; most of them need to struggle before finding themselves.
The brothers are at a crossroads about where their future careers are heading, and they split in a fractured way. Mako sees through Kuvira while his naïve younger brother is going to have to learn the hard way.
Voiced by Zelda Williams, Kuvira is at the very least an interesting antagonist. For a second we feel as if she believes in what she’s preaching, in another we realize just how much she has fooled everyone, including Bolin.
I’m interested to see what the next episode brings, and if it will get things moving at a more rapid pace.