The Legend Of Korra season 2 episode 3 review: Civil Wars Part 1

Kaci sees a marked improvement in this week's The Legend Of Korra. Here's her review of Civil Wars Part 1...

This review contains spoilers.

1.3 Civil Wars Part 2

I don’t know what happened in the writers’ room between the premiere and Civil Wars: Part 1, but it was obviously for the best. Although this episode is far from perfect, it’s definitely a step up from last week and more in line with the quality I expect from this show. 

Let’s get this out of the way: I don’t care for Bolin’s romance storyline. After his affection for Korra was played as a joke last year (even his heartbreak upon finding her kissing Mako was over-the-top and played for laughs), I’d have hoped that if Bolin ever had another love interest, it would be…well, not serious, because this is Bolin we’re talking about, but respectful. Watching him being literally treated like a pack mule and threatened with various gory punishments if he ends the relationship isn’t funny to me; it’s just gross and uncomfortable and I hope it’s over soon. 

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But moving on to what did work this week. Korra’s tightrope walk between her loyalty to the Southern Water Tribe, her duties as the Avatar, and her love for her family is believable and interesting. What’s more, it’s a storyline we never could’ve had in AtLA, due to the fact that Aang’s culture and family were gone. That’s what Legend of Korra should exist to do: tell us stories that were impossible in its predecessor in order to further build the rich tapestry of the Avatar universe. And while I do think Korra’s angst can get to be a little much sometimes, it’s not out of character or unbelievable, given the situation she’s in. 

But, of course, those of us who loved AtLA were probably hanging onto every word of what was easily the best storyline of the episode: Tenzin, Bumi, and Kya. I have to be honest here: I’d never thought about how Aang must’ve felt when he and Katara had an airbender son. It never occurred to me that he’d have played favorites with his children or put so much pressure on Tenzin as the only hope of rebuilding the Air Nomads. But of course he would’ve. And that itself raises so many more questions, too: did Katara notice he was favoring Tenzin? Did she have an opinion on that? Was it a problem in their marriage? Did she favor Kya, since Kya is a waterbender? And how sweet is it that they named their first child after Bumi? (I can only answer the last of these questions with any sort of certainty. The answer is “very sweet indeed.”)

I would happily watch a series of just Aang’s children (with occasional guest appearances by Katara when they visit their dear mom) because they give us so many insights into the “epilogue” of AtLA. So naturally, any episode of Korra that manages this is going to be an instant favorite.

Overall, the episode was imperfect, but definitely entertaining. But what I want to leave you with this week is something I’ve been thinking about since the season premiere: Korra isn’t an easy character to like, and it got me thinking of other examples of her character type. Headstrong, stubborn, physical, easily angered, often violent… every example I could think of was male. Can you think of other female characters who fit her type? Is the “newness” and “uniqueness” of her character not anything about her personality, but simply the fact that said personality has been assigned to a girl? (Sort of the way Toph was originally written to be a large burly male but then changed to be a small blind girl… with absolutely no alteration to her personality.) Let’s talk about it in the comments this week!

Read Kaci’s review of the previous episodes, Rebel Spirit and The Southern Lights, here.

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