This review contains spoilers.
2.7 Beginnings (Part 1) & 2.8 Beginnings (Part 2)
In this week’s two-part episode of The Legend of Korra, it’s time for a trip to the land of backstory where the art is breathtakingly beautiful and the confusion level is high.
The people who found Korra are full of plot conveniences this week in that not only do they know who she is, they also know what’s wrong with her and how to help her. Deciding that she’s been infected with a dark spirit, the only way for her to survive and save the world is to remember Raava.
This is where we meet Wan, the original Avatar whose spirit is reincarnated into all the Avatars who have existed since. In Wan’s time, the world was ruled by dangerous spirits, leaving humanity to make its home on the backs of four lion turtles who not only serve as protection, but who also temporarily gift certain people with the ability to control an element as a means of protection when they venture into the wild to hunt. Wan, however, refuses to return his fire and is consequently banished to certain death into the wilds.
He survives, naturally, and befriends the local spirits before setting off to find the airbending lion turtle. Along the way, he stops to separate two duelling spirits, who turn out to be Raava and Vaatu, the spirits of peace and chaos respectively. Their duel is what has until now kept the world in balance, so naturally it’s now Wan’s job to restore it. Eventually, by combining his spirit with Raava’s, he is able to imprison Vaatu and close the spirit portal. You know, the one that Korra just opened up for Unalaq. Apparently doing incredibly misguided things that have severe consequences is just part and parcel of the Avatar gig.
First things first: the art in this episode is incredible. This show, like its predecessor, is so beautifully animated that I often take it for granted; you’ll notice I don’t often comment on the animation of the show because, to be perfectly honest, I’ve gotten a bit spoiled by how great it looks. But the art in this episode takes that already high standard and somehow exceeds it; it looks like a storybook come to life.
The episode in general was pretty amazing. I felt like I was watching a clip show of “Legend of Wan” or something; like it was a spin-off in its own right that I was only getting to see bits and pieces of. It was interesting to see how the Avatar world looked so long ago and imagine how it evolved into what it is today. But honestly, it raised more questions for me than it answered.
I’ll admit that some of these might just be me having missed something, but then again, I’m twenty-seven years old and paying close attention because I have to recap; if I’m missing something, then the average kid in this show’s target age group probably missed a lot of things.
At the end, the lion turtle said that they wouldn’t give the elements to humans anymore. Does that mean they took it away from anyone who still had it from a hunting trip? How did humans learn to bend? I thought that in The Last Airbender, it was explained that humans learned bending from various animals; did they only learn from the animals how to refine the gift, rather than how to do it in the first place?
Does Unalaq know about Vaatu’s prison? Did he ask Korra to open the portal on purpose? How does Raava being part of the Avatar spirit factor into Korra’s complete inability to be peaceful for even two seconds?
Ultimately I just feel confused about how what we learned from this episode fits into the larger canon. I really did enjoy it, though, and I’m genuinely worried that my three favorite episodes this season have had Korra in them for less than a total of five minutes combined.
Read Kaci’s review of the previous episode, The Sting, here.
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