The Legend of Korra Newbie Recap: “Welcome to Republic City”

Originally posted on The Mary Sue.

Lords, ladies, and those who do not fall into the category “lord” or “lady”: I have finished Avatar, I have watched the movie (I know, I know, I know. You all told me it was bad. It was bad.), and now it’s time to newbie recap some The Legend of Korra, starting with the pilot. But first, for the sake of full disclosure, here’s what I already know about the show:

  • Korra’s the next Avatar, and people from all different nations live together in less-isolated-from-each-other peace and harmony, until they don’t.
  • Nickelodeon hated it, apparently.
  • The Avatar world had an Industrial Revolution! They grow up so fast.
  • There’s some love triangle bullshit, but it ends with Korrasami so I think I can power my way through it.
  • Old Toph and Zuko show up. People got busy and had kids.
  • Asami is voiced by the actress who plays Yue in the Shyamalan movie.
  • There is an abundance of violent, villainous ladies… I think?
  • It’s super fucked up and an airbender kills someone by bending the air from their lungs. I am waiting so much for that, you don’t even know.

And, most importantly:


First thoughts: Hearing someone not Katara do the “EARTH. FIRE. AIR. WATER. HEART.” intro seems wrong, but I’ll get over it. On voiceover duty this time around is Aang and Katara’s son Tenzin. He’s a serious-minded fella who’s also an airbender and one of the leaders of Republic City, the capital of the United Republic of Nations, which Aang and Zuko set up together (pause for friendship feels) as a place where people from all nations, benders and non-benders alike, could live together in peace and harmony. Pause again:

jk simmons



yellow m

Post-intro, we learn that the new Avatar Korra has been squirreled away since she was discovered as a toddler in a guarded compound run by the White Lotus, where she’s been trained in fire-, water-, and earthbending. Unlike Aang, a cupcake of love and happiness who wanted to sing medleys around a campfire and never hurt anyone, Katara is a, er, less spirituality-minded person who just wants to party, if by party you mean FUCK PEOPLE UP.

Yeah, I like ‘er.


Hold up. Do I spot HAIR LOOPIES?


It’s elderly Katara! And you can see from her reactions to Korra fighting that Korra is basically her favorite person in the world… which is natural, considering she’s Katara’s husband reincarnated, which maybe led to some awkward dinner conversations?  I find it a liiiiiiittle weird that the White Lotus has, for all intents and purposes, kept this teenage girl cut off from most of the world for basically her entire life, but Katara’s in on it, so I’m going to assume the weirdo cult vibes are unintentional and just… move on.

One of the White Lotus chaps is wary about how Korra likes beating dudes up a little too much, but Katara steps in and convinces him to let Korra learn airbending from Tenzin. Only when Tenzin rolls in on a flying bison–three kids and a pregnant wife in tow–it turns out he’s only staying overnight, because he has Shit To Do in Republic City. (Miscellaneous item: Aang and Katara’s other kids were named Kya, after Katara’s mom, and Bumi. Awwww.) Korra tries to convince the White Lotus to let her go with Tenzin, but they refuse, which isn’t a big deal, because literally everyone has to know she’s going to escape on her GIANT POLAR BEAR DOG:



Appa, I love you, but Naga.  Naga is my favorite.

Katara catches Korra escaping and gives the Avatar her blessing. Also, we find out that Sokka’s dead. Awww. RIP, my cactus juice-loving punster:

cactus juice

I am actually sad about this. It’s not fun.

Korra and Kaga stow away on a ship and wake up in STEAMPUNK CITY, where the quickly discover that having no money is an impediment to things like… eating! Korra catches and cooks some fish in the park, where she meets one of Republic City’s apparently quite large homeless population, her first hint that maybe isn’t everything isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. She gets hit with a clue by four yet again when she runs into a trio of mob enforcers (look, this show has MOB ENFORCERS) from the Triple Threat Triad trying to shake down a local shop owner for protection money.

Korra doesn’t have a middle name, because as far as I can tell most people in the ATLAverse with the exception of the Beifongs don’t even have last names, but if Korra did have a middle name, it would be “FIGHT ME.”  She whips some ass and gets arrested by metalbending cops in the process. When she tries the “DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!?!?!” defense, the police chief informs her that she doesn’t give a single fuck, there will be NO BATMANS IN MY TOWN. Fair: Korra caused a fuckton of collateral damage. Also not fair, because Republic City clearly has an organized crime problem that the establishment isn’t dealing with. I’m pretty sure that’s not because of any lack of will on the police chief’s part, though, because the police chief is Toph’s daughter, and therefore she is hard as fuck.


Lin Beifong? More like Win Beifong, professional hardass.

Korra is bailed out of jail by Tenzin, who promises Lin that she’ll be shipped back to the South Pole. Korra, however, convinces Tenzin that she needs to stay in Republic City, basically arguing that “this city is clearly fucked up, and I am the Avatar. Seriously. The math. Do it.” Tenzin agrees. Lin, off in the distance, develops a slight yet piercing headache.

Korra holds a press conference, where she gives an inspiring speech (I think she got that skill from Katara) about how she doesn’t exaaaactly know how to Avatar quite yet, but together they can make Republic City a place of peace and balance. Listening to the speech over the radio is a masked gent named Aman, who’s the leader of an anti-bending group we heard about earlier in the episode. He’s creepy as fuck, and the way he says “So, the Avatar has arrived early. It looks like we’ll have to accelerate our plans” isn’t exactly non-shady. So. Here he is. The season’s (??) Big Bad.

But. It is time for me to potentially make a fool of myself in front of all the people who have actually seen this show. We were introduced to Amon’s group when Korra came across a megaphone-wielding protestor who was speaking to a small crowd about the way benders oppress non-benders, who (he says) are forced to live as second-class citizens. The way Korra deals with the guy isn’t exactly tactful, by the way: He basically tells this protestor “Oppressed my ass! Bending is awesome!” (Honey, no. You have been in this city for five minutes.) Maybe it’s just the Times In Which We Live, but I’m going to assume a group saying they’re oppressed is actually being oppressed, and that there’s some truth to Megaphone Man’s claims of benders being LoK‘s one percenters. I mean, immediately after this scene we get the bender mob trying to extort non-bender small business owners, so… I smell foreshadowing there. The anti-bending group has eau de terrorist about them, sure, and the way Megaphone Man is all “TEAR DOWN THE OLD ORDER” isn’t reassuring, but I think there’s more complexity to this than what we’re seeing now.


7 thoughts on “The Legend of Korra Newbie Recap: “Welcome to Republic City”

  1. Nats says:

    This recap is going to be my entire life! I’m so excited for the future. And yes, I do love how badass Korra is, and how… uhm, rough and “not very tactful or thoughtful” she is. It adds character to her, you rarely see women so aggressive.


  2. Alex Mckenzie (@kenrunek) says:

    I’m so glad you’re doing this show. But I warn you now. Get ready to board the feel train because not only does this show introduce a brilliant new cast of characters for you to get attached to and have bad things then happen to (no spoilers you know this is true for all things), but they are shameless in their manipulation of your love for the previous Gaang. Which again, not a spoiler, because you know, Katara.


  3. Paul Ference (@PaulFerence) says:

    My favorite part about this episode is one of the grandkids asking what happened to Zuko’s mom, and as soon as Katara starts talking, she’s immediately interrupted.

    Eff you, writing staff. Eff you.

    Also, YAY! Now I can start watching Korra!


  4. Aeryl says:

    I wanted to tell you Rebecca, that not only are Kya and Bumi named for Katara’s mother and Aang’s childhood friend, Tenzin is named for Aang’s mentor, Monk Gyatso, as Tenzin Gyatso is the name of the Dalai Lama.


  5. Aeryl says:

    I also wanted to say, definitely have some patience with Korra, you have to remember, she’s LITERALLY never had age appropriate friendships and socializing.


  6. Rhodoferax says:

    Wow. Reading this, I realise there’s quite a lot from the episode that ends up getting addressed in season 3. We do find out why the White Lotus acted the way they did, and while it’s never stated, my headcanon is that it’s linked to Sokka’s death. (Yes I’m being misleading there, but not actually lying).

    Opinions on Korra are mixed, though everyone agrees that seasons 1 and 2 aren’t as good as Aang. Season 3 is where it really hits its stride, a clip show in season 4 notwithstanding.

    As for Amon, he has one of the most incredibly fucked-up backstories I’ve ever seen. Without spoiling anything, I think it was intended the Equalists would have a point, but I felt this season did a poor job of exploring that.

    But keep watching. Old Zuko has a dragon!


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