This post originally appeared on The Mary Sue.
I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING.
We start this episode with Asami eschewing the typical gifts of flowers and chocolate in favor of a gigantic air Winnebago so she and Korra—plus Tenzin, Bolin, Bumi, and Jinora, who had better not cockblock—can futz around the Earth Kingdom looking for new airbenders. Mako, convinced that things should really be more awkward between him and Korra than they are (which is not at all, because she’s moved on to making googly eyes at Asami), opts at first to stay behind in Republic City.
Mako explains to Bolin that the reason he’s attempting to ghost Team Avatar is that he feels like he’s been drifting apart from everyone. Bolin’s response is the remarkably sensible “… then you should probably spend more time with us, dumbass.” After an interlude where Bolin acts like their hypothetical grandma for reasons that are frankly completely irrelevant because it’s amazing no matter what, Mako agrees to go with the rest of them.
Their first village brings them into contact with Kuan, a family man who’d rather not contribute to the cause of bringing back the Air Nation if doing so means uprooting his entire life, kthx. To Team Avatar’s surprise, none of the new airbenders—including a basement-dwelling jackass who feels like the showrunners’ commentary on “””Millennials,””” and it’s a little out-of-place, but whatever, it’s funny—are interested in going with them to the Northern Air Temple to continue their training.
As happened last season, Bumi has an idea as to how they can fix their situation: Put on a street performance to highlight some of airbendering’s more fun elements. And yet again, Tenzin rolls his eyes at brother before begrudgingly admitting that they’ve run out of other options, so whatever, they might as well. And then Bumi’s plan (constructed with help from Bolin) actually works, because—SHOCKINGLY—the two of them may be doofus-y, but there are times when they know what they’re doing. You know that fantheory doing around that says Jar Jar is a secret Sith master who secretly orchestrated the entire events of the Star Wars prequels? I feel like that’s Bumi, but not-evil. He’s hugely influential, but no one in-world notices.
Team Avatar’s performance (What time is it? SHOWTIIIIME!) draws in the crowds by showing off an assortment of airbending skills, and it draws me in by showing Korra whirling Mako around in a tornaro while she and Asami bond over his humiliation. Actually, Mako’s completely deadpan line delivery when he’s asked to play bad guy (“I am the escaped convict and you will all feel my fire”)… kind of made me like Mako again? We’re back to pre-season2, when the character was pretty fun when they let him be dorky instead of trying to make him all broody and impressive all the time. Teenage boys: A natural source of humor.
Anyway, this scrappy, bright-eyed little asshole named Kai shows up, saying that his parents were killed by a band of outlaws who are hunting him down, but he’s an airbender now, so he guess he’ll go with them if that’s OK? My bullshit alarm goes off instantly—this kid is WAY too cute—and anyway, why the fuck would Tenzin just take this pre-teen booger without even checking that he’s not, y’know, accidentally abducting him?! Maybe he has parents whom he wants to run away from. It’s not like that’s never happened before.
The “outlaws” show up to take Kai, and Korra fights them even though THEY ARE CLEARLY THE POLICE, JESUS CHRIST! How are you going to defeat anyone if you’re this gullible? Have you never seen Children of the Corn? The Omen? Home Alone?
As it turns out, Kai is an orphan, but he’s also a thief who stole his adopted family’s entire life savings and has been on the run ever since. After Kai gives this big speech about how his newfound airbending ability has changed him, Tenzin decides to give the little snot another chance and agrees to take him off the police’s hands. Jinora flirts with the new member of their team, and Mako—who used to be a riff raff, street rat himself—takes the boy aside and warns him not to try any funny shit. The exchange lands in Mako’s sweet spot as a character—namely, when he overshoots intended “super srs and intimidating” mode and lands in “…WTF is with this guy? Does he need a nap?” and the writers know it, as opposed to when they’re under the illusion that the audience isn’t completely aware of the core of buffoonery blazing from deep within his heart.
Now it’s time for the b-plot. Zaheer, the poetry-loving supervillain/new airbender who orchestrated one badass jailbreak last episode, spends this week going around and getting his buddies out of prison. First is Ghazan the earthbender:
(He was kept on a big ship made entirely of wood, which is pretty cool.)
Next is the waterbender Ming-Hua, whose cell was dangled above a volcano and OH MY GOD
she uses water AS. HER. ARMS.
This bring up so many interesting possibilities about the ATLAverse! I assume that there are areas where particularly dangerous criminals’ arms are cut off in order to stop them from bending, and that’s what happened here? Sure, the Avatar can remove someone’s bending without chopping any of their limbs off, but the Avatar’s only one person (at a time, anyway).
I have a feeling I’m going to like this one.
There’s one of Zaheer’s buds he hasn’t busted out yet: An girlfriend whom I assume is a firebender. (Since we already have air, water, and earth.) Whoever she is, she’s being held in the Northern Water Kingdom. And we know this because who should be pissed off at Zaheer’s escape but
“NO. THIS CAN’T BE. Do you have ANY IDEA the power these criminals possess? Individually they can take down any bender. Put them all together and they could TAKE DOWN THE ENTIRE WORLD. And now you’re telling me their LEADER is an AIRBENDER?”
*hops on a dragon*
“FUCK ALL THIS.”
All these years, and still a drama queen.