The Legend of Korra Newbie Recap: “Original Airbenders”

This post originally appeared on The Mary Sue.

What a boring, nothing episode this is. Tenzin, you know I love ya. But I feel like we’ve already been over “Tenzin has issues with being too controlling as a teacher/father, but then he has a Personal Growth Moment and gets over it” like three times.

In order to liven up my recap of what was an incredibly mediocre episode, I’ll be sprinkling gifs of cute dogs throughout. MERRY EARLY CHRISTMAS!

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Over at the Northern Air Temple, Tenzin’s having a tough time teaching the new airbenders, because he’s all about meditation and fasting and spirituality, and all his students just want to ride a damn bison. The only one who’s into it is a prime slice of nerd named “Otaku.” I see what you did there, Korra!

My question: Did J.K. Simmons?

Does J.K. Simmons know what an otaku is?

I’m oddly invested in the answer to that question.

Kya and Pema show up with the Republic City airbenders, and Korra radios in from Zhao Fu to update Tenzin on her situation. She suggests that he stop trying to do everything himself and lean on Bumi a bit for help—he may be the class clown of the new airbender set, but he did used to be a military leader, so he might be able to help whip this new class into shape. Yes! Bumi Defense Squad 2K15!

Meanwhile, Kai, little shit that he is, convinces Jinora to run off with him and commune with the wild bison. I’ve been waiting to warm up to Kai like I eventually did with Jet from ATLA, but it hasn’t happened yet. It’s like he’s from a different, younger show than everyone else, except ATLA was a younger show than Korra, and none of its characters were as one-dimensional as Kai. He’s a cutesy scamp Oliver Twist. I get it. Here, have a puppy!

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Jinora displays her airbending skills by rescuing Kai from an angry mama bison, after which Kai asks why Tenzin hasn’t let Jinora get her airbending tattoos yet when she can do everything Tenzin can and some things he can’t. Kai, I’m really not interested in your assessment of airbender hierarchy. You’re like twelve.

Back at the Temple, Tenzin asks Bumi for advice re: rallying the troops, and Bumi suggests tough love is the order of the day. So Tenzin goes full-on Full Metal Jacket Drill Sergeant, even though both Bumi and Jinora both tell him he may be taking things a bit too far. Eventually, Bumi quits and Jinora goes all “I’M NOT A CHILD, DAAAAAD! WHY WON’T YOU LET ME GET A TATTOOOOOOOOO?” This is not the sort of malarkey I’ve come to expect from the uber-sensible, competent, Jinora, but she’s a kid so I’ll let it pass. Kai is a bad influence.dog4

Everyone in this episode is wrong about everything, but you know it’s all going to be wrapped within ten minutes. There’s nothing particularly dramatically compelling. Have a dog:

Jinora and Kai go off to spend time with the baby bison they discovered earlier in the episode, only they’re captured and put in cages by bison thieves, who somehow think that kidnapping random children to bring to the Earth Queen is a viable business strategy. Meanwhile, Tenzin angsts at Pema about how he’s responsible for bringing back the Air Nomad culture—Aang’s bad parenting manifesting yet again!—and Pema sets him straight, telling him that this whole “Air Nation” thing is really new to everyone, calm the fuck down and stop being his Whiplash alter ego for like two seconds.

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Damn, Tenzin! Drink some cactus juice! Chill out!

Damn, Tenzin! Drink some cactus juice! Chill out!

Bumi receives a message, sent by Jinora via spirit courier services, that Jinora and Kai have been captured. With Tenzin off on a bison looking for his daughter, it’s up to Bumi and the other air acolytes to get with the rescuing. He gives a nice “rally the troops” speech, showing off his leadership ability, and the newbie airbenders actually do pretty well. There’s a cute moment where the only new airbender who got his head shaved realizes that, hey, Tenzin was right, it really does help. Earlier, there’s a reference to the fact that the Earth Queen ate her father’s bear. (NOOOOOOOO!) There are a few scattered interesting bits here and there, but nothing anywhere near enough to rescue this episode from tedium.

Tenzin shows up. There’s teamwork. People are rescued. Airbenders airbend. Tenzin apologies to Bumi, saying he reminds him of Aang (awwwww), and to Jinora, promising to consider letting her get her airbender tattoos.

Eh?

Where’s Asami? We haven’t had any Asami in a while.

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MVP Screencap:

Sick breakdancing moves from the Earth Kingdom!

Sick breakdancing moves from the Earth Kingdom!

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