The Legend of Korra exists as one of those rare moments in television where children and adults alike can enjoy an animated program without feeling apologetic for appreciating the series. With the premiere of season 2 (a.k.a. Book 2: Spirits), creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko continue that tradition with the show’s heroine experiencing more growing pains on her journey to becoming not only a better Avatar, but a woman.
If the season 1 finale left its viewers with any questions, one of those had to be who the major villain was going to be in the following season? In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang’s nemesis was clear, and so was his mission. The journey may not have been a straightforward one, but Fire Lord Ozai’s presence could always be felt lingering in the shadows. Korra faced Amon in season 1, but she has yet to face an adversary like Ozai.
Like many season premieres, The Legend of Korra reacquaints us with our favorite characters. It’s nice to see Bolin leading a new team of Fire Ferrets in a Pro Bending match, only to have them lose in record time. Mako working on the police force seems like a fitting occupation for the heroic young man as he singlehandedly captures a group of criminals in Republic City. At first glance, Asami’s attempts to rebuild her father’s empire (Future Industries) are, while admirable, the least interesting of the bunch. And though the Avatar’s entourage has always been an important aspect of each season’s story, Korra is the real star of the show and we quickly realize that she’s not in a peaceful state of mind.
Even while witnessing Korra as a young girl in last season’s premiere, it was obvious that she was a strong, willful, and persistent child who could not be controlled. It wasn’t until the season 1 finale, when she was at her lowest point, did Korra finally learn to tap into the spirit world and make the connection to the past Avatars. Sadly, that moment is six months in the past, and even though the young Avatar can channel the spirit world at will, she doesn’t understand its true potential.
Tenzin, voiced by the talented J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man), believes he has the remedy that will clear Korra’s head – taking a family trip to the various Air Temples. A family road trip sounds fun, but pleasant family getaways are not what this franchise was built on, and Korra discovers that her destiny is ever-changing.
The introduction of new characters like Tenzin’s brother and sister are a welcome one. Hopefully, the extent of Aang’s family will be discussed in greater detail as the series progresses. However, the most important of these new characters is Korra’s uncle (Unalaq). While Korra and the gang are preparing to enjoy a festival, we are introduced to Unalaq, who is the fanatical chief of the Northern Water Tribe, hellbent on making sure the heathens of the South learn to respect the spirits.
It’s too early to tell if Unalaq will be the season’s primary villain, but if he is, it feels like the writers are exposing him far too soon. Korra’s uncle is conveniently able to send the spirits away with his control of the spirit world. Is he simply that good, or somehow responsible for the spirits attacking the villages? Unlike Amon, Unalaq does not have that air of mystery surrounding him – he just appears to be another power hungry villain. But again, perhaps it’s premature to label him as the villain. Only time will tell.
Without the Avatar by their side, Tenzin and his family decide to continue their journey to the place where Aang once called home. As exciting as Republic City is, seeing the temple in all its glory is a pleasant break from the noisy streets of the city.
More mysteries abound at the temple as Tenzin’s daughter discovers something emanating from one of the former Avatar’s statues. From the scenes at the Air Temple, there looks to be multiple storylines and settings for us to explore as the season continues.
Both ‘Rebel Spritis’ and ‘The Southern Lights’ are exciting episodes to start off the new season of Korra. Amon and his group of Equalists may be a thing of the past, but as with any new adventure, a new evil must arise. Unalaq says that opening the portal was just one step in healing the South, but is that all Korra’s uncle is after? If peace was what Unalaq desired, then why didn’t he try to heal his relationship with his brother (Tonraq)? Korra is going to have to learn to control her pride and impatience before she pushes away everyone in her life who cares for her.
Even with all of the drama, DiMartino and Konietzko haven’t forgotten to make us laugh. Bolin knows how to soften a serious moment, while the addition of actress Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Rec) as Eska helps to lighten the mood in the most dire of scenarios.
Is it too much to ask of a young woman like Korra to balance being the Avatar, having a boyfriend, and learning what it means to be an adult all at the same time? Korra’s battle with her own emotions could be her most difficult challenge yet. She will most likely have to deal with her internal struggle before she can take on the dangers that threaten those she holds most dear.
The Legend of Korra continues next Friday with ‘Civil Wars: Part 1’ @7pm on Nickelodeon. Check out a preview below: