[This is a review for The Legend of Korra season 2 episode 9. It contains SPOILERS.]
Two weeks ago, The Legend of Korra proved once again why it's one of the best animated programs of all time. Creators/executive producers Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino took us back to the time of the first avatar (Wan), with a brilliant display of animation (provided by Studio Mir) and voice acting (provided by Steven Yeun of The Walking Dead fame).
This week's episode, entitled 'The Guide,' is not on the same level as last week's masterpiece ('Beginnings Part 1 and 2'), but it demonstrated how The Legend of Korra is back on track. The imaginative storytelling that this series is known for continues to shine as Korra joins Tenzin and rest of the family at the Eastern Air Temple.
'Book 2: Spirits' has not been a horrible season by any means, yet it has lacked that central villain or conflict that the Avatar is supposed to resolve. For Wan, his battle against evil never ended, and even at the time of his death, he was engulfed in war. Aang's mission was always clear, but Korra - since Amon's defeat - has been trying to figure out who she's supposed to be. If the Avatar is supposed to bring balance to the world, what does that mean for a young woman surrounded by political scandals and bad business dealings?
DiMartino and Konietzko have every right to explore themes like World War II film propaganda with Bolin and war profiteering with Asami and Varrick - but by gazing into those topics, the show lost its sense of adventure. With 'The Guide,' that sense of fantastical-wonder is back, as Jinora teaches Tenzin a lesson in humility.
Tenzin's family road-trip has contained some of the more memorable moments from this season, as the proud airbender must learn to work with his brother and sister (Bumi and Kya). These small family encounters have been excellent character building stories, as Tenzin realizes that his oldest daughter (Jinora) may be more powerful than him - or at least more connected to the spiritual realm. When thinking of great father/daughter moments in television (e.g., Veronica Mars or Homeland season 1), the scene where Tenzin comes to grips with his pride by telling Jinora how proud he is of her rivals any of the best mainstream dramas.
With Korra and Jinora in the spirit world, what does that mean for Asami, Mako and Bolin? It appears that Varrick or some other villain wants Mako out of the way. Bolin's "mover" career looks to be in question, so perhaps he will join the fight in Republic City while Korra handles the more spiritual matters? It would be nice if the team were together; however, this war is going to be fought on two fronts. Hopefully, we'll be able to check in with the Southern Water tribe at some point and see how they're doing. It's been a while since Korra's father and mother have made an appearance.
Finally, it was nice to see Unalaq speaking with the dark spirit Vaatu, who is now aware of Korra's presence in the spirit world. Unalaq is clearly the villain we all thought he was, as he thinks only of power and not his son (Densa), who is gravely injured. As this season nears its end, what do you think will be the final outcome? Is Korra going to have to face both Vaatu and Unalaq, or will Vaatu be the antagonist for season 3? Stay tuned to find out.
The Legend of Korra continues with 'A New Spiritual Age' next Friday @8pm on Nickelodeon.