The second episode of the final season of the Avatar universe is finally out! I’ll be doing a quick recap of the events and then give my full thoughts on where the episode did and did not impress.
The scene opens with Korra in the Earth Kingdom city we saw in the previous episode. She nearly gets hit by a car then sees a vision of herself still chained up as per the fight with Zaheer. Its obvious that she is still struggling mentally, and as we all predicted, we finally get a chance to see exactly what happened in those three years past via flashback.
First up, a heart-warming scene with the team sending Korra off as she returned to the Water tribe at what appears to be moments after the third season’s finale. She is continually haunted by nightmares and notions that resemble textbook Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her mother is as worried as anyone and begs her to see Katara, who says probably the most telling line of the 7 seasons of this universe.
“..whether you get better or not is up to you.”
As if the first 4 minutes of this episode hadn’t already, this single line sets the stage for what I see to be the final path Korra will walk.
She spends a lot of time with Katara trying to improve physically and mentally, and it becomes apparent she is actually paralyzed from the Mercury poisoning. Katara attempts to help her manage her mind and emotions as she has done with Aang once before, but original Korra rejects this quite sternly.
She battles with the fact that everyone else is going about their lives and the only thing that breaks up the tear-jerking realizations are the letters from Bolin, which appear to be crayon-drawn imagery instead of actual text. Good ol’ Bolin.
Korra tries to relate with Aang’s plight and uses it to overcome her physical limitations, but its still clear to everyone that there is much to be done.
A break in the flashback reveals a small puppy leading Korra into a foggy street where her Avatar image awaits. It appears that the animal can see the manifestation as well, and guides her towards help.
The flashback continues with Korra sparring and still suffering PTSD terrors. Tenzin tries to comfort her, but she is as stubborn as ever and tells Asami via letter what we have noticed all this time: that she fears she will never recover.
Her last idea is traveling the world, and we see the situation that unfolds where she lies to her parents in order to get back in situations she is comfortable with. However, she runs into more of the same, and while failing to thwart some petty thieves, the doubts keep flowing in.
At this point, she officially gives up on her self as the Avatar and abandons her previous wardrobe and appearance. We see an incredibly powerful scene where she chops her hair and ends up in the tree of time, only to be reminded once again that she is clearly not right. Even the spirits can’t take a hint, geez!
The montage continues with her fruitless travel, eventually leading up to the present day of her fighting in the underground Earthbending circuit, but takes care to make sure we don’t feel like she had been doing it for reasons other then finding herself.
All caught up, the pooch leads her to a familiar looking swamp and reveals himself to be a spirit looking to aid her. She once again confronts her angst and fails to overcome it, only to awake in a cave with a mysterious elderly woman. Despite Korra’s effort to change appearance this woman knows exactly who she is…
Wait, we know her as well!
Korra realizes the woman is none other then Toph Beifong and the two share an amazing moment as the episode ends.
“Nice to see you again Twinkle Toes.”
What I liked (read: Loved)
Breathtaking episode. That’s all that needs to be said. I had to jerk back the tears multiple times, but I’ll do my best to give a few points that were particularly poignant.
– Back on Track: The first episode was clearly a starting point, but this gets us right back into the action. I truly felt like I was picking up where the previous season left off in Korra’s timeline, and couldn’t be more pleased.
– Katara: Truly the most prolific character in the entire universe, and showing nothing but the best in her screen time. The new voice actor isn’t the greatest, but the character carries too hard. She is as much a healer of physical wounds as she is of emotions and you get a faint feeling of her love for Aang shining through here. Even a stubborn beast like Korra can find truth in her words.
– Gorgeous Scenery and Music: You have to see this episode to know what I’m talking about, but the score for this one was so complimentary. It really tugged at the ol heart.
– Twinkle Toes: I love throwbacks like this and the image of playful adult Aang at the fish hut. These types of things are what keeps the two series bound eternally, and even though they really forgot about that with the previous season, its good to see it alive again. I have a feeling from these lines that this season is going to really pack a punch.
What I did not like
– Toph’s inconsistencies: In a flash back from the first season she seemed really tall in her middle-age, now she is 4 foot again? After such a moving episode, I was a bit disappointed by her strange appearance.
– 23 minutes: Just as an aside, if all twelve episodes are weekly, this ends days before Christmas! That seems sooo long. I was hoping for a 1 hour release these first two weeks.