K210 A New Spiritual Age Episode Review


K210 A New Spiritual Age


As the Avatar universe’s premiere Teapot collector, Wan’s Teapot is the pride of Iroh’s collection. He found it on spiritBay for a “great bargain”!!! See what I did there?

Written By – Tim Hedrick
Directed By- Ian Graham
Animated By – Studio Mir

This is an episode full of great references and symbolism. Meaning that this review will mainly be me gushing about all of these moments, but it did a lot of emotional stuff with the characters and really did advance the story. This episode could not have set up the remaining 4 episodes any better in my opinion. The fact that it did that took me by surprise as I did not expect this episode to cover so much ground so quickly. This episode really is odd in that it is incredibly fast paced for half of the episode while the other half is more slow paced scenes. It works well by the end in that it that the episode is not slowed down unnecessarily.

The big example of this episode’s pacing would be Korra and Jinora in the episode, basically everyone went into this episode expecting a lot of Jinora and Korra interactions, I know I expected at least this whole episode for them to be together. So when the two are separated within 3 minutes of the episode starting I was shocked, but it ended up being a great decision; I still want more Jinora character development, but the contrast of the two handling being alone in the spirit world was well done. Jinora is the younger of the two, but she handles being alone better than Korra because she has experience with the spirits. Korra learns a lot about how your own energy/feelings affects the world, but Jinora seemed to know that already which was impressive to see. Jinora really does get stuff done in this episode, she does not linger over being away from Korra and gets straight down to finding Korra and the spirit portals. Which brings her to Wan Shi Tong’s Library which I will talk about later on.

Korra on the other hand struggles when left alone in the spirit world. The episode never said this, but I assume that the reason Jinora ended up in a light area and Korra in a dark area of the spirit world is because of their feelings. Jinora remained positive and Korra did not. This really started the symbolism behind how your emotions severely affect the spirit world’s balance of light and dark. From here we get 2 of the most surprising moments of the episode, Korra gives into her fear and feels like she is helpless surrounded by so many dark spirits and after a 360 pan around we find that Korra’s form in the spirit world has become that of her 4 year old self. Once I got over the initial “huh? what happened?” and realised that this was literally her feelings affecting herself, she felt helpless so that showed in the way she appears in the spirit world, I loved the decision in every way. Given how much she learns in this episode from this point on it is fitting that she learns it from the perspective of a child, that is how inexperienced Korra is with spirit world matters, she needs Iroh to really advise her, something that would be a bit odd if it was 17 year old Korra getting the advice.

Speaking of Iroh, what an amazing surprise this was, I am so happy that we did not know about him going into this episode (Sorry Kelly 🙁 )  as the previews and Korra Nation have tended to mention returning and new characters (Wan Shi Tong, Wan, Lin etc). It was another situation where after getting over the initial fanboy fit over the return of Iroh I really loved the idea of using Iroh in this way, the explanation that when he did all he could in the physical world that he left his body behind and came to live in the spirit world is absolutely perfect for Iroh. We knew before that he had been to the spirit world and so him returning for good is a great thing for him and a nice way to add to the mystery of how he got to the spirit world in the first place. He needs a solo comic series right now, he already has a ton of mysteries surrounding him and now that we more or less know the key moments in his life we need the gaps to be filled in.

I have to applaud both Cora Baker and Greg Baldwin for their performances throughout this episode, these two are just pure gold for every moment they are on screen together. As I mentioned above this would have been very different if it was Janet Varney’s 17 year old Korra, the fact that it is the cute and childish voice of a 4 year old Korra and the wise, but very gentle and kind Iroh makes for a fascinating dynamic on screen. It makes sense that Iroh is advising Korra so much, because she is so out of her depth in the spirit world. Korra as a show has often been criticised for not having the life lessons and advice that ATLA had, I would disagree for the most part, in ATLA the advice was obvious as it was coming from characters like: Iroh, Guru Pathik, Huu and even Aang himself, with Korra it is still there, just more in the subtext. This episode really highlighted this to me Iroh really is a great source of advice for both the characters in universe and us viewers out of universe.  His advice in this episode is fantastic, he really explains to Korra and us how important it is to be positive, even in situations that seem hopeless. I would usually directly quote some of my favourite lines here, but with this episode I would just be typing out every line of Iroh’s dialogue from this episode, it is all good. I just love how important the idea of the balance between light and dark is in Book 2 and especially this episode.

Korra really takes Iroh’s advice to heart and shows us that the Avatar is not just there to bring balance to the world, but also spread light throughout the world. The image of 4 year old Korra with a huge smile on her face turning a whole dark mountain range to dark, just through being positive is a powerful moment and really shows how powerful the Avatar is. I also need to mention how strong of a moment and reference Wan’s teapot was, especially being explained by Iroh, who is the master of tea. From Korra saying it is her teapot to Iroh mentioning how Wan once carried Raava in it and finally that there is still a bit of light in every cup it makes, a truly lovely moment.

I also love how intelligently the Dragon-bird is used throughout this episode. You can really track Korra’s progress through the episode with the bird. She hurts the bird in her fear at the start, the example of Iroh’s advice that things seem threatening in the dark, but welcoming if you shine a light on it. She then decides to help it and on her way up the mountain she demonstrates her confidence, then finally the journey to return the bird to its nest also is the same as her journey to not be afraid any more. In returning the bird, it transforms into an adult Dragon-Bird while at the same time Korra returns to her teenage self. Very symbolic.

Now back to Wan Shi Tong. It was great to get to see The Library again, especially with the 210 connection (A210 = The Library, K210 = A New Spiritual Age, both feature Wan and The Library, But first please join me in a moment of silence for the now departed Professor Zei, who died doing what he loved, reading and learning. It was so tragic to see him dead, because I honestly expected him to have an influence on Wan Shi Tong and possibly prove to him that not all humans are as bad as he thinks, so it had huge impact to see Wan Shi Tong speak of Zei in such an off hand way.

It was great by itself to see Jinora and Wan Shi Tong interact in basically the same position as Aang and Wan Shi Tong in 210 from ATLA. It was a great back and forth and like Korra and Iroh, this paring worked very well.  It went from serious with the Zei reference, to funny with the “small men in boxes” back and forth to serious with Jinora arguing her case to be allowed to look around the library. Through Jinora we also find out the specifics behind Vaatu escaping, he will get out himself if the 2 portals are open, but if they are closed the battle will not be fought. This happens right before Unalaq appears and captures Jinora, coming back to the pace of the episode, I did not expect Jinora or Korra to encounter him this early, so this was another surprise. He also confirmed that Wan Shi Tong  has not developed and this really makes me believe we will get more focus on him, he has to have more of an involvement than just telling Unalaq where Jinora is. I expect and want more from him as a big character in this universe, I think even he will not like the effects of Vaatu being unleashed.

The ending moments of this episode are crazy emotional and intense. We get the first mention of souls in the Avatar universe when Unalaq threatens to destroy Jinora’s soul with his “darkbending” technique (It does not have a name, just using this for ease of typing). Seeing such a young character (and one of the last airbenders) nearly die was hugely emotional so I completely understood Korra’s decision to save her even if it meant opening the portal. It was not just the right thing to do, but the logical thing to do. This scene did not end with a fair deal, Korra is also nearly killed only to be saved by her dragon-bird friend as Jinora is taken away. Again the episode is still not over.

Korra then wakes up and is left unable to tell Tenzin what has happened to his daughter. It is such an emotional way to end the episode, Korra, who has developed so much throughout this episode in terms of being positive has no way to really be positive about what just transpired especially trying to explain it to Tenzin. I just feel so much for Korra as I can almost tell already that Tenzin is going to be mad at Korra, when there was nothing she could have done to change how things turned out. I hope that when Korra does regain her composure she is the one to take control of the situation and show Tenzin to look for the light like Iroh thought her. I am very interested to see what happens next  with Korra and Tenzin.

All in all a really good episode, with the only negatives being that with it being so symbolic and the symbolism being so crucial to the character development it could have been more clear about what exactly was happening , especially with Korra’s spirit form change. I felt they did need to explain then and there why you look the way you do in the spirit world, i.e why does Roku look as he did when he died, yet Kyoshi who was 230 upon death look in the prime of her life, Aang was always in his Book 1 outfit in the spirit world even if he was wearing something else until to Korra he is an adult. I get now that basically your thoughts and emotions can change this, but they needed to be more clear. Great references, great character development, nice story progression and a lot of emotion. Bring on the final 4 episodes. Just 11 days left until the end of the Book 2 Spirits.

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Comments - 6 Posts

  1. johnny Said: Comment by johnny on November 12, 2013 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    imo, this was the best episode of everything that was ever made. every five seconds my head exploded from the awesome animation and creative ideas of the spirit world, the ending hit me like a bomb, and Iroh´s appearance was like a freaking super nova blasting away the solar system. i was just stunned the whole time.
    the only neg i have is that wan shi tong, usually made out to be so wise, makes a very unwise decision of helping unaloqe. it felt very out of character.


    Numka Reply:

    I agree! Korra’s uncle must have a REALLY good rationale for convincing someone like Wan Shi Tong!


  2. YangChen Said: Comment by YangChen on November 12, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I am STILL really really really sad that Iroh’s son Lu Ten wasn’t in the spirit world with him, I loved the episode however despite that disappointment


    Numka Reply:

    But how could he be there? He died a long time ago, and you need to be alive to enter the spirit world. Like Iroh did, and left his body behind. 🙂


    YangChen Reply:

    I’m just sad that they aren’t ever going to be reunited because they are in different dimensions. And the past avatar’s spirits are in the spirit world, and they’re dead, you never know


    Troy Reply:

    I think Kelly @gemini530 said it pretty well on the podcast it isn’t like a western after like, only spiritual people can do it and Lu Ten wasn’t spiritual, or he could of been we didn’t get much on him. The basic idea is it isn’t something that happens to every five people.


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