K301 – A Breath Of Fresh Air Episode Review

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Korra is back. Book 3 Change is here at last thanks to Friday’s 3 episode premiere, which means I have 3 written review to do. So I will start with K301 A Breath of Fresh Air today, K302 Rebirth tomorrow and then K303 The Earth Queen next week. So let’s get started!

K301 A Breath of Fresh Air

 K301Screen4

Written By – Tim Hedrick and Joshua Hamilton
Directed By – Melchoir Zwyer and Colin Heck
Animated By – Studio Mir

The Legend of Korra is back with Book 3 Change. After all of the drama in the lead up to premiere with leaks and the shock of how soon the premiere actually was we could finally focus on what we are all fans of the show, The Legend of Korra. I have to say straight away that I really enjoyed this premiere, I think it is very fair to say that in terms of the episodes shown this was the best Korra premiere yet. Also I think that this episode is also the best opening episode of a Book of Korra so far. I think the main reason for this is twofold, firstly it helped so much that this episode continued directly on from the events of the Book 2 Spirits finale, it did not have to be 100% introduction to things many months on, instead it was just a few weeks later and while there were new things there was still a lot of things that were very familiar. The second reason is that I feel the writing has really improved. We have heard many stories and know from the wait that Book 2 had production problems and so was a little bit messy at points, Book 3 so far has such amazing balance in it’s writing. There is humour, serious moments, action and emotional moments and they all flow in and out perfectly, which has not always been the case with Korra in Book 1 and 2. In short, I felt that this episode was an excellent way to open Book 3, but let me get into some specifics.

As I said in my opening thoughts this episode was helped so much by heavily addressing the events at the end of the last book. It meant that we opened up a new book in a familiar setting knowing that crazy things have happened, but still having a lot of new things to be excited for. The Spirit vines becoming a plot point in this episode being a key point for me. If not for Mike and Bryan mentioning in an interview after Book 2 that the vines would still be present in Book 3, I think most of us would have simply expected them to be gone in Book 3. Unavaatu created them and he was defeated so why wouldn’t the vines go away? But the decision to keep them made for a great plot point in this opening episode, they are basically used as the way to get Korra out of Republic City, but also make for a unique nemesis for her throughout the episode. It is not a villain that is causing her to lose confidence, it is simply that she is unable to rid the city of the vines and it is getting to her.

Throughout the episode we find out that these vines are not normal vines, the hedgehog spirit effectively says that they are spirits too. More than that it seems like the vines are destined to be in Republic City as not even Korra’s light/spirit bending technique can get rid of them, it is like Republic City is meant to have these vines and be a place where not only the people of the 4 nations can live, but that the spirits are meant to be a part of the city. Which would be an interesting concept if we do return to Republic City and the vines later in the season, is Republic City going to become a place of perfect balance, all 4 nations and the spirits, if they can all live together in peace then it is perfect harmony.

I did find it a ┬ábit odd that the spirits themselves were not really the main issue in the city, the president and people seem more concerned with the vines than the spirits themselves. To the point where we only see a couple of spirits, the hedgehog I mentioned before and the few spirits following Jinora at the very beginning. Again, I hope we do return to the city and see more spirits, but there is always the potential to see spirits all over the world with the portals open. This leads into a key plot in the episode that being Korra and Raiko once again being at odds with each other. I hated Raiko last season, not that he was badly written, I felt he was a character you were meant to hate, but I could to some extent understand why he made the decisions he did, so I gave him a chance for redemption even towards the end of Book 2. This season is another story, I feel that Raiko is simply handling things badly. When he tries to blame everything on Korra I could feel my rage rising, thankfully Korra cut him off and really told him off. I was cheering a bit as Korra really showed how useless Raiko has been, as she points out she defeated Unavaatu saving the city and allowing Raiko to still have a city to be the president of, she is the only one who can do ANYTHING to help with the problems while Raiko is just deflecting blame when he has no answers himself. He really made me hate him when he brought the media to Korra’s attempt to get rid of the vines, clearly wanting to have Korra’s failure captured by the media. Then in possibly the worst decision he has ever made, he banishes Korra from the city! How did he think that was a good idea? Banishing the only person who had any sort of relationship with the spirits or power to affect spirits. Absolute idiot, I hope we see him on his knees begging Korra to come back and help!

Speaking of Korra I really enjoyed her in this episode, she was more confident and mature, but is still struggling with what exactly she is meant to be doing as the Avatar. She is still doubting herself a bit, like when she questions if she ruined everything by keeping the portals open.  The big thing I got from her in this episode was that she was trying to hard to fix everything, making an effort to try different ways to get rid of the vines, even the numerous times that she saves people in this episode, she is being very active as the Avatar, but is getting no respect for her work (8% approval rating). So when she is banished, I was expecting her to argue and be angry at Raiko, but when she smiled it was a great moment. To her Raiko had set her on a new path, she needs to travel the world and rebuild the air nation. I also really loved the scene where she was talking to Daw on the bridge, this scene really showcased how much she has grown as a character.

She also had some nice scenes with Tenzin, he is just happy that what she did has brought Airbenders back to the world, his advice to her was very good too. That it is Raiko’s job to try and please everyone, not her, her job is the bigger picture, the balance of the world and so she will never be able to please everyone. She embraces this at the end and decides to help to bring the airbenders back and not fight to stay in the city where no one appreciates her.

New airbenders was definitely the big plot point introduced in this episode, our opening scene is Bumi discovering his bending, we end with one of our villains revealing he now has bending and the middle of the episode focuses on helping another new airbender. It is a huge moment for the Avatar universe, the air nomad genocide has always been one of the biggest events in the avatar world in terms of what it did to the world. It is why the original series is called The Last Airbender, and the characters reaction to new airbenders is perfect, they really get over how big of a deal it is that airbenders are coming back. Especially the scene with Tenzin looking at the statue of Aang as the kids arrive, that is such a powerful scene, he wishes Aang was here to see his nation return and his is just delighted to be around himself as it is happening. Last Book he didn’t get to be Korra’s spiritual teacher and now he can help restore his nation. Very strong character arc started for Tenzin. In terms of the explanation we get for why new airbenders are popping up, I am fine with it just being vaguely explained by harmonic convergence. The reason I have no issue is that Harmonic Convergence is the biggest event in the avatar world. At this event the two most powerful spirits in the world fight to determine if the world will be in light or darkness for the next 10,00 years, it is the event that the Avatar was created at using the power of the event, the spirit portals join and basically make the physical and spirit world one and the same and so on. Is it really that big of a stretch that after the event which engulfed the world in energy, that some new airbenders are popping up? It works that if this event is about balance that it would try to restore balance by creating new airbenders.

I just want to mention a little bit about Team Avatar and their relationships. We see straight away that Bolin, Asami and Korra are getting along well, but Mako has distanced himself from the group after his relationship drama with Asami and Korra. I thought it was a great way to make you feel sorry for Mako, in that we know he never wanted to hurt either girl and based on Asami and Korra’s scenes in this episode he hasn’t and instead he thinks he has messed up his friendship with the two. There is no issue except that he feels like he is not really part of the group anymore and is staying at the police station. It will be interesting to see what will make Mako feel like he is part of the group again. Bolin gets some set up for his story in this book in that he is enjoying being part of a big family living with everyone on Air Temple Island, big set up for what happens in the next episode with Kai and episode 3 with his actual family. Which brings me to Korra and Asami’s friendship, these scenes were much needed as you did wonder after the crazy relationship drama of last season “Do these girls not have any issue with each other?” we just didn’t know because they were not in many scenes together. We see that they have grown closer as friends, Korra is just delighted to have a female friend around her age who is not Naga. I like that they did address that they each kissed Mako when he was dating the other and they are past it, plus their bonding over driving continues to be a thing which is nice continuity.

I think the final thing to mention is Zaheer, the leader of our villain gang. I thought this was a great way to end the episode, just getting introduced to 1 of the 4 villains. It made complete sense too that the only way for these characters to escape would be for Zaheer, the one non bender, to suddenly gain Airbending and escape from his prison which was designed to only hold a non-bender. I do wonder where he read Airbender poetry and where he learned his airbending skills, he had to have studied air nomad culture before he was imprisoned. Either way as a character he seems pretty interesting, very philosophical in the way he speaks. I also wonder how as the only non bender in the group he became the leader of the gang.

Overall this was an excellent opening to Book 3, the best opening to a book we have got so far. All of the characters are being written well and seem to have something set up for them and that is a huge success.

 

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By:

My name is Morgan Bannon, I am a 22 Year old Male from Ireland and I am the Site Super Moderator. I have watched and been a fan of Avatar since it premiered. I am also a news post writer for the site and host the site's podcast, The Avatar Online Podcast. My strength as an Avatar fan would be just a good knowledge of Avatar Canon and characters.

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Comments - 4 Posts

  1. F.L.Z Said: Comment by F.L.Z on June 30, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Permalink
     

    Nice review.About Zaheer,maybe he was a bender before but Aang took his ability.cause at the next episode Zuko(finally!!!!He appeared) mentioned that each of this four can face many benders.How could a non bender face so many benders?Also this may explain that why he knew so much about air nomads.He may have been interested in air nomads after his bending had been taken away by one of them.

    Reply

  2. Avatar Wan Said: Comment by Avatar Wan on June 30, 2014 at 6:27 pm | Permalink
     

    I also enjoyed the episode. The only complain I had was that the entire vine issue seems unrelated to the 4 villains and the search for airbenders.

    Reply

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    Yup, doesn’t seem like there is time to come back to it with the villains being so interesting.

    Reply

  3. Atry Said: Comment by Atry on July 2, 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink
     

    Sifu Kisu said that in this book we will see a sub-skill within airbending, could that be the legendary ability of weightlessness Zaheer was talking about?

    Reply

 

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