The Legend of Korra: “A Breath of Fresh Air” Book 3 Chapter 1 Review

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The title of Book 3, Change, is more than a little appropriate. With the physical and spiritual worlds coexisting for the first time in 10,000 years, Korra is the Avatar of a new world. But that’s not the only thing that’s changed.

Over the course of two Books, Korra has gone from a hot-headed teenager to the Avatar. The development she got at the end of Book 2 appears to be sticking, with Korra learning from her mistakes and thinking through most situations rationally.

This is most evident in the extensive scene between Korra and Asami in the premiere. After both had the hots for the same man, the two seem to have formed a very natural and significant bond. Book 1 Korra had a lot of problems even talking to Asami. These characters are maturing, laughing a bit more at their complicated lives, and addressing situations more logically. A breath of fresh air indeed.

But Korra can still be Korra, as shown by her early interaction with President Raiko that almost lead to something the reports beneath them are dying to see.

What really drives the premiere, however, is the popping up of air benders in Republic City, most notably Bumi. A result of the Harmonic Convergence, Tenzin sees this as an opportunity to rebuild the Air Nation that was wiped out before his father was even the fully-fledged Avatar. For fans carried over from Avatar: The Last Airbender (So all of us?), this was a huge payoff for both series. Seeing Tenzin embrace his children and wish Aang could have been there was incredibly touching.

The climax of the episode involved a new air bender stuck on a bridge. Korra flies up, using her new glider staff (Cheap fan service? Maybe. Awesome? Yes.) and tries to talk him down, eventually just having to swoop down and save him. Immediately after such a noble act, Raiko bans the Avatar from the city. In another showcase of this maturing series, Korra embraces the challenge and sets out on a quest to find more air benders.

But based on closing scene of the premiere, not every air bender is going to be as peaceful as the air nomads Aang grew up with. Our first peak at Book 3’s villain, a haggard prisoner that has suddenly been given the ability to air bend is a mostly successful tease. It’s a bit difficult to suspend your disbelief that a new air bender could take down several members of the White Lotus, but he is apparently a hardened criminal.

Overall though, A Breath of Fresh Air is exactly what the show needed to get things rolling after the big changes at the end of Book 2. The rebuilding of the Air Nation is compelling, but even more so is the surprising yet natural development of characters that used to be teenagers into adults. The greatest change of all may be among us. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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