The Legend of Korra: “Beginnings” Book 2 Episode 7 and 8 Review

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I love everything about this two-part special. Everything.

Korra is in the Fire Nation with amnesia. A healer put her in some kind of spirit water that puts her in touch with herself and all the past avatars. We get brief glimpses of Aang, Roku (I missed his voice!), and others before we finally meet Wan, the first avatar.

Until the very end, the rest of Beginnings is Wan’s story. It being 10,000 years earlier, the animation beautifully takes a more retro feel. The sheer detail in the colors in the sky and clouds, down to the bending abilities, is just magnificent.

Anyway, Wan is an Aladdin-esque street rat looking for more in his life. He lives in a city on top of a lion turtle that can give firebending abilities to its citizens to protect them from the spirits in the wild. Yes, lion turtle cities. Of course they were the origins of bending! God these guys are good at world building. I felt like I was watching the start of a new show in the same universe.

So Wan tricks the lion turtle into giving him fire and consequently gets banished from the city. From there he meets spirits. Aye-Aye was a particularly fun character to watch. If Korra ever needs a spirit companion, he would be a good choice.

Wan’s comradery with the spirits was really funny and had some great callbacks to things we’ve seen in the past. The healing water. The Dancing Dragon. Hell, the main theme from Avatar: The Last Airbender was all over these scenes.

Once Wan learns of the other lion turtle cities, he sets out to find them. He comes across the spirit of peace, Raava, and the spirit of chaos, Vaatu, battling it out in a valley. Wan acts too quickly and sets Vaatu free, allowing him to wreak havoc on the world.

The second half of the special had Wan and Raava traveling to the different lion turtle cities so Wan can master all four elements. Raava tells him of the Harmonic Convergence, a battle between Raava and Vaatu that takes place every 10,000 years. It just so happens to take place at the portals to the Spirit World. Funny how Korra opened one of those recently. And wasn’t Unalaq walking out of one last week? I see what’s happening here…

Wan and Raava arrive at the portal to fight Vaatu. This was surely the best action scene of the season so far, as well as the most emotionally relevant. Wan using all four elements, with the animation, it was all just so good.

In a moment of desperation, Raava bonds with Wan permanently, thus creating the bond between spirit and human we know as the avatar. The bridge between worlds. Vaatu is defeated and trapped in the Spirit World.

Which means Korra wake up! With her memories! And in a last fan serving moment, she rides off on a sky bison.

What Begginings did so well was what these guys have always done so well, build worlds. Wan’s world is very different from Korra’s, while Aang’s certainly feels like one between the two. We have a lot of rich new mythology to digest. This was an event that made me want to rewatch all of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

But what does this mean for Book Two of The Legend of Korra? It certainly gives Korra’s mission a bit more direction. Same goes for Unalaq’s possible plan. But even if the rest of Book Two stays at the same quality as what came before this (that is, an interesting but slow addition to the lore), at least we have this wonderful bit of magic that doesn’t necessarily need to be viewed in context. Begginings is flat-out one of the best things in the Avatar universe. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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