The Legend of Korra: “Original Airbenders” Book 3 Chapter 7 Review

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After a few narrative missteps in the previous episode, The Legend of Korra got back on track with a great entry showing the rebirth of the Air Nation.

Having only ever seen a fully functioning Air Nation through flashbacks in Avatar: The Last Airbender, it was great to see Tenzin try to aspire to that culture, which hasn’t had the chance to evolve for almost two centuries. It’s an interesting facet of Book 3: Change that Tenzin wants the Air Nation to be the same as it was when Aang was a child instead of the evolution it would have naturally gone through over time, like all the other nations.

Tenzin’s teachings are all about the old Air Nation, giving little room for this new one to find its own way. Jinora, Bumi, and Kai are having none of it. Rebelling in their own ways, or just quitting altogether in Bumi’s case, was an effective way to show the flaws in Tenzin’s ways. In an earlier episode of the season, Meelo asked his father if he would be the president of the Air Nation. Tenzin said no and that they just needed guidance. Well now it seems like he wants to control the new airbenders, not guide them.

He should also learn to let them into the inner air circle. Jinora years for her air master tattoos, but Tenzin says no. As Kai points out, in one of his most likable moments yet, that Jinora has already achieved more than her father, learning to project her own spirit. She should have her tattoos.

Their coupling feels refreshingly organic after the mess of the Korra/Mako relationship we got in the first two books. I know they’re just kids, but Kai compliments her well and builds her up higher than her father ever has. It was fun watching them go play with the wild sky bison. But then they get captured by poachers that plan to sell the bison to the Earth Queen. Looks like her role in this season isn’t quite done yet afterall.

This allows Bumi to take a leadership role and head the mission to rescue the young airbenders. Bumi seemed totally in his element commanding forces in an inspiring manner and without his usual hijinks. The final chase with the sky bison and the truck was great too.

With Jinora and Kai rescued and the airbenders united, Tenzin promises to consider Jinora’s tattoos. So now the Air Nation is becoming a real thing. This episode featured a ton of great character work and was a fun standalone story while still feeling important to the entire book. If I have one complaint it’s that we’re half way through Book 3 and the villains and heroes have yet to truly clash. With just six episodes left, it’s definitely time to give whatever larger conflict will come into play time to develop. But that doesn’t take away from this excellent entry that finally rebuilt the Air Nation we’ve seen almost nothing of. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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