Avatar: The Legend of Korra, Book 4: Change may be the last animated entry into one of the best television shows of the past decade. In honor of this milestone, Channel Surfer is providing a retrospective on each Avatar season, from the original series to the latest. This is meant to be an overview for Avatar veterans, and hopefully an introduction for anyone interested in the show. This week we continue with The Legend of Korra, Book 2: Spirits.
Original Run: 2013
No. of Episodes: 14
Premise: Avatar takes place in a world where humans can bend the fire, water, earth, and air. Set 70 years after the events of The Last Air Bender, and 17 years after the death of Avatar Aang, the new series follows his successor, Korra. With the world changing rapidly in terms of technology and outlook, it’s up to the new Avatar to maintain balance and oppose parties that question the very need for an Avatar.
Book 2: Spirits
Having quelled the conflict in Republic City and mastered airbending, Korra must now complete her spiritual training to become a fully realized Avatar. This happens to occur around the time that dark spirits begin to attack innocent civilians. Looking for a more proactive way to deal with them, Korra turns to her spiritually inclined uncle, Northern Water Chief Unalaq. However, Unalaq uses the crisis to take over the Southern Water Tribe in order to gain access to the Southern and Northern Spirit Portals. His ultimate plan is to fuse the human and spirit worlds together, with himself as a new “Dark Avatar.” With Harmonic Convergence inching ever closer, Korra must stop Unalaq from ushering in an Age of Darkness and Chaos.
Watching the Show
If Book 1: Air was a prologue, Book 2: Spirits can be considered the real first season of Legend of Korra. Like all first seasons, the show struggles to find its identity. Like The Last Airbender’s first season, Spirits takes place largely in the Southern and Northern Water Tribes. The story is much less focused, starting off with a clearly evil Unalaq and Water Tribe Civil War. It’s not till midseason that the actual plot presents itself. Unalaq wants to fuse with the dark spirit Vaatu and become a new Avatar. Yeah, it turns out that the Avatar is a combination of a human and the light spirit Raava. Who knew? This is definitely the wobbliest season of Legend of Korra, though not as inconsistent as the first season of Last Airbender. I’d recommend skimming up till episode 7, when things really start to get going.
Beginnings (Part 1 and 2) [S.2, Ep.7-8]
Goddam is this a beautiful episode. Taking place roughly ten thousand years ago, this episode tells the story of the first Avatar, Wan. Depicted in a totally new art style reminiscent of East Asian ink paintings, we get to see the origins of element bending and the events that led to the creation of the Avatar Cycle. Perhaps the best episode in the entire Avatar Series, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not watching it.
A New Spiritual Age [S.2, Ep.10]
While not the strongest season, Spirits did allow the show to explore fantastic and strange new concepts and settings. Case in point” A New Spiritual Age,” which basically puts Korra in Wonderland. We’re also treated to the return of a much beloved character, making this easily one of the best episodes of the season.
Light in the Dark [S.2, Ep.13]
Again, another finale, only this time with not much plot. I’m mainly putting this episode on here for the incredible KAIJU BATTLE at the end. Well, technically it’s a battle against ancient spirits, but whatever. The events of this episode finally provide the “Legendary” in the Legend of Korra.