With the second season of Avatar: The Legend of Korra set to premiere next month, I've been re-watching the entire first season in order to gear up for one of the most anticipated returns of the year. It's been a while since I'd seen any episodes, so it's definitely been exciting to see them again. I figured perhaps there are some of you out there like me who may have let the story slip your mind for a bit, so I decided to do a viewing guide for those of you who don't have time to catch up on watching, or just want to hear my personal thoughts on the subject.
In the first episode, the show had the tall order of connecting the characters we'd grown to love over three seasons with those who were to become the stars of the story taking place three quarters of a century later. This was handled masterfully, connecting the past with the new by having Katara being a mentor to the new avatar as she trains. It was also wise to introduce Korra in one scene as a small rambunctious child, endearing her to the viewer before we ever see her as the conflicted teen she will be throughout the series. Even more than The Last Airbender, this show is about coming of age, featuring characters slightly older than the first series.
The show wastes no time getting Korra to Republic City, the modern metropolis founded by Aang and the other characters we know from the first show. The city is far more modern than anything seen in The Last Airbender, but keeping with the style of the show, it still remains a mixture of contemporary and old world that makes it feel unique. We see the city through Korra's eyes, complete with all the wonder and disillusionment there is to find there. It doesn't take long for the viewer to piece together that a new set of conflicts is going to trouble the new avatar. The peaceful balance has been disrupted, and a riff has been growing between benders and non-benders who feel oppressed by the rule of benders.
As for Korra's training, she is the opposite of Aang. Whereas he had yet to learn water, fire, or earth bending, Korra has mastered three of the four elements, struggling only with air. In the second episode she goes to live with Aang's grown son, Tenzin, an airbending master who is charged with instructing her in the final element. We also meet Aang's grandchildren, younger children who add an element of fun in every scene they are in. But living on the secluded island in the shadow of Republic City, with all its excitement and danger within sight, is not easy for a young avatar eager to prove her worth and set things right.
During her training, Korra is quickly frustrated by her inability to bend air. Growing impatient, she sneaks away to Republic City where she meets Mako and Bolin, professional benders competing in popular tournaments. It's clear that these brothers are soon to become her companions. Mako, the brooding one, and Bolin, the fun-loving one, make a good pairing with Korra. And when they need a water bender for their team, Korra fills in, despite being forbidden to attend such matches by Tenzin. However, as it turns out, the match is exactly what Korra needed for her first air bending lessons to sink in. The success of this encourages her to give training a more serious effort. And she's going to need it...at the end of the episode we get a glimpse of the sinister Amon, and one look at that fearful mask and we know he's up to no good.