Taylor: I am not the only person who loves stuff (or is happy to rip off the AV Club.) Evan Swingle is my very talented and thoughtful roommate, and a guy who loves Legend Of Korra as much as me. So I recruited him to love this series (and hopefully this season) with me. Let’s start with the big questions: the strength of season one was the fabulous villain Amon and his very legitimate views on the oppressiveness of benders. Meanwhile, the biggest complaint was the rapid fire pacing. How is season 2 doing with villains and pacing so far?
Evan: Ever since we found out that Book 2 focused on the spiritual side of the Avatar universe, I’ve been convinced that the overarching villain will be a spirit. That being said, Know-It-All Uncle Chief hasn’t impressed me. My guess is he’s nothing more than an initial pawn. As far as the pace goes, although there’s not exactly 70+ years of storytelling to do this go-around, new characters that had quite a bit of backstory were introduced. It’s a twelve chapter book, and I believe they’re right on track. I will say that Unalaq (Korra’s Uncle) presents a good point, villain or not, that the Avatar should be given the opportunity to travel the world in order to develop spiritually. Aang had these opportunities, so why should Korra be restrained?
Taylor: Great question. Korra’s claustrophobia is real, even if the overall issue is her creators’ challenge of telling stories that contain themselves within twelve episodes. Hopefully, a bigger and better plot is opening. One challenge is that Korra’s character was far more developed than Aang’s was when we met him: she has bending down and can even control the Avatar State. What teaching does she need? That’s a bigger question to me than who her mentor should be. Her weakness is her communication, as shown by her Katniss-like willingness to furiously walk away from every and all conflict (when she isn’t irrationally shooting fire into the spirit realm.) I got excited when I saw that this book was taking place in the context of the Spirit Realm because I thought a departure from the material world in Book One was necessary for her growth. Do you think the Spirit Realm is where we’re heading? How will we get there?
Evan: I agree with you completely. A plot set mostly, if not entirely, in the spirit realm would be fantastic. However, I believe that doing so would shut out essentially every character other than Korra and possibly Ikki as they cannot enter the spirit realm under most circumstances. I believe what’s more likely is the start of the spirit realm merging with the real world. Korra has now opened the gate, and now we’ll see it flow out. My question is, will Korra side with the spirits or the physical realm?
Taylor: Very interesting that you bring up Ikki’s connection with the spirit realm. As her siblings crashed through the Hall Of Avatars, she gave her respects and saw the statue of (presumably) Korra light up when Korra opened the Spirit Realm. We remember from TLA a panda spirit whose forest burnt down and attacked a town as a dark spirit, only to turn back to himself when his forest was protected. There is deep unrest in the Spirit Realm and it’s going to be up to Korra to negotiate with it rather than spit fire at it. TLA never had an overarching spirit villain; its villains were real people. That was important to the show. Korra is focused too much on fighting the apparent villains and not the people who are perpetuating ignorance and evil. Perhaps when that ignorance is combatted in this imperialistic civil war, Korra will have the chance to go into the Spirit World and see just what’s up. The real conflict of this season is probably not revealed yet: let’s see what happens.
Taylor: Nothing cooler than an Aubrey Plaza (Parks And Rec) voice in Legend of Korra. I thought it couldn’t get better than Jin from LOST and J.K. Simmons, but it got better.
Evan: The animation seems more colorful. The darkness and city color palette have given way to the open and spiritual realm of the South. Even in the Southern Water Tribe Hall, splashes of yellow give a color that last season did not.
Taylor: How about Prince reincarnated in a John Michael Higgins character? I love the potential of this insane rich tycoon.
Evan: Tenzin’s siblings (and his subplot) show another side to this world: are Airbenders a certain kind of royalty? Are Bumi and Kya living in Tenzin’s shadow? I want more of this.