When we left off last week, the Metal Clan household was frankly overflowing with family drama. This week we got a peek at the backstory that inspired said drama, as well as a POV-switch over to Tenzin and his crew. Spoilers for both new episodes below the jump!
In “Old Wounds”, while Su teaches Korra and Bolin metalbending, Lin attempts to work through her issues by going to an acupuncturist in the city. However, the therapy dredges up some old and unpleasant memories of her past with her sister. Apparently, Su had gotten mixed up with a dangerous crowd against newly-minted cop Lin’s wishes, and when Lin caught her aiding and abetting a robbery, she actually arrested her in retribution. Toph, faced with an impending scandal, tore up the report and exiled Su to her grandparents’ house. Toph retired from the force a year later out of guilt over the incident, and Lin still holds that, and the fact that her sister was not punished for her misbehavior, against Su. (That fight was also the cause of the two scars on Lin’s face.)
Although the acupuncturist warned her to rest after the treatment, Lin decides that now is the time for this grudge to come to a head, and she and Su have an all-out earthbending brawl over their, heyo, old wounds. Opal finally puts a halt to the fight and Lin collapses, exhausted from all the character growth she’s just gone through. When she wakes up, she’s a kinder, gentler Lin, and begins turning over her familial leaf by apologizing to Opal for her behavior in the previous episode. Opal also finds the strength to tell her parents that she wants to leave home and go train with Tenzin’s new benders.
The second episode of our pair, “Original Airbenders”, follows the new airbenders trying to learn Air Nomad life at the Northern Air Temple. Tenzin is struggling with his new recruits and decides to ask Bumi, who is, after all, an Admiral, for advice. This leads to Tenzin being way too hard on them, and when Jinora and Kai sneak away to play with the local wild air bison for a reprieve, they run into a band of poachers. The newbs all team up to rescue the pair of them, and in the end the day is saved. Tenzin learns that he has to temper his enthusiasm with understanding; the newbs learn the importance of the airbending traditions Tenzin’s been trying to impart to them, and Jinora continues to be a badass (who might finally be getting old enough to get her airbender tattoos!).
Oh yeah, and meanwhile Zaheer has managed to track down where Korra’s hiding. I think he must be able to commune with the spirits because otherwise I have no clue how he guessed that. (Also, an important note: Combustion Lady has a cool braid/undercut combo now that she’s out of jail and all spruced up and it looks fierce. She’s definitely my fave of his band.)
So, down to brass tacks. Although it is nice to see Lin experiencing some emotional character growth, I would have liked to see her still being stern with someone. Her previous emotional constipation might have been unhealthy, but it was a major character trait, and it can’t possibly be entirely unlearned in an episode. As it stands, it kind of seems like she has put her past completely behind her and that seems like lazy writing.
The reveal that Su had a dark past was not unexpected, but I’m still holding out for a bit more seediness to expose itself. This is mostly because of Varrick–the episode went out of its way to remind us that he was still there in the Beifong household, and I just don’t know why, in a city with basically no crime overseen by people who can hear whether you’re speaking truths, Su would harbor a white-collar criminal like him. Or maybe I’m just overly suspicious.
I did like the second episode as well – Tenzin’s character is often played for laughs, and it was nice to see both him and Jinora get some serious screentime. However, I wonder about the decision to devote a whole episode to that storyline from a pacing perspective. If this was a 24-episode season, “Original Airbenders” would have been a lovely filler ep, but in a 12-episode season it seemed a little like wasted time. They tacked on the threat of Zaheer at the end to continue the forward motion of the plot, but still.
Next episode I expect more ramping up of the Zaheer-gang threat, and possibly even a confrontation. We still haven’t learned why they’re after the Avatar, and I’m still very curious about their motives. I also would like some more damned Asami in the next episode; while “Old Wounds” beat the Bechdel test into the ground with the amount of dialogue between ladies it contained, not a line of it went to Asami and I miss her.
Other than that, I’m not sure what to expect from “The Terror Within” and “The Stakeout”, but with titles like that they’re bound to be exciting. Till next week, kids!