The Legend of Korra: A New Spiritual Age (2×10)
Synopsis: Shortly after entering the Spirit World, Korra and Jinora are separated. Both encounter familiar faces as they try to reunite and find their way to the spirit portals.
Thank god this season is finally delivering, and that this episode exists. Even if it brings all the feels. All of them. Every single feeling you’ve ever had about Avatar: The Last Airbender exists in this episode. Every. Single. One.
Outside in the meditation circle, Tenzin frets over Jinora’s safety in the Spirit World and how he’ll never be able to forgive himself if something happens to her. Kya reassures him that Jinora can handle herself and Bumi mentions how Aang used to do it all the time and turned out okay. Tenzin takes first watch, and his brother and sister tell him to wake them if they’re needed.
In the Spirit World, Jinora is in complete awe of how beautiful everything is. Korra is a bit skeptical and wants to avoid any dark spirits that might show up. Jinora goes running off after a butterfly spirit and when Korra tries to run after her, she accidentally steps on a meerkat spirit that yells at her for stomping through their home. Korra tries to explain herself and apologize, but more spirits pop up and yell at her to get out. Frustrated, Korra tries to bend at them, but she doesn’t realize that she can’t use bending in the Spirit World. Offended by her actions, the meerkat spirits attack Korra. Jinora tries to calm Korra down to keep them from attacking, but the meerkats form a sinkhole that dumps the two of them out into a large body of water. Korra and Jinora hang onto each other, but are soon swallowed whole by a giant alligator and the two are separated by separate currents running through the alligator’s body. If you haven’t seen the episode, this probably doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I swear that’s what happened.Korra is dumped out into a dark forest and immediately begins to panic because all she can see are dark spirits and she can’t find Jinora. Because of her fear, she is transformed into her four-year-old self we saw in the very beginning of the series and she begins to cry. Jinora, meanwhile, is dumped out into a bright and open valley and ends up meeting up with her spirit friend Furryfoot. When she asks them how to find Korra, they fly Jinora to a forest that hold Wan Shi Tong’s library.
In the woods, Korra sits scared and alone. Something flies at her and she swats at it, but it turns out only to be a baby dragon bird. Korra apologizes to the creature and scoops it up in her arms when she sees a light coming towards her in the forest along with a voice saying she looks lost. Korra recognizes it right away from her past life as well as me: it’s Uncle Iroh, and he’s here to help! Cue the waterworks cause there are tears to be had here.Iroh leads Korra out of the woods and into another valley where his new tea shop is located and some spirits are sitting around celebrating the marriage of a conjoined frog spirit with the names May and Jim. Iroh offers Korra spirit cake and tea made with Avatar Wan’s teapot, which still holds the taste of light in it due to the time Raava spent in it before she merged with Wan. Later, Iroh plays a game of Pai Sho with a giant flower spirit. While he plays and explains the finer points of Pai Sho to the Avatar, he tells her that he’s been in the Spirit World for a while after deciding his work was done on Earth and leaving his mortal body and that he’s happy with all the new friends he has made. Korra gets upset that Jinora isn’t there, causing darkness to briefly fall over the Spirit World. Iroh calmly tells her that her attitude shapes her reality in the Spirit World and that she needs to try her best to stay positive. Iroh wipes her eyes, and Korra sincerely apologizes to the spirits. Immediately, the sun begins to shine and things revert back to normal. Korra tries to do the same to make Jinora appear, but it doesn’t quite work the same. Iroh advises her to help out the dragon bird in order to find Jinora, and that its nest is on top of Hai-Riyo Peak.
Scared by the mountain path, Korra asks Iroh to come with her, but Iroh tells her that she has to do it on her own. However, things that seem scary in the dark can be revealed to be not so threatening in the light. The two hug, and Iroh tells Korra to come visit him again “in this life, or the next.”As the two part ways, I started crying something fierce on my first watch. I always loved Uncle Iroh in the original series and it was such a wonderful surprise to see him in the Spirit World offering guidance to the Avatar. Plus, his calming energy in Korra’s state is exactly what she needed. No anger or frustration. Just a reminder of light and peace with good tea and good advice. If she ever gets to meet Zuko, I hope she’ll tell him of this encounter.
Korra walks up the path and runs into a pack of dark spirit dogs. She’s scared at first, but remembering Iroh’s advice of finding light and peace, Korra just smiles at the dogs and tells them that she’s taking the dragon bird home. The spirits turn light and join Korra on her journey. Eventually, Korra makes it to the top of the peak and reunites the dragon bird with its family. When it does, the four birds in the nest merge to a fully grown dragon bird and Korra turns back into her regular self. She mounts the dragon bird and flies off for the portal.
As this is happening, Jinora makes it to the library. Wan Shi Tong swoops in and tells her to leave since humans have not been allowed in the library since the time the Gaang and Professor Zei visited there. (In fact, Professor Zei’s skeleton is still there.) Jinora convinces the great spirit to let her stay in the library and find a map to the portals by telling him about how the radio works (which is not a tiny man in a box making music) and that she’s a friend of the Avatar. With help from the Knowledge Seekers, Jinora discovers a book that says if the portals are opened before Harmonic Convergence, Vaatu will escape from his prison. Jinora realizes she needs to find Korra, but Unalaq comes in and proves himself to be an ultra dick by insulting Korra, Tenzin, and Jinora and turning Furryfoot into a dark spirit. And yet, Wan Shi Tong trusts him for some reason. I might be reacting to it like this because Unalaq ends up pushing one button that automatically makes me hate a villain, but I’ll get to that in a second.Korra makes it to the portal and is ready to close it when Vaatu calls her and Raava out to intimidate them. Korra pays the dark spirit no mind until she sees that Unalaq has Jinora and is threatening to destroy Jinora’s soul using his spirit bending technique unless Korra opens the second portal. Korra agrees in order to save Jinora, and it makes me hate Unalaq even more. To this point so far, Unalaq has just been obnoxious, vague, and kind of hardheaded in that way that made me just see Tarrlok as more of an annoyance than an actual villain. He didn’t have the threatening presence or energy of Amon.
Until he basically nearly killed a child to get what he wanted. Then I began to hate him on basic principle. I know threatening children or animals is a common technique used by writers to show how real a threat is, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work on me nine times out of ten.
Korra opens the portal, which causes a massive explosion of energy in the Spirit World. Instead of returning Jinora to Korra, Unalaq begins to attack her since there seems to be a loophole about bending in the Spirit World if you enter through the portals. He traps Korra and the dark Furryfoot takes Jinora away as Unalaq tries the same bending technique on Korra to try and kill her. Then, like out of the Lord of the Rings, the dragon bird returns, knocks Unalaq over and out, and takes Korra away as Vaatu shouts at her about Harmonic Convergence and the world returning to darkness.Korra awakens in the meditation circle, distraught by what had happened. Tenzin rushes her with a million questions, but all Korra can do is apologize when she realizes Jinora didn’t wake up along with her. Tenzin realizes the same and when he asks Korra what happened, she just gets the same look on her face that I do when my family asks if I’m considering going to grad school. Okay, the soul of a ten year old being stuck on an immaterial plane and grad school aren’t the same thing, but it can certainly feel like it.
This episode was fantastic and is pretty much the quality I was expecting this season to be. The animation from Studio Mir (who is back for the rest of the season) is gorgeous, and the callbacks to Avatar: The Last Airbender were well executed that it didn’t feel like a bone being thrown to the fans. It was a real treat to see Uncle Iroh again giving out good advice that we can all live by, and Jinora getting her own adventure was pretty excellent, even if she was almost killed by an evil water bender and is still in danger.Two weeks and four episodes left of Book 2. Will Korra be able to save Jinora and the world? What kind of surprises do we have left in this season? I just hope that it will end on a high note like the back half of the season has been delivering.