There is always that one episode in the season that just kind of brings everything to a dead halt and slows the forward momentum. Arrow has “Blast Radius”, Korra Season Two had “The Sting” and Season Three now has “Original Airbenders”. When I fist saw the little blurb about what this episodes story would entail, us spending time with the new airbender recruits, I was very cautious as this episode could go one of two ways. Unfortunately, this was not the rousing romp about new airbenders that I wanted, but rather a very formulaic team building episode that did very little to add to the overall plot. I mean we did not even see Zaheer this entire episode and he is supposed to be our primary threat for the season. Now diversion aside their were things to enjoy about this episode as this was our first real taste of Air Nomad life, but even those small moments couldn’t stop this epodes from treading water. So let’s dive in.
“Original AIrbenders” makes back to back episodes where we dealt with sibling related issues. First we had Toph’s children have a go and in this one we had Aang’s and although we have had glimmers at the disagreement between Tenzin and Bumi this episode took it to an entirely other level. By having Tenzin willingly seek out Bumi’s “assistance” we were given a firmer understanding of his role and his firmer position. Being that Bumi is from a military background it was not unreasonable that his advice to Tenzin was to drill sergeant the airbenders until they are ready to learn. The problem came in Tenzin’s execution as he was already desperate to make the recruits become Air Nomads and this just exasperated the issue. Luckily, Tenzin managed to come around and revert back to his old self by the end of the episode, but watching Tenzin be even more of a forceful dick than usual was just hard to watch. As for Bumi, he proved himself to be a very capable leader when put into the right circumstances, which will hopefully be useful down the line.
As for our B story, Jinora and Kai’s adventures are coming along quite nicely with Kai developing a sense of community and Jinora becoming the airbending master she was always meant to be. I especially enjoyed Jinora’s argument with Tenzin about possibly getting her tattoos as it afforded us a real window into her growth since the beginning of the series. Jinora as a character has definitely had the most development since her initial appearance as she is now steps away from being one of the most powerful airbenders in the world. That coupled with her ability to seemingly summon spirits at will makes her a little bit over powered so it will be interesting to see if anyone can challenge her abilities at all. Their interaction with the poachers although enlightening lacked any real get other than rumors and speculation about just how evil the Earth Queen is. While this was all very fun it failed to really do anything for the characters and the poachers were just evil for evils sake.
Where the episode managed to excel was its ability to embrace the humor of it’s storyline. Tenzin’s drill sergeant behavior while annoying did bring about some quality laughs from the sheer amount of antics. Everything from Tenzin blowing the horn to wake everyone up, to shaving acolytes heads, to leaving Meelo and Ikki in charge to keep the recruits going was strong comic gold. I just wish their had been a stronger story surrounding the humor much like in “Ember Island Players” or more notably “Bitter Work,” for which this episodes structure owes a lot to. In those epodes the humor was either worked seamlessly into the story or largely revolved around it. However, in this case it felt shoehorned in at some points which just made the better parts of the story feel flimsy. It could have been done a little bit better and that would have helped the episode as a whole feel more connected.
Overall it was the first meh episode of the season, so lets hope for a strong rebound come Friday.
Final Grade C
+Final action scene
+Jinora and Kai plot was well orchestrated
-Drill Sargent Tenzin was lame
-Humor did falter at point
-No Zaheer update
-Tenzin’s children are getting way too OP. Meelo especially went full ham.
-Meelo is Melon Lord 2.0, I can dig it.
-The queen (allegedly) ate Bosco and baby Sky Bison. The bitch will burn.
-Obligatory baby Sky Bison awww. Things are adorable as hell.
-Fat air acolyte was named Otaku. Might have been my second biggest laugh of the episode