[7.7/10] I’m impressed with TLoK. I’ll admit, I wondered where the show was going to go now that it seems like the major threat has been defeated and Korra has learned, if not mastered, all four elements. Making the next element, so to speak, be “spirit” is a nice opportunity to explore a different but no less important side of The Avatar that we only got bits and pieces of in AtLA.
I also like how “Rebel Spirit” dramatizes that idea. The notion of spirits attacking the Southern Water tribe because they’re out of sync with the spiritual work creates a unique problem that, as the end of the episode shows, Korra can’t solve just by blasting away at it. It also creates a unique character situation for her, where she feels reigned by both her father and Tenzin, the former who kept her in the South under the guise that it was Aang’s wish, and the latter who’s always had a conservative approach.
Enter Uncle Unalaq, who seems like a bit of a tsk-tsk-ing religious type, casting judgment on how his brother turned the Spirit Festival into a bout of fried foods and spectacle rather than a period of spiritual renewal. But he’s also the only one who can calm the spirits attacking the village, and he offers not only to train Korra, but to, in his own way, show her the world, something very appealing when she feels all cooped up and overdirected. It does what this franchise does best -- connect plot and mythos with something personal, which I appreciate.
Again, I’m not crazy about Mako’s part in all this. There’s a nice hook where Korra keeps asking him for his thoughts and he doesn’t know what to say or how to weigh in, but to be frank he kind of feels superfluous here, especially if, like me, you’re not really invested in his and Korra’s relationship.
Still, there’s entertaining stuff with the unexpected but effective pair of Bolin and Asami, who are trying to drum up business for Future Industries after Hiroshi’s exploits hurt the company’s image. Their interactions with the eccentric magnate who’s half Howard Hughes and half Prince were amusing, and like I said, the two of them make a certain amount of sense in a way I didn’t expect. (Asami tussling Bolin’s hair was a nice touch on that front.)
The stuff on the margins was pretty fun too. I love the relationship between Tenzin and his siblings. Seeing how Bumi has the jocular spirit of his namesake is great, and as a big House fan, having Lisa Edelstein as Kya join in on ribbing her brother is a treat too. Plus, Aubrey Plaza as a disaffected weirdo teen girl? Somehow, I think she’ll be up to the challenge. On top of that, the spirit tentacle creature at the beginning and demon creature at the end were both well-animated and cool-looking.
Overall, it’s a nice reset for the show that checks in with everyone and sends us in an interesting direction, even if there’s more table setting than direction in the premiere.
Korra started doing makeup for Mokko. Varick's response to Bolin's honesty and straightforwardness when they first met was amazing. What kind of a person would find themselves in situation where everyone in the room was so sycophantic that they were willing to make-believe he was levitating?? Only a complete genius nut. John Micheal Higgins does a great Varrick voice. P.J Byrne as Bolin and Varrick were meant for eachother and varrick's assistant's hustle is inspiring. Eska and Desna seem to exist in the same conciousness, the questions and things they say to eachother resemble the mental diaolgues of an intovert. Why would you ever try to fight a spirit so directly?
Finally we start moving toward the spiritual stuff.