After a rocky few opening episodes, Book 2 of The Legend of Korra has delivered a warm and funny half hour that makes good use of our Avatar and her friends. Plus, Ikki holds the most important event of the season: a breakfast with flying bison who all have My Little Pony names.
All gifs from Korra Nation.
The Tenzin's family half of The Legend of Korra continues to be the most charming aspect of the show. For a group of characters with a lot of downtown, they get some really spectacular bits of characterization. Ikki gets to be a child in a way that the characters in The Last Airbender never got to be, and it's nice to see that Tenzin behave as a father in a way Aang could not. (And indulging Ikki giving the bison names like "Blueberry Spicehead.") But the crowning moment of heartwarming was Bumi talking to the statue of Aang, fearing that he failed to live up to his Airbending father's expectations. Korra isn't the only one living in Aang's shadow.
While the Aang family is enjoying their moment of peace, however, Korra is finding her footing in civil war. Korra is really at her best when she has a specific task to accomplish, and a strong sense that she is in the moral right. In trying to save her father from execution, she's tough and quippy ("It's not about what I want. It's about what Naga wants.") without seeming overly childish. She still has a long way to go to reach Aang's sort of serenity—after all, her attack on Unalaq is a rather violent one—but she's feeling more like a person who could be responsible for the welfare of others.
This episode also makes nice use of our ensemble cast, which has been one of my biggest worries about this season. Varrick is comical, but also competent. It's great to see a character who can marshal Team Avatar from inside a stuffed platypus bear—one that poops bribe money, no less. And now Asami is back to being part of the core team and putting her piloting skills to good use—with the kind of moment we loved in Book One, one that combines technology (here, Varrick's plane) with bending (in this case, firebending, to give the plane an extra push). It looks like we're in for a Last Airbender-style storyline—our heroes traveling to other parts of the world to find allies in the face of a looming war—but in the industrialized world of Korra. Plus, Korra, Asami, Bolin, Mako, and Varrick (and, possibly Eska) make for a promising core group.
I don't know if it's just my ear growing accustomed to her voice, but Aubrey Plaza's Eska is growing on me. She's shown the potential for vulnerability, and she is responsible for some of the funniest moments of the show. (Can Pabu keep the wedding robe? Please?) Plus, I keep rewatching the end of the episode for her waterbending, running mascara insanity.