The Legend of Korra returns to its old stomping grounds in Republic City this week, but it hardly feels like a homecoming. Everyone is scrambling to deal with their own business while Varrick comes up with a way for everyone to win in the Water Tribe civil war.
After the pilot episode, my major concern with Book Two is that there are just too many characters, and in this episode, they threw in a couple more. Sure, it's always great to see Lin (and she's still awesome) and check in with General Iroh (Your grandfather and your mother, you say? Do we run into them this season, too?), but it make the show feel disjointed. I love tuning in to Korra each week because it continues to be fun and visually interesting, but there is far too much being squeezed into these 22-minute episodes.
That's not to say that there isn't some interesting stuff going on. Varrick continues to be the season's best addition, but one whose methods may be directly at odds with the person Korra has to become. He is a merchant and, as far as I can tell, a Southern patriot, and he'd used to employing marketing and money to solve his problems. One of his plans involves making a propaganda film starring Bolin as a Southern Water Tribe Warrior. Hooray! Bolin finally has something to do other than being terrorized by Eska. And his new role as the face of the Southern Water Tribe should have very interesting consequences once Eska turns up in Republic City.
Varrick's other idea, one that I find especially intriguing, is for Asami to turn war profiteer. With her business failing, Asami leaps at the chance to supply tanks to the Southern Water Tribe. After all, she likely sides with the Southern Water Tribe thanks to her relationships with Korra and Varrick, and weapons of war are good business. Asami has always struck me as pragmatic, and this choice certainly makes business sense, but I can't help but wonder how long it takes her to make the connection between her war machines and her fathers'. The Legend of Korra has done a great job of showing how technology alters the Avatar universe, and I imagine that the destructive power of these machines is something we'll see in the coming episodes. Will Asami eventually turn from her war industrialist path? Or will she find a place as a weapons manufacturer that she is comfortable with?
And of course there's Mako's break with Korra. I'm sure that plenty of Mako-haters cheered when Mako finally broke up with Korra, and I, too, am happy they broke up, though more for Mako's sake. Mako is at his best when he's playing rookie cop, and he can't do that and be the Avatar's boyfriend at the same time. They may come back together after they've both grown into themselves a bit, but now their relationship isn't good for either of them.
Speaking of Korra growing into herself, did anyone else pump their fist into the air when Korra was apparently gobbled up by a dark spirit? Just me? I realize that it's supposed to be an "oh shit" moment, one where it seems like Korra is in real trouble. But I found myself hoping against hope that this means that Korra will separate from her busy friends for a while and learn a bit more about what it means to be the Avatar without their influence. After all, this is supposed to be her show.
With all of this going on in the A-plot(s), I'm not sure why we had to visit the Tenzin clan this episode. It was cute and all, and an indicator that while Meelo has the fortitude to follow in his father's very serious footsteps, he probably won't. But it was a throwaway plot line in an already overstuffed episode. Several commenters have pointed out that the Tenzin family could probably do with its own half hour cartoon, and I'm inclined to agree. After all, there has to be mischief and misery in the world beyond what's going on in Republic City and the South Pole.