Legend of Korra Book 3: Change. Summary and Review

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The Last Airbender sequel series; Legend of Korra‘s third season came to an end Friday, with a 2 episode special packed with action, mild romance, and the comedy we all know and love from the world of Avatar.

This section, if you couldn’t tell from the title, will have spoilers. So if you don’t want anything ruined don’t read past here.

 

Spoilers!

Set 2 weeks after the end of Book 2: Spirits, the season starts off with Korra having to deal with the new world order that she created after defeating Vaatu and leaving the Spirit Portals open. Vines, which these spirits call home, are overrunning Republic City, and since it’s common knowledge that Korra was responsible, no one seems to be that happy with her. Korra keeps trying to remove the vines, but to no avail, including one incident where she tries to calm the spirits using her Uncle’s technique, but just causes the vines to grow more violently and destroy another part of the city.

Meanwhile, due to Harmonic Convergence, new Airbenders are popping up everywhere. Some people who, before, had no bending abilities suddenly find themselves able to airbend, including Tenzin’s brother, Bumi. As more airbenders are popping up, one finds himself on top of bridge after becoming frightened of his new abilities. Korra manages to talk him down and afterwards, the President of Republic City banishes Korra for creating ‘nothing but trouble since her arrival’.

Forget taking these guys down...she's caused nothing but trouble...

Forget taking these guys down…she’s caused nothing but trouble…

So deciding to go off of their leads of new Airbenders throughout the Earth Kingdom, Tenzin, Korra, Jinora, Bolin, Asami, and a reluctant Mako (a little hesitant to go on a journey with his two most recent ex’s) take off in a Future Industries airship.

Meanwhile, at a remote White Lotus Prison, a prisoner named Zaheer manages to overcome his guards with his newly acquired airbending abilities, stating that the era of the White Lotus and the Avatar was now over.

You'd be surprised how many people have said that...but what the heck I'll give you a chance.

You’d be surprised how many people have said that…but what the heck I’ll give you a chance.

 

Team Avatar starts their trek around the Earth Kingdom, and although they encounter plenty of Airbenders, none want to join them. Apparently the promise of leaving your home and family, tattoos, bison best friends, and a complete vegetarian diet doesn’t appeal to most people…who knew?!

Zaheer, meanwhile, takes a motor boat out to another wooden White Lotus prison and helps free one of his comrades, Ghazan, an earthbender who can phase change earth into lava.

After Korra and Tenzin’s plan didn’t work, Bolin suggests that they put on a show to get more airbenders interested in learning, out of ideas, they agree to try. They arrive at another town and put on a little show with Tenzin, Jinora, and Korra airbending and capturing “the rogue firebender Mako”.  The performance works and a new airbender boy named Kai decides to join them.

The arts are alive people!

The arts are alive people!

As they decide to leave, some Earth kingdom troops show up. Turns out Kai is fugitive who stole a bunch of jewels from a rich family. As the troops begin to take Kai away, Korra tells them that she’ll take responsibility for him because they need all the new airbenders they can get to help rebuild the Air Nation. After reassuring Kai they will be watching him, sparks fly between him and Jinora, and they take off for Ba Sing Se.

His face just screams trustworthy huh?

His face just screams trustworthy huh?

Meanwhile, Zaheer and Ghazan help free another White Lotus prisoner, Ming-Hua, a highly proficient waterbender with no arms, who can create highly functioning and dexterous arms made of water. They agree to go free their last comrade and begin their plans. A day or two later a White Lotus guard informs former Fire Lord Zuko of the prison outbreak.

He's Back!!!!

He’s Back!!!!

Zuko is visibly upset by the news, and states that the combine efforts of the 4 benders is “enough to take down the entire world” and sets off for the Northern water tribe at once to alert them of the impending attack, telling the guard to contact Lin Bei Fong in Republic City and tell her the Avatar is in danger.

Team Avatar arrives in Ba Sing Se, much to Bolin’s excitement because his and Mako’s family lives here. As they land, Korra is granted an audience with the Earth Queen to ask her help finding the new air benders in Ba Sing Se. As Korra sets off to meet the Queen, the group realizes that Kai has gone missing, so Bolin and Mako set out to find him. They find him stealing from nobles in the upper ring, and they chase after him, he tricks them into getting into a train heading for the lower ring. When they try to get back, they realize Kai stole their money and passports.

The Earth Queen, turns out to be quite unpleasant, and doesn’t like Korra because her predecessor, Aang, was responsible for taking Earth Kingdom territory to create the United Republic. She says she will help Korra if she goes and retrieves some tax gold from a town where bandits are trying to steal it. Korra and Asami manage to get the gold and fend off the bandits, who chastise the two saying the Earth Queen is in the wrong. Upon giving the gold to the Earth Queen, she tells Korra that they found no airbenders in Ba Sing Se. Korra calls her out on her lie, but the Queen denies lying and tells Korra to leave.

Mako and Bolin meanwhile find their family in the lower ring and immediately bond with them, they tell their family that they are on a quest with the Avatar to find all the airbenders. The family tells them airbenders have been rounded up by the Dai Li. At the same time, Kai is captured by the Dai Li and forced to join the Earth Kingdoms first Air Bending regiment.

She just has a face you love to hate

She just has a face you love to hate

Zuko arrives at the North Pole with Tonraq and with the help of Desna and Eska (Korra’s cousins and the new co-chiefs of the Northern Water tribe) head to the secret prison to help defend against Zaheer, the group is quickly defeated by Zaheers group and the final member of their group is freed. A firebender names P’li, who has a romantic relationship with Zaheer and, like combustion man in The Last Airbender, is able to create explosions with her mind.

Lin meets up with Team Avatar and tells them they need to return to Republic city because of Zaheer’s escape. At the same time, Mako and Bolin show back up and tell them the Earth Queen has been kidnapping airbenders. Lin agrees to help them rescue the airbenders first and they launch a rescue mission. They manage to rescue the airbenders and take a few Dai Li down before Tenzin and Jinora decides to go to the Northern Air Temple with the new airbenders (who decide to train with them) while Korra and the rest of them search for more airbenders.

Their search brings them to Zaofu, known for the being the largest collection of metal benders in the world, with a city completely made of metal. It turns out the city is run by Lin’s half sister, Toph’s other daughter; Suyin, who also happens to be the mother of the new airbender named Opal. From the start, it’s obvious Lin doesn’t like Suyin.  Bolin and Opal make an immediate connection while Opal begins to train a little with Korra.

Meanwhile, Zaheer sneaks onto Air Temple Island in Republic City disguised as a new airbender trainee to get information on Korra. A couple days later, he is recognized by Kya who attacks him. Zaheer manages to shake off Kya and escape into the city.

Back in Zaofu, Korra and Bolin begin to learn metalbending from Suyin, while Lin deals with her past emotions regarding Suyin. Revealing the past of Lin joining the police and Suyin breaking the law.  While Korra picks up metalbending quickly, Bolin is unable to do it. Lin confronts Suyin about the past and after a quick argument involving metal and thrown rocks…

Also known as a fight

Also known as a fight

the two make up and become quite close, before Opal takes off for the Northern air temple to train with Tenzin.

Zaheer and his group escape Republic city and through the use of meditation, Zaheer finds out Korra is in Zaofu, the group then makes its way there.

Meanwhile at the Northern Air Temple, some of the new airbenders are not taking to the teaching of airbending tradition very well, causing Tenzin to become strict with them. They all start to question his teachings until they come face to face with some bison hunters who have captured Jinora and Kai. Using Tenzins teachings, they manage to save them and capture the hunters and agree to follow Tenzin more, who in turn agrees to loosen up.

Back in Zaofu, Zaheer and the group manage to infiltrate the city and drug Korra in the middle of the night before trying to take her away. Bolin, with the help of Pabu, spots them and raises the alert. As metalbenders and Team Avatar alike fight Zaheer and his group, they manage to rescue Korra before Zaheer escapes. The group becomes uneasy and decide there must be an inside man in Zaofu. Aiwei, Suyin’s assistant and a truth seer (able to tell if someone is lying by the vibrations of their body), tries to find out who it could be, before pointing to a young guard. Korra and the group become suspicious and begin investigating Aiwei himself. They find incriminating evidence against him before he manages to escape. Korra wants to follow him, but Lin forbids it since Zaheer will probably be there as well. In the middle of the night, Suyin helps the Avatar and her group give Lin the slip and sends them off after Aiwei.

They find him in a small town called the Misty Palms Oasis. They watch him before realizing he went into the spirit world to meet with Zaheer. Korra meditates and makes it there to find Zaheer and Aiwei. Zaheer, who is displeased that Aiwei was followed, throws him into the fog of lost souls before agreeing to talk with Korra.

In the physical world, Zaheers group finds Korra and her friends. Mako and Bolin agree to stall them while Asami escapes with the meditating Korra. While Mako and Bolin face Ghazan and Ming-Hua, Asami runs away on Naga.

In the spirit world, Zaheer explains that he is part of an organization known as the Red Lotus. The founder of the Red Lotus use to be a part of the White Lotus, until they stopped being a secret organization and started serving the Avatar. The Red Lotus’ plan is to eliminate world leaders and let people decide their own path. Korra dispels his idea, but Zaheer responds explaining that the world would be better off without people like The Earth Queen or the President of Republic City. Korra still doesn’t like the idea, but Zaheer explains that its too late before disappearing. When Korra returns to the physical world, she finds out Mako and Bolin were defeated by Zaheers group and taken captive, but her and Asami were captured by the Earth’s Queens forces. Zaheer and his group make off for Ba Sing Se.

Zaheer and his group meet with the Earth Queen and gives them Mako and Bolin, and agrees to tell the Queen where her missing airbenders went if she gives them the Avatar. She agrees because if people found out she was keeping the avatar captive, she would be at the center of an international issue. Meanwhile Korra escapes from her captors airship and crashes in the dessert. Her and Asami with the help of the guards manage to make a makeshift sand sailor and escape from the desert.

Back in Ba Sing Se, Zaheer finds out the avatar escaped and confronts the Earth Queen, she tells the Dai Li to arrest them, but they are no match for the Red Lotus members. After they dispatch the guards, Zaheer uses his airbending to remove the air from the Queens lungs and suffocate her with it, effectively killing her.

And I am barely breathing

“And I am barely breathing” – Duncan Sheik 

Zaheer and the group get on the megaphone to  Ba Sing Se and tell them what happen, while Ghazan breaks down the walls between the rings in the city, Zaheer then tells the city that they are free, prompting excited cheering from the city. Zaheer then releases Mako and Bolin telling them to deliver a message to Korra.

Korra and Asami make it to the Misty Palms Oasis where they meet up with Lin, Tonraq, and Zuko where she is informed of what happened in Ba Sing Se.

As Mako and Bolin leave Ba Sing Se, they take their family with them so they are not caught up in the riots. They make their way to the Misty Palms Oasis and meet up with Korra and everyone, they then give Korra the message: Either Korra turns herself in to the Red Lotus, or Zaheer kills the new Airbenders at the northern air temple.

Korra returns to Zaofu and tries to use the radio to contact Tenzin, when they finally get in touch with him, Zaheer has already arrived. They try to escape but P’li corners them with her combustion techniques. While they are cornered, Tenzin questions Zaheer about his motives. When Zaheer explains that he means to use them as leverage to capture Korra, Tenzin attacks them, he then gets Kya and Bumi to help hold off Zaheer, Ghazan and Ming-Hua, while he instructs Jinora to get the airbenders out and watch out for P’li. Kai tries to distract P’li, but is quickly defeated and thrown over the cliff, while Kya and Bumi lose to Ming-Hua and Ghazin respectively. Tenzin gets the upper hand with Zaheer but when Ghazan, Ming-Hua and P’li join them, they quickly take down Tenzin.

Korra meets with Iroh in the spirit world and asks his advice. Iroh says to ask Zuko since he was often Aang’s council. Returning to the physical world, Korra meets up with Zuko as he’s about to leave to help protect his daughter since the Red Lotus is after world leaders. She asks his advice to which he says that Aang would do anything to protect the air nation, but the avatar has a duty to the world. Zuko leaves and Korra makes her way to the Northern Air Temple with team avatar, Lin, Suyin, Tonraq and a bunch of metalbenders.

Korra agrees to hand herself over to Zaheer for the safe return of the airbenders. Zaheer tells her to meet at the peak of a separate mountain while Mako, Bolin, and Asami go and pick up the airbenders. Lin, Tonraq, Suyin and her forces agree to wait at the bottom to rescue Korra once the airbenders were released.

Korra meets Zaheer and P’li at the top of a mountain, while Mako, Bolin and Asami meet with Ghazan to get the airbenders, with the two groups contacting through radio. As soon as Korra is bound in platinum chains (making it near impossible to metalbend) Mako’s group is put in front of a chained and beat up Tenzin and a bunch of hooded airbenders. When the signal from Zaheer is given, the hooded figures drop to the ground and are revealed to actually be water manipulated by Ming-Hua. Mako sends one last signal to Korra that Zaheer tricked them before Ming-Hua and Ghazan attack them. Korra fights back against P’li and Zaheer even while chained up, until Lin and her group arrive.

Ghazan and Ming-Hua fight the group temporarily before escaping in an airship and turning the rock around the temple to lava. As Bolin, Mako, Asami, and Tenzin try to escape, the lava overcomes them until Bolin manages to lavabend and saves them. As this happens, Kai shows up on a baby airbison and helps them fly away from the temple.

Back at the mountain peak, Korra (still chained) and Tonraq fight Zaheer, while Lin, Suyin and the metalbenders fight P’li. P’li manages to knock most of the metalbenders off the cliff with her explosions, while cornering Suyin and Lin behind some rocks. Lin tells her sister that she’ll be the distraction and to take out P’li when she can. Even though Suyin is against the plan, Lin tells Suyin she loves her before enacting it anyway. Lin and P’li fight briefly, but the Combustion bender knocks down Lin. As she about to deliver the final blow, Suyin bends her own armor off and around P’li’s head and contains the explosion within the armor, killing P’li.

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Zaheer screams out his lovers name before realizing she is gone. He turns back to fight Tonraq and Korra, and manages to knock both down before throwing Tonraq off a cliff. He then knocks out Korra and as he picks her up, Lin and Suyin corner him on the edge of a cliff. As they tell him to give up, he recites a poem by Guru Laghima, an airbending master; “Let go your earthly tether, enter the void, empty and become wind”. With his last earthly tether (P’li) gone, he falls off the cliff and using advance airbending technique, flies without the help of a glider, escaping with Korra.

Mako’s group then meets up with Lin’s group. Tonraq is there, having been saved by a metalbender.  Kai explains he saw where they took the airbenders, and the group resolves to go there because Korra is probably there as well.

As Korra wakes up, she is chained (again by platinum) on both legs and arms, and suspended in mid air in a cave. Zaheer explains they will now poison her, and when her body reacts to the poison and enters the Avatar state, they will kill her thus ending the Avatar cycle and the Avatar itself, thus obtaining true freedom within the world. Two other guards then seep the metallic poison into Korra who starts writhing in pain. She starts going in the Avatar state, but starts trying to resist. Zaheer tells the others to wait because she wouldn’t be able to resist for long. Jinora sees all this in her spiritual state before returning to her real body, which is chained up with the other airbenders. As they try to escape, the rest of the group appears and saves them. Jinora then takes them to where Korra is being held.

As Korra is getting closer and closer to the Avatar state, Zaheer tells the others to get ready to kill her, seemingly forgetting that anyone who happens to face the Avatar in the Avatar state doesn’t come out of it looking to great.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

 

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit C

Exhibit D

Exhibit D

Like clockwork, Korra goes into the Avatar state and before Ghazan and Ming-Hua can do anything she knocks them down and escapes from her chains quite easily with her enhanced strength and bending.

Exhibit E

Exhibit E

Exhibit F

Exhibit F

At this point, the rest of Team Avatar shows up, Korra flies off after Zaheer and starts battling him. Tonraq, Suyin and Lin go to help her, while Mako and Bolin face Ming-Hua and Ghazan respectively. Mako gains the upper hand over Ming-Hua when she runs out of water, but after retreating slightly, she finds herself in a pool of water which she uses to make multiple arms and tries to attack Mako, he then follows up by using lightning on the water, defeating her. Bolin and Ghazan get into a lavabending battle, but because Ghazan has been practicing much longer, he gets the upper hand until Mako shows up to help. Not wanting to go back to prison, Ghazan collapses the cavern in on himself, killing himself in the process (and presumably, Ming-Hua as well).

Zaheer and Korra continue to fight, and while Korra gains the advantage, the poison in her body begins to affect her and Zaheer starts to push her back. Seeing this Jinora gathers up the airbenders who work together to start creating a tornado. Zaheer is about to kill Korra by removing the air from her lungs, when the tornado grabs him and Korra and sucks them in, Korra regains consciousness and slams Zaheer to the ground using the chain that was still around her arm. He is then encased in rocks by Suyin and Lin.
Korra collapses on the ground and passes out because of the poison, her father hold her as Zaheer claims victory because she is now dead. Jinora reveals the poison is metallic and can be removed using metalbending. Suyin rushes forward and removes the poison and Korra wakes up. Zaheer, now furious starts ranting until Bolin literally puts a sock in his mouth.

Exhibit G

Exhibit G

 

Two weeks later, Asami is fixing up Korra’s hair for the special occasion. Korra is wheelchair ridden and depressed after the incident and her bought with the poison. Asami tells Korra that she is there for her whenever she needs it and to try and be happy for Jinora’s sake today. Korra agrees and they set out. Asami pushes the chair to outside the temple, where Zuko, her parents, Tenzin and the President of Republic City are waiting. The President welcomes Korra back and apologizes for everything that happened. As Lin leads Korra and Asami into the temple, the President, Tenzin, and Zuko discuss what to do since Korra is out of commission, and the Earth Kingdom is still in anarchy.

Inside the temple, Tenzin explains to the crowd that the airbenders will return to their nomadic roots and travel the world to help bring balance, starting with the Earth Kingdom, and for Korra not to worry while she recovers. To help usher in this new age, he presents the first Airbending Master of their generation, and Jinora steps forward, taking off her hood and revealing her new airbending master tattoos.

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As the airbenders celebrate and put on a show, Korra sheds a single tear.

 

Thus ends Book 3.

 

Book 3 of Legend of Korra was a real powerhouse to be frank. The villain’s seemed more real, and their actions were definitively not held back in this season.

Lets start with the comedy. One of my favorite aspects about the entire Avatar universe is the perfect balance of comedy and action, and this season had both on their A games. Bolin, notably was hilarious in every episode. From impersonating his grandmother to literally putting a sock in Zaheers mouth at the end. This season, was almost worth watching solely for Bolin and his comedic antics.

Another great exchange in this season is as follows;

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“This bender has the ability to create explosions with her mind…ironically, I once hired a similar bender to kill Aang…it didn’t work(defensively)” -Zuko

“I tried to kill the Avatar once she ruined my wedding…it happens”-Eska

 

In regards to the enemies of this season, personally, they have been my favorite so far in the Avatar universe. First and foremost, their cause actually had some merit to it. Every villain before hand, Ozai, Amon, Unalaq, they may have preached that they were creating a better world, but in reality, they just wanted to make it theirs. The Red Lotus on the other had, really believed in their idea that “chaos is the natural order”. They believed this so much, that even after the fight was over, one nation was left in anarchy and even the Avatar was left depressed.

On top of this, the four main Red Lotus members, were exemplary benders in their own right.

Ming-Hua

Ming-Hua

Ming-Hua, even though she was missing her arms was able to create them out of water. Using nothing but her mind, she was able to manipulate the water. This Psychic bending ability is very rare and takes a very powerful bender, such as Yakone, or Amon to perform. On top of that, she had perfect control of the water, controlling it with amazing dexterity.

Ghazan

Ghazan

Ghazan was able to phase change earth. This is something that normal benders are generally not able to do, and has only ever been seen before by an Avatar in the Avatar state. With this ability, he was able to not only tear down the walls of Ba Sing Se, but also take down a mountain that had the Northern Air Temple on it.

P'li

P’li

P’li was very similar to Combustion Man from The Last Airbender. Able to create explosions from afar and with amazing speed and accuracy. Much like, Ming-Hua, this is considered a form of Psychic bending, something that is very difficult to do. A testament of her strength was her ability to take down the elite metalbending force and almost Lin Bei Fong, who is considered an powerful bender in her own right.

 

Zaheer

Zaheer

Zaheer was powerful enough before receiving airbending that he was put into a special prison. After receiving airbending, it took him no time at all to master it, even without a teacher. His mastery over air became truly apparent when he was able to master unassisted flight, something only one other Airbender had ever accomplished. His spiritual connection was on the level of an avatar as well, able to slip in and out of the Spirit world at will.

These villains also seemed more human than villains in the past. Apart from their goal, which was more just, the writers took more time developing the relationships between the four of them. The relationship between Zaheer and P’li was explored upon slightly, Zaheer having saved her from servitude in the past. Ghazan and Ming-Hua once had a comical conversation with a captured Mako and Bolin about their past and how they survived in prison for so long.

In conclusion, this season left me and a lot of fans wanting more, I keep hoping for at least a release date for the fourth and potentially final season of Korra. This season has been one for the record books and I can’t wait to see what the writers do with their final season of Korra. Giving the writers credit and praise here, it is very difficult to create a sequel series, much less one that will satisfy as many fans of the original as Legend of Korra has. Even three seasons later, the fans are numerous and the story is not lacking at all.

Legend of Korra Book 3: Change

Writers Score: 9.5/10

Written by Geoff