The Legend of Korra: Civil Wars, Part 1 and 2 (2×03-4)

Synopsis: Tensions rise in the Southern Water Tribe as the North invades and Korra struggles between her duty as the Avatar and the loyalty to her family. Meanwhile, Tenzin and his siblings air their grievances while searching for a runaway Ikki.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆/★★★

Personal life this past week has made it hard to keep up with my Korra recaps, but that might be a good thing with this two parter of ‘Civil Wars.’ Initially off to a slow start, the second episode picked up in action and plot and made the slow start worth it.

Also, Asami came back for the second part, which automatically makes everything better.

The plot of the two episodes are split into three parts and are pretty focused on family and relationships. The main plot is about the War of Northern Water Tribe aggression and the fallout from it. Unalaq initially convinces Korra that the invasion is for the good of the tribe… for some reason. Seriously, Unalaq’s plan is rather unclear. However, Korra initially buys it and agrees to help him open a portal in the North, but the rest of the tribe isn’t playing along. Varrick, Tonraq, and other members in the tribe have a meeting/airing of the grievances in Tonraq’s residence and Varrick suggests the idea of going to war. Tonraq refuses and asks Korra to speak to her uncle. Korra reluctantly agrees, despite still being mad at her dad.

Anyway, Korra goes to Unalaq, who’s all in the shadows like he’s Emperor Palpatine or something and he goes on some diatribe about how the Avatar is supposed to be neutral and Korra can’t be involved with either side of this. While I guess that’s the responsible Avatar way to do things, especially after Aang, Korra is also directly descended from Avatar Kyoshi, who saved her homeland from an oppressive invading force and told the Earth King, “How dare you defy your Avatar!” I vote for Kyoshi method to be applied this season.


After some more family angst and Korra rescuing Unalaq from rebels after she believes her dad is involved (he wasn’t), Korra makes up with her dad in a very touching moment that her uncle then promptly ruins by arresting her parents for planning to assassinate him. This appropriately pisses Korra off, but her uncle reassures her that it will be fine.

Yeah, right.

Long story short, the trial happens and while Senna is let off the hook, Tonraq and the other rebels are sentenced to life in prison. After seeing her mother cry, Korra decides to say screw neutrality and chases down the judge who sentenced her father to convince him to let him go. That’s where the old man spills it all: Unalaq paid him off to get Tonraq out of the way, but had Senna let go and his sentence reduced from death to get Korra on his side. In fact, he even paid the barbarians who took over the North just so Tonraq could be banished and he could become chief. This, of course, pisses off Korra more and she gets the gang back together to bust her dad out of prison. Well, Asami does most of the work getting in from what it seems. Glad she kept the electro glove from the previous season around.

Awww... Sweet family moment before being inevitably ruined by a Northern Water Tribe douchecanoe.
Awww… Sweet family moment before being inevitably ruined by a Northern Water Tribe douchecanoe.

In a shocking turn of events, Korra’s dad has been sent away on a boat to the North just as a way for Unalaq to drive the nail in more. Korra stands off with her uncle, who suddenly declares he doesn’t need her to open the portal anymore. Really, I’d like to know where Unalaq is finding another Avatar because the line of ascension doesn’t work like the Slayer line. A fight breaks out, and Korra and the group escape back to Varrick’s, who has been hiding in a platypus bear suit that poops money all episode. They formulate a plan to use Varrick’s boat and plane to break through the barricade and using good old fashioned team work, they break out Korra’s dad and the other rebels and send them back to the South. Korra agrees to go into battle with them, but her dad asks her to go back to Republic City and ask the newly elected president for help. She agrees and they separate for the time being, a civil war looming on the horizon.

Or is that just Eska?

Because Bolin can’t manage to break up with the crazy creepy water bender, his plot line is just bad advice from his idiot brother who stupidly compares his ex who financially supported him and was nothing but understanding when they broke up to a bloodsucking leech and Eska escalating it to marriage. Seriously, she even puts a betrothal necklace with a skull on him, tries to change his looks, and plans on taking him to the North with her. I’m generally about communication, but I can’t blame Bolin for cutting and running the way he did. At least it lead to a closing line from Varrick that caused me to laugh really hard.

Meanwhile at the Southern Air Temple, Tenzin is in full on vacation mode with his siblings when Ikki goes missing after an argument with her siblings. Tenzin, Bumi, and Kya agree to go find her and bring her back to the temple. However, this plot line is less about finding Ikki and more about the family resentment the three Cloudbabies have. Because apparently Aang was too fixated on being the Avatar and training Tenzin in the ways of the Air Nomads that he didn’t have time for Bumi and Kya. Which I honestly have such a hard time believing. I know Aang would be busy and would be focused on Tenzin especially, but I refuse to believe that he would just shun his two oldest kids. Aang has been left out and actively tried to make sure no one was left behind. Why would he make his kids left out?

Have a cute baby Rohan to distract you from Aang rage.
Have a cute baby Rohan to distract you from Aang rage.

On top of that, Kya resents her brothers for not being there for Katara when Aang died and Bumi seems to be jealous of his two bending siblings. The three of them get frustrated at each other and split off, with Kya and Bumi heading back to the temple and Tenzin off to find Ikki.

He eventually does find her having “dinner” with four Air Bison calves that’s she’s given names to. My personal favorite was Blueberry Spice Head. Tenzin sits with his daughter for a while and eventually cooler heads prevail for the both of them, realizing that no matter how frustrating their families may be, they still love and care for each other. This parallel is drawn further when Bumi is seen apologizing to Aang’s statue in the temple for not being an airbender and saying that he’s tried his best to help people. Kya assures him that their dad would be proud and they hug it out in a really sweet moment. Everyone eventually makes it back to the main temple and the two sets of siblings make up. The Airbender kids go off to play Air Ball, and the Cloudbabies gather around a picture of their family from when they were kids, agreeing that everyone looks pretty happy and not in that way that eventually leads to a rousing sing along of Pink’s ‘Family Portrait.’

Even with the slow start in episode 3, the series is really starting to pick up towards the main plot of the season. The family dynamics seen for both Avatar families are fascinating and I look forward to seeing them develop more as the season goes on. I’m wishing for a bit more clarity on what exactly Unalaq has planned, but I’m glad we now know how power hungry he is instead of dragging it out for most of the season like with what happened with Tarrlok last season. We’ll see how it develops as the season carries on back to Republic City and we get to see more of Aang’s kids interacting with each other besides arguing over their dad.

Plus, is it bad that I do want to see more of Eska? She does deserve a fair breakup, at least.

And if Asami disappears for another two episodes, I am going to be pissed.

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