The Legend of Korra: The Guide (2×09)

Synopsis: Korra finds Tenzin on vacation and asks for his help entering the Spirit World, but finds that maybe he’s not the best person to do so. Meanwhile, Mako finds himself in trouble as he tries to expose Varrick for his crimes, and Unalaq tries to open the Northern portal himself.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

You know, I was a little worried after a fantastic two parter that the episodes following would go back to their usual subpar quality for this season. However, this episode was actually fairly solid and inching ever closer to the plot I was promised for this season.

The episode opens with Jinora happily playing with some brightly colored dragonfly bunnies when her dad asks who she’s playing with. We cut to his perspective, which doesn’t have the cute little mutant rabbits. Jinora says it’s just imaginary friends and as her father turns away, one of the dragonfly bunnies lands on his head, making Jinora laugh as she joins him in the courtyard.

Tenzin and family have moved their vacation to the Eastern Air Temple to spend more time with ancient statues and other such things. However, this plan gets cut off slightly when Korra arrives and informs everyone as to what has been going on since they left and that she needs to shut down the portal before Harmonic Convergence. Tenzin’s not surprised by any of this, but after talking it through with Korra, he agrees to help her enter the Spirit World so she can close the portal to keep Vaatu from escaping.

Man, you really don't notice how flat Studio Pierrot's animation is in comparison to Mir until now. []
Man, you really don’t notice how flat Studio Pierrot’s animation is in comparison to Mir until now. []
At various points at the temple, the two try meditating their way into the Spirit World, but with no luck. Tenzin gets frustrated, but Korra is keeping a very calm head about it and not blowing up at anyone, which proves one of my theories about Korra’s return from her spiritual journey: she’s not a dick anymore! Seriously, there are so many points in this episode Korra could have easily snapped and gotten mad at any of the characters like she usually does, but she’s stayed cool, calm, and collected. She even complimented Meelo after Tenzin blamed him for not ringing the meditation bell at the right intervals as the reason they couldn’t enter the Spirit World. I guess it takes nearly dying, losing all your memories, and conversing with the first Avatar to make you realize how much of a jerk you’re being to everyone you know.

Korra asks Tenzin what’s wrong and to do whatever he did when he entered the Spirit World for the first time. That’s when Tenzin reveals that he’s never been able to enter the Spirit World, despite trying and studying how to do it for years. He still wants to try with Korra, but Kya suggests that maybe Jinora should be the one to do it instead.

Aunt Kya is the best. []
Aunt Kya is the best. []
Yes… Jinora. The oldest of Aang’s grandchildren. Wrapping back around to her connection to the Avatar statues at the Southern Air Temple, Jinora has been able to see dragonfly bunny spirits at the temple and calls out to them to guide Korra to where they need to go. Jinora feels as if her dad is mad at her as they start their journey, but her Aunt Kya assures her that it’s mostly his pride and Korra tells her more about Avatar Wan. Meanwhile, Bumi connects with a spirit he calls ‘Bumju’ (it’s short for Bumi Junior). I think men named Bumi are just meant to connect with rabbits in the world of the Avatar.

The family finds their way to an ancient meditation circle that has been overrun by vegetation. Tenzin starts a spiritual cleansing, which seems to be working as a hoard of bat like dark spirits erupt from the ground. Korra and Tenzin try to fight them off to no avail, which causes Korra to try Unalaq’s spirit calming technique. She is finally successful as the spirits calm down and all the vegetation recedes. Tenzin and Korra make up officially and Tenzin tries once again to help Korra into the spirit world. Which takes hours and has no success. Kya tells Tenzin to get over it and let Jinora be Korra’s guide. Tenzin is hesitant to put his daughter in that much danger, but Jinora assures him that she will be okay and that she can take the Avatar into the Spirit World. Tenzin relents, telling his daughter how proud he is of her and promises to protect their bodies until the get back. Shortly after the two young women begin meditating, they enter the Spirit World together. It only took most of the season for us to get to the point where Jinora fulfills her destiny to be the Avatar’s guide, but yay it’s happening! Can’t wait to see this play out for the season!

Prepare to have the world saved by a superpowered teenager and a natural spiritual 10-year-old girl! []
Prepare to have the world saved by a superpowered teenager and a natural spiritual 10-year-old girl! []
Back in Republic City, Mako informs Bolin and Asami that Varrick is the one behind all the attacks in order to profit from the war in the South. The two don’t believe him and Asami tries to comfort him. Bolin realizes the two have gotten back together and calls Mako on it, stating that Korra left the city a week ago. Really Mako? A week? A WEEK?! Was living without a girlfriend so terrible that you didn’t even let the dirt settle on your relationship with Korra before going back to the girlfriend you mistreated? Jesus, dude. I have not-boyfriends more nurturing and self-aware than you, but it really isn’t that hard.

As Mako tries to leave after his desperate attempt to convince his brother and his girlfriend of Varrick’s crimes, he is intercepted by two guards who take him to Varrick. In his own subtle way, Varrick threatens Mako by offering him a job on his security escort team to “protect” Asami and Bolin. Basically, either he quits the police and his investigation to join Varrick’s side or his loved ones will suffer. Mako declines and leaves.

I kind of wish Varrick had thrown him across the coals, but he would have just firebent his way out of it. *sigh* []
I kind of wish Varrick had thrown him across the coals, but he would have just firebent his way out of it. *sigh* []
Later that night, Asami swings by Mako’s to check on him and even offers to take him out to dinner. If this had been on HBO, this probably would have been the start of an unnecessary sex scene. Instead, the two kiss, but are then interrupted by Chief Beifong and Officers Lu and Gang following up on a lead from the Triple Threat Triads about the sting operation. Mako admits to the sting and apologizes to the Chief, but Lin tells him that the Triple Threats also said he was involved in the raid on Future Industries. She clearly doesn’t believe them, but police protocol says she has to follow up on the lead, so stop complaining Avatar fans.

Lu and Gang find money and explosives that were planted in his closet and proceed to arrest him. Mako assures Asami that he had nothing to do with it as he’s carried away, but she looks unsure as she’s left alone. The greatest twist this show could give me is that Mako was actually behind the raid and put him in jail for the next two seasons, but I know that won’t happen. Mako will clear his name somehow, I’m sure. Because Mako is so wonderful and… you know, I give up on this sarcastic tirade. Mako sucks. The end.

"With my last breath, I curse Zoidberg!" []
“With my last breath, I curse Zoidberg!” []
Back in the South, Unalaq takes Desna and Eska into the Spirit World to try and open the Northern portal without Korra’s help. The three of them try to use their bending to open the portal, but the portal does not like that and ends up injuring Desna in the process. Eska runs to her twin, but her father urges her to come back and help him. Eska ignores him and drags her brother back, leaving Unalaq to fail on his own. This was a surprising turn for the twins to see them be hesitant about their father. I sense a defect to the Southern resistance about to happen with them, at least on basic principle.

Unalaq goes to the tree and apologizes to Vaatu for failing him. Oh man, I knew it. I knew Unalaq was involved with the spirit of darkness and chaos. Why else would he be trying to open the portals when they were closed to keep Vaatu locked away? However, Vaatu tells Unalaq that he hasn’t failed yet because Korra is alive and is coming to them. Oh damn, Harmonic Convergence is not going to be easy, I can tell.

It's like watching The Emperor and Vader. []
It’s like watching The Emperor and Vader. []
While nowhere near the grade of ‘Beginnings,’ ‘The Guide’ is a surprisingly solid episode that gets the ball rolling for the rest of the season. We’re in the Spirit World now and it’s going to be a game changer. I just hope for minimal speed bumps as the rest of the season rolls out over the next few weeks.

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