After episode 3 ‘Civil Wars – Part 1’ concluded I felt like there was something missing. I checked the Twitter stream and noticed generally positive feedback for the episode, but I just wasn’t feeling the same way. I eventually used Twitter to publicize all my thoughts on the episode which were generally negative. I received a lot of angry tweets from fans telling me I was wrong, but I didn’t care – I was just confused. I really wanted to like episode 3, but I couldn’t help but notice that something was missing.
This morning I woke up and rewatched episode 3 to see if I could discover that missing element. The first thing I noticed was that I was way out of line in bashing episode 3 as much as I did. ‘Civil Wars – Part 1’ was actually a very good episode that further developed the plot and increased our connection to the new characters. But something still didn’t seem right.
By the end of the episode, I had finally discovered what was missing. It should have been obvious after the first two watches, but I didn’t notice it until the third time around.
The missing element of ‘Civil Wars – Part 1’ was Team Avatar themselves. Book 2 has taken a strange approach in that Korra, Mako, Bolin and Asami are all on their own from the start; they all have their own separate subplots. This decision to separate the characters is a negative, in my opinion, because the storyline thrives when they are together.
None of the characters are capable of anchoring the show on their own because they all lack proper development. Watching Korra as the prime focus while Mako, Bolin and Asami fade into the background was frustrating and it even made me a bit angry.
I’ve enjoyed the dynamics of all four characters together so far, but when Korra took the driver’s seat alone, the show seemingly fell flat.
I can’t seem to grasp the reasoning for why Mako has turned into Korra’s emotional punching bag. His character has almost lacked importance the past three episodes, and that’s removed a major personality from the show. Bolin’s character is almost useless because he’s constantly the butt of every joke.
I liked his character in Book 1: he was funny and a good source for amusement. The problem with his character in Book 2 is that he hasn’t changed. Three episodes into a 14 episode season and Bolin is still the comic-relief character that he was in Book 1. Worst of all, he has nothing to do with the main plot. Six months have passed since the conclusion of Book 1 and I expected to see some sort of leap in his character.
Asami, who was one of my favorite characters in Book 1, is nearly non-existent. She was given her own subplot but it has yet to be explored. They should at least include here character in the episodes to some degree.
Even though I’m criticizing some of the main characters, I still love the concept of Book 2. I like how it’s exploring the tension between Tenzin, Kya and Bumi. I also like how it’s exploring the tension between Tonraq and Unalaq. The new characters presented are dynamic, and that’s a very promising start to the new season.
I just don’t like how Team Avatar has been presented so far. They’ve all drifted a part and are involved in subplots that are not nearly as important as the one involving the two Water Tribes.
But guess what? We’re only three episodes in. There are still eleven episodes of Book 2 left and I have no doubt that this issue will be fixed. Team Avatar will likely come back together and act as one because – well – isn’t that what Avatar is all about?
Friendship, togetherness, love.
It’s what makes the series so great and it’s the key element that Book 2 needs back as soon as possible. And I believe the return of this element is near. A scene from the latest Book 2 clip tips off just that.
The new season is about to get a whole lot better – I can feel it.