Team Avatar has been captured, leaving Bumi to save the day!
It’s Bumi time! Throughout Book Two, Tenzin’s older brother would often spout tall tales of his army days that either sounded illogical, impossible, or both. It’s clear this is an extension of his boisterous nature, though I think he also does this to boost himself so he can stand out amongst his siblings – especially Tenzin. “Harmonic Convergence” proves Bumi may not be as big a liar as everyone believes.
When Korra’s team is captured by Unalaq’s army (composed of Northern Water Tribes and Dark Spirits), it’s left to Bumi to come to their rescue. Much like Bolin, there’s a certain lighthearted aspect for most of the episode’s run despite the ongoing apocalypse because Bumi is a such a goofball. His method of madness composes of equal parts improvisation skills, actual battle training, and luck. His “plan” begins with a single flute and ultimately dominoes to the entire enemy encampment becoming a fiery mess. The kicker is that none of his friends and family witnesses this onset of craziness. It’s the greatest story ever told, but fated to be unappreciated because no one will believe him. I love that there’s actual merit backing up Bumi’s kooky stories and the entire outcome is hilarious. Bumi’s rescue mission is a great look into his train of thought that also doesn’t overlook his combat skills, (did you see the way he threw that knife?) proving that he’s just as capable as his siblings.
The only thing I was confused about during the whole thing was that one dark spirit Bumi more or less befriended. For some reason, this one reverts back to its original form due to Bumi’s flute, yet it doesn’t work on the other spirits. I feel like I’m missing something mythological and/or meta, but I don’t quite get it. Is it a musical spirit? Does it represent the flute? Was the scene trying to prove that the dark spirits are capable of change beyond Korra and Unalaq’s spiritbending? For that matter, why did it just hover around until Bumi actually attacked him? Did the spirit respect Bumi when he took him down? I feel like they added this scene to address something specific about the spirits, but forgot to provide an answer.
I do like how they treated Tenzin and Korra’s desperation. They’re both agitated at Unalaq and have personal stakes in all this. You can feel the edge in Tenzin’s voice due to Jinora’s current fate; he’s determined to save his daughter’s life at any cost. Korra aggressively practices her bending on a dummy and at one point, firebends its head off in rage, but it’s an attitude that never dominates her. One of the problems I’ve had with Book Two was unnecessary overreliance on contrived character conflicts to move the plot, so I’m glad to see neither Korra nor Tenzin suffering from idiot decisions or jerk behavior. This late in the book, it would likely have done more harm to their characters.
For that matter, it’s nice to see Desna and Eska have a bit of a side plot. They’ve actually shown a growing reluctance in regard to their father in previous episodes, but it finally reaches a head here. Korra begs the two to release her team so they can save the world. Desna and Eska refuse because they’re loyal to their father despite repeatedly questioning him. How do you turn your back on your own parent? It’s a tough decision to make and their increased hesitation is understandable. This emotional conflict also seems new to them and at odds with their stoically abrasive personalities that leave them so completely out of touch with everyone else. They have their own ways of doing things and interacting with other people; I can’t imagine how they’re dealing with Unalaq’s actions.
“Harmonic Convergence” is a good episode, but it does carry one lingering flaw that I feel is important: I don’t understand Unalaq’s goals. He wants to fuse with Vaatu and become a Dark Avatar. He wants a world where spirits and humans exist in peace. Okay, I get all that. I think this all connects to his need for tradition and what is more traditional than the spirits, creatures who likely lived longer than mankind and understand the world far better than mere mortals? What I don’t get is everything else. Does he want a world where dark spirits roam the Earth? Then what was the purpose of learning spiritbending to soothe them? Was this before he met Vaatu? Did he change his mind when Vaatu told him to literally come to the dark side? Did Unalaq merely tame the spirits just to cover his tracks in front of Korra? Unalaq mentions there will no longer be separate nations, implying the world will be merged under one leadership. I think it’s a given that he wants to rule the world, but does he know Vaatu will cover it in darkness and destroy it? There’s far too many questions and Unalaq isn’t giving us clear answers. His plan is full of holes and his motivation is even more lacking. I’m not even sure what he wants because this is so sparsely laid out. Given that he’s the guy who’s responsible for the entirety of Book Two’s plot, this is notoriously clumsy. He’s not crazy enough that his incoherence can be explained away by chaotic behavior. I think it’s sad when I think his Nuktuk movie counterpart isn’t that far off the mark. The only good that came out of that scene is Tonraq’s plea to his little brother to reconsider; it’s a heartbreaking scene because his words aren’t reaching Unalaq. His brother is too far gone.
These issues and unanswered questions are enough to lower “Harmonic Convergence’s” quality. I wished this show had explained aspects of its plot better, especially in regard to Unalaq’s motivations because what he’s accomplishing is drastically undermined otherwise. At best, we can at least expect an epic battle now that Vaatu is free.