When Team Avatar discovers the Earth Queen had been kidnapping Airbenders in secret, Korra vows to free them all.
With confirmation that the Earth Queen is kidnapping Airbenders, our heroes take it upon themselves on a grand search around the kingdom. Lake Laogai seems to be the perfect step to start looking and it serves as a nice bonus to the Avatar fanbase. Unfortunately, it hosts nothing but ruins. I think a lot of this can be attributed to general forward thinking: why reuse an old base that would invite suspicious in the first place? Housing Airbenders under the Queen’s palace is a good idea since the majority of the civilians likely can’t raid the Queen’s home anyway.
I love how smart everyone is this time around. Book 2 had a severe issue where nearly every character idiotically paraded around in denial or seemingly lost sight of the obvious in order to service the plot. Korra immediately suspected something was up with the Queen in the last episode and she maintains a clear but determined head throughout the rescue.
I like the logic behind transforming the Airbending prisoners into Airbender Nomads. As escapees of the Earth Kingdom, they cannot return home as long as the Queen is in charge. They all decide to be Air Nomads in exchange (though notably, Tenzin does give them the option to hide elsewhere). I do question if any of the Earth Kingdom citizens have any family and friends that they’re worried about. All of them seem to join up with Tenzin’s pretty quickly. I guess I can theorize that they’re under a lot of emotional pressure from their entrapment and escape,given that they literally cannot go back home. I can also hazard a guess and say the Queen only kidnapped Airbenders who have no family and friends so she could avoid controversy and rumors as much as possible.
These are minor quibbles though, and they certainly don’t undermine the emotional moment with Tenzin. The look he gives when they all agree to be Nomads is the face of a man who has been striving to preserve his father’s legacy for decades. Aang may not be alive to see this, but his culture is returning.
Even Kai, a character that would have been easy to hate, is rendered likable when he refuses to succumb and show the level of ruthlessness the Dai Li agents want him to. He eventually apologizes to Mako and Bolin for manipulating their kindness and genuinely wishes to make amends, though it probably helps that he and Jinora are fond of each other (much to Tenzin’s concern). Their moments are adorable together. I wasn’t sure why Kai deserved a girl like Jinora when he hasn’t done much to earn that, but I have no complaints here.
Lin arrives halfway through the episode to deliver the news to Team Avatar that Zaheer’s group has escaped. It turns out they’ve been planning to kidnap Korra thirteen years ago for a reason none of the cast knows about. This neatly explains why Korra had been closed off most of her life and it’s completely justified once you see Zaheer’s group in motion. The choreography between the group and Zuko’s team is masterful and quick-paced. The firebending Combustion Woman looks to be an even more dangerous foe than her male counterpart, partially because she can still use regular firebending on top of her forehead mind powers. In spite of their immoral actions, I love Zaheer and Combustion Woman’s passionate reunion. Villains with soft spots and humanizing characteristics always make them more interesting to me. We still don’t know why they have a grudge against the Avatar and the White Lotus, so their motivation provides an enticing mystery for us to guesswork until the reveal.
“In Harm’s Way” is a bit slow even with the fantastic opener, but it delivers exactly what it means to by its end.