great themes, ideas and a terrific character in Varrick, but most of the character arcs do not work for me me and it takes them way too long to actually dive into the spirit themes. I'm still also not really into why Korra suddenly decided to leave the gates open. I understand that they were going for a change in the status quo and that isn't a bad idea, but there really should have been some reason to Korra coming to that decision other than thinking her uncle, who nearly put the world in ten thousand years of darkness, was right out of nowhere. Or at least have some buildup to it since it comes out of nowhere and really doesn't make sense. If they didn't keep Tarrlok's obvious evil plan a mystery for so long and Korra had more time to think about it instead of right at the final battle, then I think it would have been less jarring at least.
I actually think I wouldn't mind five episodes of Tenzin and his siblings bickering to each other, or at least not as much as with Korra yelling at practically everyone. At least Tenzin and his siblings arguing over their issues with their father makes sense. Korra was just lashing out at everyone who wasn't doing what she wanted and that just made her look terrible. Looking back, I can understand where they were going with her character arc, but they really could have done it without making her so insufferable. By the end of her arc, I didn't really get the strong impression that she had matured a lot, but I just felt relief that she would be more tolerable.
Most of the subplots were pretty weak. Mako's subplot mostly relied on making everyone else look stupid in order to make him look more competent, which was especially bad for Lin. There is no way Lin from season one would have such completely incompetent cops on her force and the fact that she complimented Mako after she threw him in jail was so strange. The only good thing about it was Varrick's screentime and showing how much of a better villain he was than Tarrlok. He was so entertaining and morally complex. I seriously hope he appears again. He's just too terrific. Bolin's whole storyline was pretty bad from start to finish for me. Putting him in a emotionally manipulating relationship and playing it off as comedy was bad enough, but having him suddenly fall in love with Eska at the end was so terrible. While Varrick making him into a star did lead to some funny moments, it also made him look like a jerk and I couldn't really feel bad for him when he was lonely for his friends, especially when Team Avatar hasn't really been that close to where I feel that there is a good connection between all of them. It still feels like they don't know what else to do with Bolin besides making him the comedy relief.
Asami definitely got the raw end of the deal. She's easily the most interesting out of Korra's friends and it helps that her conflict doesn't connect back to Korra, but the latter part is probably also why she doesn't get much focus. That and she can't do much against spirits compared to benders. Once again, she is wasted potential in favor of a stupid love triangle. I wouldn't have mind the kiss between her and Mako if it was just Asami caught up in her past feelings in a moment of emotional vulnerability, but they just had to put the two of them together again. And probably the worst thing about it was that it was so painfully unnecessary. All it did was create more tension during the last couple of episodes where Mako couldn't tell Korra, but that just seemed incredibly pointless. Even his defense about not wanting to hurt her again doesn't make sense when he clearly had no problem hurting Asami. At least they didn't get back together in the end and I would love it if they just stopped with the romance subplots in future seasons. They are just terrible in this series and really don't add anything of value. I do hope that Asami gets more screentime in the next couple of seasons since she's actually interesting and could definitely benefit from getting better focus.
The themes presented and carried out in the last half of the season are good and I really enjoyed the conflict with Tenzin and his family. They were short, sweet and went straight to the point. They weren't perfect, but those were usually the only good things about the first half of the season. Tenzin dealing with not being able to go to the Spirit World himself was good too and his interactions with his siblings were good. It helps that I actually like Tenzin while I don't care for most of the main cast. Once the pacing got better in the second half, it was more interesting to watch and had some really great moments. It does have a better finale than the first book and I am curious about where they're going in the next season. My view on season two is pretty similar in that it's pretty mixed. It starts off rough and most of the character arcs are pretty bad, or at least make a lot of the characters look bad/unlikable, but once the second half gets going, it is a much needed improvement.