Written by Steve Geise
It’s been far too long since we last checked in with Avatar Korra, with very little info available about what’s to come or even a return date. At Friday’s Legend of Korra panel, that all changed. After discussing the production roster for the upcoming season, creator Bryan Konietzko introduced the Book Two premiere episode and played it in its entirety. More on that later.
The panel attendees were creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino, co-exec producer Joaquim Dos Santos, Janet Varney (voice of Korra), David Faustino (voice of Mako), and P.J. Byrne (Bolin) carrying a Pabu plush.
They launched the panel with a gorgeous and understated sizzle reel revealing tons of snippets from the upcoming season, just giving us quick and wordless glimpses rather than any idea of the story. It’s a great reel and likely to be posted online shortly for everyone to enjoy. The final frame of the trailer revealed the return date: September. Konietzko later clarified that even they don’t have the exact date yet, but definitely sometime in September.
Book Two writers were announced as Michael DiMartino (head writer), along with Josh Hamilton and Tim Hedrick, who were both writers on the original Avatar series. Further production staff were announced as Bryan Konietzko (art director), Joaquim Dos Santos (co-exec prod), Lauren Montgomery (supervising producer), and Ki-Hyun Ryu (supervising producer). Book Two Directors are Colin Heck and Ian Graham.
Konietzko then introduced the Book Two premiere episode, debuting in its entirety at the Con.
Book Two: Spirts
Chapter One: Rebel Spirit
The action opens with sole remaining Fire Ferret team member Bolin trying to inspire his two new teammates. Elsewhere, Mako is working as a cop, riding a motorcycle and using fire bending power to stop a speeding Triad car. Also, Asami announces she is going to the South Pole to meet with someone who will put Future Industries back on top.
Meanwhile, Korra is riding air balls around with Tenzin’s kids at their home, entering avatar state at the end to win the race. Tenzin proclaims “the avatar state is NOT to be used as a booster rocket!”. They’re planning a vacation visit to all of the world’s air temples, Tenzin’s idea to continue Korra’s training. Tenzin is no longer needed in council so has time to travel. Korra takes Tenzin, his brother Bumi (Richard Riehle) and Mako to visit her home town in the Southern Water Tribe first. Katara greets them at the dock. Mako meets Korra’s dad, Tonraq (James Remar), an initially uncomfortable moment for him. The whole town has turned out, not to greet them but to see the great chief of the Northern Water Tribe, Tonraq’s brother Unalaq (Adrian LaTourelle). Unalaq has brought along his kids (so Korra’s cousins) Eska (Aubrey Plaza) and Densa (Aaron Himelstein), who appear identical although they’re a boy and girl.
Korra’s Southern Water Tribe has abandoned their belief of sprits, while Tonraq’s Northerners think it’s a shame and look down on them. Tonraq says spirit activity is increasing and they are attacking ships, then offers to train Korra in the ways of the spirits.
Meanwhile, an eccentric capitalist named Varrrick, a Howard Hughes type, is meeting with Asami. We briefly see dancing otter penguins and the commercialism of the Southern Water Tribe’s Spirit Carnival, including an adorable air bison plush. Bolin picks up on the reserved Eska and is surprised when she seemingly shows some interest in him.
That night, Naga wakes up and exits Korra’s tent, howling at something in the snow. Korra is attacked by a huge purple spirit monster, then fights it to no effect. Her dad tries to surround it in ice, while Tenzin asks why it’s angry with them, but they both just get batted aside. Korra enters avatar state, still can’t beat it, and it’s about to kill her when Tonraq arrives and hypnotizes it with some kind of bending, turning it yellow and sending it shuffling on its way.
Tonraq claims Tenzin’s plan of visiting the air temples will accomplish nothing for Korra’s development and insists that he wants to train Korra about the spirits. Korra surprisingly chooses him as her new teacher, abandoning Tenzin and her father.
** END SPOILER ALERT **
Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) is joining the vocal cast as Wan, the very first Avatar, in two episodes. Konietzko shared extensive concept art for those two episodes that he described as more naturalistic with much less lighting. We see some of the results in the trailer, and it’s definitely a different art style but works well, with water color washes replacing vibrant inks. The concept art also revealed many of the upcoming spirit creatures, looking like a Miyazaki menagerie. By the way, there’s a fantastic limited lithograph available at the Nick booth and on the Nick Shop website that features Korra and the spirits, well worth checking out before they’re gone. Konietzko revealed character design of the original Avatar and explained that he’s from 10,000 years before Korra’s time, while also revealing his trusty steed, Mula the cat deer.
Konietzko closed the panel by announcing that the Book One art book from Dark Horse was moved up to be available now for purchase at the Con, and the Book One soundtrack came out on Tuesday.