After a long year-and-a-half wait, fans can now rejoice with the super-sized return of Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra. Friday marked the special one-hour premiere of Book 2: Spirits, which features new adventures for the brash teenage Avatar. If we didn’t wonder what’s next for Korra and Team Avatar (not to mention whatever happened to Avatar Aang and the Gaang), we sure do after tonight’s episodes featuring battles with dark spirits, tensions rising within Korra’s family, and the arrival of the Northern Water Tribe army on the shores of the Southern Water Tribe.
We caught up with Legend of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender creators, Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino via email, and they replied with tantalizing answers to our burning questions. Spoilers ahead!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This season starts off with a bang as unhappy spirits wreak havoc in the Southern Water Tribe. The premiere has a mix of family drama, epic action, and the series’ signature comedy. How is Book 2: Spirits similar and different from last season? How would you describe how it fits into the history of this world?
Bryan Konietzko: Book 2 is similar to Book 1 in that it features the same core group of heroes and continues to build on their relationships and personal arcs. It differs mainly by shifting the focus to the Spirit World, the Water Tribes, and other far-flung adventures outside of Republic City, although there is still plenty of action in that metropolis too. As for the history, I’d say Book 2 ties into the history of the Avatar universe more than any story we’ve ever told before, as we weave Korra’s tail together with the first Avatar from 10,000 years ago.
Has Korra restored bending to all of those who have lost it? What other aftermath did Amon and the Equalists leave behind that Korra and Team Avatar had or still have to set right?
Michael Dante DiMartino: The biggest change as a result of the Equalist movement was the election of the United Republic’s first President. President Raiko becomes a significant presence in Book 2, as well as a new authority figure with whom Korra butts heads. Because this is a new adventure focused on the spirits and the spirit world, there wasn’t time to detail out all the fallout from Amon. But we wanted to show that Republic City had changed, thus the new President, who is a non-bender.
Konietzko: We don’t dwell on the business of Korra restoring everyone’s bending in Book 2, but we figured she got around to helping the innocent people who lost it in the months between the seasons. She is undoubtedly holding out on some sordid characters amongst the Triads, I’d say! It is a nice thing to hold over their heads in order to get them to behave better.
What can we expect this season in terms of romance? It seems like there may be trouble in paradise for Korra and Mako whereas Bolin seems to be hitting it off with both Eska and Asami.
DiMartino: One thing you can always expect from Avatar is a little romance. We show how Korra’s duty as the Avatar and Mako’s job as a police officer put a strain on their relationship. And Bolin is really trying to find his way in life and love, which leads him into an awkward relationship with Eska. Asami will always be a friend. I don’t think there’s romance in the cards for them.
It’s great to see Aang’s children, Bumi, Kya, and Tenzin, interacting with one another. It provides an insight to Aang and Katara’s life post-Avatar. That being said, will we see any of adult Aang, either in the spirit world or flashbacks?
DiMartino: Adding that sibling dynamic was one of my favorite parts of Book 2. We wanted to show how even though Aang and Katara were doing their best as parents, it didn’t mean their children were perfectly well-adjusted. I imagine it would be quite hard to grow up with a father who is literally the most powerful man in the world. Aang’s presence is still felt in Book 2, especially amongst his children.
What exactly was going on with the spirit portal when Korra balanced the South Pole? All can’t be right in the balance between the spirit and physical world so soon.
DiMartino: Opening the portal is just Korra’s first step in trying to bring balance to the spirit and physical worlds. And since this is only the second episode, there will obviously be more to discover about the portal and what its opening means to Korra and the world.
What really hit home in these episodes is how different Korra’s journey to mastering the four elements has been from Aang’s journey. How has this affected Korra’s understanding of what each element means? Is her somewhat sheltered life related to her consistent fighting style regardless of what she’s bending?
Konietzko: In a lot of ways, their journeys are opposite of each other’s: Aang was a peace-loving monk, through and through, whereas Korra is a dyed in the wool fighter. Aang was an airbending prodigy, but didn’t even discover he could bend the other three elements on his own; whereas Korra was bending three of the elements at age four. Aang had the hardest time with earthbending, the element most opposite of his native air, while Korra only had difficulty with air, the least aggressive of the bending arts. The structure of the original series was built around Aang’s progression as he learned the three remaining elements, culminating in truly becoming the Avatar at the end. For Korra, we very consciously wanted to avoid repeating that same structure, so we chose to move her further along in her bending skills, but less developed in her spiritual journey.
What new characters are you most excited to see explored this season?
DiMartino: Varrick is a lively and hilarious addition to the Avatar universe. He steals every scene he’s in. And Tonraq (Korra’s father) and Unalaq (Korra’s uncle) become important characters in the story as well. One of the things that makes this book different than Book 1 is that the conflicts are even more personal for Korra this time around, and her father and uncle are at the center of that conflict.
What was Jinora experiencing in the Southern Air Temple? Could it possibly relate to the first Avatar, Wan, voiced by The Walking Dead’s Steve Yeun?
Konietzko: It could! You’ll have to wait and see.
If there can be light and dark spirits, can there be a dark Avatar?
Konietzko: Mike and I are always drawn to the idea that there is light and dark inside every being, rather than the old two-dimensional trope of good versus evil. We are more interested in our characters struggling with the balance of those opposing forces inside them. Even Aang had great rage inside of him that he couldn’t control when he went into the Avatar state and started smiting everything and everyone around him.
What questions should have I asked but didn’t in regards to Book 2?
Konietzko: I don’t know…You’ll have to wait until the end of the season and ask yourself that question. I think you asked good ones, and plenty of them!
The Legend of Korra airs Fridays at 7 p.m. ET on Nickelodeon.