So the third season of Legend of Korra premiered last night, and I have to say.... not bad. The show starts off pretty fast, jumping right in to the consequences of Korra's fight with Vaatu and the effects of spirits living among humans, one of which is the living vines all over the city and the new existence of airbenders. We see Bumi airbend within the first five minutes, and soon enough Mako has to deal with reports of another airbender wreaking havoc in Republic City. Korra tries (via force, as usual) to get rid of the vines and fails miserably before resorting to some peace-spirit technique from last season which also fails, and then she gives up and decides that finding airbenders and rebuilding the Air Nation (which technically never existed, but whatever) is a much nobler cause. And so she, Team Avatar, and Tenzin all set out to the Earth Kingdom to find new airbenders.
The chemistry between characters is much improved. Korra and Asami fit well together, and Asami even manages to help us see a much less abrasive side to Korra than we're used to. Maybe what she needed was a friend all along, eh? Also I'm enjoying awkward Mako. He was never really that interesting to begin with, not like Zuko who was actually burdened with glorious purpose, and giving the other characters someone to bounce off of via light-hearted jokes (Bolin's Mako face was hilarious) seems like a decent strategy until they find something for him to be this season. The new characters are also unexpectedly fun, especially Kai and Tuu (Too, Tu?), leading me to conclude that the writers seem to have found a way to make the characters actually work together, something we haven't really seen since The Last Airbender, and to a lesser extent, the first season.
The bad guys this season are a group so terrible the White Lotus built Tai Lung-style prisons across the world to stop them, making us wonder just what they did and how powerful they are. Their leader, Zahir, is one of the people that has been gifted with airbending, an interesting twist since the other members of the group are very capable benders. We have an amputee that uses waterbending to replace her arms, sparky-sparky-boom-lady, and a dude I assume is an earthbender but seems to be able to make his earth glow and burn for some reason. One has to wonder how a non-bender managed to get them to rally behind him in the first place. That's actually one of the things I've liked about the season so far: we have enough diversity in characters that they can showcase new things with bending, and the bad guys have genuinely unique skills that cause brain-tickle and will undoubtedly lead to interesting battles in the coming episodes, another cool thing from the first show (see: Toph, swamp benders, sparky-sparky-boom-man, etc).
And lastly the dark conspiracy that used to shround Ba Sing Se has been resurrected, with the Dai Lee kidnapping and conditioning the new airbenders under the onus of the Queen who seems much eviler than her nice absentee King father.
All in all I loved the first three episodes, and I think it's because they were so similar to the original series. We have travelling, we see new places, we have new characters, the chemistry is excellent, and there is enough uncertainty and lack of information about the other players in the show that we want to see more of them. Oddly enough the first season managed to capture all of this (they substituted travelling and new places for the massive and well-done worldbuilding in Republic City) and it seems - like it did when Korra first premiered - that the writers may actually have something good on their hands. We'll just have to see how well they execute going forward.
[Minor quips: I'm not sure I like Zuko's new voice. Would have preferred if they'd found a way to age the original, somehow. Also where did he get a dragon?
I also don't like how they've completely ignored the origin of bending as told in Season 2 by having airbenders spring up without the influence of Lion Turtles, but if the story is good enough I may be willing to overlook it. Breaking rules in one's own universe is never fun (I'm looking at you magically-removing-bending-through-waterbending-Amon, and giant-spirit-kaiju-fighter-Korra.)
Lastly it's odd that this book will feature airbenders very heavily and is called Change (water is the element of change), and yet the first book called Air had barely a lick of airbending. Oh well.]