The second episode of the series The Legend of Korra
Now officially situated on Air Temple Island, Korra is engrossed reading about the Pro-Bending matches going on in Republic City. Excited about it, she tries to convince Tenzin
that it would be fun to go see one, only for Tenzin to tell her that the sport is a mockery of the noble tradition of bending in all its forms; to which Korra attempts to persuade him to let her go see one because she has dreamed of seeing a Pro-Bending match for years. Tenzin refuses, and insists that she must only remain on the Island.
And so Tenzin and Korra begin their airbending training. Korra does horribly
. Korra accuses Tenzin of being a bad teacher in a fit of anger, and later that night sneaks out to watch the pro-benders.
Arriving at the Pro-Bending Arena, Korra is quickly caught sneaking around by Toza, the arena's caretaker and ex-pro-bender. An argument begins, only for a young man in pro-bending attire to arrive and vouch for Korra. He introduces himself as Bolin, earthbending member of the Fire Ferrets, and invites her to watch the upcoming match at their private lockers. Bolin then shows Korra to the other members of his team: his older brother, the brooding firebender Mako, and their waterbender Hasook. Korra watches with amazement as all three, Mako in particular, win the match. Mako scolds his brother for bringing fangirls in. After the match, Korra and Bolin discuss her learning a few moves, and Mako realizes that the fangirl he was so short with previously is the Avatar.
Meanwhile, at Air Temple Island, Korra is still doing poorly in airbending. Most of her attention is still at the pro-benders, such as when Mako and Bolin show her the basics of pro-bending during their practice session. Korra sneaks off Air Temple Island again to see the Fire Ferrets' next match. Tenzin, eating dinner with his family, curses Korra's sudden impulsive disappearance.
The Fire Ferrets find out that Hasook is a no-show for their match; without a waterbender, the Fire Ferrets automatically forfeit and the winnings Mako dreamed of are gone. Korra suggests entering the match herself. Mako is strongly opposed to this idea but impulsive Korra suits up despite his protests. Tenzin continues to look for Korra around the island, eventually coming to several White Lotus soldiers listening to the pro-bending games via radio. Korra, initially making several fouls from not having a grasp of the rules of pro-bending, accidentally uses an earthbending disc to block an attack. This reveals her as the Avatar to the entire viewing and listening audience, Tenzin included.
A livid Tenzin goes to the arena to bring Korra back. With the Fire Ferrets losing, Korra protests that she needs to help Mako and Bolin. She returns to the ring, refusing to argue more with Tenzin. Tenzin is about to leave when he sees Korra using the spiral motions he and his children had tried to teach her before. The advantage the other team had over the new bender is gone, and they exhaust themselves trying to knock her out. The brothers then make their move and score the win by taking the whole team out in one move!
That evening, Tenzin tells Korra that, surprising as it is, the modern style of pro-bending, as Korra suggested, helped her to learn how to move like an airbender. Korra uses this moment to, in an aside, note how she decided to join the Fire Ferrets full time. She runs off, leaving Tenzin exasperated. The episode ends with Mako gazing out at Air Temple Island and Korra staring dreamily across the bay at the arena.
Tropes in this episode:
- Big Beautiful Man: Bolin.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Tenzin expresses frustration with Korra, now his live-in student. After his daughters witness a particularly bad bout where Korra insults Tenzin's teaching skills, Tenzin tries to avoid the inevitable.
Tenzin: You must promise me your teenage years won't be like this!
- Call Back:
- Bolin questions whether having the Avatar is cheating in Pro-Bending. Quite reminiscent of a flashback of Aang when the other young airbenders wouldn't allow Aang to play with them because they felt it was unfair to have the Avatar play.
- The way Bolin instructs Korra to earthbend for Pro-Bending directly contrasts with how Toph taught Aang in the first series; instead of having a strong and solid pose, Bolin encourages Korra to be lighter on her feet.
- Calling Your Attacks: Korra tries with no success:
!" *performs form at newspaper* "What is wrong
with me? Airbend!
- Canon Immigrant: The airbending-training device with the spinning panels doesn't appear in Avatar: The Last Airbender , but it did appear in the (poorly received) film The Last Airbender, which has an Alternate Continuity.
- The Charmer: It seems that Bolin brings fangirls to basically every match.
- Chekhov's News: Korra hears of up-and-coming pro-bending team the Fire Ferrets and star player Mako via a live radio broadcast.
- Chekhov's Skill: The spiral dodging movements and footwork Jinora demonstrates and Korra struggles to master.
- Color-Coded Elements: Pro-bending teams identify which element each team member bends with by their color-coded belts and helmets.
- Continuity Nod:
- When Korra tells Toza she got lost looking for the bathroom, he scoffs at the old "I have to pee" excuse.
- Korra's not the first Avatar to have trouble sitting still during meditation. In the Avatar: The Last Airbender web game in between seasons 2 and 3, we see that Avatar Roku had similar problems.
- Tenzin states that the element that's difficult to master for the Avatar is usually the one that's opposite to their personality, he noted that Earth was the toughest one for Aang.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory: Korra accidentally earthbends when she becomes frustrated during her first pro-bending match despite assuring Bolin just prior that she would only waterbend to stay within the rules.
- Dartboard of Hate: When Korra is trying to airbend, we zoom out to see her target is actually a picture of Chief Beifong in a newspaper, which she then incinerates after repeated failure.
- Die or Fly: When Korra is on the verge of losing the pro-bending match for the Ferrets, she finally gets how to move like a leaf in the wind.
- Establishing Character Moment: Bolin is first shown in-series in the background of an argument between Korra and Toza; at first he's just passing through, then double-takes at Korra, slicks back his hair, and struts forward to help her out.
- Exact Words: Tenzin tells Korra she cannot watch a pro-bending match. When he catches her enjoying one on the radio, she points out that he never said she cannot listen to one. Tenzin, of course, points out that it's a violation of the spirit of the order, if not the letter.
- Facepalm: Mako does this when Korra makes her first mistake as their team's replacement player in the game breaking pro-bending match.
- Fangirl: Apparently, Bolin has a ton of them.
- One of them can even be heard screaming very loudly "I love you Bolin!"
- Fictional Sport: We see here the introduction to pro-bending.
- Flexible Tourney Rules: Averted; Korra makes two fouls in about as many seconds in her first match, since no one bothered to explain the rules to her. And although technically there's no rule that says the Avatar can't compete, they do restrict her to only waterbending.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Mako and Bolin have shades of this. Mako is a tightly controlled young man focused on winning the pro-bending prize money to keep himself and his little brother from going back on the streets, while Bolin is more of an easygoing type with a sense of humor and a way with the ladies.
- Fourth Wall Psych: Tenzin looks directly at the camera when he says "You must promise me that your teenage years won't be like this!" He's actually talking to his kids.
- Funny Background Event/Meaningful Background Event: Bolin's first scene. May be one of the best character introductions ever.
- Might be a running gag between the brothers. After Korra reveals that she can bend earth, water, and fire, Mako reacts in silent amazement before saying, "You're the Avatar, and I'm an idiot."
- Held Gaze: Between Korra and Mako at the end after they have won the match.
- The Hopeless Replacement: Korra, thanks to not knowing pro-bending rules. She's much better in future episodes once she actually learns them.
- How Do I Shot Web?: Korra briefly tries to airbend by actually shouting "Airbend!"
- Instant-Win Condition: In pro-bending, regardless of how the rounds end, if the entire team falls off in a single round they lose the whole match.
- Little Miss Snarker: Jinora. See the Bratty Teenage Daughter exchange.
- Mistaken for Racist: Before he learns she is the Avatar, Bolin offers to teach Korra some tricks, with the caveat that he is not sure how well his knowledge of earthbending will translate to her waterbending. When Korra responds that she can earthbend, Bolin freezes up before immediately backpedaling; stumbling through an apology about not meaning to assume things about her by the way she looks. The whole bit is played as if Bolin made an embarrassing social faux pas about Korra's nationality.
- Not Bad: Mako quotes this when Korra follows Bolin's pro-bending advice successfully. He was sincere, but his lack of exuberance and the neutral sound of the compliment had Korra think she was being Damned by Faint Praise. He's more charitable later, when she helps his team win.
- Not so Above It All/Not So Stoic: After complaining about how disgraceful and frivilous Pro-Bending is for the entire episode, Tenzin can't help but cheer when Korra wins a match. He quickly tries to pretend it never happened.
- Somewhat similarly, the very fact that apparently the Order of the White Lotus guards are Pro-Bending fans.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Somehow Tenzin makes it from Air Temple Island to the Pro Bending Ring in the 30 seconds between the match resuming and Korra getting knocked into the pool below.
- He's an airbending master, and the arena is just a few kilometers away. He could probably fly there himself with fair ease.
- Oh Crap: Tenzin's face shows this trope perfectly when he overhears the White Lotus listening to the radio and learns that Korra is playing in the pro-bending playoff.
- Check out Mako's rigid posture as he realizes he was just being a jerk to the Avatar.
- Ship Tease: Bolin is obviously smitten with Korra and tries to impress her when he meets her, and there's the Held Gaze that Korra and Mako share after the match and they are (finally) on somewhat friendlier terms with each other than they were previously.
- Not to mention the ending scene with Korra and Mako staring across the bay at the other's place of abode. While they might not be thinking of each other, the way the scene is set up - soft lighting, upbeat, lilting music, and the focus on those two characters in particular - is clearly meant to foreshadow a romantic arc between them.
- Shy Finger Twiddling: Bolin does this in reaction to Korra's poor performance at the same time his brother Facepalms.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Mako and Bolin.
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: Korra can be seen pulling up the sleeves on her robe; Tenzin quickly pulls them back down.
- Soft Water:
- The pro-bending ring is far enough above the water below that you'd expect injuries, at least from the non-Waterbenders, but this trope is in full effect.
- Waterbenders are the only bender in pro-bending that is allowed to hit their opponent in the head due to this trope.
- Spit Take: A White Lotus guard does this right into the face of another when the pro-bending announcer on the radio reveals that Korra is playing in a match.
- This Is Gonna Suck: The opposing team's reaction when the Avatar is allowed to stay in the game.
- Try Not to Die:
Mako: (to Korra) Don't do anything too fancy or aggressive... in fact, don't do anything - just try not to get knocked off the ring!
- Twitchy Eye: Tenzin displays this on hearing that Korra has participated in a pro bending match.
- Verbal Backpedaling: When Korra tells Bolin that she's actually an Earthbender, he does this, saying that he didn't want to assume she was a water-bender based purely on her clothes.
Bolin: I'm sorry, no, no! I didn't mean to assume! It's that, I was just figuring... with your Water Tribe getup... that you are... a Water Tribe... gal.
- Victory By Endurance: The Fire Ferrets win two matches by simply dodging or blocking their opponents' attacks until they've tired themselves out, at which point the Ferrets win with ease. Mako impressively manages this when it's three-on-one.
- Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Korra destroys the 2000 year old airbending training device out of frustration.
Tenzin: That was a 2000 year old historical treasure! What is wrong with you?!