The Legend of Korra (season 2)
|Book Two: Spirits|
Region 1 DVD cover art, featuring Korra (foreground), along with the spirits Raava and Vaatu (background)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||14|
|Original release||September 13– November 22, 2013|
Book Two: Spirits is the second season of the animated TV series The Legend of Korra by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. It consisted of fourteen episodes ("chapters"). A sequel to The Legend of Korra: Book 1, it focuses more on spiritual concepts and themes. Ordered in early 2011, Book Two: Spirits began airing on Nickelodeon in the U.S. on September 13, 2013.
According to the series' creators, about half of Book Two takes place in Republic City and the other half takes place in other areas of the world. In a panel discussion at San Diego Comic-Con 2012, Konietzko and DiMartino indicated that Book Two takes place six months after the first twelve episodes. They said that it partially takes place at the South Pole in the Southern Water Tribe and focuses mainly on the mystical "Spirit World" (hence the title Spirits) and the history of the Avatar lineage and mythology. New characters include Tenzin's older sister Kya, a waterbender; Tenzin's non-bender older brother Bumi; Korra's paternal uncle Unalaq; and her first cousins, Desna and Eska. A two-part episode entitled, Beginnings, tells the story of Wan, a selfless, kind, compassionate, and caring young man who became the original Avatar as a result of his attempts to maintain peace and balance between the material and spirit worlds.
In early 2011, during the production of Book One: Air – initially conceived as a standalone 12-episode miniseries – Nickelodeon decided to order fourteen additional episodes to round out a standard 26-episode season. As of June 2012, Book Two's writing had been completed and the episodes were in the process of being storyboarded and animated. Joshua Hamilton and Tim Hedrick, writers for Avatar: The Last Airbender, contributed to the scripts of Book Two, and the season's episodes were directed by Colin Heck and Ian Graham.
Voice actors cast for Book Two: Spirits include:
- Lisa Edelstein as Kya, Tenzin's elder sister, a waterbender, and the only daughter of Aang and Katara.
- John Michael Higgins as Varrick, an eccentric businessman
- Adrian LaTourelle as Unalaq, Korra's paternal uncle, Tonraq's younger brother, Senna's brother-in-law, Desna and Eska's father and chief of both Water Tribes who serves as the main antagonist of Book Two along with Vaatu
- Aaron Himelstein as Desna, Korra's cousin
- Aubrey Plaza as Eska, Desna's fraternal twin sister and Korra's other cousin.
- James Remar as Tonraq, Korra's father and de facto leader of the Southern Water Tribe. Remar replaces Carlos Alazraqui, who voiced Tonraq in "Welcome to Republic City".
- Alex McKenna as Senna, Korra's mother. McKenna reprises her role from "Welcome to Republic City".
- Richard Riehle as Bumi, Tenzin's older brother, and the eldest child of Aang and Katara. He is a non-bender as he does not have any bending abilities.
- Steven Yeun as Wan; a young man who lived ten thousand years ago, and became the first Avatar by fusing with Raava, the spirit of light.
- April Stewart as Raava, the spiritual embodiment of light and peace. After permanently fusing with Wan, she was transformed into the divine Avatar Spirit.
- Jonathan Adams as Vaatu, the main antagonist of Book Two, and the spirit of darkness and chaos.
- Stephanie Sheh as Zhu Li, Varrick's assistant.
- Greg Baldwin as Iroh, an ally of Aang from the original series, who is revealed to have lived in the Spirit World ever since his physical body's death forty years before the start of the series.
- Amy Gross as Ginger, an actress who stars in Varrick's movers who constantly rejects Bolin's advances on her.
- Spencer Garrett as Raiko, the president of Republic City who was elected following Amon's attack on Republic City in the first book.
- Héctor Elizondo as Wan Shi Tong, the owl spirit of knowledge from the previous series who believes Unalaq to be a true friend of the spirits. Elizondo reprises his role from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- Jason Isaacs as Zhao, the former Admiral of the Fire Nation Navy that encountered Aang on multiple occasions in the first series. He encounters Aang's children in the Fog of Lost Souls, where he is forced to wander for eternity while going insane, his punishment for killing the moon spirit. Isaacs reprises his role after eight years from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Book Two: Spirits was initially set to be animated by the Japanese Studio Pierrot, rather than Studio Mir which animated the series' first season. However, Mir's animation director Yoo Jae-myung said that because of problems with this arrangement, the series's producers asked Studio Mir to step in and animate Book 2 as well, an offer they accepted to preserve their studio's reputation. He said that Studio Mir initially chose to focus on animating the less challenging The Boondocks rather than the second season of The Legend of Korra because of the exhaustion brought about by their work on the first season. Studio Pierrot eventually animated episodes 1 through 6 and episode 9, while Studio Mir was responsible for episodes 7, 8, and 10 through 14.
Book Two began broadcast on Nickelodeon in the U.S. on September 13, 2013, after a 1-year hiatus. Airing on Fridays, it initially premiered at 7:00 PM EST but then shifted in mid-October to an 8:00 PM timeslot. Episodes 11 and 12 were shown on November 15, 2013. The Book Two Finale, episodes 13 and 14, were to be broadcast on November 22, 2013 but became available online on November 16, 2013. It was followed by Book Three: Changes, which consisted of thirteen episodes.
Completed footage from Book Two was first made public in a June 2013 promotional video, in which Korra fights spirit creatures in an arctic setting. The premiere episode was shown in full at the The Legend of Korra panel at San Diego Comic-Con on 19 July 2013, together with the release of a trailer video for Book Two.
|Title||Animated by||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Production
|13||1||"Rebel Spirit"||Studio Pierrot||Colin Heck||Tim Hedrick
Michael Dante DiMartino & Bryan Konietzko
|September 13, 2013||113||2.60|
|Six months after the defeat of Amon and the Equalists, Korra believes she has mastered airbending, Mako works as a policeman, Bolin fares poorly in pro-bending with the new "Fire Ferrets", and Asami tries to keep Future Industries intact. With Tenzin, the friends visit Korra's and Tenzin's family in the Southern Water Tribe for the winter solstice. When Korra's uncle and tribal chief Unalaq repels an angry dark spirit, Korra apprentices herself to him.|
|14||2||"The Southern Lights"||Studio Pierrot||Ian Graham||Joshua Hamilton
Michael Dante DiMartino & Bryan Konietzko
|September 13, 2013||114||2.60|
|Korra, Mako, Bolin, Korra's father Tonraq, her new teacher Unalaq, and his children Desna and Eska travel to the South Pole, where Korra attempts to release the Southern Lights. Learning that her father was banished from the Northern Water Tribe for causing a spirit rampage, and was, with Tenzin, responsible for her seclusion in her youth, she orders him to leave her. Returning from the pole, Korra's party witness an invasion of the South by the Northern Water Tribe. At the Southern Air Temple, Jinora is strongly attracted to the statues of Aang and an unidentified carving of an ancient Avatar.|
|15||3||"Civil Wars, Part 1"||Studio Pierrot||Colin Heck||Michael Dante DiMartino
Michael Dante DiMartino & Bryan Konietzko
|September 20, 2013||115||2.19|
|As the Southerners resist Northern occupation, Unalaq offers to protect the southern portal and have Korra open its northern counterpart. Varrick, whose business suffers from Unalaq's blockade, begins a revolt. Korra prevents an abduction of Unalaq by Southern rebels. As she tries to reconcile with her mother, Senna, and Tonraq, Unalaq appears to arrest them for conspiring to assassinate him. At the Southern Air Temple, Ikki disappears and Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi search for her while recalling their childhood with their late father, Avatar Aang.|
|16||4||"Civil Wars, Part 2"||Studio Pierrot||Ian Graham||Michael Dante DiMartino
Michael Dante DiMartino & Bryan Konietzko
|September 27, 2013||116||2.38|
|After her father is sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to assassinate Unalaq, Korra discovers that Unalaq staged the trial and Tonraq's earlier banishment to rid himself of a rival. With the help of her friends and Varrick, Korra frees Tonraq and other condemned rebels from prison, and Bolin from a forced marriage to Unalaq's daughter Eska. She promises to seek the United Republic's support for the Southern rebellion. At the Southern Air Temple, Ikki and Tenzin each reconcile with their siblings.|
|17||5||"Peacekeepers"||Studio Pierrot||Colin Heck||Tim Hedrick||October 4, 2013||117||1.10|
|In Republic City, tensions between Southern and Northern Water Tribe people rise as a Southern Water Tribe cultural center is bombed. Mako, back in the police force, tries to track down the culprits while Varrick produces anti-Northern propaganda "movers" starring Bolin. Korra fails to persuade President Raiko to send troops in support of the Southern rebellion. Mako confesses Korra's plan to suborn General Iroh to commit the United Forces to the war. Approaching the Fire Nation to seek the Fire Lord's support, Korra is pursued by Eska and Desna, and eventually swallowed by an angry dark spirit. Desna and Eska presume her dead.|
|18||6||"The Sting"||Studio Pierrot||Ian Graham||Joshua Hamilton||October 11, 2013||118||1.95|
|Mako and Asami investigate the theft of a shipment of her mecha-tanks to the Southern rebels, and enlist the Triple Threat Triads for a sting operation. They are double-crossed and find Asami's warehouses ransacked. In desperation, Asami sells a controlling share of Future Industries to Varrick before Mako identifies him as the instigator of the various bombings and thefts. In the Fire Nation, Korra is washed up on a beach, having lost her memory entirely.|
|19||7||"Beginnings, Part 1"||Studio Mir||Colin Heck||Michael Dante DiMartino||October 18, 2013||119||1.73|
|While being healed by the Fire Sages, Korra explores her past lives and meets Wan, the first Avatar, who lived 10,000 years ago. Living in a time where humans lived on the shells of lion turtles to protect themselves from the spirits, Wan and his friends live in poverty and hunger. One day, Wan steals the power of firebending, but is banished for it after stealing food from the local tyrant to feed his friends. After learning to survive in the treacherous jungles, Wan befriends the spirits living there. Two years later, when Wan begins traveling the mainland, he encounters two powerful spirits battling each other. One of the spirits asks Wan for assistance when he is held down by the other, and Wan separates the two. While the spirit escapes, the other spirit, Raava, explains that she is the spirit of light and peace and that the spirit Wan had freed is Vaatu, the spirit of darkness and chaos. By freeing Vaatu, Wan has unwittingly let destruction and chaos into the world.|
|20||8||"Beginnings, Part 2"||Studio Mir||Ian Graham||Tim Hedrick||October 18, 2013||120||1.73|
|After being admonished by Raava, Wan discovers that Vaatu is turning other spirits dark and threatens to destroy the world. With Raava as a conduit to obtain the power of Air, Wan travels to other lion turtles to gain control of Water and Earth to prepare for the 'Harmonic Convergence' in which Vaatu and Raava will battle for the fate of the world. When Wan finds his human and spirit friends fighting each other, he joins himself with Raava to pacify them; but this puts him in mortal danger, and can do nothing to stop the spirits from killing his friends. Upon traveling to the Southern spirit portal with Raava, Wan battles Vaatu before convincing Raava to possess him. Fighting Vaatu with the four elements, Harmonic Convergence occurs, causing the two portals to overlap with each other. Using the energy generated by the event, Wan fuses with Raava permanently, thereby becoming the first Avatar. With his newfound power, Wan imprisons Vaatu in the Tree of Time before having the spirits returning to their world and closing both portals. Thereafter Wan spends his life trying to bring peace to the world. After attaining a great age, Wan apologizes to Raava for failing to bring peace while darkness still stands. Raava reassures him, "Don't worry. We will be together for all of your lifetimes, and we will never give up." Upon exhaling his last breath, Raava (having transformed into the divine Avatar Spirit entity) leaves his body, beginning the reincarnation/rebirth cycle. With most of her memories restored, Korra learns that Harmonic Convergence is only a few weeks away and rushes to find Tenzin.|
|21||9||"The Guide"||Studio Pierrot||Colin Heck||Joshua Hamilton||November 1, 2013||121||2.47|
|Korra seeks Tenzin's help to enter the spirit world; but Tenzin's attempts fail, and she is instead guided by Jinora. In Republic City, Mako continues his investigation of Varrick. When Asami goes to cheer Mako, his apartment is raided by the police and they find evidence, planted by Varrick, that he was responsible for the thefts from Future Industries, resulting in his second arrest. At the South Pole, Unalaq fails to open the sealed North Pole portal himself, and reports to Vaatu, who promises that Korra shall come to them.|
|22||10||"A New Spiritual Age"||Studio Mir||Ian Graham||Tim Hedrick||November 8, 2013||122||2.22|
|In the spirit world with Jinora, Korra must contend with the difficult relationships between spirits. When the two are separated, Korra is transformed into a childlike version of herself. She is rescued by Iroh, who teaches her to control her emotions and tells her to help a young phoenix-like spirit return home. When Korra does this, the phoenix spirit combines with others in its nest while Korra is restored to her proper age and taken to the spirit portals. Meanwhile, Jinora finds Wan Shi Tong's library and convinces Wan Shi Tong to allow her to learn about the spirit portals. While learning that Vaatu's seal can indeed be broken if both portals are opened during Harmonic Convergence, Jinora learns that Wan Shi Tong is in league with Unalaq. Attempting to rescue Jinora, Korra is forced by Unalaq to open the northern portal. After a short battle, Korra is rescued by the phoenix spirit and forced out of the spirit world without Jinora, whose inanimate physical body remains in comatose.|
|23||11||"Night of a Thousand Stars"||Studio Mir||Colin Heck||Joshua Hamilton||November 15, 2013||123||1.87|
|Bolin visits Mako in prison, and Mako tries to warn his brother against Varrick. Disbelieving him, Bolin goes to the finale of his "movers" series, which President Raiko is also attending. During the performance, Bolin foils an apparent attempt to kidnap President Raiko. When he interrogates one of the kidnappers, the latter incriminates Varrick, who is promptly arrested and Mako freed. Korra warns President Raiko about the Harmonic Convergence and Unalaq's plans to destroy the world, but President Raiko retains his army to defend Republic City. Korra turns to Varrick for help, who agrees to give her his personal battleship. At the South Pole, Tonraq is defeated by Unalaq.|
|24||12||"Harmonic Convergence"||Studio Mir||Ian Graham||Tim Hedrick||November 15, 2013||124||1.87|
|Senna tells Korra and her friends that the Southern resistance has been defeated and Tonraq captured while Jinora nears death. With Harmonic Convergence hours away, Korra and her friends stage a frontal attack on the fortified South Pole, wherein everybody except Bumi is captured. Bumi infiltrates the camp and inadvertently destroys it, freeing Korra and her friends. They all follow Unalaq into the portal except for Asami, who takes an injured Tonraq to Katara for healing. While Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi seek Jinora, Korra goes to close the portals while Mako and Bolin hold off Unalaq, who reveals that he plans to unite with Vaatu to become a Dark Avatar and rule the world. Korra is too late to close the portal and Harmonic Convergence begins; Vaatu, after 10,000 years, is freed.|
|25||13||"Darkness Falls"||Studio Mir||Colin Heck||Joshua Hamilton||November 22, 2013||125||2.09|
|Korra tries to imprison Vaatu while Mako and Bolin oppose Unalaq. With help from Desna and Eska, Unalaq overpowers Mako and Bolin, ambushes Korra, and merges with Vaatu, becoming the Dark Avatar. Korra and Unalaq then oppose each other in their respective Avatar States. In the Spirit World, Tenzin and his siblings come across Iroh, who indicates how to find Jinora. The siblings then venture into the Fog of Lost Souls, which drives humans mad with their self-doubts. Kya and Bumi quickly succumb to the fog and Tenzin nearly does as well; but is visited by a vision of Aang, by whose advice Tenzin temporarily clears the fog and frees his relatives. Mako and Bolin convince Eska and Desna to free them; but Korra is overpowered by Unalaq, who destroys Raava and Korra's connection with the past Avatars, knocking Korra out. Jinora spiritually senses the destruction of Raava and goes to help. Unalaq transforms into Unavaatu, the strongest, most powerful, and darkest spirit that ever existed, and teleports away, knocking Mako and Bolin unconscious.|
|26||14||"Light in the Dark"||Studio Mir||Ian Graham||Michael Dante DiMartino||November 22, 2013||126||2.09|
|Tenzin and his siblings find Korra and her friends wounded and unconscious. Once healed by Kya, Korra states that with Raava gone the cycle is over and she is now the last Avatar. Unavaatu attacks Republic City. During the attack, Varrick escapes prison. In the Spirit World, Tenzin leads Korra to the Tree of Time and tells her to meditate within it. As she meditates, Korra unlocks her innermost spiritual energy and teleports to Republic City to discover a fragment of Raava within Vaatu, for Vaatu cannot live without Raava. Jinora's spirit illuminates the fragment, and Korra withdraws Raava and purifies Unavaatu, killing Unalaq and defeating Vaatu once and for all. Tenzin, Kya, Bumi, Mako, and Bolin stay in the Spirit World to defend Korra's body from attacking dark spirits and are later joined by Eska and Desna. They are about to be overrun when Korra's spirit and Raava return, destroying all of the dark spirits. Korra and Raava then unite, recreating the Avatar Spirit, but Korra's link with the previous Avatars remains lost. Instead of closing the spirit portals, Korra leaves them open, believing that spirits and humans were meant to coexist, and announces to the Southern Water Tribe that they are now independent from the North. Korra and Mako officially end their relationship after the former regained her memory of her first breakup with him. Korra also ends the Avatar's role as the bridge between the physical and spirit worlds, with that role now being served by the portals, and declares the Avatar to be a more general force for change and balance, sparking the Second Era of the Avatar.|
The premiere episode screened in advance at Comic-Con was positively reviewed by Max Nicholson of IGN, who appreciated the setup of the overarching conflict and the humorous writing. He also stated that "the animation in Book Two has taken yet another step up in quality, with noticeable advances in the action sequences and color treatment". At TV.com, Noel Kirkpatrick commented favorably on how the episode handled the necessary quantity of exposition, and on its introduction of the theme of conflict between spiritualism and secularism. Writing for Vulture, Matt Patches highlighted the loose, handheld-style cinematography – challenging for an animated series – and the "weird, wonderful", wildly imagined spirits fought by Korra; "a Kaiju parade with beasts that mirror velociraptors". The A.V. Club's Emily Guendelsberger stated that they kept up the first season's plot's "breakneck pace" and appeared intent on signaling a break with the convention of avoiding death in children's entertainment, by showing a spirit dragging a sailor to his likely death in the sea. She appreciated the nuanced portrayal of Korra's and Mako's relationship and Korra's character flaws, but remarked that Unalaq was being set up as the season's antagonist a bit too obviously.
Parts 1 and 2 of the medial episode, "Beginnings", were positively received by critics as well. Max Nicholson of IGN rated the episode 9.6/10 and praised "Beginnings" for its "stunning" animation, "top-notch" voice acting, character origins of Avatar Wan, the friendship and heartfelt relationship between Wan and Raava, "great" new insights in the Avatar universe, and as a "masterstroke in storytelling and worldbuilding." At the end of his review, he opined that "Book 2 has never looked so good.". "The Sting", which premiered before "Beginnings", was equally praised by Nicholson for the improvement of the characterizations of Mako and Asami and their chemistry between each other, in addition to establishing Varrick as a "greedy mastermind" rather than as an eccentric businessman and entertainer as he had been before. For "The Guide", Nicholson praised the character growths of Tenzin and the fleshed-out characterization of Jinora. He lauded the episode "A New Spiritual Age" for a "great character narrative" for Korra and the establishment of Unalaq as a more of a corrupt, twisted, and menacing villain. He was also surprised to see the return of Iroh of Avatar: The Last Airbender; this time, to help Korra with her journey in the spirit world. Parts 1 and 2 of "Civil Wars" were equally acclaimed by Nicholson for the friendship between Bolin and Varrick, the sibling dynamic of Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi, a "strong, complex conflict" for Korra, the respective relationship of Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi, and Korra, Tonraq, and Senna as the heart of the story, and the twist behind Tonraq's banishment from the Northern Water Tribe and his imprisonment. According to him, "Night of a Thousand Stars" brought out the best of Bolin and the worst of Varrick, as well as setting up the conflict for the last three episodes of Book 2. For "Harmonic Convergence", Nicholson praised its spectacular action sequences, fleshing out more on Unalaq's intriguing evil purpose, the heroism of Bumi, and the animation.
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