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This week we dive into the history of the Avatar. Korra must connect with her Avatar spirit and learn the story of the first Avatar in order to get her memories back. We get a flashback and follow Wan on his journey as he becomes the first Avatar.
We kick off the episode right where we left off with Korra being taken in by the fire sages - they perform a healing ritual on Korra to help her regain her memories. Korra speaks to her former lives and is told she must find Raava. To do this, she must learn the story of Wan and how he became the first Avatar. We meet Wan as he’s running after stealing some food and it’s quickly very obvious that we have an Aladdin situation here. Wan makes a valiant effort but is eventually caught by the guards chasing him and beat up. Without enough food to feed his makeshift family, Wan volunteers to go on the hunting expedition into the spirit wilds outside the city. We learn that bending was originally bestowed on humans by the lion turtle who carried the city on its back. They would use the gift of fire to defend themselves against the spirits while they searched for food and then return the fire to the lion turtle. Wan abandons the hunt and sneaks back into the city without returning the gift of fire to the lion turtle. He gathers the other poor and hungry citizens and attacks the family hoarding all the food. The group is mostly successful but Wan is captured. He refuses to implicate any others in the attack and is banished from the city. The lion turtle forbids him from ever returning to the city but allows him to keep his firebending so that he can protect himself.
Wan has a rough time his first night in the spirit wilds but learns from an antagonistic spirit that there are other lion turtles and other cities all over the world. After witnessing Wan rescue a cat-deer from a hunting party, the lemur spirit that spurned him before takes him in. Wan spends two years living in the wilds with the spirits. He masters firebending and the stories of his survival inspires the other disenfranchised citizens to strike out on their own in the wild. Wan decides it’s time for him to move on and search for the other humans' cities. As he’s traveling, he comes across two great spirits engaged in a massive battle. He uses his firebending to separate the two spirits and learns he’s made a huge mistake. The two spirits were Raava and Vaatu, the spirits of light and dark. By separating, them he’s released chaos and darkness into the world.
With Raava refusing his help, Wan continues his journey. He finally encounters other humans. These humans have tattoos on their bodies and can manipulate air. Shortly after entering their city Vaatu makes an appearance, turning the spirits around him dark. Raava shows up to try and fight him off but it’s clear that while Vaatu has grown stronger, Raava has grown weaker. Wan feels responsible for Vaatu’s damage and asks this city’s lion turtle to grant him the power of air so that he can help Raava. Because of human limitations, Raava must hold the power of air for Wan. Wan agrees to travel with Raava and help her bring balance to the world. They travel the world together, meeting and discovering other cities, and eventually acquiring the elements of water and earth. Wan and Raava stumble across a battle between Wan’s former human friends and former spirit friends. With Vaatu influencing both humans and spirits, Raava merges with Wan and we see the first occurrence of someone entering the Avatar state. Raava and Wan travel to the south pole, enter the spirit portal and the spirit world. Every ten thousand years Raava and Vaatue battle for the fate of the world. During this battle Raava and Wan merge permanently and Wan becomes the Avatar. With all four elements at his disposal Wan is able to defeat Vaatu and imprisons him in the spirit world. He returns the spirits to the spirit world and closes the portals. He commits himself to being the bridge between the two worlds and to travel the world and bring balance between light and dark. At the end of his life, he apologizes to Raava for not completing his mission and she explains that they will be together for all of his lifetimes.
Korra awakens and regains her memories. She questions how long she’s been away and the fire sages have no answer. What they do know however is that another ten thousand-year cycle comes to an end in only a few weeks. Korra thanks them, mounts a sky bison, and rides off.
The Legend of Korra airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on Nickelodeon.