We pick up in the third episode with Unalaq’s troops making themselves at home in the southern tribe lands. Tensions are rising as the northern soldiers butt heads with the southern tribes people, and Korra starts losing the popular vote trying to remain a neutral party. As a result she is also at odds with her father who is also just trying to keep the peace.
On the other end of the story is Tenzin who is finally “enjoying” time with his family after being dismissed by the Avatar. His two siblings are there to help. Speaking of which, how perfect is it that Aang and Katara had three children, an airbender, a waterbender, and a nonbender? Seeing them interact and reminisce about their childhood is terribly bittersweet. For an animated series to focus on that kind of continuity is why this show has become so wildly popular. You can tell where they all take after both parents in certain ways. It makes the impact of knowing Aang is long passed that much easier to bear.
Tenzin, Bumi, and Kya get some bonding time as they look for Tenzin’s daughter Ikki who ran off. We get a well deserved look at the kind of father our beloved Aang grew up to be. Some might argue that the not so perfect recollection made by his children isn’t a fair turnout for the Aang who saved the world from the fire nation. I for one love the idea that Aang wasn’t necessarily a perfect father. That even the Avatar, savior of the world, has imperfections. What we find out is that Tenzin might have been shown some favoritism as he got to spend more time with Aang than the other two.
Back in the Southern Tribe lands, Varrick (the best new character of the series) has organized a discussion about the idea of rebellion. Varrick is the eccentric wealthy businessman we met in episode one who now stands to lose a lot of money, so of course he has something to say about the matter. It also doesn’t hurt that he is voiced perfectly by John Michael Higgins (Yes Man, Pitch Perfect).
Tensions between the tribes finally come to a boiling point when there is a kidnap attempt made on Unalaq. Korra was able to thwart the kidnappers all while thinking the leader was her father. This is another aspect that the LOK excels in; their way of writing very human dilemmas into an animated series. Korra is having to choose between her uncle and her father who represent (metaphorically and literally) the two hemispheres of the water tribe, putting her at the center of a civil war threat amongst her people, making the first part of Civil Wars Part 1 true to it’s title.
The end of the episode has Korra going to check on her father only to have Unalaq show up moments later to arrest him for suspicion in the kidnapping and threat on Unalaq’s life. This is the tension that the series is famous for and it seems as though the story with Unalaq might come to a head sooner than later which means big things for the rest of the season.