Episode 39 - Long Live the Queen / The Ultimatum / Enter the Void / Venom of the Red Lotus

March 3, 2017 @ 7:07 pm

This is a big one, kids. Team The Avatar Returns assembles to breakdown their thoughts on the final four chapters of The Legend of Korra, Book Three: Change. There’s a lot to cover, starting with the typical children’s television tropes of on-camera assassinations and Boxer Rebellions when Zaheer proclaims “Long Live the Queen” in chapter 310. In 311, “Ultimatum,” he may possibly have bitten off more than he can chew when he challenges Tenzin to a slap fight after airbending school. Bolin learns that the answers were inside of him all along in 312, “Enter the Void.” And Korra She-Hulks out all over Zaheer’s face in the final showdown of 313, “Venom of the Red Lotus.” 


Paul gets weepy over the incredible fight choreography this season. Eric is positively giddy with anticipation for Book Four: Balance. And Arlo drops the knowledge we’ve all needed about Shadow the Hedgehog. 


Next: as always the break between seasons of Korra gives us another opportunity to revisit old friends by exploring the official Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novel series from Dark Horse Comics. This time we reconnect with the Aang Gang as they face Vol. 4 - Smoke and Shadow.



The Breakdown
  • Main Topic (00:00 - 1:57:10)
  • Outro / Next (1:57:10 - 2:00:03)
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Episode 38 - Original Airbenders / The Terror Within / The Stakeout

February 10, 2017 @ 6:19 pm

Welcome back, Nuktukkers! This week on The Avatar Returns we’re throwing a good old fashioned Zaofu pajama party! We’ve got fresh Kalenutsco smoothies, air bison steaks, a game of Chekhov’s Pebble, and Bolin dolls for everyone. Oh, and chapters of The Legend of Korra to discuss. We ease into things with 307, “Original Airbenders,” which features that adorable little psychopath Milo winning hearts and minds, and begins the official Book Three #TattooWatch. Then in 308, “The Terror Within,” Zaheer and the older kids crash the party and try to bring us down, while in 309, “The Stakeout” Pabu finally breaks the UPST (Unresolved Pai Sho Tension) between Bolin and Asami. 


Is Zaheer a Mary Sue? Is Mako boring and useless? Are Paul and Eric drinking the Red Lotus Kool-Aid? Tune in to learn this and so much more! 


Next: yet another buy week in the schedule as an unidentified member of our team goes off for a walkabout. When we return we’ll be taking on chapters 310, “Long Live the Queen,” and 311, “The Ultimatum.”



The Breakdown
  • Intro / Banter (00:00 - 18:35)
  • Main Topic (18:35 - 1:41:50)
  • Outro / Next (1:41:50 - 1:46:34)
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Episode 37 - In Harm’s Way / The Metal Clan / Old Wounds

January 20, 2017 @ 8:31 pm

Benders and non-benders rejoice, The Avatar Returns is back like Varrick! We’ve been lost in the Spirit Wilds for longer than any of us care to think about, but we fought our way out, through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, to be here with you tonight as we continue at last our exploration of Nickelodeon’s award-winning Prison Break reboot, also known as The Legend of Korra, Book Three. Picking up right where we left off nearly four months(?!) ago we discuss chapter 304, “In Harm’s Way,” which sees our heroes casually violating the sovereignty of a foreign nation to free some new airbenders. Then we get serious with chapters 305, “The Metal Clan” and 306, “Old Wounds,” which takes us to a brand new location, the shining city on the hill (actually it’s in a valley) Zaofu, home of, you guessed it, the Metal Clan. Also home to Lin Beifong’s estranged half-sister Suyin. The family drama gets thick.


Thrill to the adventures of Zaofu’s own action acupuncturist! Cheer as the Earth Queen sneezes till her internal organs fall out! Ponder the intricacies of inflection! (Is it combustion lady POWERS or combustion LADY powers?)


Next: our long hiatus left us weak and out of shape, and all this heavy podcasting has really taken it out of us. So we’re taking another (much MUCH shorter) break before returning in two weeks for chapters 307, “Original Airbenders,” 308, “The Terror Within,” and 309, “The Stakeout.”


The Breakdown
  • Intro / Banter (00:00 - 15:05)
  • Main Topic (15:05 - 1:33:00)
  • Outro / Next (1:33:00 - 1:37:04)
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Hiatus Announcement

September 29, 2016 @ 5:19 pm

All great journeys have their obstacles, detours or delays. For Avatar: The Last Airbender it was a literal hole in the ground known as "The Great Divide." For The Legend of Korra, let's be honest, it was an entire character named Unalaq. And for The Avatar Returns it's that old hobgoblin known as the real world. Circumstances outside of our control have left us with no choice but to take a temporary break in our recording schedule. This one will be a bit longer than our previous little hiccups, as we won't be returning till mid-January 2017 (!!!), but I want to emphasize the words 'temporary' and 'returning' because we will most definitely be back. You have our word, once we clear these spirit vines out of the way and kick this so-called real world's butt into submission, The Avatar Returns will return!

We apologize for the timing and hope that all our fans will stick with us through these dark, podcastless days. Trust us, we're pumped to get back into production in the new year. The best of The Legend of Korra is still to come.

(The Avatar Returns is scheduled to resume with Episode 37 - In Harm's Way / The Metal Clan / Old Wounds on or around January 18, 2017.)
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Episode 36 - A Breath of Fresh Air / Rebirth / The Earth Queen

September 22, 2016 @ 9:40 pm

Change is in the air as The Avatar Returns returns from our month-long walkabout with discussion of the first three chapters in The Legend of Korra Book Three. Gone are the days of meandering plot threads and questionable kaiju choices. We’re right back into genuine character building, socio-philosophical quandaries, and thrilling Studio Mir action sequences. In chapter 301, “A Breath of Fresh Air,” Korra and Team Avatar are still trying to pick up the pieces after the paradigm shift of Harmonic Convergence, but they’ve got more on their plates than just some pesky spirit vines as new airbenders begin popping up for the first time in nearly two centuries. And we get a new villain that is already a thousand times more interesting than Unalaq in just his first few minutes of screen time. Chapter 302, “Rebirth” sees our intrepid heroes set out on a journey to gather up new airbenders in an effort to rebuild the nearly extinct Air Nation, but all they end up with is an annoying kid. Oh, and Zuko’s back! And finally chapter 303 introduces us to “The Earth Queen,” the lovely, mild-mannered successor to old King What’s-his-name-with-the-bear. She hates animals and is building a secret airbender army for the Earth Kingdom, so you know…she’s lovely.

Henry Rollins is perfectly voice-cast, but it may take some time for us to accept that. The Dai Li return, so Eric’s excited. And Arlo hates Napoleon Dynamite.

Next: three more tales to thrill! Chapters 304-306, “In Harm’s Way,” “The Metal Clan,” and “Old Wounds.”


The Breakdown
  • Intro / Banter (00:00 - 20:20)
  • Main Topic (20:20 - 1:44:50)
  • Outro / Next (1:44:50 - 1:47:28)


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Episode 35 - The Rift

August 26, 2016 @ 7:05 pm

The first two volumes of Dark Horse Comics' Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novel series both dealt with the difficulty of change, the cost and confusion that comes with transition. Volume 3: The Rift is no different as Aang continues to struggle with letting go of the past and learning to live in the present. The young Avatar slept through an entire lifetime while frozen in that iceberg, and in this time of peace following the end of the Hundred Years War he wants nothing more than to recapture the traditions of his culture now a century gone, but the world has moved on. And speaking of moving on, Toph must come face to face with her own past as she is unexpectedly reunited with her father, and both must come to terms with what, if anything, has changed between them. Writer Gene Luen Yang and art duo Gurihiru continue to impress with their masterful translation of these characters and themes from screen to page.

And is there anything more fun that podcasting with one third of the crew under the influence? (Rhetorical question. There are lots of things more fun.)

Next: The Avatar Returns takes another brief hiatus, this time to allow one of the hosts to go on a walkabout or something. (A booze-about is more likely.) But we'll be back late-September to kick off our run through The Legend of Korra Book Three: Change.
The Breakdown
  • Intro / Banter (00:00 - 08:30)
  • Main Topic (08:30 - 1:38:50)
  • Outro / Next (1:38:50 - 1:43:39)
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Episode 34 - Harmonic Convergence / Darkness Falls / Light in the Dark

August 21, 2016 @ 7:38 pm

The Legend of Korra Book Two: Spirits finally meanders to it's somewhat muddled but more-or-less satisfying status quo-shattering conclusion with the final three chapters; 212, "Harmonic Convergence," 213, "Darkness Falls," and 214, "Light in the Dark." We discuss the season highlights (Tenzin, Nuktuk, Varrick) and lowlights (the Water Tribe civil war, the dumbing down of Lin Beifong), and which characters were best or underserved. How does Unalaq stack up against other villains? (Spoiler: he's the boringest!) Azula evolves into her ultimate form as the Spirit Mushroom. Arlo gets Seed of Wondered by the Tree of Time. And the whole shebang wraps up with Korra's Krazy Kosmic Kaiju battle!

Also, this episode is late and it's Arlo's fault, and we whine about our first world podcast problems.

Next: a break between books of Korra means another book of the Dark Horse Comics graphic novel continuation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. So next week we look at Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru's third installment, Volume 3: The Rift. So join us for that...we'll leave the spirit portal open for ya.
The Breakdown
  • Intro / Banter (00:00 - 06:30)
  • Main Topic (06:30 - 1:26:45)
  • Outro / Next (1:26:45 - 1:29:38)
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Episode 33 - The Guide / A New Spiritual Age / Night of a Thousand Stars

August 3, 2016 @ 9:31 pm

This week on The Avatar Returns we read the immortal classic Through the Looking-Glass, and What Korra Found There, also known as The Avatar's Adventures in Wonderland. In chapter 209, "The Guide" Korra and Tenzin are finally reunited, we meet Bum-Ju, and bid a fond(ish) farewell to animation Studio Pierrot. Then chapter 210 ushers in "A New Spiritual Age" as we follow the white dragonfly-bunny to Uncle Iroh's spirit tea party, see some genuinely creepy crawly things, and endure the return of the Dick Owl. And lastly chapter 211, "Night of a Thousand Stars" proves to be one of our favorites episodes of the entire season as Bolin becomes the real life Nuktuk we always knew he could be. But what's that? Unalaq really does have a doomsday device? Nuk-nooo!

Also we nominate the new Batman: The Killing Joke animated film for the Unsexiest Flash Animation Circa 2002 Award.

Next: say goodbye to Book Two as we close out the season with chapters 212-214, "Harmonic Convergence," "Darkness Falls," and "Light in the Dark."

The Breakdown

  • Intro / Banter (00:00 - 11:33)
  • Main Topic (11:33 - 1:11:08)
  • Outro / Next (1:11:08 - 1:12:48)
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Episode 32 - Beginnings, Part 1 & 2

July 20, 2016 @ 8:03 pm

This week on The Avatar Returns we explore the gritty Miller and Mazzucchelli masterpiece, Avatar: Year One. Okay, not really. But we are talking about The Legend of Korra two-parter "Beginnings," which like the classic graphic novel mentioned above explores origins, in this case the origin of the Avatar State itself. We are introduced to Wan, the lovable riff-raff street rat with the heart of gold, who would ultimately go on to mess the world up in a pretty big way, and in turn become the first Avatar in order to just hold everything together. In other words, we learn that the Avatar is a bandaid. 

Harmonic Convergence is almost upon us, and it's a plot device 10,000 years in the making! Can Studio Mir save us? Or perhaps the Grumpy Carrot spirit is our hero? Is Vaatu the Unalaq of spirits? Tune in to find out.

Next: Book Two nears it's world-altering end as we discuss chapters 209-211, "The Guide," "A New Spiritual Age," and "Night of a Thousand Stars."

The Breakdown

  • Intro / Banter (00:00 - 03:10)
  • Main Topic (03:10 - 1:22:40)
  • Outro / Next (1:22:40 - 1:25:16)
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Episode 31 - Peacekeepers / The Sting

July 14, 2016 @ 5:41 pm

As The Avatar Returns continues its exploration of The Legend of Korra Book Two, Eric thinks Unalaq's boringness continues to bore, Paul thinks Korra's temperamental teenager act continues to grate, and Arlo thinks Paul has gone from face to heel. [Ed. note: he's wrong, Paul has always been an evil bastard.] Fortunately for Eric, chapter 205, "Peacekeepers" features very little Unalaq. Paul is given a mostly Korra-free episode with chapter 206, "The Sting." And Arlo can forgive (or at least ignore) Paul's horribleness because Varrick's heel turn is just so amazing. And everyone comes together in their love for Nuktuk, The Hero of the South!

Next: Studio Mir makes their triumphant return to animation duties with chapter 207, "Beginnings, Part 1" and 208, "Beginnings, Part 2."

The Breakdown

  • Intro / Banter (00:00 - 09:22)
  • Main Topic (09:22 - 1:02:05)
  • Outro / Next (1:02:05 - 1:04:12)
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