You know, I think I see a flaw in this whole recruitment plan…
I mean, it sure looks like it’s off to a great start. Asami provided a giant airship, Mako got a map of the Earth Kingdom for Korra, and Bolin convinced Mako to come along since he really isn’t comfortable around both of his ex-girlfriends. With Tenzin being as enthusiastic as he’s ever been, how can it possibly go wrong?
Oh, well, in many ways actually. Turns out people don’t want to uproot their entire lives to become Air Nomads. Some want to stay with their families, or their small children, or they don’t want arrow tattoos, or they like meat, or they prefer not to wear such breathable robes, or Tenzin just isn’t a good salesman.
I think it may be the last one. That or no one thought this one through all that much. Actually, it may be both.
Korra opts to go the “tough love” route, trying to remove a lazy young man from his parents’ basement against his will, and that guy was a Bartelby the Scrivner level apathetic. Even with his mom pushing, no one could get him out of the house.
So, really, this whole thing isn’t working. And then Bumi has an idea to try a demonstration and use razzle-dazzle to accomplish what they haven’t been able to do so far.
That actually works. Show the people of a village what airbending can do, and they get a recruit in the form of a young orphan named Kai. Orphans tug at everyone’s heartstrings except for Mako…and for good reason. The guy’s a thief and a liar, and the “criminal gang” trying to bring him in is the local sheriff and his men. The only real truth to Kai’s story is he is an orphan.
Now, Tenzin isn’t sure he wants the first recruit to the new Air Nation to be a thief and a liar, but isn’t Bumi technically the first recruit? And he’s sitting right there!
However, they really do need the airbenders, and Kai is very young, So, a compromise is reached: the boy’s stolen loot is returned, and Kai will be under Team Avatar’s supervision. That satisfies everyone except for Mako because someone has to stay suspicious of this kid until he proves himself.
And wait, is Jinora sweet on him? Am I going to be seeing more romance between prepubescents? That was the one thing that bugged me about the previous show…
Well, that all seems to be working out. Then again, that Zaheer guy busts two associates out of jail, an earthbender named Ghazen and an armless waterbender named Ming-Hua. There’s one more for his gang, and an old man inspecting things afterwards says these people are dangerous, individually able to take down any bender, collectively able to perhaps topple kingdoms, and that someone should warn the Avatar while the old timer goes to the North Pole to check on Zaheer’s girlfriend, the last member of the group.
Oh, and the old man is Zuko.
Say, Zaheer sure did pick up airbending awfully fast, didn’t he?