Jumping straight in to the plot.
We finally get to see what's been happening at the Northern Air Temple. Tenzin finds teaching quite difficult, as nobody seems interested in all of the Air Bending legends and techniques. He decides to change strategies, drilling everyone very intensely, just like Bumi told him to do. However, this also backfires, as people are tired of working so hard and want to leave.
Kai keeps skipping out on Air Bending lessons to hang out with Jinora. The two of them find a herd of Sky Bison, and play with the babies. A group of poachers, who are rounding up Air Benders to bring back to Ba Sing Se, find Jinora and Kai and kidnap them. Jinora uses her connection with the Spirits to contact Bumi's Spirit friend, thus alerting the Air Benders to Kai and Jinora's fate. The Air Benders, led by Bumi, go to rescue the kids.
Tenzin sees that the Air Benders are all sticking together after all, which is great. However, he's still fed up with teaching them, and tells Jinora she can help train. Jinora asks if she can have her Air Bending tattoos now, since she is a master, and Tenzin says he'll consider it.
This is probably the weakest of all the episodes we've had this season. However, considering we're at the halfway point already, and this is the only episode that hasn't been extremely strong, I'm okay with it. Not much happened to further the main plot here, and while filler episodes are fine in principle, this one wasn't very strong in my opinion.
The idea of Tenzin being boring and not being a very good teacher... it was just too predictable. I feel like we already covered that when we saw Tenzin and Korra training together.
The poachers didn't seem to pose much of a real threat, since we didn't know anything about them and it wasn't really quite clear what they were doing there in the first place. Jinora's Spirit connection doesn't seem to have set rules... I'm never totally clear on how far she can push her powers, or why her connection is so strong. Also, I wish we could have known that she wanted the Air Bending tattoos earlier, so this could be more a buildup. As it was, I had no idea she wanted them, so it didn't feel like much of a victory when Tenzin said he'd think about it.
But even if this episode isn't as good as the rest of the season, I still think it's a marked improvement over almost anything we got in Season Two.
I liked seeing the Sky Bison again. I liked being reminded about Air Bending culture. I liked Jinora standing up for herself to ask for what she wanted. I still really like Kai's character.
The best part of the episode was Bumi's character, however. He hasn't had a lot to do this season, even after the exciting revelation that he's an Air Bender. But now we see that his military training makes him a great leader, and that even if he's a goofball, he can be serious when the situation calls for it. I loved the moment between Tenzin and Bumi, when Bumi admitted that even though he was Aang's son, he didn't feel like part of the Air Nation until now. How sweet.
Another highlight of the episode was the conversation between Pema and Tenzin. Pema says that when she went to become an Air Acolyte, she was excited to become part of the culture, but she still needed time to adjust. She knows how these new Air Benders feel, and she gives Tenzin good advice about how to train them. Pema isn't a big part of this show, but her presence in this quiet moment with her husband was very nice.
I missed Korra, Mako, and Bolin this time around, along with Lin, Opal, etc. We did see Korra and Bolin briefly, talking over the radio to the Air Temple. Still, I can't wait to see them again next week!
So... yeah. Not my favorite episode of the season, but certainly not bad.