Compared to the two-part extravaganza that was “Beginnings,” this week's episode of The Legend of Korra, “The Guide,” feels small in scope. Korra arrives, unexpectedly, at the Eastern Air Temple where Tenzen and his family are visiting. Korra fills them all in on what has been happening in the world since their vacation started – followed up with a pitch perfect “I knew this would happen” response from Tenzen. Korra realizes that, if she's to stop Unalaq from freeing Vaatu, she must travel to the spirit world and seal the portal that she opened at the South Pole. Tenzen agrees to help her find her way there.
Meanwhile, in Republic City, Mako is still trying to convince Asami and Bo Lin that Varrick is manipulating them, but so far its not working. For all his trouble, all he gets is invited to Varrick's for some veiled threats and intimidation. Well, at least he's got Asami back, right?
Unalaq is desperately trying to find a way to break Vaatu free without the aid of Korra, whom he still believes is dead. He enlists the aid of his children in trying to force their way through the portal using their combined bending abilities. Desna is hurt by backlash from the portal, but Unalaq insists that they keep at it. Eska breaks ranks with her father, taking Desna back to the physical realm to find a healer. Could a change of allegiances be far off for the children?
This season of The Legend of Korra has had a recurring theme involving fathers and their children, and it comes out strongly in Tenzen's attempts to get Korra to the spirit world. First, there's the revelation that Tenzen has never actually been to the spirit world, something he feels is expected of him since he is the son of Aang and the heir to the airbender traditions. This is only compounded by the revelation that his daughter, Jinora, has a natural affinity for spirits and has been able to see them for some time. Jinora helps them follow a group of spirits to an ancient airbender meditation site. Tenzen performs a cleansing ritual that draws out some dark spirits, which Korra dispenses using techniques she learned from Unalaq, prompting a brief but tender moment of reconciliation between her and Tenzen. Finally, after another failed attempt to get to the spirit world, Tenzen accepts the fact that he may never make it there himself and allows Jinora to guide Korra instead.
Back in Republic City, it seems that Varrick has made good on those veiled threats towards Mako. Asami visits Mako at this home only to have the visit interrupted by Chief Beifong and her detectives. The Triple Threats have told her about their involvement in Mako's sting operation, but made it seem that Mako was trying to distract Asami from the warehouse where her last goods were stolen. The detectives search the apartment and find some cash and explosives. Mako is arrested and taken into custody.
Finally, Unalaq speaks to the imprisoned Vaatu, apologizing for having failed and being unable to free him without the Avatar. Vaatu informs Unalaq that Korra yet lives, and has entered the spirit world.
Some thoughts: - Korra's info-dump and Tenzen's reaction are both hilarious. - So, Vaatu's been imprisoned for generations, but Unalaq thinks a little waterbending will do the trick? Really? - Mako just can't seem to catch a break. I'm hoping that the show's writers will let his arrest be the thing that finally gets Asami to question Varrick's motives. The idea that she would believe Mako was the criminal over Varrick, after everything she and Mako have been through, is just too much of a stretch. - Varrick has been right on the border of “too much” for me, but his one scene in this episode was solid and tightly written. The foot fungus gag was funny, and his threatening but still a bit silly approach with Mako was pulled off well, keeping his funny demeanor but really letting his sinister nature show through. John Michael Higgins does a great job with Varrick's voice in that scene as well. - Can we please be done with the Bo Lin mover subplot, or does the writing team really just have no idea what else to do with him at this point?