I ended up reviewing the season finale of Book 3 over on Youtube and ranting on an on for over twenty minutes, so I figured I should do the season premiere of Book 4 here in order to try and not go on for quite as long. Believe me though, I definitely could.
I guess I need to start off addressing the time skip since that is such a huge thing throughout the episode. Most of the episode does seem to be exposition more than anything else. Since we haven't seen any of the characters for three years now, it makes sense that we'd a lot of information about what exactly they're up to now. I thought this was all done really well, and the stage for this season's story was also set really well even while we got to catch up with the character's lives.
The most striking thing for me is that a lot of things are not the way I expected they would be. I never thought that the majority of the main characters would have spent those three years apart. Looking back on it now, I guess Korra recovering in the Southern Water Tribe makes a lot of sense. I get it. I just hadn't seen it coming. I don't think we ever got a clear answer on just how distant she's been those three years either. It seemed like she hadn't seen anyone else back in Republic City for the entirety of those three years, and I just find it weird that no one ever went to visit her or something. I'm curious to see if we get more information about all of that as the season progresses.
Aside from that, everyone looks older. I was anticipating the kids' growth so much that I never thought about the teenage characters aging as well. Asami and Maki struck me the most. Funnily enough, even though everyone was freaking out about Korra's haircut before the premiere, she looks the most like her old self to me. Asami looks the most different I think, and I actually had a moment where I had to make sure Asami and Mako were both Asami and Mako even though we'd had the trailer. It will probably take some getting used to, but I'm sure I'll adjust.
Now, relationships. We learn that Bolin and Opal are still together as well as Kai and Jinora. I'm overwhelmingly happy about that. After Bolin's awkwardness around girls in the past, it's nice to see him finally have a relationship that's lasted for an entire three years. This episode alone just made me ship Bolin and Opal so much, and I already considered myself a Bolin/Opal shipper last season. Of course they had a little tension this episode that I foresee becoming even more of a problem during the season, but I get that there has to be drama. I can handle that. I'm pretty confident that they'll stay together. I just can't see them breaking Bolin up with another girl. It would feel pretty repetitive to me at this point.
Also in the whole relationship department, we have Kai and Jinora who don't even interact in this episode. I was so excited about all of the Bolin/Opal stuff, but I was on the edge of my seat for something about Kai and Jinora the entire time, especially since Kai was with Opal. Sure enough, Opal ends up asking him about his relationship with Jinora to let us all know that there is, in fact, a relationship. I'm so, so happy. I can't wait to see them interact at some point. I'm really hoping their relationship will stay drama free. We already have Bolin and Opal as a feuding couple, and I'm assuming there will be something on the romance front for the currently single characters (this is me stating how much I want Korra and Mako to get back together before the end of the show without me really saying it). I don't think Kai and Jinora need to have any drama between them.
In other news, Republic City now seems to be getting along with the spirits just fine, so now I'm going to feel angry whenever I go back and watch about how much crap Korra got for that last season. That's definitely a signal that the story is moving on to focus on something else though, and that has me excited.
Mako's the prince's bodyguard, although I'm not entirely sure how he got wrapped into that one. I do enjoy how he and the prince play off of each other even though the prince infuriates me. I'm assuming this prince guy is sticking around for a bit and we'll get to know him. I'm really hoping Mako doesn't wind up back in Ba Sing Se, especially if none of the other characters will be there. I'll I want is for their reunion and then for them to stick together the rest of the season if I'm being honest. Although I do wonder if Mako and Bolin's family is now back in Ba Sing Se, and then maybe going back would show them again. Who knows.
Kuvira seems like she's going to be an interesting character. I'm not sure if I like her yet or now. I do find it interesting that she's marrying Opal's brother/Suyin's son/Toph's grandson. I can't entirely tell what her intentions are yet (as in is she trying to do good or just out for power). I really love how the politics of this season are shaping up though. I don't think we're going to have all of the "good" characters on one side. It looks like they're going to be arguing with on another (such as with Bolin and Opal), and I love that. So far we don't seem to be getting a black and white/good vs. evil sort of storyline. This all seems to be going to shades of grey route, and I think that's going to make this season amazing.
I was surprised to only see Korra at the very end of the episode, although I'm not really surprised that she's doing what she's doing. What I wonder the most is when she's going to finally go see the other characters. Will she go willingly? Will they go find her? It'll be interesting to see. I'm loving her character development so far though, and I think she's going to have a lot of learning about herself to do this season. It really strikes me the most that she was left until the end of the episode because with everyone else we learned what they've been up to, but Korra clearly feels like she's lost herself. She doesn't even know what she's been up to the past three years. I think that's what got me more than anything about this episode. I look forward to her finding herself this season.