"A Leaf in the Wind" is the second episode of Book One: Air of The Legend of Korra and the second of the overall series. Along with "Welcome to Republic City", the episode debuted online on March 24, 2012. It later aired on Nickelodeon, on April 14, 2012, in the one-hour television premiere of the sequel series in general, immediately after "Welcome to Republic City".
Avatar Korra is now living with her airbending teacher, Tenzin, on Air Temple Island. Frustrated with her inability to master airbending, she turns her attention to Republic City's Pro-bending Arena. Here, she befriends the sibling pro-bending team of Mako and Bolin and is immediately drawn to pro-bending's dynamic fighting style.
Korra reads about pro-bending and desires to see it, but Tenzin refuses, calling the sport a mockery of the noble tradition of bending. He reiterates that Korra's only purpose in Republic City is to complete her training. Multiple sentries from the Order of the White Lotus are present to ensure Korra learns in a calm environment, free from distractions. Although she begrudgingly agrees, she looks out onto the city, desiring to see more of it.
As the two head out to train, Tenzin states that Korra's apparent difficulty in learning airbending is due to it being opposite to her personality, a statement which Korra sadly agrees with. In the training area, Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo are eager to see the Avatar start her training as an airbender. A tool that Tenzin states to be fundamental in teaching the aspects of airbending is present. Jinora explains that Korra needs to weave her way through the gates to the other side without touching them, and Ikki adds that the gates will be spinning as she tries to complete the task. Tenzin starts them in motion and sends a leaf through the mechanism. He states that Korra needs to be like the leaf and flow through the gates, in a series of circular movements demonstrated by Jinora. As Jinora demonstrates, Tenzin adds that Korra needs to be ready to shift upon meeting resistance at a moment's notice through the gates.
Korra starts after Jinora enhances the speed of the gates with a blast of air. However, she is knocked around constantly. Her second try proves just as unsuccessful, and Jinora advises her not to try to force her way through. Ikki says to dance like the wind, and Meelo reiterates his father's earlier advice regarding the leaf. After Korra falls in a daze, Tenzin simply sighs and shakes his head. That night, Korra tries to airbend at a newspaper image of Lin Beifong but fails and firebends at it in frustration. After thinking and telling Naga that she just might not be fit to airbend, Korra hears a radio broadcast of a pro-bending match nearby where the guards were excitedly listening to it. However, Tenzin shuts off the radio near the match's climax after discovering Korra listening in from the roof.
The next morning, Tenzin leads a meditation session with Korra and his children. Korra states she thinks she is doing it wrong, but Tenzin replies that there is nothing to do and tells her simply to let her mind and spirit be free, representative of air being the element of freedom. Korra laughs as her mentor emphasizes freedom despite forbidding her to leave the island or even listen to the radio. Tenzin tells her that everything will sink in over time, but Korra leaves to get lychee juice instead.
At nightfall, Korra sneaks off the island and swims to the Pro-bending Arena. She finds a training gym but is discovered by its owner, Toza, who threatens to take her to security for trespassing. A pro-bender walks in and states that Korra is with him, and they leave the area while Toza resumes working out. He takes her out to a balcony overlooking the battle arena and reveals himself to be Bolin. Another bender, Mako, who is Bolin's older brother, tells the earthbender to get Korra out of the locker room. However, Bolin thinks there is something special about her and introduces her to Mako, who simply ignores Korra and tells Bolin to get ready for their match.
Bolin and Mako's team, inclusive of a waterbender named Hasook, is revealed to be the upstart Fire Ferrets, who, according to the radio broadcaster, have surpassed expectations to that point, but face their toughest challenge against the Golden Temple Tigerdillos. The match starts out fiercely, with Mako demonstrating himself to be cool under fire. However, the Tigerdillos quickly knock Hasook and Bolin back to zone two, and Mako is knocked back a short time after. Hasook is completely knocked out of the ring seconds later, with Mako and Bolin falling back to zone three before the round ends in favor of the Tigerdillos.
In round two, the Fire Ferrets are quickly forced to zone two, but this time, they respond and force the Tigerdillos back enough to win the round and tie the match. However, in round three, Hasook is knocked into Bolin before they are each knocked out of the ring. However, Mako holds his ground, forces the Tigerdillos to drain themselves, and knocks two of their opponents out of the ring, creating a one-on-one showdown for the round and the match versus an earthbender. Mako emerges from the smoke and dust of the fight and knocks his opponent out of the ring, earning a hat trick and clinching the match for the Fire Ferrets.
After the match, Korra is enthralled and enthusiastically shoves Bolin. However, Mako and Hasook dispute, and the latter throws his helmet down and exits the locker room. Korra tries to praise Mako, but he remains annoyed that she is around. Bolin agrees to show an eager Korra the basics. He expresses uncertainty as to relating his earthbending with her waterbending, but Korra states she is an earthbender, too. Bolin apologizes for assuming due to her Water Tribe outfit, but Korra states she is a water-, earth-, and firebender, confusing Bolin. Mako concludes that Korra is the Avatar, which stuns his brother.
In the gym, Korra whips earth coins into a net, again impressing Bolin. However, he states that she is too flat-footed and needs to be on her toes, dig in, and strike. Korra's second attempt proves more successful, causing Bolin to state that she is a natural. Mako frustratingly retires for the night, and it is revealed that the brothers live upstairs in the attic.
Back on Air Temple Island, Korra's airbending training is still not going well. After her frustration boils over, she destroys the training gates with firebending. Maddened by Korra's outburst, Tenzin reveals that the mechanism was a two thousand year old relic. Korra continues to state that things just are not sinking in, but Tenzin replies that this is not something she can just force. Korra angrily states that she believes Tenzin is a poor teacher and walks away. Meelo says the same with a goofy smile and kicks the pieces of the relic around, while Ikki and Jinora comfortingly hug their father. At sunset, Pema serves dinner to the group and notices Korra is missing. Tenzin reveals he is growing frustrated with Korra, but Pema says that he needs to give Korra some space. Tenzin asks his kids to "promise [him] your teenage years won't be like this", to which Jinora emotionlessly states that she will make no such promises.
Korra returns to the Pro-bending Arena and finds out Hasook has not shown up for the match, which will force the Fire Ferrets to be disqualified if a replacement is not found in two minutes. Korra mentions her desire to fill in, but Mako refuses to allow it, saying he would rather forfeit than look like a fool. Korra states to the match official that the team is in, to which Bolin agrees. The match begins and Korra quickly waterbends a member of the opposing team out of the ring from the sides. She is given a one-zone penalty as she can only knock benders out from the back of the ring. She complies with the penalty and the match resumes, but earns herself another one when her foot crosses into zone one, sending her back to zone three. The Platypus Bears win round one and start round two with a flurry of attacks on Korra. She stops an attack with earthbending, confusing the official. The radio announcer learns that she is the Avatar, much to the audience's shock. The broadcast is heard by Tenzin on the island when he asked the guards if any of them saw Korra, angering him, and he sets off to bring her home.
The referee states that Korra may continue only if she solely uses waterbending. After the match resumes, she is quickly knocked out of the ring by a barrage of attacks. When she emerges from the water, she discovers Tenzin waiting for her, demanding she return to the island. Korra refuses, believing she does not need airbending which leads to an argument ensueing, with Tenzin stating the Avatar must learn all the elements. Korra responds by stating that what she needs to learn is modern fighting, prompting Tenzin to retort that bending is not all physical. After this, Korra returns to the match leaving a furious Tenzin behind.
The Platypus Bears take round two and dominate round three as well. Mako and Bolin are cornered, and Korra is pushed to the edge of zone three. However, at that moment, Korra begins to dodge the Platypus Bears' attacks by employing defensive maneuvers similar to an airbender's movements, catching Tenzin's attention. The Platypus Bears exhaust themselves, and the Fire Ferrets, still energetic, overwhelm them and score a knockout. Tenzin is briefly excited of their victory, but catches himself in the act and settles down. Because of their win, the Fire Ferrets have advanced to the championship tournament. Mako is finally impressed with Korra, but she refuses his credit, saying she was taught those moves by someone else.
Korra returns to the island, where the training gates are being reset by the Air Acolytes. She spots Tenzin and apologizes, saying she was frustrated with herself and took it out on him. Tenzin also says he owes an apology to Korra for having lost his patience while trying to teach her some and continues to say there are no hard feelings between the two. He adds that she was impressive in the match, moving like an airbender. Korra bids him a good night and adds she has permanently joined the Fire Ferrets, and they will be competing in a tournament in a couple of weeks much to Tenzin's dismay.
As night falls over Republic City, Mako looks out toward Air Temple Island, and Korra, in turn, lays her eyes upon the Pro-bending Arena.
- Also starring:
- Additional voices:
- Dee Bradley Baker
- Janet Varney
- Jeff Bennett
- Tom Kenny
- Main article: Transcript:A Leaf in the Wind
- Main article: Transcript:A Leaf in the Wind (commentary)
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
- This episode is the first to have a recap after the opening sequence.
- The newspaper that Korra reads has pictures of Tahno and Amon on the back page.
- The newspaper Korra burns has pictures of Lin Beifong and Tarrlok.
- Tenzin tells Korra that his father had a hard time learning earthbending. His challenges were documented in "Bitter Work".
- While meditating together, Tenzin tells Korra that "air is the element of freedom". Iroh says something similar when he informed Zuko about the four nations in "Bitter Work".
- When Korra escapes Air Temple Island to go to the Pro-bending Arena, she dives into the water using a similar impact-softening waterbending technique Aang used in his battle against Phoenix King Ozai in "Sozin's Comet, Part 3: Into the Inferno".
- At the beginning of the third round against the Golden Temple Tigerdillos, the order of the players from closest to furthest is clearly fire, water, earth, yet when the match starts, the player that should have been an earthbender starts to waterbend.
- During the third round against the Golden Temple Tigerdillos, when it is just Mako against the last remaining player of the Tigerdillos, the player is supposedly an earthbender, yet the color of his helmet is blue, indicating a waterbender. Later, the color changes to the correct green.
- During the third round against the Golden Temple Tigerdillos, when Mako and Bolin were at the end of zone one, the waterbender of the Tigerdillos bent the water for more than one second; this would be considered a hose foul, but the creators did not become aware of that because they invented this rule in "And the Winner Is...".
- After the match against the Golden Temple Tigerdillos, Hasook is seen walking next to Mako toward the locker room. However, he was knocked off the playing field and should have ascended in the elevator and emerged from the side like Bolin did.
- When Korra takes Hasook's place and Mako says that Korra is crazy, his eyes are green, instead of their normal amber color.
- Pema's robe is crossed left-over-right in the typical fashion, but when she is speaking to Tenzin, it is crossed right-over-left in one shot.
- This episode, together with "Welcome to Republic City", has the highest viewership of Book One.