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Original Airbenders

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"Original Airbenders"

The Legend of Korra





Original air date

July 18, 2014

Written by

Tim Hedrick

Directed by

Mel Zwyer


Studio Mir

Guest stars

Carlos Alazraqui (Yung - Otaku - rustler), Jim Meskimen (Daw - Air Acolyte), Maria Bamford (Pema - female Air Acolyte), Travis Willingham (Ganbat)

Production number


Episode guide

"Old Wounds"


"The Terror Within"

"Original Airbenders" is the seventh episode of Book Three: Change of The Legend of Korra and the 33rd of the overall series. It aired on Nickelodeon along with "Old Wounds" on July 18, 2014.


Despite Bumi's bad attitude, Tenzin attempts to train the new members of the Air Nation with little success. Things become more complicated for the airbending master as Jinora, with Kai's influence, begins exerting her independence and demands her airbending tattoos. The new airbenders are tested when they are forced to face a group of bison rustlers who have taken Jinora and Kai along with several bison calves.


At the Northern Air Temple, Tenzin recalls the story of the ancient monk Tang Xu's historic fast, inciting boredom from most of the airbending recruits apart from Otaku, who excitedly participates during the lecture due to being an Air Acolyte. Unfazed, he attempts to continue, but is interrupted by Bumi, who entertains his fellow students with Bum-Ju's help by imitating a spirit. Following his lecture, Tenzin guides Oogi through the air, amazing the recruits who ask at what point they would be provided with their own flying bison to mount. Tenzin states that riding a bison takes years of training, much to the students' dismay, and points out that there are not enough bison in the temple to accommodate all of the students. Kai notices a herd of bison flying nearby and suggests using those, prompting Tenzin to explain that a wild herd would require a great deal of training.

As Tenzin attempts to resume his lesson, Meelo, Kya, Pema, and Ikki arrive at the temple with more airbenders from Air Temple Island, drawing the students away from their lecture in favor of meeting the new recruits. After dismissing his class, Tenzin inquires his wife and sister about the state of Air Temple Island, to which Pema responds that Zaheer infiltrated the grounds. Kya states that she attempted to subdue the airbender to no avail and that he fled the scene with a locket bearing the image of Guru Laghima.

Korra and Tenzin radio

Avatar Korra offers advice to Tenzin over the radio.

Soon after, an Air Acolyte informs Tenzin that Korra is on the temple radio, prompting him to retreat from the courtyard to speak with the Avatar. Korra reassures her airbending master that she is safe in Zaofu and informs him that Opal will be arriving at the temple soon for training, while Tenzin expresses his frustration over being unable to reach his students. Korra advises him to seek help from his children and to trick Bumi into taking more initiative. Tenzin remarks that Korra is becoming a wise Avatar, to which she replies that conflict resolution is what she does.

Kai and the baby bison

Kai meets a baby flying bison for the first time.

Elsewhere, Jinora hesitates to observe a herd of flying bison with Kai, but eventually relents, explaining to the new recruit while they glide toward the valley that baby calves do not fly during their first week. She warns Kai to be careful around the calves as mother bison are highly protective of their young and narrowly saves him after one charges toward him. Kai thanks Jinora and asks why she does not have the tattoos signifying airbending mastery, to which Jinora replies that her father does not believe she is ready to receive them. Kai encourages her and exclaims that she is just as good as Tenzin and even more spiritually aware.

Back at the temple, Tenzin approaches Bumi, who is speaking with a number of other airbenders. Tenzin flatters his brother on his leadership skills and asks how to be more like him, prompting him to explain his tactics of military-style discipline. Tenzin thanks his brother for his help and abruptly wakes him and the other recruits before dawn the next morning, explaining that they are going on a ten-mile hike. After reaching a plateau, Bumi exclaims that he would go back to sleep if he wasn't so cold, prompting Tenzin to respond by teaching the recruits meditation and proper breathing technique, which allows airbenders to warm themselves. Bumi attempts to reason with his brother but is dismissed, prompting him to dejectedly return to meditating along with the others.

Later in the morning, Tenzin teaches the recruits to maintain their "heaven and earth" balance by standing on top of a narrow pole, an activity which most of the students struggle to complete. Jinora expresses concern over how much her father is working his students but the latter brushes off her reservations, instead urging an alarmed Otaku to ignore the ring-tailed winged lemurs crawling on his body. Following this, he takes the airbenders to a courtyard where he begins to shave Daw's head, claiming that a bald head allows an airbender to feel the wind around him more effectively. The other students express their reluctance to shave their heads, to which Tenzin responds that doing so is a personal choice, to Daw's dismay.

Disgruntled airbenders

The new airbending recruits became incredibly dissatisfied with Tenzin's teaching methods.

Continuing his training, Tenzin orders the recruits to complete an extensive obstacle course, much to Jinora's disappointment. Although many of the recruits struggle through the course, they eventually finish it, leaving Bumi as the last person on the field. Tenzin threatens to have every student repeat the course if his brother does not finish it, prompting him to quit out of frustration. Bumi's departure sets off a wave of complaints from the recruits, causing Tenzin to leave Jinora as a master in frustration. Jinora inquires whether taking leadership means that she will get her tattoos, a question which infuriates Tenzin, who insists that Jinora is not ready. Offended, Jinora claims that she is just as good of an airbender and more spiritually capable than her father ever will be before storming off, telling him to lead his own class, which forces Tenzin to leave Ikki and Meelo in charge.

Kai and Jinora captured

Kai and Jinora are captured by bison rustlers after going to find the baby flying bison.

Kai seeks Jinora out and apologizes for the incident, offering to take her to see the bison calves in order to cheer her up. The two fly down to the valley but are perplexed by the absence of the bison or any spirits nearby. Out of nowhere, Jinora and Kai are entrapped by bison rustlers, who take the two airbenders back to their camp. Alarmed by the presence of new airbenders, Ganbat instructs his men to pack up their belongings and states that the two airbenders will be taken to Ba Sing Se in order to sell along with the "rest of the fresh meat".

In the temple, Tenzin unsuccessfully tries to meditate and is approached by Pema, to whom he expresses his frustrations. Pema attempts to reason with her husband by recalling the time she left her home to join the Air Acolytes, a change which overwhelmed her at first. Noting that it took her some time to adjust, Pema urges Tenzin to be more patient with the recruits, as they are in a similar situation, reminding him that their airbending ability does not automatically make them Air Nomads. Tenzin agrees and leaves to apologize to Bumi, but his brother refuses to speak to him and walks off. Unfazed, Tenzin asks the other recruits if they had seen Jinora, only to be informed that she flew off with Kai, much to his discontent.

Back in the campsite, a caged Jinora chastises the bison rustlers for poaching the endangered flying bison. Ganbat dismisses her protests, as the beast are highly valuable due to their rarity, noting that the Earth Queen pays generously for flying bison steaks and claiming that her desire for exotic meats even prompted her to eat her father's bear. As he walks away, Kai asks Jinora to call for help using a spiritual projection, but she explains that it is too cramped and noisy to meditate properly. Instead, Jinora calls on a spirit to request help for her.

Bison rustlers

Kai managed to pick the lock to his cage and escape.

The spirit flies to the temple grounds and eventually finds Bum-Ju, who informs Bumi of the situation. Bumi rallies the airbenders for a rescue mission and eases their concerns over not being ready. The group sets off to the valley on two flying bison and prepare for an ambush near the camp. Bumi deduces that the men who took Jinora and Kai are bison rustlers, alarming the recruits who are reluctant on fighting, prompting Bumi to remind them that they must stick together as airbenders. In his cage, Kai manages to pick the lock and escape, but is caught by a poacher as he attempts to free Jinora and the other bison. Before he can be subdued, the airbenders appear and defeat the majority of the bison rustlers except for Ganbat, who attempts to escape on his truck with Jinora and three calves. Kai pursues the truck along with three adult bison who appear out of nowhere and alarm Tenzin, who eventually sees Jinora trapped in the cage along with the calves. Tenzin uses Oogi to ram the truck off course before a wild bison knocks it back with an air swipe. Ganbat surrenders, but Kai continues to attack him out of anger, prompting Tenzin to restrain him by explaining that airbenders do not attack defenseless foes, despite complimenting Kai on his technique.

Tenzin and Bumi reconcile

Tenzin reconciles with Bumi and assures him he is part of the Air Nation.

In the valley, the rustlers are locked in their own cages by Bumi and the other airbenders, who remind the poachers never to mess with an airbender's bison. Daw explains the benefits of his shaved head in battle and encourages the others to shave their heads, much to Tenzin's amusement, who heads to confront Bumi. The old master compliments his brother's leadership and connection with the spirits, stating that he reminded him of their father, Aang. Bumi apologizes for his behavior, explaining that he was afraid of not being able to measure up and continues by stating that he never felt a part of the Air Nation, despite being Aang's son. Tenzin reassures his brother that he is now, before going to Jinora, who is playing with bison calves. Kai exclaims that the wild bison appear friendlier, to which Tenzin replies that they recognize their own kind as the original airbenders. Jinora apologizes for running off while Tenzin admits how harsh he was in dealing with her request, explaining that it is hard for him to see his daughter growing up. As a compromise, he promises to consider giving Jinora her tattoos and the two look together as the bison calves begin to take their first flight.


Written by:

Directed by:


Also starring:

Production notes


Main article: Transcript: Original Airbenders

Series continuity

  • As per the restoration of the air temples commissioned by Avatar Aang, the technological advancements that the mechanist installed in the Northern Air Temple have been removed in favor of renovating the Northern Air Temple to its more traditional appearance.
  • Korra's line of "Conflict resolution, it's what I do" is reminiscent of Aang's line "Helping people ... that's what I do" in "The Puppetmaster".
  • Tenzin's realization of his impatience reminds him of Korra's during her first day of training in "A Leaf in the Wind".
  • The lead bison rustler references Earth King Kuei's pet bear, Bosco, who first appeared in "City of Walls and Secrets".
  • Kai urges Jinora to project her spirit, which she used to save him from the Earth Queen's Temple in "In Harm's Way".

Character revelations

  • Bumi has won the Admiral Tung Natural Leadership Award twice in his career as naval commander.
  • Earth Queen Hou-Ting and other upper-class citizens of Ba Sing Se pay big money for sky bison steaks and other exotic meats.


  • When Tenzin wakes the airbenders up, Yung does not have his petit goatee.
  • When Kai completes the final obstacle, all the airbenders are shown in clean clothing. In the subsequent shot when Bumi quits after plunging into the mud, several are seen covered in mud.
  • After Bumi falls in the mud, the part of his poncho that is draped over his head is red. In the next scene, it is its usual orange again.
  • Ganbat is seen wearing a seatbelt, though when the bison blasts his truck, he flies out of the vehicle.


  • Bumi's antics during Tenzin's lecture mirrors that of Sokka's when he attempted to shock Aang into the Avatar State in "The Avatar State" by using Momo's head as his own.
  • Meelo's mantra of "leave no airbender behind" reflects a line in the Soldier's Creed, which is most commonly quoted as "leave no man behind".
  • The mother sky bison which charged at Kai is similar in appearance to Appa's mother, particularly in that they both are missing the tips of their right horns.
  • This is the first episode in which Mako appears without any lines.

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