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I’ve been observing quite a few complaints that “The Spirit of Competition” seemed to be entirely based on shipping. I’ve seen fears that this is turning into Twilight (or something similarly empty-minded), concern that the rest of the series will focus on relationships, accusations that this episode was solely a vapid attempt to please the rabid fangirls, threats to abandon The Legend of Korra altogether. Here are my thoughts on the matter:
Honestly, I didn't feel like this episode was half bad. Sure, it was romance-heavy, but to all those complaining that it's not like A:LTA, you have to remember that this is a whole other show. Bryke put in some very significant differences on purpose. These teens are much older than Katara and Aang, they have different priorities, and hormones are raging like mad. After today, it's established that there's some liking going on from all quarters and things are confusing. They all made up in the end and they’re all friends. Personally, I think it was a smart move on Bryke's part to bring up this conflict up and get it out of the way from the get-go. Now we can move on to the other conflicts of the show. There's going to be more romantic tension in future episodes as these guys figure it out, but this episode just proves that there's going to be a lot of action to come.
If you fear that the rest of the season will be like this, you’re probably forgetting about all the intricate themes and subplots that Bryke have so artfully inserted. For example, Korra still needs to develop her spirituality and overcome her airbending/Avatar state block. I think that’s worth at least two episodes solely devoted to that topic. She’s still got to win the pro bending championship, confront her fears, bring balance between the rich/poor and benders/non-benders of Republic City, and wait... what was it?.. oh yeah! Defeat Amon! So don’t worry, I doubt Bryke have turned this series into a show totally about shipping (though I bet they really enjoyed trolling all the massive shippers out there). They probably couldn’t even make another episode that romance-heavy if they tried.
Besides, this is just another way of showing how different Korra is from Aang. Aang was willing to take his time with Katara; Korra is far too impatient and assertive to do that. This is completely in keeping with what we know of her character.
To the assertions that there was no action in this episode: did you see the way Bolin won that overtime round?! And the way Korra knocked out the entire team in one blast of water? And how they beat the Rabbiroos like it was nothing? There was plenty of action and so far, Bryke have avoided the temptation of having there be a little too much action. It’s more realistic this way; life isn’t one big fight scene.
I think we should all calm down a bit. I myself was surprised but not disappointed by today’s developments. To all those who want to leave: be patient. We’re only five episodes in and this series has got a lot of potential. I still trust Bryke; I know they know how to put on a good show. I don’t think anyone, shippers and non-shippers alike, will be disappointed with the end.