Thoughts on Bolin in General
Bolin is my favorite character in Legend of Korra, so I tend to overthink his character and gush about his awesomeness and utter adorkableness. You may have noticed this in the comments section on his page, where I tend to do most of my (rather wordy) commenting, and over-explain my position on any questions or negative commentary. Some of my thoughts here had originally been expressed on the comments page, but here I have gathered them together and elaborated on them. I expect to update this post with each episode, and any further thinking or realizations.
This post is on general thoughts or theorization focusing on Bolin. For Bolin-centric episode reviews, see my other post.
On Bolin Being the New Sokka
...Or really on any LOK character being the "new" ATLA character.
Can we kindly stop saying that so-and-so is the new so-and-so? No one could replace any of the previous characters, and that is not what the new characters are meant to be doing. Basically, these are two different characters, and though one may remind you of another, they are not a clone, a replacement, or otherwise a substitute for them. It's rather demeaning to both characters, reducing their individual personalities to singular qualities so that we can easily compare them. They're each their own character, and if you try to evaluate them based solely on how they measure up against your previous favorites, or how they compare to the person you expect them to be, you'll probably miss out on the complete awesomeness that is their own.
Try to look at these new characters without trying to compare them to others, try to see them for who they are, and not just who they remind you of. This may help you to better appreciate them, and perhaps even enjoy the show more!
Actually, you'll find a lot more to appreciate in pretty much everything that way.
On Bolin's Personality
Bolin is: adorable, upbeat, positive, energetic, naive, enthusiastic, sensitive, forgiving, charming, humorous, compassionate, reassuring, optimistic, kind, childish, oblivious, polite, sweet, eager to please, affectionate, passive, friendly, perky, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
On Bolin's Bending and Fighting Styles (updated 5-27-12)
First of all, I'm hardly in the know when it comes to real-world fighting techniques, but it seems to me that both Bolin and Mako know some degree of boxing, and that Bolin at least knows some wrestling techniques. This is in addition to their acrobatic flips and such and the martial arts fighting that is common in the series.
Bolin comments that Korra, who has been mentioned as having mastered earthbending, has a rather upright, solid stance, like traditional earthbending. He points out that for pro-bending she needs to be looser and more light-footed. I think that much of Bolin's style comes not only from pro-bending, where one obviously needs to be light and quick on their feet, and has a limited variety of ammo, but also from his life on the streets.
My assumption is that with street fighting, one has to work within narrow, confined spaces, and with less raw material than would be available in areas of less population concentration, or an open battlefield. Fighting has to be more controlled, to avoid damage to the urban surroundings and to avoid police attention. He fights side-by-side and trains with Mako, which has probably resulted in his adapting his style to complement his brother's firebending. In the battle with the Lieutenant, Mako uses his firebending in comparatively close range, while Bolin attacks from a distance, and pulls up a wall for protection.
Also, Bolin seems to be the pro-bender that most frequently uses earth disks for a shield. This is an indication that he's a more defensive fighter than an offensive one, thus less likely to stand his ground than give it up if needed. Again, this may have to do with his upbringing on the streets, where he would have to survive against older, more ruthless opponents. Sometimes, it was probably wisest to just get away rather than try to win the fight.
In When Extremes Meet I was extremely impressed with Bolin and Korra's earthbending teamwork. Earthbending a ramp may sound simple enough, until you consider they're in a fast moving vehicle. Which is rapidly approaching the area where the ramp must be placed. In a rather do-or-die type of situation. And the actual ramp is not just a solid incline, but two individual ramps for the wheels. That means their height, incline and curve, starting point, solidarity, pretty much everything had to be pretty much the same. And they pulled it off. Um, wow. And then they do it again when they need to make the turn, those panel things would have had to be pretty sturdy, have the proper curvature, and meet pretty consistantly to form a smooth enough surface that the car didn't just crash or veer out of control. Oh, and they're driving through a smoke screen. Yay for over thinking things! Oh, and Bolin also manages to rapid-fire lots of earthen projectiles and take out a motorcylist.
On Metalbending? (added 5-31-12)
Okay, this may be totally off base, but is it possible that in The Aftermath Bolin is shown to have some metalbending ability? Unless I'm mistaken, that flooring is metal, and when he bends it, it has a more leveled, evenly squared look to it than typical earthbending does, which tends to be more staggered looking square shapes. Of course, his flying brick things and earthen wall in The Revelation appear squarish too, so that may just be his style.
Whether or not he can metalbend right now, I think we can all agree that seeing Lin Beifong teach him would be absolutely awesome. Somehow I can imagine him accidentally calling her "Chief" all the time.
On Shipping (added 5-31-12)
If pressed for an opinion on shipping, I suppose I ship Boliness (BolinxHappiness), which I've seen mentioned in the comment threads for Bolin (which apparently originated from Monkeyfeathers94). I wouldn't mind Borra, but I think I'd love Brorra, which I may or may not have just made up. Basically, I look forward to a bromance type relationship between Bolin and Korra, because the two are absolutely adorable together, and Korra could totally be a 'bro' if she wanted to. I could easily see them getting into good-natured hijinks and shenanigans, almost like the fantastic (mostly platonic) Toph and Sokka duo.
Other than that, if it's well written I'll at least read it, with some exceptions, but otherwise I'll have occasional, random daydreams and wait for canon.