I quite enjoyed In Harm’s Way, myself, and have been enjoying Book 3 much more than I had Book 2 at the same point in the respective seasons. I was disappointed by the first battle where the Red Lotus (it’s the name of the group that was accidentally leaked by someone naming a clip file of the group on the Nick website), got through Team Zuko relatively easily. It was still a fantastic animated sequence, but I was hoping for Zuko to unleash a fire bending that had benefited from decades of practice and use (he was essentially a master of the art by the end of ATLA). Water for Arms continues to be pretty vicious and the apparent ease by which she overcomes articles is something to marvel at.
Jinora’s astral projection, so to speak, arose out of the end of last season. It doesn’t seem to out of sorts, particularly given her apparent super affinity for the spiritual world. I cackled when Mako suggested the lake, as it was something that I’m sure many fans of ATLA had been considering since the trailer and reintroduction of the Dai Li. It was definitely fun to see Jinora visit those scenes, now submerged or mostly submerged, including the room where Jet was killed. As an aside, it was awesome when Bumi just chirped up during the discussion about rescuing the air benders to admit that it was within the Queen’s right to impress her citizens into an army. It helped to shine a light on one more aspect of having a monarch be the leader/ruler of a nation. I don’t think it was a mistake that it is the Temple of Heaven from the Forbidden City that was the battleground for the escape (it’s incomplete status implies to me that the Queen no longer has the Mandate of Heaven). Also, the music and sound by the Track Team, was perfect for the battle between the Dai Li and the air benders. The power of multiple air benders is impressive.
I didn’t find the Dai Li represented as less of a threat than before, but their power seemed more based on being a secret police force than out right fighters. Likewise, in the escape with Bolin, Mako and Jinora (she’s got to be about the same age as Aang in ATLA or near abouts), didn’t surprise me in the manner that the brothers handled the Dai Li. These two have been training all their lives to fight in a constrained space against opponents. Sure, this is a little more constrained than the Pro Bending arena, but a lot of the same skills would probably come into play.
It was great having the true Lin appear for the first time since the first book. The Lin of the last book was kind of just there, without doing much or being more than background scenery. I doubt she cared much at all for whatever Korra chose to do with the Earth Queen, it isn’t her job. If it’s not her job, she doesn’t care.
As for the Red Lotus at this point, I don’t think there’s been much of a problem with their introduction or existence. Their motivation is to obviously capture the Avatar, the purpose, remains a mystery which I’m sure we’ll learn as we understand them. The why is very much intended, this group is supposed to remain mysterious and intriguing. I’m glad we haven’t had some kind of exposition from Zaheer in the first episode we met him. As for the defeat of the White Lotus Guard, those guys may be good, but they were taken out by the Chi Blockers in the first season. They aren’t the best, is probably the kindest way to say it. At the time they were stopped, there was no one around who could take their bending. Aang was dead (reincarnated into Korra) and executions are generally reserved for the worse people in the Avatar universe, i.e., those who execute not those who get executed. Imprisonment makes sense, and special prisons for powerful or normal benders was established in ATLA.
I think it will definitely be interesting to see what happens down this road in Book 3. The Earth Queen will return in some manner undoubtedly, but how, that will be interesting. Will she launch an attack on Republic City? She can hate on Korra all she wants, but it’s one person. Korra doesn’t represent, officially, any one place or people. She represents everyone.