(Tenzin & Lin)
The Airbending Master and the Chief of Police
I think that Tenzin and Lin Beifong have one of the best developed relationships in all of Avatar, if not THE best. I don’t say that lightly either and even though they aren’t together, there are a lot of unresolved feelings between the two, especially on Lin’s part.
This pairing appeals to me because you can see the two get flustered with each other and the tension between them as they attempt to work side by side. The threat in Republic City brings them close together, closer than perhaps they’ve been in years. Things are still rocky between them, even though it’s been over a decade since they broke up. It’s funny and sad to watch them as they struggle to get back to being just friends despite what’s happened between them. They are adults and have to act professionally; they can’t let their personal feelings get in the way and sometimes it’s really hard to not let them.
Despite the fact that Lin tried to throw Pema in jail, it is obvious that she cares for Tenzin and his family a lot. She catapulted herself onto an Equalist airship in an attempt to save them for gosh sakes. Maybe some would claim that she was just doing her duty—protecting the last Airbenders—but from the emotion that she displays on her face as she goes to what she knows could very well be her Bending doom and then later as she faces Amon, it’s obvious that it’s not just her duty.
I think that Tenzin feels guilty in some respects regarding Lin. He broke it off with her to get with another—younger—woman. No matter what he said to her when they broke up, that had to hurt Lin a lot and, being the guy he is, Tenzin probably knew that. Lin was also more to Tenzin than just a former girlfriend, she was a friend, someone from his childhood. Breaking up with her was almost like cutting off a piece of his childhood in some ways as Lin was harsh and abrupt with him from then on out.
During the threat of the Equalists, Lin and Tenzin begin to heal the rift between them. Lin calls Tenzin out for his “cut and run” attitude towards the Probending tournament but Tenzin still decides to go with her in case something happens. He knows that she’s still hurting and he wants to make things better for her in whatever way he can. Lin relents and starts to let go of the pain; she’s missed him, even though she doesn’t want to admit it. They had good times and even though they’re no longer a couple, that doesn’t mean that they have to completely forsake each other.
Lin is abrasive, tough, uncompromising, and no-nonsense. Tenzin describes her as “challenging”. Tenzin is stern, calm, and more serious in nature, although he does have his moments. In some ways, they are like the unstoppable object and the immovable force. They butt heads because they are both stubborn but they both have big hearts, although Lin is a little more wary of showing hers. They genuinely care for each other, if no longer as lovers than as good friends. And that is, perhaps, the greatest form of love.