General Iroh, grandson of the now-retired Fire Lord Zuko, joins in the war against the Equalists. Meanwhile, Team Avatar is lying low in an alley where benders and nonbenders seem to coexist harmoniously, and Mako and Korra go undercover as the war intensifies.
It's hard not to think of Bolin as anything other than just comic relief when again, that's pretty much the only role he had in Book 1. I mean his last moment was basically him putting his foot in his mouth and declaring he'd shut up. Meanwhile Sokka's last moment in Book 1 was dealt with heartbreak over Yue's death, with no degrading moment.
I don’t think this is really a fair assessment of Bolin in Book 1.
In the first half of Book 1, there was definitely more to him than comic relief – he was the one who taught Korra about Probending, he was the one who got kidnapped by the Equalists, he was the one who held the Fire Ferrets together when Mako and Korra started fighting, and he was the one who freed Team Avatar when the Equalists tied them all up during the finals.
That he didn’t get to do as much in the second half of the season doesn’t define his entire character, especially not to the point where his Book 2 characterization ought to get ignored.
Besides, I think that particular scene that you quote has been unnecessarily maligned anyway. It’s a moment that shows how Bolin thinks trauma ought to be handled, not just a moment that shows him as a dunce – it’s really easy to imagine him using the same kind of “comfort” to deal with life when he and Mako were out on the streets, after all.