Because fans should be critical, too

How the Finale of “Korra” Ruined the Entire Series

Four days later, my reaction to the ultimate conclusion of The Legend of Korra is no longer violent, but no less angry. I haven’t been this infuriated by the end of a story since watching M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village*. Incidentally enough, both endings have the exact same problem: they are both completely catastrophic letdowns that rob all that preceded them of its excellence.

I’m not the only person who thinks so. I’ve gone through several negative fan reactions, and they raise the same problems. There are, however, a few opinions that differed slightly from mine that had to do with unanswered questions (e.g. just how could Amon take people’s Bending away?) and the back story of Amon and Tarrlok.

Personally, I thought the tragic back story of Amon—his real name is Noatak—and Tarrlok was just fine. And I didn’t mind that Amon’s great power was left a mystery, among other things (e.g. how come Amon failed to take away all of Korra’s Bending? Why is that process so selective?). No, my issue has to do almost exclusively with the Deus Ex Machina of a denouement: when Korra gets her Bending back thanks to Avatar Aang.

I have to admit, I was greatly enjoying the finale up until that point. As far as I can remember, the action scenes and the more emotional sequences were handled incredibly well. Some things were a little ridiculous, like General Iroh’s Iron Man flight.(And the giant Amon mask on the Aang statue’s face was just dumb.) However, the back story of the brothers Tarrlok and Amon was probably the most effective aspect of the entire series, and Tarrlok’s murder-suicide was the most shocking, most tragic, and most moving moment.

In fact, re-examining Tarrlok’s suicide only makes me detest Korra’s “resurrection” even more. I’ll discuss that later.

Not “If,” But “How”

To understand my absolutely disgust for the moment Korra receives her Bending back, it’s best that you know where my mind was right before it happened.

The instance Amon took away Korra’s Bending was, aside from Tarrlok’s murder-suicide, the most unexpected yet properly set-up moment in the show, and I was surprised that creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko were able to go through on it. When I saw that she could Airbend, I was momentarily confused, but I accepted it: in a childish sort of way, it made sense. After that, everyone kept going on about how there was absolutely no way they could heal Korra and restored her Bending. Not even Katara, the greatest healer in the world, could do anything for her.

That sort of made me sad, but in the back of my head was always the same thought: she’s going to get her Bending back eventually. She’s the Avatar after all, and the world stills needs their savior. Besides, we all know that there’s a Book Two in the works.

With the idea of her gaining her powers back an inevitability, the big question followed: how will she get them back?

That’s when my expectations got the better of me. The possibilities of Korra truly going on a spiritual journey and becoming a wiser, stronger, and more emotionally stable human being who didn’t need to always depend on physical strength before anything…well, that struck me as the most daring thing these guys could do!

Well…besides having her do that

One could argue that such a storyline would merely be a revised version of the story of Avatar: the Last Airbender: the Avatar-in-training who only knows how to Airbend must learn (read: re-learn) the other elements in order to bring balance to the world. But since Korra already has the aggressive temperament that Aang lacked (which was part of Aang’s struggle, and which was a big part of Korra’s appeal), it would be interesting seeing her somehow regain her once native abilities by other means.

Remember back in Avatar how Zuko temporarily lost his Firebending because his motivation (CAPTURE THE AVATAR!) had changed? Then he needed to go back to the original source of all Firebending (dragons) to regain it? Certainly something similar could happen with Korra and all the other elements. (Of course, an antagonist bent on world domination will be needed to give Korra an opposition and to keep the action fans entertained through all this inner journey crap.) Not only does this plausibly set up a solution to Korra’s Bending problem within the laws and boundaries of the Avatar universe, it keeps in line with the show’s theme of the learning process: sometimes you must completely unlearn previous skills and habits in order to truly become a master.

Which brings me to my basic point: by giving Korra her Bending back at the very last minute, DiMartino and Konietzko unwittingly severe the possibility of a much richer and much more mature storyline. The possibility for which they carefully set up for in their own damn show.

Setting Up for Disaster

Korra is established as an aggressive, abrasive, arrogant, and all around macho person. Her image of herself is strong and fearless, never willing to back down from a fight. And why would she be? She’s the fucking Avatar, so she’s probably the most physically powerful person on the planet. One then has to wonder if her arrogance is the direct result of her being the Avatar and having the upper hand on people, or if that part of her personality was merely there all along? Frankly, there is no evidence of the latter: we never see her before she discovered her Avatar abilities. Hell, the first time we see her at all, she’s around five-years-old and already abusing the Hell out of her powers.

The scene with her as a wild child is cute and funny, but also damning: right away we see the tragic flaw of Korra. Her Bending has been the foundation from which she’s built her entire personality on, and to have that taken away from her would be the most devastating blow to her very existence.

And who better to pose a threat to that identity than someone who can take Bending away from people? Enter Amon, the leader of the Equalists and the only man in the world who knows how to do that very deed. Upon witnessing this evil first-hand, Korra naturally reacts with fear. And it’s quite possible that this is the first time in her life that Korra has ever truly experienced fear, for this is the first real threat to her image and way of life. (Forget that she’s the Avatar, the duty for which Bending is an automatic prerequisite.)

Naturally, Korra tries to hide this fear from everyone, because the last thing a macho person wants to appear is weak. In “The Voice in the Night, ” this leads to her even challenging Amon to a one-on-one night fight, probably the stupidest thing she ever did in the show. Of course, coming that close to losing her Bending—since Amon spares her as part of his master plan—should have taught her to pick her battles more carefully, but no: for the most part, she still insists on going after Amon herself to face him. Those lessons about “patience” are still secondary to her image as a tough guy**.

Ultimately, that attitude costs her her Bending. Suddenly, our protagonist, who spent her entire life trying to appear strong, is rendered weak and vulnerable for the first time. From a physical standpoint, that is, which is crucial because it reveals just how little inner strength she had, having compensated it with her undeniable outer strength.

Here’s the catch: the show seems to imply that if Amon hadn’t taken away her native Bending abilities, then Korra would never have been able to awaken her Airbending and her spiritual side, which was the catalyst for the entire series. She was just fundamentally unbalanced. But now she can Airbend and get in touch with her spiritual side. That, above anything else, should be the first step towards her truly becoming the Avatar.

But there is yet another aspect of Korra’s character that would have made a spiritual/re-learning journey storyline much more endearing: for most of her life, she has been a very privileged girl. Except for Airbending, she is born a natural Bender—not necessarily a prodigy—and has been trained, looked after, and taken care of by the Order of the White Lotus for most of her life. If she had any major conflicts during her childhood that shaped her, then the series sure doesn’t let us in on any of them.

Korra, despite being a generally nice kid, may have grown up under the impression that being the Avatar gives her free reign to do whatever and get whatever she pleases. It doesn’t, as the first episode “Welcome to Republic City” carefully demonstrates. She can’t get free food, she can’t fish in the city park, she can’t go stopping crime if it’s going to result in major property damage, and she can’t just have the charges dropped against her (including resisting arrest) simply because she’s the Avatar.

A major part of Korra’s character development seemed to revolve around the idea that life comes with certain rules, and to break them only generates setbacks and dire consequences, whether they are the rules of Pro-Bending or the rules of relationships (e.g. knocking an opponent out of the side of the ring is just as foul as moving in on another girl’s man). Basically, you can’t always get what you want, which is something Korra appears to come to terms with by “The Aftermath,” when she tells Mako that Asami will really need his love and support in light of recent events. It’s an extremely mature gesture on Korra’s part. [A gesture that is subsequently made pointless by the fact that she and Mako get together in the end anyway, but that’s a whole other discussion (besides, it’s not the last time DiMartino and Konietzko rendered a previously noble gesture completely unnecessary).]

It’s also worth noting that Korra’s life of relative privilege contrasts sharply with the harsher lives of Mako and Bolin. In a revealing conversation in “The Revelation,” Korra mentions that she never had a need for money, as she was always taken care of by others. As a result, she was never exposed to the more brutal realities of life that the brothers experienced after losing their parents as kids. In fact, Korra seems to have very little exposure to the world outside the Southern Water Tribe, making her a tad bit naïve, to say the least***.

The contrast in Korra’s lifestyle—in which nearly everything was given to her—and the brother’s—in which they had to work for everything—established yet another possible direction for Korra’s development. For the first time in her life, she had to really work for and earn the things she wanted. Airbending wasn’t just going to come easily, she had to rework her entire way to thinking. And gradually, she kind of did. Even if Amon was the ultimate reason for her unlocked Airbending, she probably couldn’t have knocked him out of that window without at least some lessons in Airbending etiquette.

Finally, the prospect of her having to earn her other Bending powers back would have cemented the validity of that theme. Her ability to Airbend and the newly acquired spiritual guidance from Avatar Aang and the other past Avatars would certainly be of help. She could finally get in touch with those aspects of herself that received no attention because her initial aggressive personality would not allow it. She could rebuild herself from there.

But it was not to be. Aang shows up, says something about hitting rock bottom doing something, and just gives Korra her Bending back. She even goes into the Avatar State, because that’s what everyone was waiting for, right? Once again, Korra didn’t have to work for anything, learn anything, or sacrifice anything. She’s simply handed what she wants because she was at her lowest point. With literally seconds of story to go, DiMartino and Konietzko successfully create a domino effect which destroys the significance of nearly everything that came before.

(A quick note on Aang’s Energybending: now it certainly makes sense that he would be able to take away and give back the Bending of others****. My gripe with Energybending is how it’s used both in Avatar and in Korra as an all-too-convenient Deus Ex Machina for our heroes. I don’t think it ruined Avatar‘s story too much, but in Korra, the damage is beyond repair.)

For example, doesn’t the fact that Lin Bei Fong gets her Bending back after she very nobly sacrificed herself to save Tenzin and his family take away that moment’s power? (On top of that, Tenzin and his family got caught anyway, but never mind: Lin still gets an “A” for failure.)

And what about this: seconds after Korra goes into the Avatar State, she sees that Mako is behind her, happily goes to him, and says, “I love you, too.” Moments before Aang showed up, Korra had a difficult time accepting Mako’s love because she was no longer the Avatar, but now that she’s the old Korra again, she can be with him. I’m sorry, but am I the only one who sees that as kind of fucked up? It’s almost as if she’s saying, “Now that I’m the most powerful person in the world again, I accept your love, loser.” (At least, that’s how it comes across to me.)

Originally, I figured Korra refused Mako’s confession of love because of his clumsy timing***** and wording. In Korra’s mind, he might as well have said one of two things: 1) “I love you [because you’re a loser]”; or 2) “I love you [in spite of you being a loser].” (The latter is slightly better, but you get the idea.)

Now, however, that “I love you, too” really just puts Korra in a very negative light during those scenes. She seems motivated more by pride and self-pity than anything else. If it’s true that she was contemplating suicide on the edge of that cliff (more on that later), then she was simply being immature and melodramatic. (Then again, she is a teenager!) Maybe her first step to real maturity would have been to realize this contemplation as such. That would have been an interesting direction.

I also must address the idea that this is supposed to be Korra’s “rock bottom.” Why is that? Because she lost her sense of identity and contemplated suicide? From my experience, that’s called being depressed. On the other hand, attempting suicide—actively taking the necessary steps to end your existence—is much closer to “rock bottom.” This is most especially true in fiction: how many times do you see a character merely contemplate the act? Most of the time, they either go through with it—success rates vary—or they come pretty damn close only to either be saved and/or to find the inner strength to keep living******. (Hell, I think The Avengers has a quick line about how Bruce Banner, aka the Incredible Hulk, tried to commit suicide when he “got low.”) But of course, they’d never show a character trying to commit suicide in a kids’ show.

Oh, wait…

Now, if I just happened to be on the writing staff for Korra—a writing staff which never existed because DiMartino and Konietzko wrote every episode themselves*******—this is when I’d say to them, “Come on, guys! Don’t bring up the subject and expect us to accept your pussyfooting around it next time! Go ahead! Let her try to commit suicide!

“Actually, better yet: have her try to commit suicide and fail. Why does she fail? Because she inadvertently activates her Avatar State, saving her life. See? Not only does is this plausible within the Avatar universe, but if she can still go into the Avatar State, then doesn’t that let us know that there’s hope for her after all? That there is she a way can still become the Avatar? Cue the spiritual journey!”

And regarding Aang’s line about “rock bottom”: “When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change.” That line would have some actual heft to it if, you know, we actually got to see Korra change. Which we don’t. And more importantly, we don’t see the change—if they even was one—come from Korra herself.

The Needs of the Many Outweigh the Needs of the Few

I completely buy into the idea that Korra was contemplating suicide on the edge of that cliff, and that she didn’t have the guts to go through with it. The filmmaking does just enough to drive that point across. But here’s why it still doesn’t work.

After Amon’s true identity is revealed, he frees Tarrlok and they both get away on a boat. Amon goes on about how they can start a new life together, “just like the good ol’ days.” Tarrlok, however, will have none of this, opting to kill himself (and his brother with him) rather than live with Amon/Noatak.

The reason this moment holds such power is because of Tarrlok’s motivation. He clearly regrets how his life has turned out, and how his genuine aspirations to make the world a better place were so misguided thanks to his father. (I’m paraphrasing, but this is sort of goes along the lines of, “The sins of the father shall be visited upon the children.”) This separates him from his brother, who has the same aspirations, but lacks the recognition that his means to that end are horribly flawed, and only make things worse. Deep down, Tarrlok probably realizes that, even if he somehow got away from his brother and rose to power again, he would never be able to achieve his goal. He just doesn’t have the mindset for it. Of course, his brother doesn’t realize that and wants to try again. This, Tarrlok cannot abide, and so his solution to kill himself and his brother is actually as noble as it is tragic: in a world where neither of them is capable of doing good, the best thing they can do is no longer exist in it.

Suicide is often referred to as “the coward’s way out” probably because people are horrified by the notion of it sometimes being the only way out. When the best contribution you can make to the world involves the active eradication of your own existence, that is truly “rock bottom.”

Additionally, the fact that Tarrlok had the guts to go through with it and Korra didn’t…well, that just goes to further show what a pussy she really is. (I’m kidding, but still….)

Let’s go back to Korra on the edge of the cliff, where suicide is no longer a far-fetched speculation. What if—and this is a big what if—her contemplation was primarily concerned not with herself, but with the world? That is to say, what if she was willing to kill herself not out of self-pity—which would be typical—but out of a recognition of the greater good? Remember, when the Avatar dies, he/she is reincarnated in a whole other person. The world still needs their savior, and since Korra is clearly in no position to be that savior, her suicide would allow that responsibility to go to someone who would be. That would be the ultimate self-sacrifice.

That would have been a real ending! It would have been a brave, challenging ending. It would have been one of the most remarkable endings in all of television.

But alas, Korra is still very much a kids’ show. (This is a show that won’t allow a pilot to die if his plane blows up. Could you imagine if Star Wars wouldn’t allow that?) Death, let alone suicide, is not something reserved for the main character, no matter how noble such a death would be. No need trying to depress the little ones, now is there?

But then, they wouldn’t have to. The possibility I proposed earlier in which she inadvertently activates her Avatar State could have worked.

But I might as well stop pondering such possibilities, for they are no longer such. Instead, they shall be mournfully labeled “what could have been,” if only Nickelodeon was brave enough and/or DiMartino and Konietzko were persuasive and uncompromising enough.

Where Do We Go From Here?

A lot of people are wondering: where exactly can The Legend of Korra go from here? What new adventures can Korra and friends get into next now that Amon is no longer a threat? Will there still be Equalists to deal with? Or will a new villain emerge? With Korra given all four elements now, how will she develop as a person and the new Avatar?

Personally, I could care less what Book Two will be about, because, unless they surprise me with something truly new and stunning, nothing DiMartino and Konietzko come up with will ever be as intriguing and rewarding as the potential storyline they destroyed with Book One’s last-minute happy ending.

Objectively, the series still has undeniable merits. Tarrlok’s back story and suicide-murder will probably remain the most emotionally affecting aspect of the series, and the series as a whole is beautifully drawn and cinematically kinetic (episodes like “And The Winner Is…” still stand as excellent showcases of wonderful animation filmmaking).

But in the end, the emotional connection to this material has been severed. I was betrayed, let down, and cheated. The wonderful drama that was so real and involving turned out to be nothing more than a fake and manipulative rouse. I suppose my feelings towards DiMartino and Konietzko are the same as the lieutenant’s towards Amon after he witnessed him Bloodbend. “How could you do this to me after I invested so much into you?” (Besides, what inspired this blog anyway but a lot of disappointment and a lot of love?)

Quite possibly the most disillusioning part of this whole ordeal is what it says about DiMartino and Konietzko as storytellers. They seem to be masters of hooking you in, but when it comes to paying everything off, they sorely disappoint********. I guess I was more forgiving towards Avatar‘s Deus Ex Machina because: 1) I never cared too much for Aang’s story anyway (I never thought I’d use that as a positive attribute of that show); and 2) the show’s success was never that dependent on its ultimate conclusion.

Avatar was more like a collection of short stories barely held together by an underlying plot and the world they took place in. Episodes like “The Southern Raiders” were free to stand alone as pieces of self-contained brilliance. Sadly not the case with Korra, where every episode built on each other in a more coherent and thematic way. If this is what these two plan to do with all of their stories, then consider me less than enthusiastic for the inevitable Book Two. I’ll certainly still watch it out of morbid curiosity, but I sure as Hell won’t be investing myself in it.

And so I close with a direct address to Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko themselves: you guys have certainly inspired me in my own creative endeavors, and your positive contributions to animation and storytelling are greatly appreciated, but this ending is unforgivable. You’ve ruined your show, your fan base, and my faith in you as reliable storytellers in a world where so few exist.

In the words of Greg Focker, I just have one question for you: “Can you deal with THAT?!”

*I realize the irony of comparing DiMartino and Konietzko’s work to that of M. Night Shyamalan. Considering the two never speak publicly about The Last Airbender, I wonder what they would make of this comparison.

**I say “guy” because I believe Roger Ebert is on to something when he called the heroine of Brave an “honorary boy.” That label is certainly applicable to Korra.

***Didn’t the Avatar used to have to travel the world in order to master all the elements? The show seems to imply that she was stuck in the Southern Water Tribe all those years of her training. Why? Was the conflict in Republic City that bad that no where else in the world was a safe place to train the new Avatar? I know DiMartino and Konietzko wanted to set Korra in one general location, but I feel like they didn’t think this all the way through.

****Someone brought up a very important point: in Avatar, Bending is impossible to do in the Spirit World. So Aang shouldn’t have been able to Energybend Korra’s powers back even if he wanted to. Good Lord, this show just keeps getting worse!

*****Interestingly, everyone silently scolds Bolin for looking on the bright side when he says, “At least you finally unlocked your Airbending!” Mako tells him, “Bro, not the time.” So, there’s no time for positive thinking, but there is time for goofy love proclamations? I don’t get it.

******For a great example of the latter, see the film Umberto D. No, I’ve spoiled nothing for you. Watch that film now and you’ll still be crying your eyes out.

*******Perhaps one of the problems with the writing is that they didn’t have the expert guidance of Avatar head writer Aaron Ehasz, nor did they have a John O’Bryan to use as a scapegoat.

********I was on the verge of labeling them as unreliable as screenwriter David Koepp, but that’s taking the criticism a little too far.

All screenshots taken by me.

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77 responses

  1. see, this is the kind of essay i might have written if i hadn’t just sat down immediately and rambled angrily for a while. thanks for linking to my rambling anyway. there’s a lot of good stuff in this essay, especially the discussion about suicide. i was so angry at that point in the episode that the notion of her contemplating suicide went right over my head. they really did squander an opportunity to really have her grow as a character in that regard. when you look at avatar’s season one finale and how much they packed in, it seems strange that they couldn’t find the time to at least cram in a line that would indicate what she was thinking at that moment.

    you’re definitely more forgiving of the show than i am, but i appreciate your take on things, for sure. i’ve been severely underwhelmed by the series as a whole. the only parts of the finale that really grabbed me were asami’s fight with her dad (esp. the part where she hesitates after ripping his ‘bot open) and the murder-suicide at the end.

    and i agree wholeheartedly about our introduction to korra, busting through the wall, telling everyone that she’s the avatar; deal with it. when that happened, i was like, “oh no; here we go.” you can have hard-headed characters like that who still have depth and likability. toph is probably the best example. she’s hard-headed and difficult, abrasive, and sometimes lazy. but she still has real emotions that we catch glimpses of, and seeing those parts of her makes her abrasiveness endearing. but korra doesn’t seem to have that. she’s dense in the way that naruto is dense (sorry for jumping out of the avatar-verse). naruto always plows ahead time and time again, never really learning. his indomitable spirit is loved by his friends, but they also understand and give him a hard time for that fact that he won’t just stop and think for a minute. nobody does that to korra, though; they treat her special because she’s the avatar. that would be fine if she got her come-uppance at some point, but as you very eloquently explain, she doesn’t. she doesn’t learn or change or grow.

    i think, though, that your notion of korra as an “honorary boy” is predicated on a false, culturally propagated idea of femininity (i know you cribbed it from ebert, but i’ve got a bone to pick with that guy anyway; a girl not wanting to get married doesn’t make her a boy). korra’s definitely rough ‘n’ tumble, and is more oriented toward traditionally male pastimes, but i think the notion of seeing women who aren’t traditionally feminine as something other than female is detrimental. look, for example, at suki. a warrior, takes on azula one-on-one, never backs down, never needs protection. definitely not normal “girl” stuff. but when sokka seems to think that her being a warrior means not being a girl, she tells him straight up, “i AM a warrior. but i’m also a girl.” and then kisses him. it’s the best, most straightforward derailing of that mentality i’ve ever seen in a mainstream tv show. she is, and continues to be, both a warrior and a girl. suki’s not completely analagous to korra, but that’s mainly because korra hasn’t been written as well as suki was (which makes me sad to type, since suki was just a minor character).

    June 27, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    • I’m glad you appreciated much of what I said.

      Thanks for mentioning Asami’s fight with her father. It’s amazing just how sympathetic of a character she became just so they could have her get dumped by Mako. If there’s any character I’m looking forward to seeing in Book Two, it’s her (and Tenzin and his family, naturally).

      As for the “honorary boy” tag, I should have just copied the entire quote: “Brave seems at a loss to deal with her as a girl and makes her a sort of honorary boy.” Having not seen Brave, I don’t know how much that actually applies to that film’s heroine, but I think it can be applied to Korra, and your comment about how she’s not written as well as someone like Suki is part of the reason. DiMartino and Konietzko don’t really address the question of Korra’s gender, and the few times that they do (e.g. the face powder in “The Aftermath”) it’s the butt of a joke. Clever writing or covering their tracks?

      June 28, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      • i’ll be honest; i’m really hoping asami and iroh get together, as they’re two of my favorite characters so far (lin is #1, by far, though). and i think i get what you’re trying to say about the creators’ depiction of korra’s gender, but i’d still argue that she still comes across as female even if she’s not as “feminine” as suki or even toph. she’s poorly written, and her attraction to mako comes across as a plot device and not as a real thing, which renders her rather sexless and ineffectual in this one dimension of human emotion they chose to explore with her. i’d have preferred her to not be attracted to anyone at all if the only other choice is to have her in a standard, boring tv drama relationship. in truth, her attraction to mako was handled pretty poorly. i think toph’s (very rarely discussed) attraction to sokka provides a template for a much better way to handle this kind of thing, at least from a character writing standpoint. there’s one brief moment where suki saves her from drowning and she acts all sweet and appreciative because she thinks sokka’s the one who saves her. as far as i recall, she never mentions it again, but that moment is with the audience forever, and we know that whatever she projects, she’s capable of that type of emotion but is too stubborn to show that kind of “weakness”. that’s more like the way i think korra would “should have” handled it, at least from the way that she was written in every aspect. it never made sense to me that she was stubborn and willful in every other aspect of her character, unwilling to show weakness, but when it came to love, she just blurted out whatever was going on in her head and was willing to get hurt. i was pretty bummed that they chose to have a romantic plotline at all in the series, really. they managed to keep the aang/katara relationship on the back burner for the majority of the series. it popped up when they needed it to, but the characters seemed self-aware enough to realize that there were more important things going on. neither korra nor mako seem to be anywhere near as fully realized as characters.

        ugh. i wrote a lot of words again.

        June 29, 2012 at 2:18 am

    • QuadL

      Hind sight is 20/20. In light of the following 2 and 3/4 seasons after season 1 ended I find a large number of your questions answered. and in a nut shell, it is clear to me that the writers had 4 seasons in mind inorder to develop Korra’s character and subsequent maturity from the hot-headed, arrogant, self-focused young girl she started as to a mature, caring, thoughtful, and self-sacrificing young heroine the world looks to for inspiration. Why was she kept in one location? Book 3. Tenzin’s failure to develope Korra’s spiritual growth and Korra’s own growth in making decisions as a world affecting figure? Book 2. And it all culminates in Book 4, the return of Toph, er I mean Balance…hehe.

      November 28, 2014 at 2:00 pm

  2. Pingback: Unbroken Skies - Another Take on the Korra Finale.

  3. Don’t be too angry with Korra.
    After all, Aang was also saved by Deus ex Machina after he literally dug up his own grave during his greatest fight. Neither of them really earned their personal happy ending.
    Still, it is truly disappointing how weak Korra’s character was without most of her bending, especially compared to Lin, Tarrlok and even freaking Tahno.
    Hopefully, the next season will be focused more on the endearing and sympathic characters (Asami, Bolin, Tenzin & family, etc.), and less on the eponymous character of the series and her new boyfriend.

    June 28, 2012 at 10:20 am

    • I did mention Aang’s Deus Ex Machina in Avatar, and also why it didn’t really hurt my view of his show as much as Korra’s Deus Ex Machina affected hers. Otherwise, I agree with you.

      June 28, 2012 at 8:13 pm

  4. SpiderHyphenMan

    Your main point (that Korra should have attempted rather than contemplated) is incredibly foolish. If she actually had attempted it, that means she would have GIVEN IN to despair. It’s only because she sits down after looking over the edge does she connect with her spiritual self. Was it rushed as hell? Yeah. Was it still internally consistent? I’d argue yes.

    Here’s something written by someone better at words than me, one Z. Autobahn of the Something Awful forums (from where I found this blog)

    Holy shit, I just wrote a lot of words about Korra, but I feel like the last few pages of the thread have been really pedantically missing the point.

    I feel like the criticism that Korra lacked a character arc is really off. There seems to be a feeling that the intended arc was “brash impulsive girl learns discipline”, and that it didn’t deliver, but I don’t think that’s the core story at all. Korra’s inherent problem isn’t that she’s brash and impulsive; those are the symptoms, not the cause. Korra’s fundamental flaw at the start of the show is that she solely defines herself through her identity as the Avatar, and her journey is towards someone who is able to see past that and define themselves as an individual. TLA is the story of a person becoming the Avatar; Korra is the story of an Avatar becoming a person.

    I mean, literally, look at her very first lines on-screen: “I’m the Avatar! You gotta deal with it!” Could there be anyone more anti-Aang… Or more anyone fundamentally unready to gain the true power of an Avatar? From her very childhood, Korra latched onto the role of the Avatar and built her entire identity around it. Of course she’s brash and impulsive and cocky; she’s a child who has been told from an incredibly early age that she is, in essence, the most awesome and powerful person in the universe, and then is isolated from anything that would challenge that. And so she builds her entire identity around this idea, that she’s the Avatar, that Avatars are amazing and world-changing heroes (as opposed to Aang, who was following up Roko, who, let’s be honest, was a mixed bag), and that she is, in a nutshell, amazing. That’s the heart of her cockiness, her impulsiveness, her recklessness; she acts that way because she thinks she’s great, and she can’t lose, because she’s the Avatar, damnit, and you’ve gotta deal with it.

    And from episode one, this idea is challenged. First, the entire idea of the Equalists serves to undermine and challenge the idea of the Avatar as this positive force in the world, which creates an ideological instability throughout the whole series. And then Amon raises the possibility of losing her bending, and that’s the real final straw. I mean, her fear dream spells it out “I’ll take away your bending, and then you’ll be nothing!” But of course, this isn’t true. Lots and lots of people don’t have bending, but they’re certainly not NOTHING; Asami is a great argument for that. But Korra can’t conceive of that. She IS the Avatar, and if she’s not the Avatar, she’s nothing. She might as well be dead… In fact, it’s probably being worse than dead. If she’s not the Avatar, she might as well kill herself. She is her role, or she’s nothing.

    Note how this theme is perfectly reflected in the villains. Both Tarlok and Amon as children were told ‘you have a role, a destiny, a purpose’, though of course, in their case, it was tools for revenge. And they both struggled with this role, with this purpose foisted onto them through no will of their own, and they both tried to overcome it… And they failed. Neither were able to break free of their Roles as ‘Yakone’s Revenge’. Neither was able to find their own identity OUTSIDE of the destiny dropped on them from above. And in the end, when they failed at being that identity, they died at their own hand (well, Tarlok definitely did, but I’d argue based on that final shot of Amon crying that he knew damn well what was coming.) This is absolutely key: they fail at being the Roles they were told they’d be as children, and they kill themselves.

    So what happens to Korra? She grows, slowly, over the course of the show, as she’s exposed to more and more, as her sense of identity and self grows stronger, but she has to lose it all to truly hit enlightenment. And she does, when Amon takes her bending. She loses her identity. She is, per her earlier vision, ‘nothing’. So what happens?

    Well, first, she airbends. Why? Because for the first time in her entire life, she’s not trying to bend. She’s fighting not as an Avatar, but as a normal person, desperate to survive. Airbending forms require discipline and focus, which Korra lacks, but she lacks those things because she believes she’s entitled to great power. Only when she’s lost that entitlement does she gain the spiritual clarity needed to airbend. That’s why it’s so absolutely crucial that she airbends a PUNCH, of all things, and not an airbending form!* She has to learn to fight, to live, as Korra, not the Avatar. She can only airbend by not trying to airbend.

    What happens then? She learns she can’t be healed, so she goes to a cliff to kill herself. And seriously, come on, there’s no other way to read that scene, ESPECIALLY coming off the fact that we JUST SAW A SUICIDE. Her worst dream has come true, she’s not the Avatar anymore, she might as well die, just like Tarlok and Amon… But she doesn’t. She sits back down and cries, but she doesn’t die, because in the end, she’s got too much to live for, too much to fight for. She accepts life as Korra, not as the Avatar, and even though she’s not happy about it, she’s ready to do it. And only then, when she’s finally given up the crutch of being the Avatar, when she accepts being human, does she finally gain the spiritual connection she needs to access the spirit world, and be restored. Aang’s journey was a classic reluctant hero’s journey to accepting his role; Korra is a more complex meditation on the dangers of too readily accepting your role, and letting it define you.

    Put short, what’s Korra’s journey? The Korra of episode 1 would have jumped off that cliff. The Korra of episode 12 knows not to.

    * I didn’t want to derail the main argument, but seriously, the argument that she shouldn’t have airbent because she didn’t do the proper form is really stupid. The show has made it very clear that bending is a magic that stems directly from the chi, and the movements of the body are merely a way of expressing it. The forms are established rituals that are taught and developed to help one channel this magic, but they’re just that: tools, a means to an end. We’ve seen that people can find ways to express this magic outside of forms (see: Combustion Man). The forms are a tool to channel a primal force, but they are not the primal force, and certainly the goddamn Avatar can find alternative ways to harness it.

    ** none of which is to say the show is flawless. Mako was a pretty weak character, the plotting was too slow and then too rushed, and the focus on pro-bending really weaked the front half of the season. As a whole, it pales compared to TLA. But I still think far more worked than didn’t, and Korra’s arc (and the way the entire show serves as a conceptual challenge to TLA) is absolutely the strongest thing about it.

    June 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    • I really hate asking this question, because it almost always comes across as antagonizing, but it can’t be helped: did you read the essay? My main point didn’t revolve around whether Korra committed suicide or not; it was that Korra being given back her Bending so easily robbed her entire story of its meaning and purpose. On top of that, a vast majority of Z. Autobahn’s points where addressed directly in the essay.

      June 28, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      • SpiderHyphenMan

        …I drunkenly skimmed it.

        June 29, 2012 at 7:49 pm

      • In real life, one of the hardest things for those seriously contemplating suicide to do, is to make the decision not to do it. There is no ‘easy’ about it.

        And besides, the creators are ultimately drawing a contrast between Tarklok/Amon and Korra, not a parallel. Tarlok and Amon chose suicide when they discovered they had failed to escape their father’s chosen identity for them. Korra, when faced with the obliteration of her appointed identity as Avatar, one that she too had let define her, also has to choose whether or not there is someone else besides the Avatar identity inside of her that is worth keeping around, and she ultimately decides that there is.

        Having her actually thrown off the cliff changes that meaning in an extraordinarily negative way. That would mean that everything we’ve seen that happened to her through the course of the series was for nothing, because that would signify that she hadn’t grown at all from the beginning, or shown any progress on tackling her character flaws.

        She’s always been willing to risk her own safety and self for the sake of others, so doing so again (by throwing herself off the cliff) wouldn’t represent anything new or changed about the character, even if it was part of the reason she was contemplating it. That would have been the cheat that robs the season of its emotional core, because we the audience still knew she was weak for that other reason she was on the cliff – the refusal to be able to understand her identity apart from what she was born into.

        Her greatest challenge was in having to find out who Korra is aside from the identity of being the Avatar, and that’s where the ending is brilliant.

        Accepting herself as Korra, without all the abilities of the Avatar is the only way to show that growth, and the only way to show that is to imply that she is thinking about ending it all, and then backing down from it and choosing to face life as Korra. The Korra that tells Mako she loves him isn’t the same entitled Korra. She’s humbled. If she wasn’t she’d be a splat on the icy rocks below. That’s how we know something significant and real has transpired. That’s how we know its earned and not merely ‘given’.

        There’s also no sign in the show that what Amon was doing to benders would have in any way been healed by hard work, long journeys and meditation. Through the animated performances of the characters, having your bending taken away seems to be akin to the sensation of losing your sight. No amount of meditation or work will suffice for this kind of loss. Fortunately, the Avatar universe allows for certain miraculous things to occasionally happen, and even in this case, the miraculous things that do occur, do not occur without a cost, and the price is what I have already mentioned and which has been brought up by countless others at this point. It’s never, ever easy for the suicidal to ultimately make the decision to go on living.

        July 4, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      • This is such a beautiful (if a bit confusing) explanation that it’s really a shame I almost completely disagree with it. We clearly were watching two entirely different shows, and I can only envy you for having seen something better and more satisfying than I did.

        You say Korra has indeed changed, and been humbled. The problem is I see no evidence from the show itself, or at least, no strong evidence. She could have very well accepted Mako’s love for the reason I proposed, or the reason you proposed. Maybe she accepted herself as not-the-Avatar, maybe she didn’t. Maybe she learned something, maybe she didn’t. The show doesn’t make it very clear, which is a real problem. But let’s say that Korra was humbled by having to make the choice to live. That is certainly the sign of the first steps towards maturity, but not the complete progression. Having been given her Bending back without ample time to truly and completely accept herself for who she is, this whole scenario has been reduced to a near-death experience. And most people do not change because of near-death experiences. Change isn’t something that just happens overnight; it’s something you have to work towards. Human beings are creatures of habit, and it takes real effort and time for us to rewire ourselves into different people.

        Yes, the Avatar universe does allow for certain miraculous things to occur, but they used to be: 1) at least somewhat established; and 2) plausible. I was much more acceptable of the Fire Turtle/Energybending in Avatar because, despite being clumsily brought up at the last minute, it still remained true to Aang’s character and the mythos of the Avatar universe. In Korra, Aang giving Korra back her Bending is not only impossible (you can’t Bend in the Spirit World, even if you’re the Avatar), but destroys whatever growth Korra actually could have had in the future. As it is, she will only regress back into her usual self, albeit a fully-realized Avatar. Oh, joy.

        Also, I’m well aware that choosing life over suicide is never “easy.” That’s why Tarrlok’s suicide-murder is so tragic: unlike Korra–who is just young enough to be able to cope and change–Tarrlok and Amon are fundamentally fucked, and it’s really too late for them. I’m reminded of the final line in the film Shutter Island: “Which would be worse? To die as a monster, or to die as a good man?”

        July 8, 2012 at 12:24 am

      • I did end up finding the ending plausible if only because we have seen past avatars directly control the physical world through the current incarnation with Aang in season 1 of Airbender (at the Fire Nation Temple). In this case it was the physical body of the current Avatar that took the physical effect via healing.

        That said, I was able to re-watch the entire series from the first episode in a relatively short run to go and discover more of the setup, knowing now where it was going. The triads in the first episode where right about one thing: she was fresh off the boat. Mako’s rebuke over her having “nothing”, meeting people like Asami, always making the wrong assumptions about them based on her naive worldview, but coming to appreciate each of them just the same, all feed her the appropriate subconscious experiences that come into play even up to the end. Even Asami went back with them to the Southern water tribe when at that point she really didn’t have to and nobody would have blamed her if she didn’t. All those people who were there for her support even without her bending is making a pretty powerful visual statement and one can’t help but think all of this came to her mind at that moment. In that respect, Mako might as well spoke for the entire room when he said it didn’t matter whether she was the Avatar or not.

        If the magnitude of the moment had been any less I would agree with you that it would not be sufficient for a long-term transformative effect, but the severity of it allowed me to accept that kind of long-term and lasting effect was equally plausible.

        Narratively speaking, the greater the severity of the event experienced, the less the plausibility of going backwards. I’ll admit to wanting a bit more time to absorb all of this, but not a whole lot more, (an extra scene would have been sufficint to quell this in my mind) and in the end, when it comes down to that implicit contract between the artist and the audience, it never came close to being a deal- breaker for my own part. I do wish more fans were able to share that experience alongside me.

        July 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      • That’s true about what happened at the Fire Nation Temple, but remember that was during the Winter Solstice, when the real world and the Spirit World were on the same level. (Hell, that would have been a nice solution: have Korra get her Bending back during a Solstice, while in the meantime brushing up on her spirituality. That’s plausible.)

        I’ll agree with you that Korra was indeed gaining some worldly experience and working against her own wrongheaded assumptions, and up to episode seven “The Aftermath,” I was convinced that she was on the right track. Unfortunately, the last five episodes, and especially the finale ending, undid all the buildup to a much stronger and more believable character growth. It still feels like she didn’t truly learn anything.

        I’m re-watching the series along with the Making of a Legend program on television as I type this. I’m praying to the unseen makers of the universe that I’m dead wrong and that the ending makes more sense with the help of DiMartino and Konietzko explaining some things along the way.

        July 9, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    • Carllito12

      “TLA is the story of a person becoming the Avatar; Korra is the story of an Avatar becoming a person.”
      I can’t believe I never saw it that way before. I knew Korra was intended to be the opposite of Aang personality wise, but that development completely flew past my head.

      October 14, 2012 at 10:57 pm

  5. SpiderHyphenMan

    But it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy at all for Korra to back away from that cliff.

    June 29, 2012 at 7:51 pm

  6. Dan

    Considering that Korra was originally planned as a one season show, it’s possible that the happy ending was conceived as a fail-safe before Bryke got permission to make a second season.

    June 30, 2012 at 11:28 am

    • That’s understandable, but still inexcusable. Considering that the issue only arises from the tale end of the series, they could have easily had an alternative ending ready in case Nick wanted more episodes.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:45 pm

  7. Eugene

    Yes, I heard that as well. But if the series ended with Aang making an appearance and telling Korra that she must go on a journey to regain her powers, it would still have been a great ending. A terrific ending, actually. You would know, considering that this is a kids show, that she would regain her bending eventually. But seeing that she suffered real consequences as a young avatar – that her journey to being the “chosen one” was not easy – THAT would have been a fantastic story in and of itself.

    As for the suicide comments you’re all making… teenage girls attempting suicide (versus animated villains) has no place in a Saturday morning cartoon for kids. I don’t care how much “depth” it would have given the character and the story. Teenage suicides are too real and putting them in a work of fiction to make things more dramatic is just not a good enough reason. Attempted rape would also have provided more “depth”, but come on now…

    Not to mention that it would be laughable for any character to jump off a cliff because they can ONLY bend the element of air to their will. No, Korra crying alone was dramatic enough. Knowing that she assumed she lost her bending forever provided a lot of the tension in that scene.

    July 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    • Now that’s a perfectly acceptable compromise. It certainly would have been a terrific ending, giving us just enough hope that things will eventually be all right for our hero.

      Your response to the suicide comments is oddly worded (“Teenage girls” as opposed to “teenage boys?” “Animated villains” as opposed to “non-animated villains?”), but I understand where you’re coming from, even if I disagree. No topic is too real for fiction. It’s either handled well or handled poorly. One of the reasons I hate most kids’ show is because the cynicism behind them engulfs even the most positive of themes, like the meaning of friendship. (And not in a funny way, like in Invader Zim.) The suicide contemplation of Korra, on the other hand, was handled as honestly and as tastefully as it could be in a kids’ show, and I commend DiMartino and Konietzko for that.

      Besides, teenagers have committed suicide over much sillier things than being to Bend a single element. As someone who once attempted suicide as a teenager (and failed laughably), I can only look back on that time in my life with sheer embarrassment. What would taking my own life have accomplished? Nothing. At least Korra’s suicide would have given the world a brand new, fully capable Avatar. Hmm…maybe that’s not a message we want to be sending to little kids…

      P.S. Who needs attempted rape when you’ve got Bloodbending?

      July 2, 2012 at 12:06 am

  8. Dan

    Update on Korra Season 2. Tim Hedrick, who wrote many of Avatar’s Book 2 episodes (including The Deserter, The Blind Bandit, Zuko Alone, Bitter Work, and The Puppetmaster) is involved in the writing process for Korra’s Book 2.

    July 3, 2012 at 2:42 am

    • Dan

      Slight error. I listed The Puppetmaster as a Book 2 episode. Oh well, hopefully this will bode well for Korra’s Book 2.

      July 3, 2012 at 2:43 am

      • It’s good to know Tim Hedrick will be back. But the guy they really need back is former head writer Aaron Ehasz.

        July 3, 2012 at 11:27 pm

  9. Alan

    Although I agree the ending was rushed and a little cheesy, I think that everything turned out for the better and I don’t think Aang giving Korra her bending back was deux ex machina at all. It made perfect sense to me.

    July 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    • Since it was not setup as a remotely plausible possibility, and because it killed whatever much needed character development that could have happened, I don’t think it turned out for the better at all.

      July 3, 2012 at 11:32 pm

      • QuadL

        I have to disagree with that assessment. The character development you wanted here in Book 1 is addressed far more eloquently Through book 4’s PTSD epic…again I speak in hind sight.

        November 28, 2014 at 2:18 pm

  10. I agree that The Legend of Korra needs Aaaron Ehasz… I felt little to no connection to most of the characters (besides Tenzin and perhaps Asami). Tarrlock capturing Korra was a good moment, and her after her bending was taken away was good.

    I don’t know how I feel about Korra regaining everything. I can only hope that she visits the spirit world soon and gets to talk to Aang more…or something.

    July 5, 2012 at 2:39 pm

  11. Oh, and I’m probably just really dense, but I didn’t notice Korra contemplating suicide until a friend mentioned it, and I looked online and was further confused by the many references of Korra actually jumping.
    …^^;
    I thought she was staring out at the sea, distraught. Suicide makes sense though. I wouldn’t have had her contemplate it so soon, I would have had her mope around lifelessly for a few days… I don’t know. She’s Korra. Most of what she does involves little to no forethought. Hopefully that changes by the middle of Season 2.

    July 5, 2012 at 2:43 pm

  12. I am not as disapointed as you. At first when Aang appeared I tough he was going to set up the story of the next book, like you said. I think that it would have been good for him to say something like “There’s a way to get back your bending but it will take all that you have. You got to…” I was a little bit bored and confused ( I didn’t get that she was comtemplating suicide at all, it was so rushed.) but still satisfified of what came before (Except the relationship between Korra and Mako). I though the finale and the serie as a whole was great. Perhaps there wasn’t enough character developement on the side of Korra (and Mako or even Bolin, and I’m not gonna talk about the animals that can’t be compare to Momo and Appa) but there was enough in the story of Noatak and Tarlok; Asami and her father to compensate in my opinion (It shouldn’t be that way but since it is…). My reaction to the last scene was: Sigh. alright. next.

    I hope that the reason they didn’t go with the obvious solution of sending Korra on the quest to get back her bending in the book 2 is because they found someting better to do with her and HAD TO make that ending to set up their next story. Not just because they though it was going to end after that and didn’t bother to change the ending.

    July 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    • They BETTER have found something better to do with her.

      I didn’t like the first Spider-Man movie all that much, but Spider-Man 2 was so wonderful–and one of my all-time favorite films–that I forgave the first one whatever sins I felt in committed. Maybe the same thing will happen with Book Two of Korra. We can only hope…

      July 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      • Yes. We can only hope. The only advantage I can find about all the plot line being tied up is now there is no constraint about Book two. Right now my imagination is running wild. I can’t stop thinking about new ideas! Its only natural with a world as rich as the world of avatar.

        July 9, 2012 at 9:53 pm

  13. Nina

    I dont think you give the creators enough credit. When nickelodeon wanted them to make Korra, it was originally planned to be only 1 book. So the fact that the story arch was small wasn’t because they simply didn’t want to use any of the many opportunities to extend the storyline, but rather they didn’t plan to. and make it sound like Korra had almost no character development at all, but she did.

    even I was a little unsure of the sappy ending where everyones happy, but that doesn’t mean that the whole series is spoilt.

    one other thing, with all of the difference between the last airbender series and Korra how aang had to travel the world and Korra is “stuck in the south pole” is that a) there was a war going on and it wasn’t as easy as hiring a firebending teacher b) they didn’t want the Korra series to have the around the world feeling like the last airbender one.

    lastly, if Korra did jump and die there would be many more fans unhappy with that ending.

    July 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    • I’m really tired of people defending this series with the fact that it was meant to only be twelve episodes. So what? The HBO comedy Eastbound & Down was originally going to be just six episodes, but not only did it end on a cliffhanger, it contained much better character development and a stronger conviction to its themes than Book One Korra ever did. Granted, HBO is a much more lenient working environment than Nickelodeon, but even that’s no excuse.

      Korra didn’t have to jump–and I regret that much of my essay implies that she should have–but at least if she did, it would be more in line with the Avatar mythos than the Deus ex Machina that was Aang.

      July 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm

  14. Alan

    I was listening to some interviews with the creators and I realized something. I believe Koh the Face Stealer will appear in season 2 of The Legend of Korra. I have a following list of points to give as reasons why I think this.

    1. The creators of the Legend of Korra and The Last Airbender confirmed that Book 2 will be “spirits”. This essentially means that it will mostly be about Korra entering the spirit world and connecting with the spirits. Since Koh resides in the spirit world, it makes it almost inevitable that the two will meet.

    2. Koh told Aang that they’d meet again in the “Siege of the North” episode of The Last Airbender. However, Koh only appeared once after that in a flashback. He never met Aang later. Therefore, he could have meant that he’d meet Aang again in another life (meaning Korra).

    3. Korra is very emotional and usually can’t control her feelings or keep calm. Koh steals your face when you reveal emotion. This makes Koh the ultimate threat to Korra and it would be foolish for the writers not to incorporate Koh into the plotline.

    July 18, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    • That would be very interesting to witness! I certainly hope they remember Koh as well. (Then again, they forgot that Bending is impossible in the Spirit World, so my hopes aren’t that high.)

      July 22, 2012 at 4:36 pm

  15. Pingback: Please Tell Me This is All Just a Bad Dream: Further Disappointment with “Korra” « Marshall Turner's Avatar: the Last Airbender Reviews

  16. I just wanted to add one more late comment to my previous string. I have been watching the original avatar series with someone who hadn’t seen it before. As it turns out I had forgotten there was at least one more instance of where an avatar from a previous life had take direct control of or influenced the current avatars situation in his own reality, as avatar Kiyoshi did when Aang was put on ‘trial’ in Kiyoshi’s place. There were no special requirements that needed to be met there for that to happen then, and arguably Korra’s circumstances constituted more of a significant moment that would allow Aang to affect her physical well-being than that one.

    August 24, 2012 at 12:20 am

    • You know, I should be chastising you for using a John O’Bryan episode as supporting evidence for your argument, but I think poor JOB has suffered enough already. Besides, you make a valid point, although even that sudden appearance of an Avatar makes just as little sense to me. As far as I’m concerned, Kyoshi only showed up to plead her case for Aang because it was funny (and indeed, it fit the general goofiness of the episode). Maybe if Aang giving Korra her Bending back was funny, it would be more forgivable. Strange how that works, isn’t it?

      September 3, 2012 at 1:45 am

      • I think the larger point is that in the Avatar universe, the interaction between the current Avatar and past Avatars is usually ruled by emotional narrative significance, or things that are given significance, rather than operating on one specific set of rules as to when something can or cannot happen. So, that means it could be either being in a special place on the solstice and having to risk something dangerous to get there as it was in the first season of Avatar, or it could be finally realizing, at the point of self-termination, that you have a worth and a value as someone more than just the role they were born into.

        If anything, the example of Kiyoshi I brought up (more for the sake of it being cannon, than for it being a good use of the device) illustrates how much better the device was used at the end of Korra. It should only be used in moments of sufficient weight and gravitas as it was in the other two examples listed. (I would argue that even in the episode with Kiyoshi, that one part where she shows up was the one contrasting, serious note to the rest of the episode which was goofier in tone. It didn’t make one laugh so much as to be the one reminder in the episode that yeah, in this world, serious, world-changing and consequential actions take place, and that Aang being the current Avatar at the time, was at the center of that).

        September 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      • Really? You didn’t laugh after Kyoshi disappeared after essentially proving that Aang was “guilty?” Or when the tyrant that was killed essentially died not because of Kyoshi, but because of his own prideful stupidity? Or how even though this proves that Aang wasn’t guilty at all, he still got found as such? Because that was pretty funny. (The contrast of the seriousness just made it even funnier.)

        I don’t know. I find the fact that there is no specific rule for when the past Avatars can or cannot show up kind of troubling. The solstice and the certain most spiritual areas scattered throughout the world (i.e. the back of the Lion Turtle) make sense, but then they’re proven to be unnecessary. I mean, if the past Avatars can just show up because they want to, the writers could just admit that. Even Greek mythology makes a point of presenting the Gods as governed by their emotions as the humans are. The indecision here just raises too many questions that the writers aren’t going to answer anyway.

        September 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      • I read that the ‘rule’ being applied is that what it takes for a current Avatar to open themselves up to the spirit world, is as specific and individual to each Avatar as the individual themselves are unique. No two Avatars, it seems, have to deal with exactly the same issues, and its in unlocking those issues that they are able to gain free access and control over the Avatar state. The ‘special’ places it seems, are temporal solutions before they each make their individual ‘breakthrough’, which is why the Kiyoshi example is probably the weakest use, amongst other reasons (or maybe it did have to do with ‘special’ wearing of Kiyoshi’s wardrobe at that place that did it in that case. If so, then perhaps it’s not as inconsistent as one might think).

        If the rule is, is that the application of this event is tied to the specific circumstances of each Avatar and their individual hurdles (an emotional trigger rather than a logical set of rules ala Inception), then I think that still qualifies as a consistent use of a rule, albeit one that does allow for variation and evolution from series to series, if they continue to explore further Avatars beyond Korra or before Aang. From a narrative perspective, if it is as I think it is, then the creators have allowed themselves to formulate a lot more story possibilities by having the world’s rules remain just consistent enough to buy into, while still leaving plenty of room for variation in application.

        It’s similar to the way bending is evolutionary (so much that was considered impossible in earlier times within the universe, become plausibly possible later on). The Avatar itself is an evolutionary being, seemingly never having to learn the same lessons twice.

        September 5, 2012 at 11:13 pm

      • J. Miller, I honestly feel that this conversation won’t go anywhere new until I’ve rewatched Korra, having taken all you’ve said into consideration. I appreciate your willingness to enlighten me on this matter, whether it changes my mind in the end or not. We will definitely see.

        September 28, 2012 at 1:32 am

  17. Kyle

    Funny how this was exactly how I predicted that the series would end. I don’t think it ruined the series for me, but when you have a series that is this mature, it only makes it more disappointing when you have kiddy antics and humor inserted in there. At least with The Last Airbender, you could sort of forgive it because the characters were younger. Nice observation on Korra contemplating suicide on the cliff. That went completely over my head. I think the series still has merits despite the ending.

    I don’t think Korra should have tried to commit suicide though as you suggest. As another poster said, having her back down from it provides a contrast between her and Tarrlock.

    I take it this means you won’t be going back to review the rest of the series right?

    August 26, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    • You’re right that her backing away from suicide provides a contrast between her and Tarrlok. I’ll continue to argue, though, given the circumstances, that Tarrlok ends up looking a lot better than Korra does. Patchy as his tale was, Tarrlok remains a tragic figure; Korra barely even has an arc.

      Also, yes, I’m going to go back and review the rest of the series, but thanks to the finale, I’ll have to start over again with a new perspective. I’m not terribly enthusiastic about it.

      September 3, 2012 at 1:29 am

  18. Monsieur Cherepakha

    I totally agree with that ending being a total failure, and I almost wonder if the creators had an original plan for the season to end with her having lost her bending, and the studio made them change it.

    During the season, I did not hold any of her lack of development as a character against them, because her lack of progress, both spiritually and bending-wise, fit with it. But given that all that was required to learn airbending was to need it in order to beat Amon…..

    A shorter indictment, how does it help the story to take her bending away if she’s just going to get it right back in like 5 minutes of episode time?

    And I’m not sure anyone will think this last part is relevant, but it particularly irked me about Korra. I am not a martial arts person by any means, but (partially) because TLA portrayed it so beautifully, and Korra did not, I took notice. This series almost completely ditched the Chinese martial arts (along with all their philosophical and historical meaning) that defined the visual style of the original series. Because there were so many cues that the creators were in-your-face aware of this, I thought that they they must be intending in following seasons to switch to the more traditional forms they used for bending in TLA, and tie that in with thematic changes, such as a more transformative, learning-based narrative style for the following seasons. I’m beginning to think more that they’re just stupid. It would be hard for them to salvage it given how they ended this season.

    September 9, 2012 at 3:21 am

  19. loafdude

    i just stumbled across your review, and i have to congratulate you for opening my eyes to the flaws in this show. I don’t vehemtly hate the finale like you (infact i loved it), but your points do make me sometimes wish that the ending had been different. one point that i strongly disagree with is the notion that korra suiciding would’ve somehow made the ending better. i can see where you’re coming at with how her “sacrifice” would’ve allowed a new avatar with full bending abilities to be born, but if she did jump it probably would’ve been a bit cliche (as the idea of someone jumping off a cliff has largely been a poorly executed and overused plot device (or whatever you call it)). Not to mention, if she did jump off the cliff, people would probably be ranting about how bad that scene would’ve been, instead of the deus ex aang. Plus, even if you think it would’ve made the ending better, would you really want to see korra die? i love this show, and deep down you probably do as well (why else would you write such a comprehensive rant?)
    PS:I think its a shame that bryke will probably never talk about the finale, especially that cliff scene.

    September 22, 2012 at 2:38 am

  20. Ian

    so just out of curiosity, i know that korras finale has a split reaction among fans, but i dont think hatred of the finale should affect the great episodes leading up. i can still watch when extremes meet and the revelation and thoroughly enjoy them, and besides i think its unfair to say the seasons completly ruined because of a few convienences, but i copletley agree it was all to easy and that makkorra is stupid and forced, but who knows, what if the energybending dosent end up working and theres side effects? besides the show up until the ending was quite good in my opinion esspecially the fights and amons story. anyway i hope you reply and see where im coming from.
    who knows, maybe when the shows all said and done this season will seem good, or at the very least, we can look back on this season as the “dissappointing one”
    so what would you give this season as a whole on a letter grading scale?
    please reply 🙂

    October 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    • Part of the reason I want to go back and rewatch Korra is to give those previous episodes another chance. I haven’t watched any of the show since the finale premiered, and my reaction was such because it felt like everything that led up to it, good or bad, was basically pointless. Another viewing may rectify that view (especially since what’s good about the series is probably still very, very good), but that finale sure left a horrible aftertaste. Here’s hoping for a better second season.

      As for an overall letter grade, probably a C.

      October 15, 2012 at 7:55 pm

  21. max

    what would you rate the season, if you din’t take the finale into account?

    October 20, 2012 at 7:08 am

  22. Devin

    I agree that it would’ve been so cool if Korra had tried to commit suicide. Better yet, end the first season with her jumping and cut to black. The next season is about the spirit world so it would’ve been great if we opened the second season with her in the spirit world on a journey of self realization. Keep that going for 2 or 3 episodes, let her meet some past avatars and spirits and learn from them and then have her wake up from the spirit world in the avatar state having gotten back all her bending abilities and saving herself from the apparent suicide. I think this would’ve been such a cool premise to keep fans watching and interested and furthermore, would’ve set up a very cool second season, perhaps concerning something Korra did in the spirit world that will come back in the real world.
    oh well….if only I were a writer for Korra

    December 12, 2012 at 10:57 am

    • Wow. You’re the only other person who’d endorse an actual attempt at suicide. I think cutting to black at the tail end would be pushing it, but if the Avatar State kicked in to save her life only to disappear again (giving at least a glimpse of hope), it would have probably worked.

      But alas, only DiMartino and Konietzko were steering this boat (a fatal decision, it turned out). At least Book Two will have additional help from past Avatar: the Last Airbender writers. Maybe that’ll help.

      December 17, 2012 at 7:31 pm

  23. I obviously didn’t take as much issue with the finale as you, but I still think it could have been better. One thing they could have done was stretch the season into 20 episodes like the first show. Getting all her bending back at the end didn’t bother me because they orrigionally only planned for one season, but I would have liked to see more with Korra dealing with the loss of her bending, she didn’t have to attempt suicide but I could have used more time and emotion to indicate her mental state. Just having Aang say it was her lowest point wasn’t enough for me. And him just walking up and restoring Korra’s bending was bit underwhelming.

    March 7, 2013 at 1:45 pm

  24. AvatarFan96

    Great analysis of the show. It was very descriptive and an absolute delight to read. I more or less agree with everything you said about it and after reading through all the comments, I just have one little tidbit to add. In one of the earlier comments, you mentioned how the Lion Turtle was just thrown in at the last minute. I, on the other hand, saw many hints of it throughout Avatar: The Last Airbender, such as the lion turtle statues at Piando’s home. The most notable example, however, was in Season Two’s episode, The Library. Aang commented that the creature he was looking at was very strange (or something along those lines) and the picture showed several giant lion turtles, one of which was facing a man in very much the same way Aang stood and looked at the lion turtle.

    April 27, 2013 at 4:01 am

    • That’s true that the Lion Turtle was established long before the finale. I’ve pretty much come to terms with Avatar‘s resolution and Energybending because it makes perfect sense. It may have seemed like cheating at first, but it works.

      May 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      • I’m actually really happy to hear that. That was my only real objection to your essay, actually–I find the body of the essay to be a really interesting take, and just made a face when the energybending in A:tLA was called a Deus Ex Machina. I can definitely see it as so in Korra, though.

        July 14, 2013 at 1:26 am

  25. Pingback: Lessons About Story Crafting From Avatar: The Legend of Korra | The semi-mad ramblings of a young black writer

  26. Sibis

    Good review.

    Dues Ex Machina was used before in the form of her visions of the Yakone trial.

    It started when her vision in episode 4 about the Yakone trial first appeared. Then the story has her wait until episode 9 to get the full scoop after being locked away from the world in an extreme measure to actually make her sit there and meditate.

    Her vision lays it all out about villains are connected to Yakone. How would Aang know about Tarrlok and Amon linked to Yakone?

    It’s just bad that Korra waits this long when a 1920’s modern day city would have things like a Library which would have this sort of information. Articles on the Yakone Trial, police records, and etc.

    June 8, 2013 at 4:03 am

  27. hoggersying

    Just wanted to say: thanks for your review, which I just found.

    The final moments of Korra S1 infuriated me in ways that Aang’s Energybending at the end of ATLA did not, for exactly the reasons you point out: it squandered everything good that preceded. I would have loved to see Korra battle her way back and rekindle a spiritual connection with each element she lost throughout the next season. Instead, she gets it all back in an instant . . . By Being Sad. I’m told Korra was originally planned as a 12-episode miniseries, and I suppose Bryke couldn’t end a miniseries with an Avatar that could only airbend. Well, then I say they planned to do too much in this 12-episode miniseries.

    And seriously? Once they found out they had more books to work with, they couldn’t alter the last 5 minutes and give the season the ending it deserves?

    June 25, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    • I’ve also wondered that about the final five minutes. Admittedly, this isn’t live-action where you can just shoot a new ending fairly easily. Storyboards need to be drawn; voice acting needs to be recorded; new designs and backgrounds must be created; layouts must be perfected; animations must be done overseas; color correction, sound mixing, and retakes must be done; and on top of all that, every single nuance must be approved by the studio executives.

      To go through that entire process for the sake of preserving your artistic integrity, you’ve got to be crazy and gotta have a real need. But DiMartino and Konietzko are clearly no John Kricfalusi–except in the sense that both parties managed to blow their second chance with their own breakthrough series (Diko with Korra, John K. with Ren & Stimpy), but that’s a whole other discussion for another time.

      June 25, 2013 at 11:41 pm

  28. While I appreciate how much time and thought you have put into this post, I am wondering whether you are going to watch Book Two this Friday? Are you going to watch Book Three and Four when they come out? Are you truly done with this show? And if you do watch it, what does it say about this passionate tirade? If you continue to watch a ruined show, can you still designate the show as “ruined”?

    Because even though I had issues with the Book One finale, I also remember how much I love Avatar: The Last Airbender. I choose to trust Konietzko and DiMartino as writers. I also recognize and appreciate the fact that, in writing this twelve episode mini-series, they had a limited time to develop characters, conflict, plot, and basically a new world, with no expectation of future seasons. How could they leave this show with Korra preparing to go on a journey to “relearn” bending, if they didn’t have the future seasons to show this journey? That would have left the fans even more upset. Even when the writers did learn that the show was being picked up, there was no feasible way that they could have redrawn and revoiced the final episode. It would have taken way too much time and money. Plus, I doubt that the writers would have wanted to changed anything anyway given the fact that the show went exactly the way that they envisioned it.

    There is a difference between “reviewing” a show and wanting to write it yourself as a part of the “writing staff”. I think it is really easy for the fans of a show to talk about all the ways that it could have been “better”, but we did not create this show. Who are we to say that we would write this show any better then the two men who created the world of Avatar themselves? Honestly, to argue that we could have written the show any better is a kind of arrogant. I also think it is important to be patient before shutting down a show for good. Let’s see if this show is still ruined by the end of Book Four.

    I am personally very excited to watch Book Two this Friday, and given how much you seem to feel about this show, which is pretty transparent this your post, I think you might be a little excited as well. I hope you enjoy it.

    September 8, 2013 at 1:05 pm

  29. Greg

    I think you brought up some valid points. However, the entire season, which was only intended to be a mini series, was completed, prior to the order of 26 additional episodes. So, while it may be rushed, it wasn’t meant to be anything beyond what it was.

    October 10, 2013 at 6:31 pm

  30. LOL
    RANT TIME…

    Season Two Episode 14. What happened? (Seriously, She did what?)
    Are we stealing Ideas From DBZ? (Bryan, Michael)

    Since the ‘motion picture’ ‘The Avatar’ franchise has lost ground with fans.

    (I hope you are ‘really’ reading)

    Nothing beats Book 2 Earth. (Witness the full stop)
    The layers were there. (Observation)

    The ending to THIS season IS Garbage. (.)

    The best idea from the bubbling pot that IS but some how LOST the plot in the Korra season 2 finale is the presence of the spirit world in the physical world and its good and bad effect and pressure put on the population, not the views and stand points of main characters.

    Any good fight scenes? (We all witnessed the LOL)

    TO PICK UP PACE….

    RE DO The motion picture. Not the parallel smurf action flick.
    ( I hope you were reading )
    Compress trilogy, to comprise of two books per picture.

    Boy trapped in iceberg freed by star crossed love, grows and frees the world. ( Or just ba-sing se.)

    If you can’t get that film approved your a ducebag.
    The Avatar production teams needs a Varrick to spur things on.

    A Blind girl protected from the outside world by her parents in the upper society of ba-sing se, learns to use her earth-bending abilities in her few hours she is outside a day, to sense vibrations of the earth beneath her to see her surroundings.

    Writing like that is what we expect.nothing less.

    What in the last two seasons compares to the scene where Toph was kidnapped and locked in a metal box on the back of a wagon with no sight and no connection to the ground, became the first metal bender.

    The story of the first blood bender imprisoned by the dictators of the fire nation, with nothing but the rats she was imprisoned with learnt to bend the water in blood to secure her freedom.

    The best thing about the transition to the future (Korra Saga) is the politics of the new age, the fact that Aang lived a full life and the presence of his legacy in this new age. The advancements of technology and the adaptations of the world population due to his legacy and the characters of the time.

    I personally really like the pro-bendng championship but the fire ferrets is not a cool name. Chi blockers. Cool.

    The introduction states Earth. Fire. Air. Water.

    My conclusion is Book Air was a lose avatar remake to please fans and push for more motions pictures when a simple motion picture redo is needed.

    Spirits tries to please fans more. Ario. But falls short of the layers of intricacy needed to form a leading character. Even now I doubt the new Team Avatar can, in an opening scene, ride into a fortified ba sing sa military compound, outnumbered and out gunned, fend off the occupying army untill face to face with the president himself.

    RANT..
    OVER…

    Or is it….

    November 25, 2013 at 1:09 pm

  31. Alicia

    I agree with a lot of what you said the season 1 ending was a real let down. I felt they could of done so much more with Noatak/Amon, and Tarrloks characters in season 2. Personally i was not a big fan of season 2 at all. They should if done the whole spirit world journey and korra taking time to get back her bending and defeating the equalist. I dont agree with the whole sucicide thing because it would a bad message to kids , that if things get bad find nobility in death is a bad message. I really like noatak and tarrloks characters because they were more interesting and dynamic compared to all the main characters, also there good looking. This show sucks compared to ATLA, because they made sure to give most if not all the characters dynamic backround stories. This show could of gone into a great direction but I’m only seeing a downward spiral, season 3 dont disappoint me though why am i still trying.

    February 24, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    • QuadL

      Season 3 is considered the best of the three up to that time…book four has Toph sightings so, um that’s not fair.

      November 28, 2014 at 2:31 pm

  32. GopherTuna

    I’ll get this out here right off the bat because I see a lot of people gripe about the deus ex machina nature of Energybending (TLA, not Korra – that’s more of an asspull than anything else): the idea of removing Ozai’s bending was conceptualized way before the finale (like in 2003) and it’s been hinted throughout the series that the Avatar can do so much more than just bend the elements (any spirit related episodes, the Book 1 finale etc). What also makes it less of a deux ex is that it was a gamble for Aang: if he truly believed he had no right to end a life, then he would have to offer up his own – Aang remained true to that belief and it worked (of course, he had no idea if it would).

    There. Now why is is bullshit in Korra? Because it’s the answer, yet again, to the season’s finale. S1 had with with Aang giving it back to Korra, and S2 had it with her becoming… I don’t know, some kind of Japanese anime monster.

    My absolute greatest dislike for Korra, S1 and 2 both, is that she’s a terrible character. She doesn’t grow. In comparison, Aang knew his limits, his beliefs, his responsibilities without having anyone around to teach him these. Korra, by contrast, had everything from the get go and was still the biggest brat ever.
    And you can tell she was written by two guys who, while decent enough world builders, can’t write a character worth a fig: Aaron Ehasz and his wife, Elizabeth Welch Ehasz, wrote some of the most memorable and best characters on the first show, and their absence is more glaring than Mako’s douchiness.

    April 27, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    • QuadL

      Oh, she grew, she grew. Maybe not as fast as you may have wanted in those two seasons, but the ships ans their failures were season one stuff the friendships surviving the test of Zaheer and Korra’s self sacrifice, willingly, in book 3 could never have occurred had she not made a personal connection to her choices in book 2.

      November 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm

  33. Myrrh

    It didn’t bother me that much, probably because I’m quite young. I didn’t really think about how the ending was a bit strange. I was more like: oh my what…did Tarrlock just…oh my…
    And then with Korra I was just so happy eventually and well yeah I was probably just watching it through my ‘kids eyes’. But wow I think this might be the best essaythingy I’ve ever read. Seriously I just couldn’t stop reading! I actually might love it. So a lot of respect! I’m serious, this is amazing! And I just had to tell you c:

    September 14, 2014 at 4:59 am

  34. QuadL

    I would like to say that we on the other side of the fourth wall see all the big glairing flaws in the character’s, well, character and think “Hey, that needs to be fixed.” and we are correct. But Just because a character has a flaw doesn’t mean it’s the only flaw they have that needs fixing and sometimes, even in real life, less noticeable flaws get addressed first. Like if a person is a womanizer and drinks to get courage to chase women. The drinking may be fixed first even though the womanizing is a bigger issue. Korra’s issues get addressed over time but probably not in the order we see from the outside as being the priority…

    November 28, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    • That…is a very interesting way to think about it. I think you’re onto something.

      November 28, 2014 at 2:43 pm

  35. writer'svice

    You know what, author? You can go fuck yourself. YOU are the privledged person here, because replace “Korra” with your own name to see how unfair you’re being, or try actually imagining you were in her shoes. Just because she’s an aggressive character doesn’t mean she’s some meathead jock who thinks she’s above everything. I came to this blog expecting that your fault with the episode was the fact that suicide was needed at all for Tarlock and Amon, but really, you’re angered BECAUSE you weren’t shown an actual suicide, so “It doesn’t count”? Or, you can’t accept that she shouldn’t accept Mako’s love, right as she feels her most humiliated, her weakest moment? Would you have rathered she went into his arms like he was some sort of hero for her, after she’s effectively lost what she considered to be her strength and only means of worth, her duty? People like you make me sick.

    December 30, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    • Boy, I was a little sadist two years ago? I can definitely understand why you’ve take offense. I honesty have no idea what I was thinking. They’d already shown one tragic suicide, why would audiences need to see another one so soon after (even a failed one)? The only got away with the first one because those two were villains beyond redemption. Have the main protagonist do herself in now? You are sick.

      I truly do regret expressing such a morbid story alternative in this article, as it does me the disservice of discrediting the rest of my argument, I.e. Each point made before advocating on-screen suicide in a children’s show. I still hold that part of the argument to be quite true (as well as my ultimate conclusion), but I’ve unnecessarily slashed my chances to discuss my finer points with you thanks to my lapse into bad taste in a public critique.

      I sincerely apologize, even if you do still think I’m sick (certainly there’s enough evidence in this entire blog to reach that conclusion).

      December 30, 2014 at 11:19 pm

  36. Christ's Follower

    I just wish the gay ending of the fourth season never happened. Now the fire has been lit and destroy everything in sight. Children who are born into gay couples will feel like their missing something inside.

    August 20, 2015 at 2:24 am

  37. Waste

    This is a shit article.

    March 9, 2016 at 11:00 am

  38. Bridgette

    I see all the points of this article as stated. Now that the series is over we all know how it ends (not exactly the way I wanted, but okay).

    As far as the Amon/Noatak story was I think it was the deepest part of season 1. The tragic backstory of Noatak and his brother was the only thing the moved me emotionally. His untimely removal from the story was the biggest cop out I have ever seen.

    Was Amon killed because he was the only tan (like Korra, close to black) character in season 1?
    Why would you kill off such an important character that actually helped Korra develop her powers?

    All good series have a character that need some form of redemption, and Amon was it.

    I had so many questions that went unanswered for season 1. They didn’t have to kill off the 2 best Bloodbenders of the series, that was just stupid.

    This is how I think they should have kept Amon in the story.

    Tarrlok suicide doesn’t actually kill Noatak, but scars him for real as he’s left without his brother, and the disband of the Equalists. Later we could have been given a flushed out story of how he came to the notion of equalizing the world.
    …or they could have both lived and saw the error of their ways, and did things to right their wrongs (but that would make Noatak more a developed character in 1 season that took Korra 4 seasons to get to).

    Someone else in the series (I won’t spoil it for anyone) kills someone important and all he gets is a slap on the wrist and a life prison sentence. Amon on the other hand never actually killed anyone….that I saw, and he was wiped out the series with no after thought.

    Without a doubt The Legend of Korra was a great ride in the animation genre, but it could have been an amazing one. This and many more prove that.

    July 13, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    • The Banana King

      This whole essay and all of its responses forget one crucial fact. When Bryke wrote Season 1, they assumed it would be the only season. They had to wrap it up and thats why it was filled with cop outs.

      July 21, 2016 at 3:26 am

  39. I’m here to +1 what The Banana King says directly above. While I agree with practically all of your points in this post, you have to see it from Bryke’s perspective. They thought they had 12 episodes, so they wrote the best full story that they could in that space. I thought it was damn impressive, even if it did necessitate some kinda stupid stuff like the whole thing with Aang.

    I think if they had known they were going to get 3 more seasons of LoK, they probably wouldn’t have given Korra her bending back right away.

    September 24, 2016 at 9:51 pm

  40. John

    I know this piece is old, but I have a few things to say. First, well done. this was a very enjoyable read. Second, I knew season one had its flaws, but you really pointed them out in a clear manner.

    Here is what I think. Korra is the opposite of Aang. She is a master, she is reckless and she has absolutely no spirituality. As you said, her entire personality is built on her bending and on her identity as the Avatar, take that away and you have a broken character, a character that can be developed. That is how season 1 should have ended.

    Season 2 was god-awful. if the creators had picked up season two with a broken and defeated Korra, it could have been Amazing. Korra, with only her airbending would have to face her trials the way an airbender would, with patience and skillfulness instead of reckless confrontation. Season two would have been the perfect time to introduce the Red Lotus! Zaheer would have no airbending, but I doubt that would have been a problem, the fans have always loved strong non-bending characters, something LoK seemed to lack.

    ATLA suffered creatively because the network did not fully appreciate and cut the creators short. However, Korra suffered because the creators did not want to take chances early on, instead they butchered their own show and tried to make up for it by making Korra a lesbian.

    May 24, 2017 at 8:22 pm

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