Because fans should be critical, too

Now I’ve Seen Episodes Four and Five of Book Three

You know what I really want to see? I want to see a novelization of The Legend of Korra. Better yet, I want to see the graphic novel adaptation of Korra. There’s more than enough wonderful story material here that could flourish in a medium free from the Nickelodeon executives, free from the demands of children’s television entertainment, free from prejudices against animation as nothing but “kids stuff.” Sure, the joy of movement and vocal presence that animation excels in will be lost, but at least the content could be given the full exploration it deserves. (It might also solve the problem of that crappy dialogue.)

If Korra is indeed the best American animated children’s program on the Internet right now (which it is), then it’s less because it is a good show and more because it provides such a fertile ground for the imagination to roam. It’s got great ideas within it, but they’re rarely allowed to blossom within the confines of television animation for children. Is it a bad sign that some fanfictions can create more convincing portrayals of the characters than the show itself can? (Not necessarily, because the written word can delve into the psyche of individual characters in a way that moving images never could, but never let that fact excuse poor writing on the show itself.)

Thoughts such as these more or less drifted through my mind as I watched episodes four and five. They weren’t bad episodes, as far as I can remember—episode five is probably my favorite thus far—but for the most part, they were boring and unmemorable.

The only thing I can remember from episode four with crystal clear precision is the opening scene where Brother Zaheer and friends break his girlfriend out of prison. Is wasn’t as exciting as the other prison break sequences, but it still held my attention. I was also genuinely shocked when Brother Zaheer revealed himself in episode five before immobilizing Kya and escaping.

I also clearly remember the hostility between Lin Bei Fong and her sister, Suyin. I was certainly not expecting an actual emotional response to much of Book Three, but the ending of episode five took me by surprise. Lin’s cold responses to Opal, Suyin’s daughter and a new Airbender, and Opal’s tearful reactions were bad enough. But to see Lin tear up once Korra left and after telling her she was a bitter lady who would never change? That was brutal! And that was the end of the episode! Now I want to know more about both Brother Zaheer and the Bei Fongs.

These were the only things that really resonated with me, so I’m having a difficult time remembering anything else. I remember that Korra and company helped the captive Airbenders escape from the Earth Queen’s clutches. I remember Suyin’s and Lin’s back stories. I remember Bolin performing a joke told much better in The Lego Movie. I remember more bullshit reasons as to why Korra was isolated during her Avatar training. That’s it.

It’s not so much that I don’t remember much from these episodes so much that I have no desire to revisit them anytime soon. As much as I loved the situations with Lin and Suyin and Brother Zaheer, they only constitute the beginning and the ends of these two episodes. Everything in between was just filler to move the story along. Still, what hit home for me is just enough for me to continue watching and to see where my favorite scenarios lead to. So more fool me, as they say.

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16 responses

  1. I wanna see your reaction to “Long Live The Queen”.

    August 8, 2014 at 12:03 pm

  2. It’s interesting that you bring up fanfiction (not just because I have another attempt to plug my lame crossover). For all the bad rap it gets – and deservedly so – at its best fanfic allows exactly what you describe, a chance to delve into the psyches of commercial characters without the restraints of “children’s television”. There are some real gems in the avatarverse on ff.net in particular.

    August 8, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    • anonym2008

      Seconded.
      LoK wishes that it was as good as fanfiction stories like Master Gandalf’s Azula-Trilogy.

      August 9, 2014 at 8:17 am

  3. rosemon

    I do not have high hopes for how this season might end, especially after reading this exchange:

    “Mike: It doesn’t have quite this supernatural bang at the end compared to last book, but it’s so cool in a different way.

    Bryan: This finale might blow you away even more. I mean, in a way it’s – the EMOTIONAL stake might be higher than Book 2’s finale. It’s intense. It’s a different scale, but it’s very intense.”

    What could they possibly wrap up within the last three episodes of this book, now that the tenth episode has already aired?

    August 10, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    • Hmm good question. I could see them ending the season kinda like how season 2 of avatar was ended. I have a feeling the bad guys won’t be beaten this season.

      August 10, 2014 at 9:31 pm

  4. Ian

    Will you be uploading your thoughts on the more recent episodes sometime soon?

    August 17, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    • Yes I will in a few days. Lately, I’ve been consumed by work on the Frozen video review, of which draft #2 is nearing completion. I’ll update once the draft is done, then I’ll take a week off to get some distance from it, which will include watching and writing about Korra.

      August 17, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      • I recommend waiting until the season ends to write about it. It ends next week anyway.

        August 17, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      • I think it would be better to write about the book having viewed the whole thing.

        August 17, 2014 at 10:00 pm

      • You may be right. Regardless, I’ll be binging on all the episodes once the second draft is done, so it would actually be nice if the very last episode was included. We’ll see what happens.

        August 17, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      • Nautilus11

        Damn, still going with the Frozen stuff? Are you sure you’re making a video review, and not a documentary?

        I can see it now, “Frozen: An In-Depth Look At The Past, Present And Future Of American Animation, And Modern Society’s Relationship And Refusal To Let Go Of Nostalgia”.

        August 18, 2014 at 12:33 am

      • Hmm…you mind if I steal that title for temporary usage?

        In all honesty, I didn’t expect to go so in-depth with this review. It just turned out that the deeper you look into Frozen, the less it makes any sense. I’m still finding things that make no sense from a bare narrative point-of-view. Just today, while I was at work, I remembered that in the prologue, the king said that in order to keep Elsa’s powers hidden, they’d “reduce the [castle] staff.” In other words, many menial laborers lost their jobs. For reasons never explained to them. That’s a pretty big fucking deal that the movie just glosses over, especially in a geographical area where the only other work seems to be ice delivery. I can’t imagine the laid-off staff members took it very well, especially without an explanation. But none of that matters because the two royal sisters can’t see each other anymore :(.

        Frozen is bullshit. And it’s bad for us.

        August 18, 2014 at 11:38 pm

      • Grindal

        I can see where you’re coming from with the plot point about Frozen, but I’m struggling to understand whether you take it as a serious issue or just something that we let pass because it’s still largely a fairytale and is not trying to be a case study on how Scandinavians take unexplained job loss. Does this hamper your appreciation for the film or is just something you said that casually noticed one day?

        Indeed this is nothing new for Disney – why are all the servants in Beauty and the Beast still so loyal to the Beast after his inhumane actions are the reason they have all been transformed into household objects? Does that in any way take away from the majesty and supreme accomplishment that Beauty and the Beast was? I doubt many people would think so.

        August 19, 2014 at 2:01 am

      • It’s only a serious issue insofar as it distracts from the story. There are a lot of moments in the prologue alone where an action or a line of dialogue raises a litany of unanswered questions. This is especially bad for the prologue since that’s the time when the story is being set up. Every story, fairy tale or not, must be properly set up if the events that take place within it are to have any meaning.

        Regarding Beauty and the Beast, the servants were still loyal to the Beast partially out of obligation, I’m sure, but also because their return to humanity depended entirely on his return to humanity. If he could find a real love before the rose pedals all fell out, then they’d all be restored to their original bodies. You could say that they stayed out of blind faith that he would find that love. And once Belle showed up, they saw this as that golden opportunity, and promptly persuaded the Beast of this as well, advise along the way on how to gain her trust and, eventually, her love. In a way, the servants were motivated by selfish reasons, but it all worked out in the end thanks to the genuine love that developed between Belle and the Beast. Honestly, Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney’s most well-thought out and emotionally resonant adaptations.

        Frozen, unfortunately, is not. The simplistic beauty of the sisters’ story (which I liked) is ruined by an overly complicated and often contradictory script, not to mention the commercial trappings of the Disney brand. I’m guessing that a lot of time couldn’t be devoted to fine tuning the script because they only had eighteen months to rewrite the script and complete the movie. Then again, the trials of filmmaking should never be an excuse for poor planning.

        EDIT: Reading up on Beauty and the Beast on Wikipedia, I’ve learned that it was also produced in a compressed time frame (two years instead of the usual four). Along with Toy Story 2 (nine months), Ratatouille, and How to Train Your Dragon (both eighteen months), they further illustrate how poorly the makes of Frozen utilized their given time slot. No, those previous CGI films weren’t musicals, admittedly, but Beauty and the Beast was; maybe having Howard Ashman on their production team made all the difference.

        August 19, 2014 at 5:40 pm

  5. Nautilus11

    Nah, by all means, go ahead and borrow it. 🙂

    Looking forward to seeing your analysis.

    August 18, 2014 at 11:52 pm

  6. rosemon

    Contrary to popular myth, it seems that Korra’s move to online wasn’t due to the Mexican leak or the darker tone of the latter half of this season.

    http://nerdistwriters.libsyn.com/legend-of-korraavatar-the-last-airbender

    It’s apparently the first time these two writers candidly talk about the live-action adaptation of ATLA.

    August 20, 2014 at 6:40 pm

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