Because fans should be critical, too

Announcement: “Korra” Book Three Viewing Not Done Yet

I still have two more episodes to go. I was hoping to be done with all of them before work, but I miscalculated my chances. Therefore, I won’t be able to even start a concise and conclusive review until at least tomorrow.

The last episode had Korra bound by ropes and about to be “poisoned.” I’m excited to see what happens from here, and that only should tell you have thoroughly I’ve been enjoying these past few episodes. I wish I didn’t have to wait until tomorrow to finish the series (let alone formulate my thoughts), but such is life.

I will say this, though: “Long Live the Queen” may be the single best episode of The Legend of Korra since “And The Winner Is…”

It might even be better.

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23 responses

  1. Osfacae

    I’m glad to hear you’ve actually been enjoying this season! I was ready to give up after season 2 only provided a couple of good episodes and a lackluster Kaiju battle, but this season has really impressed me. I really hope the series stays on an upward trend like it has been, and finishes strong.

    August 22, 2014 at 1:40 pm

  2. Well marshall I’m glad you enjoyed the episodes, but you do know this Isn’t the end of the series right?

    August 22, 2014 at 3:58 pm

  3. Clander

    I have mixed feelings about these final episodes. On one hand I like some of the action and Korra’s possible death was somewhat potent. Then there’s shit like Pi’li and Zaheer being a couple apparently but us only seeing anything remotely romantic between them in the last episode or so and I’m just thinking “she gonna’ die”. Even though her death was amazing it’s too little too late. I could have cared for her more. I could have cared for the red lotus leaders and connected to their bullshit cause a little more to even truly remotely care about the fates of any of the antagonists, which admittedly were quite gruesome. To me I think season 3 is a step up from season 2 (though it would take a miracle for them to top that shit-storm) but I still don’t think it’s that good. There is some good in it, but overall it’s still quite dissapointing. I still can’t believe some of the corners they had to cut in animation though…like…wow

    August 22, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    • Grindal

      *SPOILERS MARSHALL!!!

      *Whilst I do agree that the finale isn’t quite as spectacular as some of the episodes immediately proceeding it – especially the fight at the end of The Ultimatum – to me I found still found it a good conclusion I was invested in. Indeed, I do wish more could have been made of Zaheer and the gang to flesh out their backstories and make their demise more poignant, but unfortunately the biggest limitation of Korra is the amount of episodes Mike and Bryan get for a season. I truly believe that if they had 20 episodes for each of the three Korra seasons they could have made them all unbelieveable. But for what we have, especially Book 3 as a whole, I am glad we have. Far more positives to enjoy than the few elements that were slightly underwhelming.

      August 22, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      • Clander

        While I do somewhat agree that their limitation is placed on the amount of episodes they have, I will still put blame on the writers for not having enough flexibility to write a story that could be told in that amount of time. There are plenty of great shows that make their stories amazing and still come full circle in just thirteen episodes. The problem here is that the team won’t make stories fit that time restriction, and even if they do they apparently can’t pace anything worth shit, constantly giving attention to things that they just don’t have time for. But even then every season so far has had this problem. The team makes a story that is far too big that it’s impossible to conclude the story in a satisfactory way with that limitation. But if that still doesn’t do if for ya’, here’s another idea. Why not split the plot into two books. They are apparently all one season right? Books 1 and 2 are season 1 and Books 3 and 4 are season 2. I understand why they couldn’t for the first couple of seasons, but why not now. Why do they feel the need to cram all of these ideas, all of these plot points into such a small time frame?

        August 22, 2014 at 9:11 pm

      • Grindal

        @ Clander – Sorry I the website doesn’t allow me to reply directly to your comment. Obviously the circumstances given to Mike and Bryan doesn’t give them a get out of jail free card for everything they create. I do think it’s an issue though when Nickelodeon sets them up to make self-contained seasons of Korra each time rather than one continuous story. Bryke really hasn’t been done any production favours throughout the entirety of Korra – I emphasise again thought that this doesn’t forgive everything. It’d take too long to go over the missed opportunities that have passed them by in the first two seasons of Korra despite hitting the nail on the head elsewhere, reiterating the issue of consistency.

        Further, remember that a Korra episode is roughly 22 minutes long. To put that in context, a full season of Game of Thrones which have roughly 55 minute episodes means that every two episodes of Game of Thrones lasts just as long as 5 episodes of Korra. A 10 episode season then results in Game of Thrones having a whopping 25 episodes worth of Korra time to tell their story, almost double what Korra gets.

        In regards to pacing, whilst there are issues in season 1 and 2 I personally didn’t have any pacing issues in Book 3. And it’s not a case of Bryke focusing on pointless things in my opinion, rather that they don’t have the Game of Thrones time or even ATLA time to focus on everything that they would be able to touch on. They need to be selective.

        To sum this ridiculously long comment up despite the limitations of Korra, Book 3 was a consistent season which had me thoroughly invested in the characters and their struggle. At its best it – The Ultimatum – it was an edge of your seat thrill ride on par with the best of ATLA, and despite the finale not quite reaching the heights of the previous couple of episodes, it provided a tense, resonant climax that leaves Korra and the world in an interesting place going forward into Book 4.

        August 22, 2014 at 11:17 pm

  4. JMR

    I won’t say much yet since you haven’t finished, but I will say this:

    I bought Season 1 right off the bat because I was really fucking excited for it. Knowing how I feel about how it turned out, I’m not so sure I would buy it again. I might just because it really is something of an object of fascination for me, but not because I liked it.

    Buying Season 2? Hahahahahaaa hell no.

    Season 3, however, I will undoubtedly and unreservedly be adding to my collection. While I agree that none of the episodes stand out quite like And the Winner Is from Season 1, I have to think that part of the reason for that is that this season’s episodes are so much more consistent in their quality (and even then, to me Old Wounds comes very close).

    I look forward to seeing your ultimate thoughts on this season!

    August 22, 2014 at 8:25 pm

  5. Clander

    @ Grindal – I do agree with you on that issue in which Nick seemed to have done everything in their power to make the show’s production as painful as possible so with that in mind I will say that some things turned out surprisingly well.

    On to your next point I don’t really understand the point in comparing Korra’s episodic run time with that of Game of Thrones. I suppose it makes Korra’s time seem negligible by comparison but I don’t think it really matters. I would actually apostatize that Korra getting a 40ish minute run time for each episode would be disastrous (or less so). The show just doesn’t have the capacity to be able to hold interest for that long stretch of time all at once. I understand the advantage for an incredibly heavy show like GoT however I don’t quite see Korra being able to benefit from that too much. Yes Korra having 25 episodes would definitely fix a lot of plot issues but I still reside by my main argument that Korra could still be just as great as the 20 episode long seasons of Avatar in just 13 episodes if the writers had adjusted for it. But they didn’t. And if it truly is Nickelodeon’s fault that they can’t write a story for more than one book than fine. But that still doesn’t excuse the inability to make a story that works better for shorter time.

    I agree that they need to be selective but I will argue that pacing is still an issue in Korra that has yet to be resolved by the writing team. I will admit it has gotten better but it’s still present. I can even see it in season 3 where an entire episode was devoted to the new airbenders fighting off bison hunters. What exactly did that episode achieve? Minor plot points for later episodes would be my answer. Kai meets a baby bison that later shows up and we learn that Jinora wants tattoos. This is a problem that even Marshal has pointed out in Avatar. They will make filler episodes that don’t really add much but put important plot points in it so it isn’t completely irrelevant. In the end I could skip that episode and lose almost nothing. They missed a golden opportunity of showing us some real character growth and insights when it came to the airbenders. Hell I was excited to see what was going to happen to them. But what we got was a ferngully style Korra episode. (and a character named otaku *facepalm*) That’s just one large example of them wasting time and there are other much smaller bits throughout the book.

    So honestly I do think there are some very cool things in book 3 but there are too many things wrong with the overall product for me to be able to consider it a good book. Sorry my comment is also so long, I just really enjoy these types of discussions.

    August 22, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    • Grindal

      Nah don’t worry about the long response. In all seriousness it’s good that we can write paragraphs expressing our views and the reasons for them. It helps us question why we believe what we believe and realise things we might have not realised.

      I understand where you’re coming from when you say that Bryke needs to be able to adapt to a 13 episode structure with a story that fits the time-frame. I personally believe though that the nature of Korra means they will never get something that properly fits into a 13 episode structure when each one is 22 mins long. You could argue that a solution would be to approach it like the two halves of Attack on Titan where in 12-13 episodes they covered an engaging story whilst giving good development to the characters. The thing is though these two parts of AoT are pretty much just have 2 events in them – I just don’t think Korra is the type of show that can fully focus on two or three main events/situations. I don’t know if I’m making much sense here but as a show Korra’s nature is to have a series of events that all build up to something in the climax. Bryke wants various scenarios and constantly changing scopes and tones. This was much more achievable in a 20 episode season which they had in ATLA.

      In regard to your criticisms of Original Airbenders, if you removed that episode the plot still is coherent, but I think many people be questioning the actions of the new airbenders and wondering why in the climax they were all together with no discontent among the ranks so to speak. Does that make Original Airbenders perfect? No. But I hold that episode in high regard because it just gave us a chance to experience how these characters would act in this new predicament. It fits the mould that Bryke operate off and if they had 20 episodes it probably wouldn’t be an issue. And they might only be a minor plot point, but without that episode and seeing these new airbenders learning this different way of life and bonding over it, in a sense building the New Air Nation, Zaheer’s threat to wipe the airbenders out wouldn’t nearly hold as much gravitas as it did – a reason why the fight scene in The Ultimatum was so intense and investing.

      So yes I do think the creators should take some blame for not creating stories that fit a 13 episode structure, but I honestly reckon that the show would not be a proper Avatar show. In terms of how we both view the overall season it probably just comes down to differences in what we enjoy. I found for the most part the series to be a fun ride that slowly but surely built and built until the finale. And although I think we both agree that the finale was not at the same level as some of the previous episodes, it still certainly had its moments, and finished on an emotionally resonant tone for me that is thought provoking in its own manner. What will the long-term effect of the poison be on Korra? How will the Earth Kingdom cope in the immediate future without the Avatar? How large truly is the Red Lotus? And what role does the New Air Nation play in all of this?

      Korra is by no means a perfect show, but at its core it has characters that for the most part I care about – except Bolin of course – and I ultimately really enjoying seeing how they deal with the situations thrown at them. Congratulations by the way if you made it to the end!

      August 23, 2014 at 3:23 am

      • Clander

        Honestly I watched Attack on Titan a little over a year ago and I honestly can’t remember a whole lot. I remember big character reveals and plot points but not much else. I do remember being frustrated by about half of what that anime had to offer. But I suppose we will have to agree to disagree on this. Sort of? We aren’t that far off from each other but I do believe it is possible to make a Korra story work in just 13 episodes, though it would be difficult.

        My rant about the airbender episode mostly stems from frustration that we should have gotten good character insights and developments but it was all focusing on the bison hunters in the end, which I think was a huge mistake. So as it stands you can leave this episode in and marvel at the time just wasted or you can skip it and wonder what ever was going on with those airbenders. It’s a lose lose situation. What I wish they would have done with that episode was not waste our, and consequently their, time. My main point for saying what I said originally was as an answer that team spends time wasting time when they simply don’t have it. I could think of half a dozen different ways this could have been re-written in order to better serve to the overall plot, but as it stands, it’s all quite pointless. Which happens quite a bit in this season. (where’s bolin and mako’s family?)

        I will admit that I did like certain parts of the season but that frustrates me even more. Whenever I went to watch an episode again I had my mouse ready to fast forward through the stupid shit (which almost always included Bolin) I liked a lot of things but they were buried in shit I hated. So I guess you’re right. We both enjoy certain things differently and I’m glad you were able to get more out of this than I could. Though I am interested in book 4 if only to see a depressed Korra.

        August 23, 2014 at 1:58 pm

  6. Nautilus11

    I honestly thought this season was pretty lackluster. Reasons?

    WARNING: HERE THERE BE SPOILERS.

    1) The antagonists aren’t really all that fleshed out, or that interesting. They seem to be basically a variation of the anti-authority angle of Amon and the Equalists, but somehow even more boring. It also doesn’t help that none of them really got much depth – Zaheer is the most fleshed out, and even then he devolves to ranting like a Scooby-Doo villain at the end of the final episode. Ming-Hua and Ghazan seem to be the next best developed, and even then I couldn’t really care when they died. P’Li is the most shallow of the lot, which is a major problem when you realize that her death is supposed to be a major emotional catalyst for Zaheer. We get all of five seconds for writers to blatantly foreshadow that she is doomed (seriously, could Zaheer muttering “let go of your earthly tether” while she is standing in the background be any more in-your-face?), and then she get offed. Ming-Hua and Ghazan get defeated by the class clowns of the universe, Mako and Bolin, with absolutely no logical sense behind it – these are supposed to be some kind of super-badass benders, and they get taken down by a pair of much younger, average benders. Huh? In fact, this is a major problem with the Red Lotus – they start out as pretty serious physical threats, and slowly experience badass decay as the season progresses. Not as bad as the Lieutenant in Book 1, mind you, but still noticeable.

    2) Korra has become the least interesting of the main cast. Considering that she is supposed to be the focus of the show, the fact that I have so little emotional investment in her character is really problematic. In fact, she suffers from the same problem that Marshall pointed out with Aang, in that he was the least interesting member of the entire cast, only to a much greater extent. I find myself more emotionally invested in Asami, and she’s the least developed of the entire cast.

    3) Lin’s relationship troubles with her sister get solved by magic sleep. She fights her sister, faints, wakes up and voila! all her bad temperament and anger at Suyin is gone, just like that. This was so badly done, that I actually expected Lin’s sudden change to have a more sinister foundation, which would tie into the overall plot, but no. Apparently Bryke are now substituting cheap cop-outs in place of actual character development, not that I’m surprised, when one considers Korra’s amnesia-induced personality change in the last book.

    4) The writers desperately trying to convince the audience that Korra and Asami are the best of friends. This is absolutely horrid writing, with so many contrived moments between the two of them that it actually made me LESS convinced of the authenticity of their relationship. The entire set-up screams “FAKE!” in the most blatant way possible.

    5) The ending just seems like a repeat of the previous book. After all the build up, after all of the mystery, the Red Lotus’ grand plan is – kill the Avatar. You know, just like Vaatu and Unalaq almost succeeded in doing in the previous season, except we also had the literal end of the world to raise the stakes. And I suppose that’s part of the problem – once you’ve had the main protagonist literally save the world, where do you go from there? Anarchy is a somewhat interesting set-up, but having the main villains’ plan be a slightly watered-down version of the main villains’ plan from the previous season is really not filling me with much confidence. Especially when it seemed like so many of the emotional beats of the final two episodes came from seeing three of the main antagonists and Korra bite the big one, or almost bite the big one – and these are the four characters that had the least amount of emotional investment and proper development going for them.

    I actually got more invested in the finale of Book 2. Sure it was big and dumb, but it was AN ending. It was the big one, the ultimate confrontation. Book 3, on the other hand, seemed to just kind of…end. The only good parts were seeing Mako and Bolin be badass, and even that came at the expense of plot logic, and character consistency.

    August 23, 2014 at 6:06 am

    • Grindal

      I’ve spent far too much time writing paragraphs upon paragraphs of comments so sorry mate I’m not going to be up to discuss the points that you raise. Most of them are fair enough – all comes down to how you interpret the situations and the characters. Pretty of the points you disliked worked well for me. I saw proper characters – minus Bollin – reacting appropriately to the situations they were faced with. I’ll bring up the point you made about the finale just ending, and not being the “end” that Book 2 was. I certainly agree, but I think this is much more intentional in a sense, knowing they will be finishing the Avatar universe with Book 4. That’ll be THE ending, at least I hope. Who knows? *Ugh I’ve already typed too much already… Anyway I enjoyed Book 3, but fair enough you didn’t .

      August 23, 2014 at 7:13 am

      • Nautilus11

        I understand that it wasn’t quite the “end” of Book 1 or Book 2, but it certainly was an ending of sorts. Zaheer and company are defeated for good, and Korra’s PTSD/poisoning side-effects seem to be the only plot points passing on to Book 4. So it annoys me that it was, IMO, so poorly handled. It seems like Bryke still can’t quite get the hang of proper pacing and resolution, which makes me wish all the more that Aaron Ehasz would come back. He could have fixed this shit.

        And speaking of Korra’s PTSD, it really gets my goat. She got into the fight of her life with a Kite-Shaped Evil Spirit of Ultimate Evilness, witnessed all her past lives destroyed forever, hell, she even got her bending taken by Amon for a brief while, and she seems fine, and now she gets poisoned and experiences a five-second hallucination, and suddenly she’s a psychological wreck?

        I wonder if a part of it is the people complaining about the lack of long-term effects on Korra from her trials, hence Bryke decide to overcompensate by sacrificing character consistency and making Korra into a PTSD sufferer because of a poison. Kind of how they decided to overcompensate with Korra and Asami’s lack of proper interaction, and the utterly one-sided nature of their dynamic (Asami was basically a doormat for Korra), by having them suddenly become BFFs.

        Anyway, sorry for turning this into a rant, dude. I’m just still kind of pissed off about this, but I suppose Legend of Korra does right in that regard, in that it managed to make me give enough of a fuck to actually be disappointed.

        August 23, 2014 at 7:49 am

    • Clander

      You totally hit the nail on the head with that, dude

      August 23, 2014 at 1:47 pm

  7. Nautilus11

    Also, I’m not really surprise you liked “Long Live The Queen”, Marshall. Much like “And The Winner Is…”, it is an episode dedicated to showcasing the villains utterly screwing over the heroes, and raising the stakes. The problem is, in neither case do the obstacles set up by the antagonists have much effect on the heroes. The Earth Queen being offed by Zaheer has roughly zero effect on the rest of the season, and the same thing goes for Amon outsmarting the Republic City police – both episodes exist for the sole reason of showing off that both villains are major threats not to be fucked with. The problem is, we already kind of knew that, so what else?

    August 23, 2014 at 6:12 am

    • Grindal

      Oh and the creators may go out an prove me wrong but the consequences of Zaheer killing the Earth Queen seem to be set up for Book 4 in some way with the discussion between Raiko, Zuko and Tenzin.

      August 23, 2014 at 7:17 am

      • Nautilus11

        Good point, but I’m not holding my breath for a good follow up. Knowing Bryke, it will probably be a throw-away plot point of little significance, but I’m ready and very much willing to be pleasantly surprised.

        August 23, 2014 at 7:50 am

  8. Grindal

    I’d probably say it’s a 50/50 on whether it is throwaway or not. Best evidence for it not though is the fact that at the end of Book 2 all the spirits roaming in the human had little significance on the plot in Book 3. Something tells me that the collapse of order in Ba Sing Se though isn’t something you can just throw under the rug.

    August 23, 2014 at 10:06 am

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