Because fans should be critical, too

First Viewing Impressions of “Korra Alone”

The very ending of this episode left me a little trepidatious. Which is a shame, because I was loving the episode for the most part. Flaws and all, this was probably one of the most impressive episode of The Legend of Korra in a long while (maybe even the episode I’d been waiting for since the end of Book One). There are many wonderful images in this one, and the episode flowed rather nicely. It’s great to see Korra so down, because it’ll be that much more cathartic to see her back up again.

But that ending. And that title for that matter. I’m not sure how strongly they should be evoking memories of “Zuko Alone,” which only serves to show how lacking “Korra Alone” is in comparison.

Also, a line of dialogue contained the phrase, “Spoiler alert.”

You know what? I’m feeling very trepidatious right now. I pray that they prove me wrong.

That said, if you’ve watched the episode, go ahead and discuss among yourselves in the comments. (This will be the pattern for the duration of this season.)

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18 responses

  1. rosemon

    I’ve always thought that the use of random American slang words jerked me out of the Avatar story, ATLA or Korra.

    October 10, 2014 at 9:43 am

    • Nautilus11

      I had a similar issue with Bolin’s usage of the word “ammo” in Book 3. I know that historically the word had been in use in the real world since the 17th century, but in the Avatar world? Where the closest they have to projectile-projecting systems is a bow and arrow? It’s very much out of place.

      October 11, 2014 at 3:39 am

  2. I don’t think I can compare Zuko Alone to Korra Alone. They are completely different beasts, but I disagree that Korra Alone is lacking. How to put it?

    If Zuko Alone is the perfectly told story, then I think Korra Alone is told imperfectly but has more truth. I was quite shaken after watching to be honest. I mean, I could sympathize with Zuko at the end of his episode, but his experience remained separate from mine. Whereas ‘Korra Alone’ actually brought me back to a difficult time of my life. Not reminded, brought back to a time when I had run away from home and hovered as close to despair as I’ve ever been.

    And I guess that’s the purpose of the final scene. It doesn’t really belong in the episode, but it does ground the viewer, returns them to the Avatar universe, after a surreal experience.

    October 10, 2014 at 11:15 am

  3. Clander

    I’m actually surprised that I liked this episode. It sure isn’t Zuko Alone but in it’s own way I liked it. I think Korra being haunted by her Avatar spirit is a great idea, even though I think her fighting it in the swamp should have been saved for later.

    But I have to complain about the voice acting again. This time it’s Korra not showing any emotion. At least for some parts. I think it’s especially bad when Korra is writing to Asami. Korra is basically opening up to her and she is reading it like it’s out of a book. There’s no emotion. No Conviction.

    October 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    • “Korra is basically opening up to her and she is reading it like it’s out of a book. There’s no emotion. No Conviction.”

      Could one argue that’s the point? Korra’s passion has been reduced to nothing.

      October 10, 2014 at 8:25 pm

      • Clander

        Her passion may have but her depression sure hasn’t. It sounds dull. She doesn’t sound sad, happy, passionate or anything. She said she only trusts telling Asami this information. There should be something there.

        October 11, 2014 at 1:31 am

      • tox

        @Clander,

        Have you ever been depressed? I sure haven’t except for a few hours on meds, so if you have I would cede judgment to you. That said, descriptions online from people/ authors make me think that depression is more like you feel dead inside and everything is gray and tiresome. It’s not just a period of being super sad.

        Varney’s emotionless reading of that line to me was intentional and an example of good voice acting, not bad. (And it seems Varney is really in tune with what Korra goes through in interviews, and she’s clearly a talented voice actress, so I also give her the benefit of the doubt.)

        October 11, 2014 at 7:22 pm

      • Clander

        @tox I actually have been depressed in different seasons of my life however I can’t say that everyone will have an identical experience. I have no doubts Varney is a very talented actress and do enjoy her performance once in a while. However I simply don’t believe that in an entertainment medium, dull is ever the way to go unless that’s the direct intent for whatever purpose to serve the narrative.

        I have seen a number of movies with a depressed character that would usually keep to themselves and have a very empty feeling. But they were also complex emotional characters. They allowed the drabness to create atmosphere for the character. The instance with Korra’s voice actor just stinks of confused direction. There is a way to write depressed characters and I honestly don’t have a hard time believing Korra is depressed most of the time. Though there are instances where I am taken out of the story and one big one is dull voice acting. Which I believe was displayed though Korra in the last episode. It was a boring read. Not a depressed one.

        October 11, 2014 at 11:38 pm

      • tox

        @Clander,

        Thanks for the response. I can’t say it really bothers me personally, but I do appreciate the perspective.

        Cheers!

        October 12, 2014 at 2:10 am

  4. JMR

    So I’m actually not entirely sure how to feel about this episode. It’s not that it’s bad, though, and I’ll readily admit my reason for not completely enjoying it is entirely selfish: it crapped all over my interpretation of the last episodes ending.

    Honestly, now I feel a little duped by that ending. The episode seems to pretty strongly suggest that the state we find Korra in is the state she’s been in for the months she’s been gone. I had found that version of the ending to have a sort of solemn potency that I really enjoyed. Its a bit disappointing that instead, it was just one brief pit-stop on a rollicking, globe-trotting adventure of self discovery so that she can try to fight her creepy doppelganger.

    Again, it’s not that the episode is bad or anything, in fact it covers a lot of the ideas that I had found interesting in the last episode, just differently than I had expected. I’ll even admit that their version of it probably fits the “epic adventure” theme going on in this franchise. It’s hard to let go of a pet theory, though. Clearly the writers should have consulted me about how things were really supposed to go…

    October 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    • Clander

      It’s not just you. I also strongly got that impression. They were kind of showing her off as Wolverine who has been cage matching for some time to find some meaning, but instead it was like 3 minute…thing

      October 10, 2014 at 4:55 pm

  5. Nautilus11

    I’m…torn.

    SPOILERS!!!

    On the one hand, we finally get some long overdue character development. Even if I am not a fan of them stretching out the “hero loses and finds themselves again” theme that seems to be the entirety of The Legend of Korra, it’s still not bad.

    I kind of hated Korra writing to Asami, and not Mako and Bolin. I was just starting to almost buy their friendship, then Bryke go and pull this amount of overkill (why would Korra trust Asami more than the other two? She “fought” Amon alongside Mako, and witnessed the near-end of the world with him and Bolin. By contrast, the only thing she did with just Asami was getting captured and escaping from the desert), which completely ruins it.

    Also, Jesus Christ, Bryke really do wear their influences on their sleeves. Attack On Titan/Pacific Rim with Book 2, Superman vs. General Zod with Book 3, and now The Empire Strikes Back with the entire last 1/3 of this episode. I was half expecting Toph to start talking Yoda-style.

    October 10, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    • Italianbaptist

      And don’t forget “wiggle your big toe”.

      October 13, 2014 at 9:44 am

  6. One of the best episodes of the franchise so far. To be honest, apart from a few not-so-important details, I only have one complaint:

    I’ll never buy Korra’s friendship with Asami. It’s already hard for me to buy her relationship with Mako and Bolin, and now they want me to accept this forced friendship when their interactions in the show have been almost null?

    What did the two of them do in Book 1? They drove a car in a race together.

    What did they do in Book 2? Nothing, most probably because Asami had as much screentime and significance as a tertiary character.

    What did they do in book 3? A decent amount of stuff, actually. But the problem here is the relationship had the worst build-up possible, so the affection they had for each other was not believable.

    And that’s why, as Nautilus, I disliked how Korra only wrote to Asami while she was in the South Pole. I wanna believe it was just a stupid decision made by the writers with no hidden intentions and not just a way to please Korrasami shippers.

    October 10, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    • BatBender

      I’ve wanted Korra and Asami to be friends since Asami was introduced in Book 1. I’m also a fan of Korrasami as a romantic relationship (well, at least the idea of it) but I completely agree with you. Their friendship came out of nowhere and there’s this huge imbalance within it. Korra has done a lot of messed up things to Asami in previous books and we see Asami just quickly forgive her and then proceed to do all this stuff for Korra. We never really see Korra doing anything for Asami.

      Asami hasn’t gotten any character development and Korra is stuck constantly going through the same development only to reset/regress or be completely inconsistent about it.

      In general, it’s obvious we’re supposed to sympathize with Korra more than ever this season and that’s what makes “Korra Alone” inferior to “Zuko Alone” in my eyes. I loved the idea of Korra’s character but the way she’s been written has made me like her less and less. I think that’s the big difference for me. Zuko is just a much more likable character to me than Korra’s become.

      Hopefully this season will bring out that potential I’ve always seen in Korra’s character and change my current opinion on her.

      October 11, 2014 at 6:14 pm

  7. tox

    I really liked this episode.

    I also do not like the comparison to ‘Zuko Alone,’ if only because it brings on expectations that the original didn’t have. It’s how unassuming and human ‘Zuko Alone’ is as a story that made it so brilliant. It wasn’t even necessary for the plot (it’s the last episode of A:TLA I ever watched, since I skipped it on its original air). ‘Korra Alone’ is necessary as a character and plot advancer, and so you can tell that the flashbacks just aren’t as well-integrated as those in ‘Zuko Alone.’ And I likewise wasn’t a fan of the ending, since it seemed like it was another episode entirely, though I guess that’s necessary set-up (also the trailer spoiled the Toph moment for me, so there’s that).

    But overall, I thought it was great. I will never understand this forum’s dislike for Korra’s character. There are people claiming she’s been written poorly, or that they’ve re-tread this same plotline about “losing yourself and finding yourself” (umm, isn’t that every character arc ever?). Since mid-Season 2, I think they’ve done a great job with her character. Aang’s arc was always about defining his role as the Avatar through his responsibilities to the world; Korra’s arc seems to be defining her role as the Avatar through her personal identity (that she never seemed to have). It’s always been coherent to me, and I’ve found her a really sympathetic protagonist the last few episodes.

    I’d give it an A- overall, with plenty of opportunity to grow as I unpack more of the stuff that Korra’s facing.

    October 11, 2014 at 7:33 pm

  8. rosemon

    One of the previous writers/directors of ATLA has a website now,
    http://giancarlovolpe.tumblr.com
    Something vital was posted by Aaron Ehasz himself on how to write good characters:
    http://giancarlovolpe.tumblr.com/post/98392197924/a-study-in-creating-great-characters-by-aaron
    Sometimes I wonder what Korra would have been like if he had been head writer.

    October 14, 2014 at 7:42 am

    • tox

      In my personal opinion, it would be the best show on TV. Korra has already been pretty great at basically everything since maybe the halfway point of Season 2 (in my opinion), minus the S2 finale which was sloppy. It’s only major weakness is just how lacking virtually every character is; Korra (after her reset in Season 2), Tenzin, and Lin are the only characters with consistent, coherent character arcs. Even important characters like Jinora don’t really have character arcs (e.g. Season 3 was ostensibly about her becoming an airbending master, but it was never really clear how she grew from when she wanted them in ‘The Original Airbenders’ to her in the finale, since she did sort of save the world in the Season 2 finale).

      In general I think the plots have been great (this includes Season 2!), but if there were better and more coherent writing with regards to the heroes (Korra until the first half of Season 2, Bolin, Mako, Asami post-Season 1) and villains (Amon and Unalaq particularly), while tying in these interesting political explorations, it’d be the best show on television. E.g. if they handled Amon’s arc properly, not making him a complete hypocrite but rather an expose on the flaws of building an ideology based on a well-intentioned lie, and then Korra appeals to the non-benders about how she lost her bending and yet she is still the Avatar and a beacon of hope and peace for the world (i.e. your bending doesn’t define you, which wraps up her character arc beautifully), then Korra would have an actual character arc, Amon would be an even more compelling tragic figure, and it would have been a better political message. Aaron Ehasz could make that happen.

      October 16, 2014 at 4:09 am

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