A Very Good Perspective on the Series Finale
This is the kind of article I wish I had the time and the wit to write. “‘The Legend of Korra’ Is Revolutionary, But at a Cost” by Sirisha Varigonda summarizes quite a few of my feelings on the series’ finale, especially in regards to its lack of any real catharsis or release. Here are a few highlights.
Kuvira herself is not actually the villain I envisioned for Korra to have her final battle against. Right before Kuvira and Korra enter the portal, Kuvira is shown with the spirit arm shooting the spirit lasers at everything and anything, having lost total common sense and control. There was no lead in to her demise, no significant downfall. Her phrase “The Great Uniter” went all to waste because her fight in Republic City lost all meaning. She had no purpose or real motive to fight in RC other than proving to herself how strong of a warrior and protector of the Earth Kingdom she was. If we parallel Kuvira to Azula, Azula had significant moments towards the end of Avatar’s Book 3 where the audience could plainly see her downfall, what her motives were, what her hamartia was, why she ultimately lost in the end. The writers didn’t even allow Kuvira to have this type of complexity in the end, which is a disservice to how cool she was from the concept art to the beginnings of Book 4. When she is in the spirit portal with Korra, it takes her the span of a 2-minute conversation for her to realize that she was wrong. Outside the portal, her army men simply accept the fact that their leader says “I’m done! Avatar won!” Kuvira ultimately just feels super underdeveloped.
On the lost friendship of Team Avatar:
And this is what really gets me. The writers totally pushed aside Team Avatar and their original friendship. Mako and Bolin cared so much about each other and about Korra and Asami, and we barely got a feel for that towards the end. There’s no acknowledgement of their past adventures and journeys. That Mako sacrificed himself in an act of selflessness that he learned from Korra so that he was able to protect them. That the two have comforted both Korra and Asami in the past when things started to go downhill. These friendships should undoubtedly remain true to the end. And if not in an explicit form (ie: group hug, going down to the portal together at the end), then at least more words shared. If I recall, Bolin and Korra barely spoke to each other at all during the extent of Book 4.
On Korra’s character development:
My wish for Korra was for her to become a well-rounded character (which has nothing to do with the fact that she’s a strong female character, rather that she should become a well-rounded character, regardless of gender and of the word strength, especially since strength can come in many different forms). Someone who yes, has changed as a result of her traumatic experience, but says nothing bad about who she was prior to her suffering (a person who “didn’t take shit from anyone”). Basically, those specific qualities of being bold and standing up for herself were qualities that shouldn’t need to change. Those qualities are/were Korra being Korra.