Because fans should be critical, too

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.

On Kuvira:

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.


5 responses

  1. rosemon

    “Mako and Bolin cared so much about each other and about Korra and Asami,” oh dear, I almost laughed at this phrase. Since when have these two ever cared about each other except in those Republic city shorts? And Mako about the girls? These four barely had a friendship outside of being forced together, and Asami was hardly part of the group because of her role as Mako’s leftovers.

    January 7, 2015 at 11:39 am

  2. Oh yeah I’ve read this. Good article.

    January 7, 2015 at 1:30 pm

  3. ChaosJumper

    This article puts my feelings of the finale, especially what the writer says here:

    “The grandeur of the final episode, the disappointing character arc of Korra, the sidelined relationships between her and those that matter most to her, the lack of meaningful and spiritual undertones of the conflict between her and Kuvira, were all so underwhelming compared to what I would have expected from the series finale.”

    But since Kuvira was basically a ploy for Korra’s character, and she’s the written archetype of a Fascist Dictator, it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise to see an underwhelming final conflict to end our Avatar’s 2 Deus ex Machina + getting her but handed to her by Zehere.

    And this little quote just hits home my entire problem with Korra as a character:

    “But here’s the thing: they matured her by making her lose some of her character. She doesn’t have to change her outlook on life without losing some of the vivacity that we see Korra embody between Books 1 and 2.”

    It’s like the writer is reading my mind and putting it on paper!

    January 7, 2015 at 10:08 pm

  4. Yunus58

    Might interest you.

    January 9, 2015 at 2:10 pm

  5. Sollo

    Book 4 is so plot-filled and so Korra-centered that it ended up having really little space for everything else, that’s true. They put tons of meaningful and deep themes in only 12 episodes (the clip episode doesn’t count, of course), with a great attention to Korra’s development.
    I must say that I do not agree with the writer’s perspective about Korra’s character arc: she just found a meaning in her suffering, it’s something that everyone would do to accept a great grief as the one she went through. And basically, she’s the same as before, only more compassionate and concious of her role. Need an example? She still sees her struggle as a matter of force, she’s still lacking in her spiritual side, but she matured enough to understand that she must TRY to be a better person in order to become one. She still has the same flaws she had in the past, but she has learned to tame them, and frankly I thought it was pretty clear throughout the whole season.
    Then. let’s remember of Mako’s and Korra’s characters: Mako is almost an awkward and anti-social man dedicated to duty; Korra has always tended to be a loner, isolating herself from the people she loves because of her proud persoanility. Theirs is not a friendship like Aang and Sokka’s, or even like Aang and Zuko’s, when the latter’s shyness was compensated by the Avatar’s cheerfulness.
    Still, it’s also true, it’s true that the series finale was lacking in terms of dialogue and friendship, it’s true, but let’s face it: it’s a miracle they did all this with 20 minutes cut in the middle of the production.
    Still, I must agree about Varrick and Zhu Li: their love story was just nonsense, as well as giving them so much space in the ending.
    Regarding Kuvira, it’s true she was underdeveloped, but she still serves a purpose as a character: being a degenerated version of Korra, reminding her that without an inner, moral “brake”, she’s doomed to become an horrible person.
    Summing up, LoK’s finale is supposed to be the beginning of Korra’s real journey, opposed to AtLA’s, which was the ending of an adventure. In 20 minutes, everything can happen, so I’m just glad that they managed to keep such an high level in this flawed finale (let’s remember that in one only episodes Korra dealt with spirit vines going crazy, learned about her new power, regained her connection to Raava, talked to Zaheer and more).
    And then, Korra’s character is not underwhelmed at all, but she’s the only character in the series who became completely well-rounded and complete, an icon of self-control, balance, which ended up being the most complex character this franchise and maybe the whole animation have ever seen.
    Forgive any grammar mistake, english is not my native language. Greetings from Italy.

    January 29, 2015 at 4:30 pm

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