Completely Predictable Post: Legend of Korra: Balance

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Season 4 of Legend of Korra has drawn to a close. You know what that means.

If Change was recovery, where Korra retread its roots and became Avatar again, Balance was where Korra truly came into its own.  Its own identity, its own style, its own story. It had strengths and weaknesses, but it truly felt like something unique in its own right, rather than a continuation or pale imitation.

There’ll be a lot of spoilers if you haven’t seen the season yet, so be warned. We’ll also talk about the series as a whole.

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Can It Be?

I am finally allowed to utter these words about a Korra villain.

I loved Kuvira.

Fourth time’s the charm, it seems.  But she was finally an adversary worthy of Korra.  Aman was probably second best, and he did present his own unique challenge and interesting story. But he still should be lumped into the pile with Zaheer and Unalaq. They were all rather flat, unmotivated besides a general theme of “Chaos!” and lacked any dimensions to their personalities.  We saw bad people who had always just generally been bad people.  Aman’s dynamic with Tarloq was a bit refreshing, but overall the villains of Korra have always been its greatest weakness.

Kuvira, though, was nothing like them.

Or perhaps, a far superior iteration of them. She had shades and actual intellect about her that made her a worthy foil.  And as an audience, we love seeing our hero triumph over a worthy villain than a villain who exists just to be the bad guy.

Aman had a tortured backstory, but that was incidental to his movement. Unalaq desired power, but for no reason it seemed other than to BE powerful. Zaheer had skill and cunning, but it was cunning that existed because it was a plot necessity, not because he actually outwitted our heroes (Oh, sure, he can talk while in the spirit world while Aang used to pass out. Sure.)

Kuvira had some real brains about her.  Like anticipating that Su would break the cease fire, granting the Earth Empire the moral high ground. Kuvira was not above playing politics, despite her ruthlessness, and that was a good move to make rather than making her a copy of Ozai, who, let’s be honest, was probably the least interesting antagonist in the original series because of how abjectly evil he was.

While I’ve stated that Korra is probably best associated as Azula’s spiritual successor, Kuvira is a return to Azula’s function as the enemy.  She was an intelligent foil to our heroes and one we actually felt a dramatic payoff when she was finally taken out.

The scene that really cemented her appeal to me as a villain was after she fights off a group of bandits in the early episodes.  She not only manages to show off her impressive combat prowess, but her ultimatum was brutally simple. And the way she just dominates the conversation with the bandits is wonderful, slapping metal over their mouths and declaring the day they’re allowed to join her “the best day of your lives”.

…Korra, you might have competition for a new waifu.

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But the really great thing was the finale.  Not so much the way it was handled, but the explanation about how Kuvira’s aggressive stances were about vulnerability….that felt completely natural to the character.  It felt a LITTLE tacked on, we maybe could have explored that thread better as set up.

Think about that connection. Listen to what Kuvira yells at Korra. “You disappeared,” she says. The world was abandoned by the Avatar when it needed her most. Kuvira, I think it’s safe to say, demonized her parents for abandoning her. They may have had good reasons, or they may have been dicks, but from her end? She probably made them antagonists. To misappropriate a quote, “The Mother of the world has been killed,” the Earth Nation is left to fend for itself while the person charged with maintaining the world’s balance not only failed them, but left to take some “me time”.  In retrospect it fits perfectly with how Kuvira regards the Avatar.

But it does feel quite natural. It informs her decisions looking back at the series.  Why can’t she leave Zao Fu alone? Well we could say to arbitrarily make her a mustache twirling villain, but the idea of an independent Earth state smack dab in the middle of her empire? That’s vulnerability. That’s a risk. Kuvira does not allow risks.  And it makes her betrayal of Bataar Jr. all the more believable when, it isn’t because she DOESN’T care about him, but because she sees that attachment as weakness.  She truly does want to marry him, she does want to settle down when her reconquista is over. But if that attachment makes her vulnerable, she won’t let it influence her judgment out of pride, not callousness.

You might say they are the same thing, and that’s probably your life experience talking. But for mine, it is completely believable.

It was an organic development of the person we had seen, rather than a psychbabble attached to her. Like Zaheer’s attached romance. Well, okay, we barely saw that it mattered to him more than his mission, but I GUESS he was attached to her because when she died he could fly? Oh god, was that his happy thought?

Point being, with Aman and Zaheer, while we did get some tragic backstory and character motivation, it never really felt like it informed us about their decisions.  With Kuvira, it makes total sense, and that’s a good thing. Like Azula’s madness, we knew why it happened. There were no other “players”, only game pieces, and when two of those pieces refused to do as ordered, she snapped. Kuvira is similar, just the motivation was backended.  We had a similar effect with Prince Wuu’s “redemption”.  He didn’t exactly change, but we were allowed to see his full character and his nobility and cleverness in action, even if he never stopped being insufferable.

And the resolution was nice, if not a touch Naruto.  Korra saves the day not with her fists, but by connecting with another Human being. Similar love to how Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio ended.

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A Missed Chance

Zaheer might have been utter shit as a villain, but his role in Balance made wonderful use of the character.  I just wish this scene had been more involved, and longer than six minutes.  You could make the argument that they didn’t have time. But I could just as easily make the argument that we had a clip show and a few drudgery episodes. Would we have really suffered for less insufferable Wuu scenes if it meant adding four minutes to the Zaheer conversation?

Back to the actual point.  This scene was great.  I loved every second of it. Not just because I’m a sucker for shifting alliances, but this rolls back into the theme that Balance seems to have mastered: Natural evolution of what you have.

Zaheer hated the monarchy, and he’d loathe a dictatorship almost as much. But most of all, we saw his love for the spirit world. He adored the spirits and genuinely lauded Korra’s decision to keep the spirit portals open.  The fact Kuvira was using the spirits as weapons (and harming/killing them to do so) makes her Zaheer’s natural enemy.

I just wish this had come through Korra’s negotiating.  Or somehow, more influenced by her. Hence why I would have loved that added time.  As it stands, Zaheer just comes out and offers to help her. Because he “hears rumors”.

Wouldn’t it have been a way more satisfying conversation to have the back and forth?

“I saved the Earth kingdom from tyranny!”

“Oh? Jokes on you, the worst dictator in history now rules the Earth Kingdom. And she’s using the spirits you cherish so much as weapons.”

“Wait, what? Fuck that bitch. I’m gonna help you.”

I’m abridging, of course. But that’s essentially the speed it plays out on screen. Zaheer more seems to have ALWAYS planned to help Korra recover since she walked in.  And that seems pointless. Just a dramatic DUN DUN DUN! to pull on the audience.

Of course it does say fun things about Zaheer that he still taunts her even though he knows he’s going to help her.  Maybe it’s just hair splitting, but that’s only because I really adored the time the pair spent together on screen this season.

And the clip show. I understand. It’s meant to echo Ember Island Players.  This is the big confrontation and we want everyone to catch up.  But you can’t just do it again, obviously.

It was mostly a flop, with one exception. Varrick’s story.  Oh man. Varrick’s fucking story.  That phone call between Aman, Zaheer, and Unalaq was majesty incarnate.  And a subtle nod to the show’s own weaknesses that Aman and Zaheer want to exclude Unalaq from their recounting of the past.

Still, while a clip show may have had a place in the original Avatar, they also bumped up the episode count to DO it (ending with 21 episodes rather than 20 due to Ember Island Players).  It was not only fun, but BONUS fun. Which they couldn’t do here, not just because Nick probably refused, also because the budget probably didn’t allow it. We really saw it stretching this season. I think it was a bad choice, we could have had way more character stuff which this season practically demanded (as it is we left Bo Lin and Opal hanging).

EDIT: Doing some extra research as this has been the talk of the town, I did find out some info regarding the clip show specifically (which affects the entire season): Nick slashed the budget at the last minute.  The creators were left with a choice between cutting an episode, or making it easy-to-make in form of a clip show.

Normally I wouldn’t edit for something so trivial, but this echoes across the season.  Zaheer’s development, the Bei Fong family drama, every single relationship which was a backburner issue under the threat of Kuvira (Bo Lin/Opal, Zhu Li/Varrick, Korra/Asami) COULD have had extra time to flesh them out.  But what do you cut from your show when you have to? You cut character stuff, because you can’t cut the important plot points. You can’t just SKIP the scene where the gang finds the Colossus, right?

So, consider this my defending the team on a lot of what I’ve said. My points, I feel, remain VALID (and I’m not so upset I was off-base at all that I’d remove it), but in light of that news I wanted to add this addendum.  If the shipping seems rushed, if drama came out of nowhere, remember that we lost a full episode where those elements might have been explored. I don’t know (or even think) that they would have satisfied ALL of the rushed plot points. But for many of them? It could have been JUST enough time.

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Playing Politics

One of the nice additions to Balance was the politcal aspects of the series.  Not just because I like them, but they are kind of hard to ignore when the series focuses so much on world leaders, yet ignores a lot of the realities they face.

My favorite bit had to be Izumi (who is fucking hot, by the way).  The new Fire Lord is straightforward and stern. And raises a very interesting point when confronted by Raikou and Tenzin.

Her point (to summarize) was “The world suffered grievously the last time the Fire Nation launched an attack on Earth Kingdom soil. You need to bring me more than Kuvira’s bad intentions.”  She does offer to supply aid to buffer Republic City’s defenses, but she outright refuses to take pre-emptive strikes.

And there’s certainly whole reams of intrigue surrounding the Earth Kingdom’s view of the United Republic.  Last season, the Earth Queen rebuffed its very existence, but we can’t be sure that wasn’t just her being an elitist prick.  But it does seem to tap into this underlying thought. The Avatar only took territory from one of the four nations, and it wasn’t the Fire Nation. After all, while Bo Lin has a strange view, being FROM the Republic, we’d have to assume most of the troops under Kuvira’s rule believe in the mission. A pre-Sozin Earth nation.  They didn’t seem to have any qualms about attacking Zao Fu, which was itself a rather autonomous state before Zaheer came.

Of course that doesn’t change the fact they’re chasing this romanticized vision of their history.  While the coastal territories may have been exclusively Earthbender genes, they were certainly not from either of the major states we witnessed, Omashu or Ba Sing Se. And there’s Kiyoshi Island (fuck, why didn’t we visit Kiyoshi Island?!) and to say nothing of the swampies, waterbenders who happened to be living in traditionally Earth Kingdom land.

More, as a “world majority”, they probably feel they’re disproprtionately punished by the Avatar’s “balance”, be that Kiyoshi’s killing of Chen (and forming of the Dai Li), Roku’s abject disinterest in Sozin’s colonization (he certainly had poor follow through), Aang’s taking of traditionally Earth Kingdom land to form the Republic, or Korra carving out the Air Nation from the people of the Earth Kingdom. Fuck the Avatar, they need to look after their own interests!

But all these details made it a very well thought out piece. They finally seemed to be doing things with their universe that led from pre-existing plot threads.  Sure, Kuvira wasn’t very prominent in Season 3, mentioned is more like it, but her cause and purpose have been back burner issues of fan debates ever since Korra aired.

The one thing is…Korra walks off into the sunset (so to speak) like the problem’s gone. Like Kuvira was the problem, like another movement won’t take over where she left off. Which is a shame, but it IS the finale and all…we’ll cut them a break.

In all it was a dramatic counterpoint to last season. Zaheer, as the anarchist, represented the individual. Alone, unbound, without responsibility or Human connection.  Korra defeated him, as I said then, not by her own strength alone, but with the strength of the community she nurtured, that of the Air Nation. It was, frankly, a rather Eastern motive: the community overpowered the lone wolf, brought strength from their togetherness that trumped the anarchist. Organization trumped chaos.

Kuvira was the other end. Too much order, too much society, too much obligation.  Forsaking her personal feelings for the unit, forsaking individual thought for the state. It is that see-saw of Balance that really gels these two seasons together like a tightly packed unit, and the end result was glorious.

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Moments of Glory

As I mentioned back in Kuvira’s section, Prince Wuu, while an annoying little shit, did get to have a moment or two in the sun.  And I don’t even feel its cheapened that he wants to evacuate the civilians just so he can get into Korra’s pants easier.  People have some really fucked up reasons why they do things, sometimes. I can’t even recall the guy’s name…some transhumanist in this documentary about the Singularity, and the guy may have been brilliant, but HOLY SHIT the daddy issues.  And Wuu’s nice-guy act, while certainly hammed up to impress ladies (nice pull from Futurama there), I think does underlie a well-meaning guy. He just hasn’t really experienced a lot outside his Earth royalty bubble.  And we saw Toph’s childhood, and how royalty is typically treated in Ba Sing Se. Who knows what this kid’s life was like.  Much like how Kuvira has reasons, but must be STOPPED, Wuu has reasons and must be encouraged.

And, finally, Bo Lin was allowed to just be AWESOME! Multiple times, might we add. He’s always been a capable fighter, we know he is, but this season they really let him shine as a complete badass.  Starting with the escape, both fights, in the mechs and at the checkpoint, and then in the giant…goddamnit Rob Walker…Mecha Maid fight. I mean, he starts ripping apart a building to throw it at the thing. Sure, he had help, but damn was that cool.

Even Mako… Oh, um, you may now take a moment to mark you calendars as I’m about to compliment Mako’s use.  Ready? Good. Even Mako’s shining moment in the reactor made me really want to see more of him.  It’s just…they actually managed to pull him off as noble.  He is a man who is driven by his duty, his compassion for his friends and family, and just damn. I kinda wanted him to die, but not from malice. But because the character had finally reached a gravitas worthy of his legacy (and the bullshit prodigy crap they threw at us in the first season). Fully realized, a noble sacrifice would have been so exceedingly epic.

The Bei Fongs, all of them, were in fine form.  And even Kuvira earned our respect as a noble fighter.  She fought uphill against the Avatar, and won.  We wanted Korra to get her rematch, but it did establish that even the villain had earned her victories, rather than being JUST duplicitous.

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Stage (4): Acceptance

The running theme this season was acceptance.  Looking deeper, it could even be called “Humility”, tying into Iroh’s lessons to Zuko, bridging the two series.

For Kuvira, it was all that stuff I mentioned in her section, but also for us, the audience.  I don’t think the writers wanted us focusing on her tragic past like we had to with Aman, or her dickish past like Unalaq.  Or her enigmatic past like Zaheer.

It did come up, of course (a little forced, even).  But that wasn’t the focus. Because that, too, is balance.  While everyone has their reasons, that doesn’t change the fact you must respond to their actions. Much like Azula. While she became the way she did because of her parents, her mother’s rejection and her father’s indulgence of her bad traits, that doesn’t change the fact that Azula was crazy and needed to go down on Ty Lee.

This theme played out with Ju Li and Varick (who, by the way, stole the fucking show this season like a boss).  Asami and Hiroshi, Raikou with his duty to his people, Korra with her near-death experience, Wuu embracing the winds of change, the Bei Fong family with each other (a nice parallel to Zuko’s family in the original series, only this time the black sheep is the bad guy), the thematic nature of the season really made the storytelling tight.  There were no absolutes. No truly good and truly evil. No black and white spirit form fight, no, just a very Human conflict.

Oh, I get that spirit conversation now. Clever.

And what was possibly the most poetic moment: Korra’s final awakening.  Much like how Aang unlocked spirit bending to end his series, or Korra unlocked the Avatar state to end hers (when it was 1 season), Korra goes full Akira not when she’s saving loved ones, not when she’s angry and going super saiyan, not when her life is in danger, not when she’s lost everything.  She does it to save her enemy.  And if we take her at her words to Kuvira, to save her lost other-self.

Korra essentially pulls a Batman in JLU.  For those unfamiliar: Justice League Unlimited’s (original) finale was “Epilogue”, which was a crossover episode about Terry from Batman Beyond meeting Amanda Waller, kind of the JLU’s Luthor/Kingpin type adversary. It was a cap to the entire DCAU, and focused on the story of how Batman saved the day. What you need to know is Waller tells the Justice League that the episode specific mess, caused by a psionic who is dying and her mind powers are going to nuke the city when she expires, needs to be killed, and gives the League the tool to do the job.  Batman, the guy with a no-killing rule, takes it on himself to do the deed.  And he talks her down, lets her know she isn’t alone, and she tearfully agrees, because her grudge is that she lost her childhood to bad people.  Something Batman has a little experience with, you know?

We get a similar shade here. Korra accepts that her enemy isn’t evil.  She could kill her, directly or indirectly by letting the spirit weapon nuke her. But that isn’t the way she wants to end it, and indeed, it isn’t how it NEEDS to end.

That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t also approve of Kuvira going out Zhao-style, lost in the spirit wood that she abused so terribly.  But this way she kind of goes out like Azula, so it’s cool. (As Korra says, “Acting like a dick”)

But I think that outright killing her, even implied, would spoil that message of the season.  Kuvira getting her just desserts? Perhaps. But that’s just balancing scales. Not any meaningful conflict resolution. It would be forsaking Kuvira as an extreme.  And Korra can’t do that, not anymore. She’s changed far too much as a person.  Her humility with Tenzin at the wedding demonstrates it perfectly. Korra isn’t the “I’m the Avatar, if I do it, by definition it’s saving the world” she was earlier on. She recognizes how unwise she is, and doesn’t feel she can pass judgment anymore.

That’s for a vengeful Su to do. Hahahaha, see you in Hell, daughter-I-always-wanted-soon-to-be-daughter-in-law-bitch!

Seriously the moral ambiguity with the Bei Fongs was really off putting. It’s the only part that didn’t really flow with the rest of it.  Bataar Jr. gets a pass on all his crimes (and oh fuck yes, if Kuvira committed crimes, you know damn well he committed them, ordering people to camps and shit), just because Kuvira tried to kill him as collateral to go after the Avatar? Meanwhile Kuvira apologizes and gets the cold shoulder? That’s some messed up bullshit right there.

Probably one of the great creative triumphs was Korra’s illness. It’s a 22 minute episode, we understand there are limitations, but its depiction of our hero, our powerful, ass kicking hero, trying to fight through a mental and phsycial recovery were pure genius.  It has been said by more qualified minds than mine, but it was very powerful, and well executed.  And the touch that it doesn’t just -go away- magically, it’s a real struggle even after your epiphany, was a nod that most such stories don’t even give lip service to.

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 I Ship It

Alright. Let’s address the elephant-frog in the room.  But first, I need to take a moment…for myself…

Oh yyyYYYEEESSSSS!

Okay.  Now for a serious observation.

I have never seen a fan community more mad about ANYTHING in my life.  And I roll with Bronies from time to time.  The outright bitter, vitriolic nature of how people responded to the final scene baffles me.

So let’s address this in as calm and reasoned manner as we can.

In full disclosure…fuck, I’ve done this for the previous two seasons, my flag has been in the good ship Korrasami for years.  The problem with Season 1’s love triangle? Mako. I thought the girls were great, and just kind of naturally nudged them at each other because of how boring Mako was.  In their desperate attempt to create artificial romance drama, it had seemed, to me, that they missed completely the pair that had the most natural chemistry.

And of course I’m a well documented lesbian blogger, that’s just the way my brain works, it’s where I push things when left to my own devices. So take this with that lens in mind.

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Which is why it’s odd that I personally enjoy the fact that…it was implied.  I know, right?  But honestly…we’ve seen how Legend of Korra handles romance.  Mostly bad. Bo Lin and Opal…passable, but not convincing.  Mako and Asami? Horribly unfortunate implications that he only loves her when she’s rich.  Mako and Korra? Weak, artificial, and fully smacks of trying to capture the Zutara shippers attentions without giving substance to the romance (blame placed mostly/squarely on Mako). Varrick and Ju Li? Pretty good, finally nailed a win.  Kuvira and Bataar Jr.? Workable, if not background noise.

So I much rather let them lead us to the conclusion than have them focus on it as a point. Almost a white flag of “we recognize we suck at shipping, always have sucked, probably always will, it’s in your hands fanficers”.

Damning with faint praise, I know.

So, the question. Is it canon?

Honestly that’s a fan convention thing. We definitely need a Word of God ruling on this one.

But let’s speculate that the creative team was divided, or they purposefully want to avoid the topic, and give us the same answer as Madoka: Love doesn’t mean romantic.

What do we do then? Well, in Madoka, I am of the opinion the pair are definitely romantic, so I can’t just ignore this until later, can I?

Well I think I can. Because Madoka was ALL ABOUT the relationship, romantic or platonic, between Madoka and Homura.  That was the core, that was the root of all things that happened on screen.

In Korra? It’s a minor subplot. Threads were definitely laid in the previous season, and arguably before. But the relationship between the pair is no more significant to the story than Korra’s relationship with Tenzin, Kuvira, or Mako.

But to that end…if it doesn’t matter, why avoid it?  Fair point, voice in my head.  So I shall apply the Yuri goggles. This relationship feels natural to me. I’ve seen (been in) some that started for less, and frankly, poking the politics involved, good on them if this was a middle finger to the network.

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But let’s address something REALLY silly that’s been popping up over the past couple days.  Alleged reports that some storyboard artists didn’t know the final scene was going to be so lezzy.  I say alleged because I have yet to see anyone link the original and not a repost, and the ones I have seen come from different sources…It’s hard to follow if you don’t Tumblr, so photoshop is an option, and not personally knowing the ACTUAL accounts of the people said to be involved off hand….Allegedly, okay?

This evidence is being propped up as proof that Korrasami is not canon, no matter what.

First, the argument “This changed from the storyboard” is silly, because you aren’t applying that logic to anything else that changes during production. Budget hits, snags occur, execs meddle, someone changes their mind, things change in the real world.  Every series and movie struggles with it.

But even taking the argument at its word, on its own merits.  Do any of these people realize the logical knot they’ve twisted themselves into?

Your argument here is, essentially, “Korra and Asami are not romantically involved, because someone in production said he was surprised by how the scene inferred romance.”  This is like the “If dating one hot chick makes me not gay, dating three will make me SUPER not gay” argument.  The evidence says “I originally saw it more open ended.”  Implying, by its very statement, that the ending that now exists IS NOT open ended, or at least, less open ended and MEANT to steer you in a particular direction.

The last time someone bent over backwards like this to prove there were no lesbians involved, it came in the form of a student council president.

And, for the moment, if you choose to believe that isn’t what was implied? That’s certainly your prerogative. You aren’t forced to like it any more than I will like it if that Word of God statement comes down and says “Noooo, never lesbians/bi. No gays in the Avatar universe!”

Of course, the most compelling evidence is that, that pose is Avatar shorthand.

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Occam’s Razor applies here.  We have two explanations, each valid, but the one with the fewest steps should be observed.

I mean this is a cartoon. Asami freaked out that Korra and Mako kissed. Not a huge deal prior to your relationship, but in cartoons that’s third base.  And the way Asami equates Korra with her father at the end, not saying shit about Mako who had HIS near death experience, seems to indicate us this way as well.  The evidence has been around, I’ll just say it satisfies me.  It can NOT satisfy you, and that’s fine.  There are lots of plot threads that are halfway baked in Korra because of the very tight nature.

But, let’s also admit that, it was DEFINITELY a creative decision to dump the Toph/Lin drama on us during that dinner scene in the course of 120 seconds, as an example. While effective, it was quick without a lot of build up between the pair.  But in the case of a Korra/Asami ship, it may have been more than creative, and pressure from more corporate interests involved. We don’t know yet, and maybe we never will.  But we KNOW it happens, that isn’t a new thing. Look at the J.J. Abhrams Star Trek to see a recent example of people being TERRIFIED of characters being misinterpreted as gay.

I frankly don’t care egregiously. It’s nice. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy they went the way they did.  But man, just, the hate…but that probably ties into more than JUST that…

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Girl’s Club

This season was definitely dominated by the ladies.  Korra, Kuvira, Toph, Lin, Su Yin, Asami, and Ju Li, all got significant screentime. Without a male antagonist it felt like the ladies were controlling the world.

And that pisses lots of people off.

My response? Cry me a river. I don’t need this gamergate bullshit popping up in Avatar.  Let us have our separate-but-equal series, and you can keep the eleventy billion with the token female character, okay?

In short, the gamergate crowd has moved onto Korra. And it would be really goofy for any of you to believe their opinions represent real people. They’re just gamergaters, guys. There’s no fan backlash, just nerd backlash. People who haven’t watched the show in three years are just piling onto the “LEZZES ARE BAHD” bandwagon because they lost their “gaming journalism” fight.

There were enough token men this season to put Korra over any show like, say, Transformers or Adventure Time or even mirroring the old Avatar in reverse. With a handful of good male leads in a female dominated show.  That doesn’t demean the female characters in Avatar or the male ones in Korra, I’M NOT SAYING THAT! I’m saying that there WAS a bit of an imbalance in terms of the main cast.  Arguable if you can count Azula’s moppets as female leads, though in a 13 episode season, rather than a 20 episode one, Mai and Ty Lee might have been marginalized considerably.

Point being, Tenzin, Mako, Bo Lin, and the lord and master of the scene steal Varrick gives us lots of male from the main cast. I mean, seriously, Varrick may have been the greatest solitary element this season. A feat especially considering how insufferable he was previously.

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Redemption

I said in Season 2 that I was afraid of putting Korra as my favorite animated series in the past tense. There was a pattern developing and it did not look promising.

But this is one of those times I am glad to say I was off base. Season 2 is still shit. Don’t misunderstand. But my fears regarding the series were allayed this year. Between Spirt and Balance, the show has proven itself a worthy successor to bear the Avatar name.

It’s just a shame they took two years to finally feel like they found a direction worth exploring.  They admittedly had a tough task, but I won’t rehash all the points I made about Spirit and Change.

Any complaint I make is truly a nitpick, though the overall one I do have…the finale did feel kind of like we cut off in the middle.  Aang’s story, though we know it wasn’t over, seemed to complete his work, in a sense. It truly felt like a door had shut.  But because Korra lacked that over-arching threat or theme, her end felt very much “Another baddie down”.

Though perhaps, that is indeed the point. Korra earned that title of “Legend”, she has changed the world unlike any Avatar before her. Like the dawning of Humanity’s Third Era. And her journey may never be complete.  There will be more bad guys, much like a superhero, her work will only end when she can no longer fight it anymore.

Which, also, may be why it’s nice to swallow the Asami relationship. Korra’s tale never ends, and this is just another step.

If you ever dropped Legend of Korra, I would implore you to watch the final two seasons.  It is a worthy masterpiece of its predecessor. It’s different, to be sure, but it stands on its own. Much like the next generation will not be as we demand them to be. They forge their own path, and make the world a slightly better place to live.

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7 thoughts on “Completely Predictable Post: Legend of Korra: Balance

  1. I agree about the series feeling like it ends in the middle. I’ve always felt that the 13 episode structure hasn’t been enough to contain more Avatar stories…or Bryke didn’t know how to work with such limited space, which I definitely felt was the case in Book 1.

    • Being generous, I think a lot of that may have had to do with budget. Dialogue is cheaper than action, but just having people standing around talking isn’t enough. I think with the (noticeably) reduced budget for Balance, they made the decision to use the story as the crutch. And being their last chance to visit these things (The end of Fire was almost hurt by its number of side-stories, as well) I think they tried to compact it into tight storytelling, just to err on the side of engaging. At the very least, they made it effective, if not rushed.

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