Posted by : Wendy B Monday, 20 August 2012

I've got a few friends finishing their Legend of Korra marathons and using the words "blown away" to describe their reaction to it. I am, sadly, far from blown away. Not that Korra was a bad show, but, on a scale of one to how much I loved Avatar the Last Airbender and sob into my pillow over Iroh, Korra is maaaaybe a six. And I'm not just saying that because I'm disappointed at not seeing enough of Team Aang. I accepted these losses early on.

Avatar was a journey. It was an actual journey across the world, but more importantly, it was an inward journey for every single character - not just the main - good and bad - where they had a chance to find themselves, redeem themselves, learn about themselves. And it was a journey we, the viewers, got to join them on. This is what I loved so much about Avatar and what Korra failed to deliver, opting instead for a lame love quadrangle, the mysterious Big Bad and fart jokes.

I could excuse Korra because it is a kids show, after all, but so was its predecessor, and Avatar managed to handle many mature themes, while still being fun. My kids are on their second Avatar marathon, while they barely bothered with Korra.

While Avatar traveled the world, Korra brings its major story down to Republic City, the place that Team Aang built, where benders and non-benders live in peace and harmony and eat cabbages. The major conflict is focused on this fragile peace, with Amon and his Equalists wanting an end to bending. I like the idea behind all of this, but delivery was lacking for me, mainly because the characters just weren't strong enough and endearing enough to deliver it.

I fell for the trick of thinking Amon was Tarrlok, but quickly corrected myself; surely that's just too easy. Turns out, it wasn't, but the twist was that Amon was actually Tarrlok's brother, revealed conveniently in a plot moment that smelled a lot like they ran out of time and had to think of something, topped off with the shocking reveal to the public that Amon is actually a bender who "somehow" figured out how to use bloodbending to completely sever the spiritual connection to bending. But hey. Kids show. Shocking twist, lolscience and reveal worked for them, I'm sure.

My biggest problem is with Korra herself, but I'll save her for last and start instead with her posse, which is comprised of Mako, Bolin and Asami. These three friends of Korra exist almost entirely as plot devices, where Mako is the Love Interest and Bolin and Asami are the inconvenient other points in the aforementioned quadrangle. I have to apologize to Asami, whom I initially wrote off as a pretty, useless thing who can drive fast cars. But to her credit, she defied the jilted ex trope as well as the filial loyalty trope and I have to respect her for putting up with what she did and, not only accepting "Makorra" in the end, but supporting the cause from start to finish. Bolin, whom the show set up as the guy Korra actually has things in common with, got sidelined, but ... well, this. All of this.

Korra is the biggest disappointment for me because she failed to truly grow and learn anything throughout these twelve episodes. She did manage to learn about patience an episode or two before the end, but then forgot about it a moment later and had her impulsiveness excused by people who figure obeying the avatar's instinct is the way to go. Not that I want Korra to lose her impulsiveness; it's part of her charm. But I would have liked Korra to have learned something more about selflessness. Tarrlok had to guilt her into serving Republic City, but I'm just not sure that, in the end, Korra was doing anything for anyone but herself. From personal vengeance to protecting her own friends specifically because she needs them. And what did she learn from losing her bending? Well nothing, because she got it back a few minutes later. That could have really been a moment for her that could have carried through into a very powerful second season, where Korra does truly learn, but instead, Aang and all the past avatars show up to give Korra back her bending, confirming that Korra has finally made her connection to the Force spiritual, having been brought to her lowest point. Poor Aang had to be brought to his lowest point how many times before he figured things out (and note that Aang actually had to figure things out, rather than have someone spell them out in a monologue or vision)? But Korra has to deal with her ultimate fear turned reality for all of ten minutes. And hey, there's Mako ready for a love affirming kiss.

At least Lin got her metal bending back. She's no Toph, but then no one can be that bloody awesome.

The one single thing that I really did love about the show was the Equalists' glove and what it represented when Asami, and then Tarrlok slipped it over their fingers...

WHAT IS THIS?

This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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