Avatar: Legend of Korra has really earned my affection this year. I was sceptical about it at first; I’ve seen a lot of poor sequels rely on old tricks and create bad copies, but Legend of Korra has brought new and interesting ideas and characters while continuing the Last Airbender’s legacy by exploring adult and complicated themes, and this great season has culminated in a fantastic season finale.
I liked a lot about it; I liked the action scenes, and I liked the plot twists; but this isn’t an opinion piece inspired by mild feeling, and I wasn’t truly impressed until the Amon flashback. I loved it so much because it showed us a truly complicated villain, just like Zuko’s sister back in the Last Airbender. It showed us the abusive and violent environment the two principle villains, Amon and Tarrlok grew up; it showed that Amon was more than just a bad apple, but that what we have seen up until now in his cruel attempts to equalize society is a perverted version of an older brother’s protective instinct and a resentment of the unfairness of the world. It showed the evolution of a ruthless killer in just a few scenes, but in those few scenes I became attached to Amon’s younger self, and I saw him grow and change into the bitter and cruel villain who rallied a city around him. The scene with the dogs was one of the most compelling scenes yet; it gave me shivers, and I’m still thinking about it and its effect on me. The whole sequence inspired a visceral reaction, and in my book, that usually means somebody’s doing something right.
I was also pretty impressed in how genuinely funny such a serious episode was, and the credit for that goes to the illustriously cringe-y Bolin, and to Meelo, who never fails to crack me up. I’m still snickering over “PRISON BREAK!” I prefer seriousness to be blended with humour and/or cuteness in shows like this, and that was done well in this episode.
Now, I know most of us were a little judgemental of Asami Sato from the start, and I led the brigade. I staunchly disliked her for no good reason, mainly because her character felt like a traffic cone to slow the Morra (Kako?) relationship down, and I didn’t feel like she had any other purpose in the show. I only first started to get interested when she turned on her father, and I lost interest again during her feud with Mako. It wasn’t that her reaction wasn’t valid; it was long overdue, from my prejudiced pro-Morra position; it was that it wasn’t surprising to me, and it felt boring. It wasn’t until she jumped inside her father’s machine and started fighting that I really started to like her. I liked that she was active in the conflict (Avatar’s always had strong women, and between Korra, Asami, Lin Beifong and the fabulous Pema, they’re keeping it up). I was particularly intrigued when she and Bolin teamed up, and when they named Hiroshi Sato as a bad father, because it felt like Asami truly turning away from him. I’m not sure if this little tag-team will stick around; I’d like a good solid male-female friendship in the show, but I’d certainly ship it; but there is certainly potential. Also, I feel bad for Bolin after the Korra incident and his acceptance has impressed me and now I think he should get to have some fun.
Also, yay for Mako and Korra. I’ll admit that when I was first introduced to the ship, I was sceptical. I thought that the rebellious, reckless girl and the brooding, protective older-brother figure combination was a little tired, and I still think it could have ended up boring and clichéd, but the storyline came through. They put realistic obstacles in their way (even if we never believed any of those obstacles would actually stop them), and they made the characters interesting enough that I cared about them and that they had a character outside of their stereotype. The show built up their chemistry and relationship to the point that when they declared their love (adorably and finally!), it wasn’t hard to believe. Their relationship has been rocky thus far, and I’m sure it will continue to be, but it rose out of the archetype and ended up being credible, to me at least.
All in all, it was a really satisfying finale, and I am looking forward to see what they’ll do to keep up the good work in the second season. I’d be worried about them letting me down, but if there’s one thing Legend of Korra has shown us, it’s that these people know how to do a good sequel.