Everything comes to the forefront in the final episode of The Legend of Korra's first season.
Wow, can you believe we're done? It's been three months since The Legend of Korra first braced our TV screens, but it felt like nothing; there was so much here that the 13 episodes we got felt like nothing. Thankfully, The Legend of Korra did take the time to close off all the major plot points of this season, from Amon's true motive to Korra's air bending training. And even though those two plots were handled the right way in this episode...I sadly can't say the same thing for the season as a whole.
Here's the thing; I really, really like The Legend of Korra. I think its a fantastic successor to The Last Airbender, and love revisiting the world of Republic City everyweek. And the first half of this season? Pure perfection, honestly. Sadly, things started to take a turn for the worse in the later half of Book One. It wasn't a huge decline or anything; The Legend of Korra is a great show, and never really had a "bad" episode. But I think over ambition led Book One to feel half baked, which is a damn shame considering how great the premise of the show is. There were so many fantastic ideas...but that honestly might be the biggest problem.
When it was revealed that Book One would only be 12 episodes, my opininon was mixed. On the one hand, we could do away with some of the senseless filler we had during The Last Airbender that bogged down the overall story. But on the other hand, we would have much less breathing room in terms of what needed to be accomplished per episode. Sadly, I think I would have prefered the filler; in fact, I actually kind of missed it. Characters like Bolin and Asami got the shaft, strictly because there were no time for them. Mako/Korra/Asami was pretty lackluster, because the relationships amongst the trio had to be built up within one or two episodes. Say what you will about the romance in The Last Airbender (like how it didn't need to be there, for instance), but at least by the end I could understand why Aang and Katara would get together. I didn't have that sense of joy when Mako and Korra finally admitted their love for each other.
There were multiple reasons for that, but it mostly comes down to how mishandled that love triangle was. I liked how Asami never seemed angry at Korra for "stealing her man" (somehthing a lesser show would certainly have), but at the same time, I needed SOME conflict. Mako was a class A dickface the last few episodes regaurding his "relationship" to Asami. He barely acknowledged they were together, despite the fact that they NEVER broke up. Seriously, everything here could have been solved if we just had ONE scene where Mako and Asami break things off. But alas, there is no time for that between the Amon stuff, Equalist stuff, and Avatar stuff.
I hate to say a TV show is bad because it's over ambitious, but I really do think that's a problem with Korra. If this season had 20 episodes to breath with, this would be a non issue; but it doesn't. And since the creators knew it wouldn't, they should have limited the scope of the series. Cut the shipping stuff. Cut Asami's story with her father (which always felt forced anyways). Cut the gangster stuff that seemed to be a big deal in the first few episodes but was then completely forgot about. I appreciate the ambition, but there was just so many elements going on in Book One that every plot point ended up filling half baked as a result.
Now I know I've sounded negative for about six hundred words of this review, but don't get me wrong; I generally love this show. It has such an interesting atheistic that it's hard for me not to. I love spending time in this universe, mostly due to the amazing animations and wonderful music (plus the terrific action scenes as well). But as I watched the season finale of Book One, these flaws just stood out to me more.
Which reminds me...I should probably talk about that season finale or something. Overall, I really enjoyed the two parter, and appreciated the action beats and epic feel of the season finale. That said, I was mixed on the plot aspect. At first, I was super disappointed to find out that Amon was just Tarrlok's brother. I guess the inner fanboy was looking for a more dramatic (and fan servicey) reveal than that. But once the initial sting was gone, I warmed up to Amon and Tarrlok's story quite fast. The payoff was actually more emotional than it had any right to be, and it made me feel somewhat sorry for the two brothers. The final scene amongst the two is probably going down as one of the best and most surprising scenes in Avatar history—not many Nickelodeon cartoons end with a murder suicide, but The Legend of Korra did it with aplomb. Even though I wished Amon's story was a little bit more surprising and less formulaic, the payoff was excellent enough that I was invested anyways.
Finally, I want to talk about the last five minutes of the season, in which Korra finds out that she has no way of ever recovering her bending. I was hoping from the very beginning that Korra would lose her bending, and I was thrilled to see my prediction was correct. That said, The Legend of Korra completely RUINED the potential that plotline had. Honestly, I have no idea what they were thinking by giving her back her bending so quickly. Once again, it felt like The Legend of Korra was rushing through an entire season of plot in less than five minutes. But this one is even more frustraiting, because we HAVE another season. I understand that the creators had no idea that was the case when they first set out making The Legend of Korra, but why couldn't they just cut that last five minutes out and save it for the next season? As it stands, this felt like the series finale it was meant to be. It was way to easy a solution and now, a potentially fantastic plot point for season 2 was downright wasted.
This review has gone on for over a thousand words, so I feel I should PROBABLY stop writing now. Which really sucks, since you only really got the thousand words on why The Legend of Korra frustrates me, and not the thousand on why I still love watching it. Even though I have my issues with Book One of The Legend of Korra, I can't deny that it was still a great season and a fantastic introduction into Korra's world. I only hope that creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko will be able to work out the pacing issues next season and give us the amazing show that I know The Legend of Korra has the potential to be.
Series Finale Score: 8.5 out of 10
Season Score: 8 out of 10
-Didn't get to mention in it in the review, but by god is General Iroh a badass. The scene where he took out the entire fleet of airplanes by himself was so fucking badass.
-So how exactly did Tenzin and his family get captured? I thought Bei Fon gave them the chance to escape. This really irked me, since it made Bei Fong's sacriface last episode practically worthless.
-But I guess she has her bending back anyways thanks to Deus Ex MaKorra and her Avatar friends.
-I love the idea that Korra was sitting on the cliff contemplating suicide. It's so wondefully dark for a Nickelodean show, yet perfect for the character of Korra.
-"You are a wise and noble hobo." God, I love Bolin and his line deliveries so much. Nice to see that hobo back, by the way.
-So one of the saddest aspects of Amon being a bloodbender is the fact that we lost the wonderful ambiguity regaurding if the Equalists were right. They kind of just devolved into the standard bad guys, ala the Fire Nation from the original show. Hopefully we haven't seen the last of them.
-The Lieutenant's one purpose in life is to get the shit beat out of him by every person alive. Nice to know Amon could get his share in the fun.
-Bloodbending is still a terrifying form, and I'm always surprised how dark it can get. The scene with Amon and the wolves was pretty damn chilling.
-Bumi had one line this episode, and I already love him. Hopefully, he'll be featured more in Book Two (along with Iroh).
-Well, that's it for this year and The Legend of Korra. For what it's worth, it's been an absolute blast. Who knows when the show will be back, but I hope we won't have to long to wait. See you next Book!