The Legend of Korra Book 3: Change criticism. The show is hitting really sour notes at its end

The first time I was watching Legend of Korra Book One I was really thrilled. A female, muscular, taller probably kick-ass avatar — yeah that’s cool! Sign me up!

Yeah.

That was then.

Book One had a lot going for it but the mettle to the crucial spine of the series was suffering a dry spell in creative development and persistence in that development. I am not going to compare this series to Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend Of Aang but I know some points I should. In ATLA there were vast paces to character growth and really beautiful martial arts, accompanied with great themes and not to mention even distinctive only one episode characters. ALOK lacks all of these — ALOT. Yes, it is fun. Yes I loved it in the series premier when Korra was so strong that she grabbbed a firebender and threw him into a shop window. Yes, I loved that she engaged with her love interest from the start. It made sense for young adults to be a bit more upfront about feelings at times. What I did know is that that is all this series was going to amount to.

Seriously.

There are so many flaws in the character of Korra. Yes, I watch the series. Yes, it has some good points and has some continuity but it lacks momentum and it lacks ideas. It has some good originality I will give it that. But it horribly suffers in execution not to mention that Korra is, to some extents, a misogynistic character. She was supposed to be the opposite of Aang that means she was to be more physically inclined than Aang but as Aang I thought that she would, by the end of the penultimate book, learn to be more of a spiritual person. In fact, all of her major challenges and enemies literally challenged her spirit. Her avatar spirit, her own Korra spirit and all that lay between it. I thought she would be matured by now. Instead, she has reverted back to a silly, non-wise, elitist Korra of Book One. Yes, while it may be Book Three Korra has shed the intensity and her wide level of thinking that she acquired in Book Two. Basically, she is being masqueraded as a beautiful muscular air-head. Her physicality is so focused on that I feel it getting on my nerves. A man or woman does not need to have social ideal body types to face sexism. Korra may be modeled after female wrestler types with a spiritual purpose but she is like wrestlers only a visual performance as one critique in Tumblr had pointed out.

Not to mention that Season Three is a pile of messed up garbage in terms of plot execution and even a ready base for the antagonist who has been denatured into just the stereotype mustached villain of old. After Season Two I was expecting more solid bodied and spiritual discourses in the series. Instead we got cheap villains who have a very weak goal and not to mention they are already labelled by fans as terrorists even before they did much because that is how freaking cliched this season is. Amon made you think and so did Unalaq. The Red Lotus have no strength and even their ideology has feels like a child’s endgame. Not to mention naming Zaheer the antagonist an Middle Eastern Arabic and pretty much a Muslim name is very, VERY RACIST.

His other teammates names are also rooted in other religions that are not necessarily Eastern but half Asian or Central Asian origins. They are far more exoticized than the other characters. This Red Lotus wants anarchy. They believe that the White Lotus are fools (to a large extent they are right) for becoming mercenaries rather than  do what their original creed and code was. They hate the way some of the leaders run things and mentions even corrupt leaders such as the Earth Queen Hyou-Ting and President of Republic City  Raiko who have truthfully failed their citizens. They want to assassinate them. Korra at first tries reasoning with Zaheer saying that he has spirituality and that as a new Airbender he can really help the world. However, Zaheer is adamant. Korra gives up too easily. Zaheer quotes one line by Guru Lahima who is a guy that Zaheer really liked and was an Airbender too and she just shuts up. Freezes actually. I mean, she doesn’t even try. She has seen the hierarchical destruction of Ba Sing Se by the Earth Queen and yet she doesn’t even figure that because of such stern cases of oppression Zaheer may have become attuned to a society without systems. She may be the avatar but she hasn’t seen Ba Sing Se before and known its actual socio-cultural climate. Zaheer does ironically have more experience. Neither did Mako and Boilin who realised, amidst the slums and poverty, that their father may have left the city due to the structured chaos and inequality present in its “rings” like society. Where the upper ring holds the Queen’s court and is surrounded by opulence, by triviality and corruption where food is plenty and not shared with the citizens (in fact when they meet their cousin hawking food it is distinct due to its spoiled and un-fresh character; the food is rotten. French Revolution anyone?). So by trivializing this scene, making it only a comedy and no social conscionability held you are actually making fun of democracy and of people’s right to eat. And ALOK is supposed to be a children’s show originally? It fails as a children’s show and it thinks that young adults are a bunch of dummies smitten only to graphically exoticism and visual pornography. It is low and very patronizing to think that about your viewers especially their fandom and their interests has been catalyst to many decisions you made. So, 1984 defined: television being a cataract and vibe to propagandist modes to even influence in a show that is meant to persevere righteousness and social balance? Yes ALOK becomes like Big Brother silencing the masses to ever question teaching children that questioning or even finding a middle ground between two oppositions is socially and even ethically wrong? Dubbing any dissenters as “terrorists” and then when seeing that fan reaction to the Red Lotus was so favourable that you have Zaheer perform assassination and make hostages out of innocent Airbenders. It feels they are forcing him to be very orthodox old age random villain stuff. They are coercing us to hate Zaheer more potently than we should. It feels very like mechanically done. I have only disinterest in him. The guy is written boringly.

So, anarchy is that?  Does even an amount or paucity of research go into ALOK? I use paucity because the research of this topic feels non-existent. The villain, reduced to some bad gestures, is an archetype that in a semi-postmodernist era of television or even on a postmodernist scale that most innovative writers and shows are attempting to debunk, to leave leaving that cocoon and just attempting to transport and do a small journey if necessary. Neither does Zaheer or any of his teammates have this. Unfortunately, neither does Korra. Her narrative is very feminine oriented. Wanna know how? Aang has a chance of growing and thus his growth getting stunted is a very chauvinistic philosophy if it’s only applied to males. Thankfully, Thank God literally, that they made characters like Toph who also grown a lot in the series. But yes in ATLA the major characters growing were mostly male. Here there is a female narrative of losing already established power. Which in itself is not misogynistic but I fear that it has a misogynistic and misandrist portrayal.  Korra is always defined as an avatar. Unlike Aang who is a person other than an avatar Korra can only ever be an avatar. It feels suffocating that Korra is always declaring that she is an avatar in the lineage of bending and that she can do this and she can do that. Best part of Aang was that he was physically a terrible avatar, (I think Korra may have a larger height than Aang in her full mid 40s adult self like Kiyoshi) as in aside airbending he sucked at other types of bending which was a promising concept. Korra did make really marvelous progress in bending in that she learned very early energy bending and then spirit bending which Aang did not most probably know. But Aang had different aspects to him as a person; he grew up as a person and also as the avatar. Korra’s growth is stunted and in a orthodox, sexualized, male-gaze oriented feminine way she is only trying to save the little shards of avatar-ness that she possesses that makes no sense.

Korra is reluctant to grow beyond “avatar-ness” in fact she bases her entire existence only to that role alone and that is a very reductionist and sexist way of reading a woman. Women are not only titles or only vessels for power; for God’s sake Korra is treated as that.  Very archaic and arcane methodology of viewing women is established to formulate her. It is pitiful that a strong female character protagonist is being homogenized into nothing but muscle and athlete pornography. Not to exclude that Asami, the other female character in the show, and a nonbender is totally sexualized. I do not remember Sokka meeting such treatment nor was he reduced to a bimbo in ATLA. In fact, Sokka was a very strong character. They are only scratching Asami on the surface of her inventiveness, technical and technological knowledge and dexterity to provide creative solutions. I love her unwavering loyalty to her friends and her ability to not be a begrudged youth or scorned women but these narratives are hardly explored because Asami is always a frivolous depiction of some Fire Nation beauty (it seems she has Fire Nation roots as both Sokka and Katara were Water Tribe Warriors, my bro always called Sokka a Water Warrior). None of other things about Asami is shown. Not to mention that Sokka is a very humane and human character who learns to be an able warrior for his people and the cause; he proves the essential need of nonbenders as much as Ty-Lee and Mei, and Suki had shown in the first show as they have different methods and valuable tactics of fighting. Asami is just stereotyped as the beauty and mitigated as the forlorn princess of a once rich corporation; add more layers and you make her Blanche from A Streetcar named Desire and have her go insane in the end.  Not to mention in Season Two she appropriated a Civil War in a nonchalant business tone on her corporation getting saved (sound familiar, isn’t this what corporations are criticised for aren’t they?). This transaction way of looking at war and not caring about lives is a problem of the modern age and instead of compassion and love that is displayed by Sokka, Asami acts as ruthless as Amon in what she thinks is delivering justice.  A friend even mentions that Asami must relegate her “Oh, I am daughter of a rich father” mentality and go on with her life. She is not merely future industries heir she is her own person and can make her own judgments. If she even scraps up the company to build another she can if she feels her father has already tainted the principalities it use to first employ. This show focuses too much on blood and secular lineages that have no bearing and only builds up the status quo of inequality and malformed individuality, and individual collective.

Not to mention that Boilin and Mako too have no chance of growing besides chauvinist archetypes of The Casanova and The Fool. A fan had mentioned that Boilin is too reduced as a comic relief and that it makes no sense to do so and I totally agree. You already have Varrick as a comic relief and the pet Pabu you don’t need to make a main character constantly be a comic relief. Boilin singularity is that he is The Fool and he played this card even in Season Three. In Season Two he reconciled with an abusive girlfriend without even critiquing that her possessiveness and superiority complex is neither charming nor helping her as a person. Boilin is always falling in love and rarely having fun in his love affairs. Mako on the other hand is known only as a dating agent, like a detergent. His singularity is that he is Korra’s boyfriend or Asami’s one time boyfriend and love interest.  Frankly, he is only known to be The Casanova. Such misandrist portrayal of a young, sensitive man is highly crap. Like really sexist. Mako clearly has his own dimensions too. The only title graduation he had is being with police and becoming detective. I was like what about his personal journey? Doesn’t he have other goals? Katara did and so did Sokka. Boilin got some time as Nuptuk and that was important but Mako hardly does anything by himself. We see him doing that in Season Two a bit investigating Verrick but he hardly keeps it up when he just ups and down kisses Asami. So basically this guy can only think with his dick? It is true I like MaKorra and that I really want them to be together but this is just plain ridiculous! Why are Mako and Boilin  so silly? So completely non-growing? All these writings on them are truly very limited.

I digressed with normal critique to further extrapolate the banality of Season Three. Korra is still a muscle-head, preferring to always take physical action rather than sorting out things in a non-linear holistic way that challenges her character and even her physicality. This is what Season Two exemplified that mere muscles alone cannot defeat spirits as she even lost in avatar state enabled. Season Three started with such promise of having her fight both physically and spiritually, mentally even because the Air Nation is not going to be rebuilt on brute force alone it needs ingenuity and also a large amount of spirit and dedication to do so. Korra must also attune to herself as having no avatar state which is very beautifully challenging. It always introspection and an innovative that even rivals and surpasses Aang’s progress. Instead Korra bemoans like a drama queen whore left, right and center of having no avatar state and skillfully dismissing time to ruminate and also gain referential or even observation-based knowledge about the world. In her ordinariness now she can better communicate with the people and feel what they feel. None of this connection is shown. Korra immediately faces physical dangers that she can somewhat overpower. Her only physical challenge is that she had to learn metal bending (and chastise Mako for hurrying her as a fugitive escaped because she was still a noob at it which doesn’t add much really).  Zaheer and the others are so scatterbrained that they hardly pose as credible foes. Like Wile Coyote they make randomized, nonsense violent gestures without much speculation at what the hell they are doing. For a pseudo-wise guy Zaheer surely is an ignoramus and his girlfriend P’Li, his comrades Ming-Hua and Ghazan are equally ignoramus with him. Apparently I got this from Korraspirit in tumblr but guru Lahima’s quote was this:

I was once asked what it means to enter the void. I will tell you. An airbender may meditate for a hundred years trying to detach herself from the world, but she cannot do it. Humans cherish human life, and by that they are bound to this world. The only way to abandon the world is to abandon one’s humanity. New growth cannot exist without first the destruction of the old. The void is found in the sowing of death. From that death springs life on the wind.

-Guru Laghima

I do not understand how he quotes in brief and also have a girlfriend and just think that disorder is order when Lahima just does not care about humanity in general. Lahima is like a very orthodox or fanatical ascetic who is probably angry at something and mouthing that off. It makes no sense to even think he presupposes anarchy because anarchy itself is so human and he doesn’t care about this and does Zaheer even understand this. It is just very perplexing that Zaheer will just say one line of this to Korra (which I emboldened) and have Korra, even a layman in Lahima studies, not even question that an air nomad may not have meant such a thing as they are very centered and spiritual people like the Water Tribe (more corporeal clans are Earth and Fire in this universe from my understanding).  And that maybe he means at the end of one’s life one has to shed his or her humanity as in his human skin but they are still human spirits as Iroh.  Another study may show that Lahima may have been upset living as an Air Nomad and must have become a bit angry at the cloistered way many air nomads lived and he felt that it rejected humanity in many ways because many criticise asceticism, its severity as deprivation so he could have just been reflecting on that. Korra has no knowledge of both present or past histories of socio-cultural conduct so she cannot even evaluate the statement Zaheer made. It is a shame really that Korra cannot even ask Tenzin or someone close to him that why an airbender would say this as an airbender has inspired Zaheer and that says a lot. No, that narrative is excluded too. It feels painfully like a betrayal when the inventors of a show presume that we are so dumb to just swallow any crap they give. It feels like we are the daft emperor who are given “clothes” and wear the masterpiece of nothingness and expose raw idiocy. I think the show creators take us for that. It makes no sense. Any of it. A friend and I agreed that this the worst season of Avatar ever both combining ALOK and ATLA and that it spews out stupidity is quite apparent. The weakening of characters and story is a travesty to a potential richness this story has.

I still watch it hoping for changes and just watching. I am not so interested in it anymore. I am just curious on how this train wreck will end. I think the show cannot write or handle female protagonists and is just waiting for this ALOK to end so that they can get a guy avatar to come back. After all these narratives are so chauvinistically handled that in this day and age you feel insulted to see that your personhood regardless you are a man or woman has become reduced to this crap.  They can make another female avatar  who is fire or earth based I actually want to see them do that. Make the next avatar a girl too and that would be interesting and if they can make it multidimensional like ATLA it would be great. But then again these cultural politics have little merit to discuss things. They just want to do stuff that hardly makes sense or even culturally, psychologically, sociologically and individually satisfying or engaging. They want to marry cliches, overused stereotypes and go along with whatever garbage handed to them to preserve status quo. To preserve totalitarian ideologies and do stuff that makes no sense.

ALOK has bombed this season. They want to make it out alive they must rethink and add layers to a potentially rich story.

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10 thoughts on “The Legend of Korra Book 3: Change criticism. The show is hitting really sour notes at its end

  1. You are a horrible writer. It was so hard to follow your thoughts as I read through. Your points may have been more visible and acceptable had you read your work over again. The grammar kept jumping out at me. Did you have a thesaurus by your said as you wrote this? Just because you use words many people haven’t seen before, doesn’t mean the content is that much more profound.

    I felt like your points were valid, the ones I could follow, but became diluted with your attempt to sound smart.

    1. I am not a horrible writer if you think that I am using words to sound smart. If you could not follow something due to grammatical and syntactical errors I will definitely look into it. I will definitely give significance to your complaint about those things. But if you read analytic essays you know this was an analytic review thus I used language that is used in that medium. The words I used are used by a lot of people not only me. They aren’t outdated grammar. I will try to revise my piece but I do think it’s pretty insulting to say I am trying to act smart when I am merely writing and not doing anything of that sort or caliber or even category.

      Thank You very much.

  2. fucking thank you ive been looking forward to these critical and analyntical reviews and these are my same problems and issue i have this series and man they broke so many laws , ideas and concept of the avatar world and a narrative and all of sudden these creators dont know how to write female characters or explore and developed their plots and characters hell atla ,but in here what the hell happen. thank you dude you are my hero finally someone with a brain who can see these problems of this terrible orchestrated show that had so much promise and potential and your not one of those fanboys (who i consider not fans at all but cult fanactics ) once again man i have to thank you .are you gonna give a full review for book 3 and talk about the dropped plot points in replubic city , earth kingdom and and the new airbenders and the past lives.

    1. I am really happy that you liked my review. It was difficult to write as I had such high expectations of ALOK that I was immensely pissed up to the third degree. It was ruined by a convoluted storyline, antagonists that don’t matter and especially the stupidity of the final fight. One of my friends commented it reminded him of a weird moshed up battle of DBZ. If you think of the final battle of Book 2 where Korra went into her spirit body to stop UnaVaatu then this fight is a weak interpretation of things. It made no sense whatsoever. Zaheer was such a weakling villain who had no potential and I was so exasperated that Korra never asks why these people are so hellbent on getting rid of her. What really angered me is that people in Avatar Wiki go like oh terrorist this and that like hey you need more critical analysis of something to even define terrorist. Why are no one calling Hyou-Ting a terrorist or Raiko for exiling the avatar when people really needed her? It was ample waste of good thought.

      Korra’s portrayal is almost like a Damsel in distress she is always under trouble cannot even get out of situations without using force and then also acts like a manipulative person at times, too hotheaded and too stupid. She is like a stupid muscle head. If she is modeled after female wrestlers are those guys implying that wrestlers and bodybuilders are non-intelligent? And as the avatar her person hood should now evolve like Aang;s who rejected his title but then embraced it so she should, who stupidly and pompously embraces it, must also know that sometimes Korra as a person, not as a avatar, must shine through. Wasn’t this the integral part of Book 2 where Korra’s inner spirit triumphs mostly singlehandedly against a dark avatar? I mean what happened to that matured Korra? I want to see how they finish the series but I am gravely disappointed at their execution. I may not do an episode by episode review. Please read my other reviews if you want to.

      Thank You for your kindest words and thank you for your appreciation. I felt it wholeheartedly 🙂

    1. I rather not. Making Korra and Asami a couple was one of the stupidest things in a TV show. What were those guys thinking? Garnet is queer, Marceline and Bubblegum are bi but none of them had to face this reductionist queer representation. Korra is bisexual but she is made into a fetishized bi woman. I am so angry at this because Korra being bi, at this point, with no prehistory or narrative is a reductionism. Also with Asami of all people. That is like really cheap. It would have made sense with Kuvira but Asami? It was really strange. Like Asami is the person Korra least interacted with. Their friendship is also pretty strangely conducted. All this BS is getting me down. I love Korra but I hated how the show was handled.

  3. You know what Aqilaqamar? I’m not okay with your review. For me (and all) The book 3 was very good and Zaheer is the best villain of western animation. But It’s your opinion and I’m not coolman229 so I hope you have a good day

    1. You can disagree on whatever you wish. Many people did not like B3 and many people did. It’s perfectly fine if you disagree. Good day to you too.

  4. Regarding Korra as a character and her character development:
    Season 1: I’m going to start at the very beginning, because I think it’s important to understand the very basics of who Korra is before adding more things on top of each other without context. Korra starts off really hot-headed and narcissistic. This is because, all her life, ever since we first saw her, she is absolutely in love with the fact she’s the Avatar. She’s also been stuck in the White Lotus compound her entire life, preparing and training passionately, and while she is certainly fond of the idea of proving her powers as the Avatar, she also absolutely loathes being isolated from the rest of the world, and wants very desperately to have friends. Remember this, because this is not only why she decides to leave in the first place, but it’s also the cause for an extremely pivotal event at the end of the season. But most importantly, she’s proud of the role she’s inherited and it’s important to her that she can be the best Avatar she can possibly be. Being the Avatar is all Korra has had in her life, which is why Amon absolutely terrifies her. He threatens to take away everything Korra thinks she is. Korra goes from being a cocky narcissistic teenager to a scared kid in only a few episodes. She’s afraid Amon will take the Avatar role from her by removing her bending, thereby reducing her to nothing. This is the one obstacle that is preventing her from becoming a full Avatar and being able to airbend. Throughout the season, Korra’s pride sometimes overcomes her fear (like when she challenges Amon to a duel or when she confronts Tarrlok in his office) but whenever Amon comes into play, she runs and she hides. It’s only during the finale that Korra overcomes her fear so that she can protect the only thing that matters as much to her as being the Avatar: her new friend(s), Mako, who is very nearly about to be equalized by Amon. By letting go of her fear to save her friend and by accepting her new reality, she unblocks her airbending and connects with her past lives (as we see later when Aang restores her bending).
    Season 2: So Korra concludes the first season having conquered her fear, but she enters the second season with an entirely new problem; even though Korra has defeated Amon, people don’t have as much faith in her as she’d hoped. Her dad tries to hold her back from Unalaq’s training due to his own secrets, a move that hurts Korra very much. Tenzin doesn’t understand Korra’s frustration at all and doesn’t know what’s right for her as the Avatar. Lastly, her tribes are soon to be engaged in civil war and even her fellow tribesmen don’t trust her, and she isn’t sure how to save them. Needless to say, at the start of season two, Korra is pretty insecure about her abilities as the Avatar, and she takes it out on just about everybody. The world is looking to her for guidance. It’s her moment of truth, and she’s afraid she’s going to blow it. The only person who has any kind of faith in her is Unalaq. Korra appreciates this very much, and Unalaq uses it to manipulate her into doing his villainy dirty work. Korra starts to piece some nasty things together, particularly his shady past with her father, and comes to realize that his faith in her is vacuous. Once Korra realizes Unalaq is the real threat, she starts to realize that Tenzin and her father aren’t so bad, and so she apologizes to them both and them to her. They’re the ones who really care about her, not the villain who manipulated her. Along the way, Korra also learns about Wan, the very first Avatar. Wan is a badass and Korra knows it. She may even be a little jealous, but that’s me speculating. At any rate, Wan’s story has a huge impact on Korra’s way of thinking. But this doesn’t change Korra’s perception of herself. Even though she apologizes to Tenzin and her father, she’s still extremely insecure about her abilities as the Avatar. If anything, Wan’s story makes this worse. By now, she’s lost Jinora to Unalaq too… He’s outplayed her at every turn. During the finale, when Vaatu gets free, Korra knows she messed up bad. When Unavaatu destroys Raava, Korra is all but defeated. She thinks her insecurities have become true: that she’s a terrible Avatar and the world will now suffer for it. Then Tenzin comes in and tells her something very important. He tells her (roughly) that Korra’s role as the Avatar doesn’t define her. He says, look at Wan. Wan is just a normal guy who wanted to do the right thing. Being the Avatar had nothing to do with the deeds that he did. “Let go of your attachment to who you think you are, and connect to your inner strength,” Tenzin says to Korra, and for a moment, Korra does. “Do you really think I can do this?” Korra nervously asks Tenzin. Without hesitation, he faithfully responds, “I have no doubt.” One of my favorite moments in either show. This moment is absolutely massive in Korra’s development. At this moment, Korra lets go of her ego caused by her self-destructive attachment to her role as the Avatar. When the battle is over, Korra realizes that Tenzin is right; she isn’t defined by her role, she is, first and foremost, Korra, and Korra is strong on her own and doesn’t need to define herself as just the Avatar. Absolutely huge 180 in Korra’s character here. Ironically, at the start of the season, she was mad that nobody had faith in her, when in reality; she just didn’t have enough faith in herself. Wan’s story, and Unalaq himself along the way, also help Korra realize that separating the physical and spirit world really sucks. She makes her first big decision (arguably the biggest decision in the entire canon) to leave the spirit portals open. Her decision here was based on her finding her own path as the Avatar. Leaving the spirit portals open is a testament to how much Korra trusts her own judgement. Naturally, this decision causes some huge changes that Korra has to deal with later.
    Season 3: Season 2 was pretty crazy. This one is much simpler. At the start of the season, things are not going well for Korra. Sure, she and her friends now truly respect her, as does Korra herself, and she is convinced that this time she really has faced the worst of what can possibly go wrong. Korra’s enthusiasm and confidence is at an all-time-high, but her decision at the end of S2 turns many people against her. Korra is remorseful about her decision to leave the spirit portals open. While yes, it has reunited spirits and humans, it’s also ruined the lives of thousands of people who now have to deal with the spirits in their daily lives. Fortunately, there is some good news, as leaving the portals open grants random people the ability to airbend… …including Zaheer. Let me say now that the season is called Change for a reason. This season is all about Korra learning to accept the changes she’s made to world, and figuring out how to make the most of it for everyone. Initially, she’s afraid she’s ruined it, and that’s worsened by the fact that everyone in Republic City hates her, including President Raiko himself. As Tenzin tells Korra, change can be good or bad, depending on your point of view. New airbenders? Good change. Korra knows that the world has been wounded by Sozin’s mass genocide of the Air Nation. On top of that, she is extremely close to the last remaining pure family of airbenders, so it goes without saying that the development and safety of this resurgence of airbenders is paramount to her. It is both important to her dear friend Tenzin, and her duty as the Avatar to bring balance to the world. Misguided lunatic hell-bent on killing all world leaders? Bad change. Zaheer is her responsibility, and not only does he threaten to compromise the balance of the entire world, but he also threatens to destroy the new Air Nation, undoing all the good that Korra’s S2 decision has done for the world, and he comes dangerously close to succeeding. Zaheer checkmate’s her, placing the new Air Nation in unquestionable danger, so Korra willingly gives herself up knowing it will sway Zaheer from killing the Air Nation, and to preserve the good that her decision has brought for the world. This is the ultimate sacrifice, and it is a true testament to just how much Korra has grown selflessly since the S2 finale. Unfortunately, it’s much more of a sacrifice than Korra signed on for, and she gets fucked up bad in a few different ways.
    Season 4: This is probably the most complex season on the list here. In a handful of episodes, Korra’s character changes almost completely again. There is a lot to talk about here. Korra’s fight with Zaheer, while awesome, leaves Korra completely broken in many ways. At the start of the season, Korra is utterly broken, and there are a great many residual phobias, injuries, and scars that Zaheer has left upon her.
    Firstly though, keep these two things in mind: 1) Over the course of the last three seasons, the villains have been collectively developing this notion that the world doesn’t need the Avatar anymore, and Korra doesn’t deal with any of it until the series finale. When Korra’s getting tortured by Zaheer, she sees these visions of Vaatu, Unalaq, and Amon, telling her “I told you Korra. The world doesn’t need the Avatar anymore. Give up. Let go.” These words echo sharply within Korra, and it creates a truly daunting existential crisis within her. Kuvira is the symbolic manifestation of this crisis. While Korra is struggling to put on her clothes by herself, Kuvira is out there saving the world, and that destroys Korra’s spirit at every turn. Kuvira is proving that Korra’s biggest fear is true: the world doesn’t need the Avatar. It can take care of itself. Korra is still carrying her fear of uselessness from Amon, Unalaq, and Zaheer, and now she’s afraid Kuvira will replace/destroy her too.
    2) This is the second time now where Korra’s role as the Avatar has been gravely jeopardized. At the start of S2, Korra was a pretty irresponsible user of the Avatar state. During the battle with Unalaq, she lost all her past lives, a failure that Korra has never quite forgiven herself for, and remembers all-too-clearly. Zaheer, again, came extremely close to destroying not just Korra, but the Avatar cycle as a whole.
    As you can imagine, the S3 finale was much more traumatic for Korra than the S2 finale, so after S3 is when Korra starts to develop this fear of the Avatar state. Its visually implied in the show rather than spoken aloud, but this is the most sensible conjecture, in my opinion, for Korra’s PTSD; Korra is afraid that the next time she enters the Avatar state will be her last, that’s why Korra cannot connect to the Avatar spirit any longer, and as we know, Korra cares about her role as the Avatar very, very, very deeply. Her body is trying to reconnect with Raava, and every time she gets close, she is haunted by the vision of her on the fringe of death during her battle with Zaheer – of being chained up and vulnerable, the air leaving her lungs. Which is why we see Korra’s evil ghost, NegaKorra as some people call it, in the same appearance as when Korra nearly died. So Korra’s afraid that her past enemies are right, that her role as the Avatar is useless, but she’s too stricken by Zaheer’s poison to do something about it.
    As she learns that Kuvira has shown signs of becoming a dictator, she knows that she’s the only one who can stop it, but for the life of her, she just can’t summon the strength to do it. Feeling humiliated, she goes on this incredible journey of self-discovery by herself, ends up completely changing her image, and runs into Toph living out in the swamp. Here, Toph helps her, but she doesn’t fix Korra’s problems for her. Instead, she gives Korra some really incredible advice that Korra takes to heart. Firstly, Toph nonchalantly informs Korra that she’s got a crapton of metal still stuck inside her, but she can’t seem to get it out herself, so Korra resigns and helps Toph with some errands. Through her connection to the Banyan Grove Tree, Toph has watched the entire world from afar, and knows all-too-well about Korra’s past villains. Toph recognizes this existential crisis within Korra and she claims that the swamp understands Korra’s imbalance, namely, that Korra is still afraid of what her past enemies did to her. So she claims that, instead of resenting these horrible people and holding onto your fear for what they’ve done to you, you must let go and accept what they’ve done. Instead of hating them, and allowing this hate to manifest itself as old fear, you should instead try to learn from them. Toph just said out loud what the theme of the entire show is. Don’t fear your enemies; learn from them. Korra still doesn’t get it. She says, “Maybe you’re right, but how do I move on?” Toph claims that Korra’s years in recovery and exile have disconnected her from the world and that if Korra is to recover, she first needs to be with her friends and peers again, but Korra is still left with Toph’s message, and it’s an important message; don’t fear your enemies; learn from them.
    When Tenzin’s kids show up desperately looking for her to come save the world, Korra decides that she needs to get her act together and make a stand against this PTSD she is suffering from. So Toph makes Korra remove the excess metal poison within herself on her own. Korra does, and we’re led to believe that this was a huge triumph and now Korra is back to normal, but as we see from her first fight with Kuvira, this is not the case. Toph’s powerful message hasn’t sunk in with Korra yet. Korra thinks that without the poison, everything is okay, but it’s not. I listed Korra’s two biggest problems above, and Toph’s message about not fearing your enemies is the answer to #1. Ironically, it’s not until Zaheer himself compromises with Korra that she truly grasps what Toph is saying, and thus puts herself on the road to recovery. When Korra confronts Zaheer floating in his prison, she thinks that all it will take is to remind him he’s powerless, and then Korra will be free. Unfortunately for Korra, that wasn’t the case at all. Her fear of Zaheer is still very much alive and real. Korra openly admits that she’s run out of options, and she truly thinks that she’s screwed, broken beyond repair, but Zaheer tells her otherwise. Zaheer reassures her of her power. He says that the poison should have killed Korra, but there she is in front of him, and Zaheer is awed by this. Korra dismisses this, and sarcastically thanks him for effectively creating Kuvira. Zaheer expresses remorse for what Kuvira has done to the world, as she is directly at odds with the utopia and philosophy he represents. Zaheer is so upset at what Kuvira has done, that he’s willing to work with Korra to stop her and he convinces Korra that she’s out of options, so Korra does the only thing she can do. She stops being afraid of him and tries to learn what he is teaching her. In this moment, Korra heeds Toph’s message at last. In this moment, she fixes problems #1 and #2 in a single blow. By allowing Zaheer to guide her, she places trust within her worst enemy. She stops being afraid of him just long enough to see what he has to teach her, and he personally guides her out of her block and mental trauma. This is the most pivotal moment in the show. I think I may have accidentally said that twice now, but this time I really mean it. Korra finds peace with Zaheer and her past enemies by finding wisdom in their misguidance. When Zaheer offers to help Korra stop Kuvira, it’s also proof to Korra that what Toph said is true. Even though Zaheer is a bad guy, all he really wanted was freedom for all, i.e. there is goodness within Zaheer’s evil that should be recognized, and Korra realizes that she’s capable of empathizing with that goodness and learning something from it, just as Toph said she should, while still recognizing in the end that what he did was bad. Korra’s journey isn’t quite done yet though.
    Once she’s back to 100%, Korra stops Kuvira from blowing up the city, chases her into the spirit wilds, and then saves Kuvira from her own super-weapon. Why does Korra do this? Because just like with Zaheer, Korra recognizes the good within Kuvira, and has learned now that, even though Kuvira has done great evil, her intentions were pure. In my opinion, Korra’s talk with Kuvira, and the rest of the scene, is one of the greatest moments in either show. This scene proves to the audience that Korra understands fully what Toph is talking about, and believes in her words so much, that she’s willing to risk herself getting blown to shit by Kuvira’s superweapon to stand up for the fraction of good that we must recognize and nourish within Kuvira. To wish death upon your enemies is to hate them, to hate them is to invite fear, and fear is weakness. Why not accept what your enemies have done, and learn from them to better yourself instead? With her newfound wisdom, Korra talks down Kuvira and ends the war before it really starts. Kuvira is so struck by this, that she tells her soldiers to stand down, and says that Korra’s power (referring to both her impressive strength stopping the superweapon, and her profound character) “is beyond anything I can hope to achieve.” Korra takes down Kuvira peacefully, through empathy and understanding. Something Korra could never do before and Aang even failed to do. Her final note is one of self-reflection, where she accepts all she had to go through without regret, and makes peace with her struggle for balance. And now that she has found some peace within herself, she can can look more towards happiness and love. Despite all this she still feels hopeful that there is so much more for her to learn and grow, and self-improvement has become critically important to emotional regulation. She is both happy as she is, and a work in progress to be better.
    All of this exemplifies why Korra is a very well-developed character and one of my favorite characters in fiction. This immense journey she goes on proves to her that even your enemies deserve empathy, for both’s sake. Korra starts out so childish, with a seemingly irredeemable teenage narcissism, but her transformation is profound and inspiring. She develops into the wisest, most powerful Avatar that we know of, not just physical strength, but also profound character and grace.

    1. I partly agree with you. What I loved about your review is that you only talked about Korra. You didn’t necessarily bring anything out that didn’t need bringing. However. I think when Korra does get some development she is usually redacted. In B2, I liked Korra wanted to fight for her own spirit and herself Book 3 didn’t have much of Korra. Yes, thanks for pointing out Korra’s sacrifices which no one sees.

      You know by book 4 I thought Makorra would be canon because it was a relationship that grew through highs and lows. It defined both Korra and Mako but not negatively. It showed who they were as people and who they can be with people. Korrasami doesn’t do that. Yes, happy that Korra is queer because I always think most characters are queer or have the potential to have same sex relationships. No props for Korrasami. In Korra’s development Tenzin, Mako and Jinora has the most input. Asami did nothing. In fact, in B4 her relationship with Kuvira is so central that I wouldn’t have minded if it hinted Korra wants to be with together with Kuvira. She wants to have a new relationship with someone she has in common with. Mako is someone she literally grew with. These two people, to me, would have brought Korra “happiness and love” as you stated. The show was ruined with Asami suddenly having an interest in Korra. The interest Asami had in Korra in B1 is actually the best portrayal of their relationship. With mutual respect and understanding. An organic chemistry. In later books this evaporates completely so Asami’s sudden romantic interest in Korra was out of nowhere. It also portrays Asami in a negative light. Especially, her weird Out of character behaviour in B2 with Mako. Asami kissing Mako was like wtf moment for me. It made no sense in the narrative and who Asami is as a person. Also, Asami keeps on reiterating to korra she is the avatar which is not good for, as you mentioned, Korra’s development. Korra is the avatar, she embraced it: a bit too much. She needs to be independent of it too. So, what happens? Korra doesn’t get the sort of closure she needs as a person, her PTSD is not explored enough and she horrifically ends with someone who only sees her as an avatar.

      Korra, conceptually, is one of the best characters. Execution wise she has GLARING problems. I will always love Korra. She is one of the indispensable characters who I love. Also, she is canon bisexual which makes me happy as anything. However, the resolution to the series focused on Korrasami and pushed out Korra from her own fucking story. That I can’t forgive. It was a cheap ass move. If Asami and Korra were like a thing since middle of B2 I would have LOVED IT LIKE ANYTHING. I WOULD HAVE BEEN A PROUD KA SUPPORTER. Given Asami has no personality and that she is a hollow romantic interest makes me mad. Also, that Korra cannot pursue more knowledge or mental health in the series finale. Being alone made sense. Being with Mako or Kuvira made sense. Korra is my fav and she always will be. She deserved the best. I hope in future I get to see the best.

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