There was a moment, halfway through the second season of Korra in which I was thoroughly regretting pulling up another episode of The Legend of Korra. The characters were in a stasis, the narrative was stagnant and the lead was borderline infuriating and repugnant to me personally. After articulating my feelings to a friend who enjoyed Korra as a whole, I was told one thing: the show only gets better after we delve into the history of the Avatar.
After an outstanding back half of Book Two, The Legend of Korra has transformed into a show of substance and worth. Characters I once scoffed at and hated seeing on screen has developed into something admirable whilst the glimmers of hope have becoming shining beacons in this thoroughly enjoyable stories. The character development I was crying out for in seasons one and two are explored in three and then some. The villains have only gotten stronger and stronger as the show has played out and become, with this instalment, thrilling to watch and revel in.
Whilst Book Three: Change ended in a contrary fashion to what I predicted and expected, it was a fulfilling and emotionally investing one. And with one book/season left, I am no longer happy that the journey will be drawing to a close but rueing the lack of more adventures with this Team Avatar.
ASSESSING THE CHARACTERS
Let’s take the main players of this Book and see how they measured up one at a time:
Korra: Despite having her name in the title and being firmly her story, Korra doesn’t take centre stage in season three and that’s a very good thing. The head-on personality of Korra simply isn’t appealing or welcoming enough to enjoy each and every episode with her at the centre. Mind you, that isn’t a gripe. Book Three’s Korra is perhaps the best time I’ve had with the character. She’s smart when she needs to be, fun when she needs to be and most importantly she does things and acts like and Avatar, something she failed to be in the first season.
Mako: interestingly, Mako’s character and relationships take a turn at the start of the season. The writers take away his niggling Twilight love triangle with Korra and Asami, for the most part, and throw him a job in the police force and it works. Mako still isn’t the layered and interesting character he should be and ought to have been from the get go but he is finally someone I enjoy watching.
Bolin: The best character in the entire damn show. This is the only reasonable way I can describe Bolin. He simply isn’t the comedic foil anymore. He has genuine moments of growth and apathy with the audience and he’s handled tastefully. Much like Sokka in the original series, Bolin could have become an annoying third party. But with BOTH characters, the franchise has crafted a gem that steals every single scene they both appear in.
Tenzin: The airbending master gets better each and every season. Through his paternal position, his comedic moments and his inspiring vow at the end of the season, Tenzin solidifies his place in this story. I do wish the show allowed the smooth voiced baldy a few more moments of complete airbending annihilation but what we got was better than I expected to get after a lacklustre season one.
Zaheer: This season’s big bad is yet another improvement on what has come before. Whilst there was nothing wrong with Amon, he fell apart as a character an enigma towards the end. And whilst Unalaq was perhaps the most physically daunting, his intentions didn’t grab me entirely. Truthfully, the same can be said about Zaheer but his cunning moves and almost strategic nature elevate him above his nefarious peers. I also respect and thank the show for throwing in a villain with relationships that paint him in a different picture.
Asami: Asami has the most reduced role in this season and that isn’t particularly a bad thing. She makes up the numbers well and never forces her way into a situation that she doesn’t belong in. and thank god they didn’t lumber in or burden her with yet another romantic tangent.
Lin: The surprise of the season is surely Lin Beifong. Lin’s never been a bad character. She’s had awesome action set pieces and a fun little sub-plot with Tenzin and their past but this season gave her something I was crying out for: texture. Exploring her past, her mother Toph and her sister’s story was incredibly engaging and at times magnetic.
Right, so that’s characters done. Let’s jump into specific episodes and deliver a single sentence review of each one before my final thoughts:
A Breath of Fresh Air: A perfectly acceptable episode that sets up a spiritual conflict and the season’s big bad in a fun way.
Rebirth: A funny little caper that introduces a few new players to the game whilst bringing back the awesome Lord Zuko.
The Earth Queen: Finally some dense endearing character development for Bolin and Mako whilst the nefarious Earth Queen strikes.
In Harm’s Way: Heart-warming story of family and choice that will hopefully pay off later on in the season.
The Metal Clan: Surprising and appreciated character development for Lin plays against a cunning Zaheer.
Old Wounds: As Lin transforms into an even richer character, Bolin solidifies himself as one of the shows best and most loveable characters.
Original Airbenders: A cute little episode that gives time to characters we adore like Tenzin and Boomi whilst adding texture to the overall show.
The Terror Within: A packed episode, sometimes too packed, showcases solid action and a pulsating score whilst twisting who’s hunting who.
The Stakeout: As Bolin moves up the pecking order of favourites with each interaction, the episode reveals Zaheer’s confusing philosophical motives.
Long Live the Queen: Middling episode that halts our heroes for a while whilst the Red Lotus asserts itself.
The Ultimatum: An energetic action set piece that’s as inventive as The Last Airbender and as smooth as you can hope for.
Enter the Void: The spectacular action continues as tingling epic moments play out and Korra is captured heading into a tantalising finale.
Venom of the Red Lotus: A rollicking, heart-breaking, funny and sombre finale all rolled into one caps off a great season.
I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised if I told you – if you’ve read my thoughts on the previous seasons – that halfway through The Legend of Korra’s first season, I was thinking of dropping the show. I adored and loved The Last Airbender so much that I didn’t want a single thing sullying my perception of that story, that world and that message. But … I persevered and I’m ecstatic that I did.
I can sum up my feelings with Book Three of The Legend of Korra with the show’s final scene. As Tenzin pulls back Jinora’s hair to reveal a character reborn to look and feel like Aang, The Legend of Korra transformed from this naïve and confused show into a story worthy of the Avatar name.
Up Next: Book Four of Korra!