‘The Legend of Korra: Book Four: Change’ Talks

Sam,

It’s Korra time.

I’m going to chapter by chapter and comment on all the goodies that it entails. After the success of Book Three, from the ashes of the disastrous Book Two (save for Wan), I’m pleased with the way the last book of Korra is going. The politics and evolution of nations is really interesting.

Chapter One: After All These Years

I. I KNEW Kuvira was going to be important. You don’t name things in Avatar and don’t make them important later, except Pong…

II. I’m liking the direction the show is going in. Political intrigue + magic karate = epicness. However, I’m concerned about Kuvira’s inevitable villain status. I don’t want a repeat of Fire Nation before Zuko as Firelord. But I know it’s going that way. What else could it do?

III. I’m really fond of how Republic City utilizes the Spirit Wilds  into being a tourist attraction instead of being a nuisance.

IV. Korra…what is your life? Your getting your ass kicked by some schmo in an underground earthbending tournament? Where is the hard headed Avatar that smashed douchebags in Probending and went after every problem with no restraints? I mean I know those tended to end disastrously, but still.

V. So looking forward to this season. It has a lot of potential to show the rapid changes of industry and technology in the Avatar world with the shifts in tides of government.

Chapter Two: Korra Alone

The only bit of this episode I liked was finding Toph…

I know we have to see how Korra goes through her struggles and therapy, getting back into shape but still. The episode felt really slow.

I did enjoy watching a bit of Katara wisdom action. I would really like to see more of the old Gaang in future episodes together again, what’s left of them.

Here’s to Korra getting better.

Chapter Three: The Coronation
Okay, last Friday’s Korra…
Firstly, TOPH YES! “I’m am old lady and can still kick your butt” classic Toph.
Secondly, Earth Empire, like we didn’t see that comin….
-____- not sure if I’m going to be okay with how they’re playing this. In most respects Kuvira deserves leadership more than most people; however, I’m not too fond of her methods of assimilation and levying of other Earth ‘Empire’ states.

Tertiary, let’s go Airbabies find Korra!!

Chapter Four: The Calling

What a great chance to see some Airbender family fun time, at least the kiddies. I enjoyed getting to know each of the characters and seeing their personalities grow since last book. I’m happy to see the change in character. It’s hard for certain shows to demonstrate that change as characters get older. I don’t know why I was concerned about Avatar not delivering.

I just love the fact that Toph is EXACTLY like Yoda in the swamps of Dagoba. Korra could learn so much from Toph after she supposedly detached herself from the world when really she’s more connected than ever. I wanted to see a vision of Aang when Korra was wondering about the swamp as a call back to Book Two: Earth when Aang saw Toph, but no….they never do that. Still good though with Korra finding the Airbabies via tree vines, and the swamp holding the Airbenders back because it doesn’t want them to stay. Way to go swamp, way to go.

Chapter Five: Enemy at the Gates

Whooooooooo!!! Su Yin and sons are gonna get some ass-kicking action!!

Okay, done with that. I know that it’s wrong to be thrilled at violence because Zaofu is screwed, and I like Zaofu. There aren’t many settlements in the Avatar world that I could see myself living in. But let’s start from the beginning.

There’s gonna be a battle. I’m not sure what kind or how many, but I know that the writers aren’t going to let this opportunity for a way of testing the character’s resolve. The Battle of Zaofu with so many key players in Korra’s plot line at risk of injury or worse is going to be the turning point of this season. Whatever happens next week will determine the rest of the book. Can you imagine having to wait another week for it???

I like how confident Korra is now. She almost back to her old self, except now she’s inherited a lot of Aang. I think she’s right in how she’s handling international affairs, but it still bugs me. I want to see her use her awesomeness to take charge. I miss old dive in head first Korra, even though she sucked most of the time. But now she doesn’t! So glow it up and find some balance.

So Earth Empire wanting to create the Avatar equivalent of nuclear weapons……..that was one of the two possibilities I considered when we last saw Varrik with the spirit vine he was hooking up to machines. At first, I was excited to see them using a potential for limitless renewable energy, but then it shoots a beam of energy out the back of the train aaand now we’re in the direction of an arms race. And the Earth Empire has got all the muscle.

I am disappointed in Kuvira. I know the direction Brike were taking the story would turn her into this power hungry dictator. It still bums me out…I wish they would have made her a little more relatable and less psychopathic. Before now I was halfway toward staying on the Kuvira train and wanting to find some other solution. That changed when Opal informed us that she’s been creating concentration camps for dissidents and those who aren’t fully on her side. I would admire her if she just left Zaofu and worked to bettering the empire. Now her paranoia and fear mongering is severing all hopes I had for this “villain’s” progress. Oh, and in the flashback, Kuvira’s whole “Zaofu has been a beacon of progress and industry” just set off red flags, the red flags of Sozin/Azulon/Ozai’s Fire Nation. Oh well, I guess we can guess where this is going.

I’m glad Asami and her dad are mending their relationship. He was a terrible father. But that was before. I believe Sato won’t be doing anything stupid now that his daughter is a Captain of Industry. Plus, he can be a powerful ally for the nonbenders in the Earth Empire.

I was looking forward to this episode. I like how Brike are taking this story and showing the slow change into a nation organized like most of the countries in the world today. It’s beneficial for kids and ATLA fans to see how our world progresses in one with magic karate. This just shows how this is not a kid’s show; it’s got implications that many of our politicians could learn from, so we don’t end up with killing each other in an effort to preserve our pride and narrowed viewed of superiority.

More about Kuvira’s motivation:

She wants to reunite her nation, so there’s some sense back in the world. I get it. And I get how she think the only way to achieve that is to lock away anyone who appears to be against her because they could turn on her and set the weeds for disruption in the order. I get that, even though it’s messed up putting people away willy nilly. She’s neglecting the fact that people deserve to let their voices be heard. I know this is one step behind creating a democratic state in the assumed natural evolution of government. I hope the Earth Empire turns into the first true democratic republic. She’s appealing to Korra’s side of trying to set things right from mistakes and tangled up messes. Which is logical. Both have similar burdens and goals. But both have completely different method of executing them.

Chapter Six: Battle of Zaofu

Woah, I knew this episode was going to be good. I was not disappointed.

I don’t think Kuvira has any place to talk about fair fights when she has her whole army standing in front of Zaofu as intimidators, but when Su tries to assassinate her she sicks her robots on them instead of herself? She keeps talking about how she wouldn’t let any of her soldiers do anything she wouldn’t….so what does she need an army for if she’s so bent on equality?  I know it’s part of her character and her twisted logic, but it’s just rambling.

Not surprised about her treatment of the Zaofu citizens, “either you join me or are brainwashed to want to join me, your choice.” Sounds so equal, right?

I was really looking forward to Korra gettin’ it back and kicking Kuvira’s ass Avatar style…but this is only the fifth episode, and I know that was never going to happen. What else would the story be if Zaoful didn’t fall? Still, I enjoyed the battle. It was very much an echo of many of Aang’s fights with Zuko and Zhao. Only in this case, it was  Kuvira being the passive Aang and Korra was the attack-all firebender. I’m really puzzled by what she saw when she was in the Avatar state. Why would she see herself? Is it possible she’s still afraid of herself? I personally don’t want to think too much into it because I want to see where Brike are taking us.

Horray for Varrak for destroying the spirit bomb. I knew they weren’t out. But now they have the veil of death on their side, and that’s a good thing, just thing about Aang in Book Three.

We’ve got six chapters, or more, to see where this is going. Could this be the first world war?!

Chapter Seven: Reunion

They just keep topping off episodes, maintaining the high quality we fans hold to this series and creation. I’m glad to see they are taking the time to develop relationships more: Korra, Asami, Mako, and Wu; Bolin and Varrak. It’s these kinds of character building like in Book Three that makes me feel confident in Korra’s story arch.

It was nice to see Korra kick some ass this time, and Mako, Asami, Bolin, and Varrak. They really have changed since three years ago. They’ve, especially Korra and Bolin, have taken to their new powers and take the time to use their abilities the best they can.

I like how Kuvira’s empire is starting to take more shape and become unique against all the other totalitarian regimes we’ve seen before. From the hints of Communist/Socialist tactics of ‘sharing the wealth’ from Zaofu to be distributed equally throughout the rest of the Empire to the new information about anyone who is not of Earth Empire origin is being filtered out and put in camps. It makes me fond of the way she’s developing her ominous plans for the future of her nation. It sets her apart from previous villains. Also about the whole sawing on the Banyan tree in the Swamp…I can’t wait to see the Swamp and Toph get at her for damaging the vines.

As a final note, I find it amusing that Kuvira takes so much pride in the development of technology of her nation, but the only reason the world underwent a change in technology is because of the Fire Nation Industrial Revolution. So much for only keeping what is Earth Empire eh?

Chapter Eight: Remembrances

Whyyyyy fillers!?!?!?!

*sigh* well there’s nothing to report about this waste of an episode. See, this is what was the problem with Book Three of ATLA. There were too many fillers just for humor and recap than actual story progression and exploring the world. I wanted to see more firebending training because out of the three Aang learned, fire was the least paid attention to. Much less air, but he already knew that. I know Korra kind of made up for that because she does favor fire and air over water for the most part but still. I would have liked to have seen maybe what’s going on in the Air nation. Are the temples being filled up again? Or maybe incorporate the recaps of three of Team Avatar with other things that are more visually stimulating. Maybe Korra’s practicing her bending or sparing with Asami. And Mako and Wu could have easily been sparing, teaching Wu how to fight while he gabbled on. At least something better than just watching things we’ve already seen. Yeah, they may have wanted to make sure everyone’s caught up. I get that. I’m just down that there wasn’t anything more to go on.

Chapter Nine: Beyond the Wilds

Well I feel like we just came out of the Wilds with last week’s episode. Now onto bigger, better, more Avatary things. Thank you Brike for not making us wait long to find the spark that lit a great fire of intrigue and story at the start of this season.

As an aside, I really liked Korra using her Earthbending to play with Naga. I feel like if I had a dog/cat/polarbeardog, I’d be using my bending to play with it too. It’s these tiny notions of relationship that make the show great. Also we haven’t seen a lot involvement with the animals, Pabu and Naga most predominate, in Korra at all, which is weird when the Gaang were constantly involved with various creatures of the Avatar world. Not too big of a fault, the world is getting more industrialized, but something to take note of.

This chapter was the perfect build up to a great confrontation between Kuvira’s destruction of the Swamp and those who wish to stop her creating nuclear spirit bombs. I am expecting to see Toph make an appearance in the upcoming battle between Beifogs + Bolin v. Kuvira and friends.  If I don’t get my old Gaang fix…I will be rather irked because how could they NOT put Toph in during such a crucial point and location in the story.

I am pleased and totally on board with Zahir being a mentor to Korra. Yeah he’s a Communist psychopath who wanted to end all world order, but everyone was okay with Loki and his funny quirks in Thor 2, and he killed a bunch a people and scarred IRON MAN! I’m okay with Zahir being a mentor because there’s justification for it. He’s right; Korra was scarred to tap into the true power of the Avatar because she doesn’t want to fall again. Toph said something similar. She’s at that point where she can become as spiritual as Aang as long as she commits to it, and she’s taken a great start. Admitting her faults and mistakes and being okay with it is a huge step. I’m pleased she faced her fears and am hopeful she is going to turn out to be a pretty dope Avatar.

Chapter Ten: Operation Beifong

*sigh of relief* so much to say about this episode. I’m so relieved about the quality of the content of this chapter.

BEIFONG REUNION!!!!!!

I am delighted to have concerns quelled about the involvement of Toph in the last three chapters of Korra. The reaction of Lynn to her mother’s arrival is perfect: “chief” “chief.” The writing couldn’t have been more perfect. Toph’s greeting of Opal was touching. Toph would be an excellent grandmother, cranky but wise. Bolin’s jubiance at meeting his hero was something I’m sure Toph got a lot of in the early days after defeating Fire Lord Ozai. I think we can all relate to him because would probably do the same thing if we ever met the greatest earthbender to ever live.

Korra just keeps getting better with each chapter. To see her take charge and stand up to Richo, using her Avatar authority, was very satisfying. What the spirit said to her about being exactly like Kuvira when wanting to use spirit power in a human war is something that goes back to ATLA. When Zhao killed the moon spirit, Twi, the ocean spirit, La, merged with Aang and sought revenge against the Fire Nation. Isn’t this the same thing as Kuvira killing and harvest of spirit vines? Okay spirits don’t fight for the good guys who aren’t trying to create a weapon capable of nuclear holocaust but fight to save yourselves and preserve what belongs to your world! Reject the Avatar, fine, but don’t let someone take advantage of what you provide to the world without any benefit to you. Seriously guys learn from the moon and ocean spirits.

The action during the end of this chapter was spot on. I’m really coming on earthbending as of late, and it’s exciting to have seen so much of it in this book. I hope whatever Brike does next, we’ll see some focus on the Fire Nation? Or maybe some more in depth perusal of the Air Nomads; not all of them are benders and live in temples, so let’s see some average Air Nation members doing their own thing?

I am stoked to have had some questions burning a hole in our pockets for this whole book answered finally:

I KNEW Ju Li was a spy. Totally called it, and I’m glad too.

FINALLY we get to understand what Katara didn’t lift a finger during the Water Tribe Civil War because she was old! Toph’s explanation was spot on. The voice actor for her is perfect. Her timing reminds me of Jessie Flower’s work. Good job con casting. It’s this kind of thing that is simple and easy to do. Just mention in passing what is a popular plot hole that needs answering and move on. Like with Zaheer and the Red Lotus. I understand they needed to have some kind of surprise for the audience in book three, but when Korra first asks why she has been kept under wraps in the South Pole it would have been SO EASY just to say there was a group of crazy radicals that wanted to kidnap you. Yes it may have raised more questions than Brike may have wanted that early in the series, but they could have written it with a tone that there were many crazy groups of people who wanted to kidnap the Avatar: old Fire Nation extremists, somebody that was angered by Aang and wanted revenge that kind of stuff.

At long last we understand now who Lynn’s father is! I’m a little disappointed that it wasn’t someone we already know. If it wasn’t of any importance, I thought before, then why not just say it and get it over with? I understand now why they waited because it added tension to the dialogue between Lynn and Toph.  Now all we need to know is who Su’s dad is.

I’m guessing the last two episodes will be some a two parter. It’s what they’ve done in the past, and it has turned out to be a good way to end Korra. It’s sad that we’re nearing the end.

Chapter Eleven: “Kuvira’s Gambit”

Wow, just wow. This episode shows that just when you think you know everything about the story line, strategy, and the world itself, Brike and friends prove us all wrong.

I totally had the idea that Kuvira would take the United Republic lands after she secured the Earth Kingdom states. With her determination to secure her power and remain that way, it would have been out of character for her to not to.

What I did not estimate is the Gundam Wing-like mech-suit with the spirit weapon attached to it. That was a wild card, which is part one of the creators throwing us off the log. I had an inkling that they were going to transport that canon in some other manner than just the rails, which would bottleneck the potential for conflict and surprises in the story. Maybe rolling it on tanks or suspend it via airship? I think what they did fit just right.

Bataar Jr. TOTALLY called out Korra on her bluff to use force to interrogate him. What I did not expect was Korra figuring out exactly what she needed, it seemed, to convince Kuvira to abandon the invasion. Her coming to the conclusion of keeping Bataar away from Kuvira was so organic and expertly done, I am seeing now ways of introducing plot changing/character defining moments through the natural dialogue between characters. It was chilling to see that tiny moment done.

When Kuvira realized that Bataar, her “love,” was captured, I know I shouldn’t have expected Kuvira to leave or give up after everything she’s done so far. What I did not expect was Kuvira to fire a shot at the location where Bataar and the Avatar and friends were hiding. Actually, I should say I did not want to expect it. This is a perfect, in-line, definition of her character. And she is one determined mama.

Looks like this finale will send Korra off with a bang, erm, hopefully not a bye-bye to Korra, Mako, Bolin, Beifong, or anyone else we really like. But it’s likely…

Chapter Twelve: “Day of the Colossus”

Here we go part one of the finale of The Legend of Korra!

The pacing and tension spread throughout this episode was precise. The scene shifts and action reminded me of ATLA’s four part finale.

Meelo’s idea with the paint balloons was spot on. Korra may be targeted at an older audience, but that still doesn’t neglect the fact that this world thrives on kids showing off their skills at being just as intuitive and smart as the adults. Even though it didn’t work, I’m glad he got his day in court instead of being shunted aside by Lynn as some silly kiddy idea for distraction.

I like how Varrick’s electromagnetic pulse attack used earlier against the mecha-suits was brought back as an option for stopping Kuvira.

It was also nice to see Asami and her dad getting back together to work on a way to get inside the Colossus. Although, when he sacrificed himself to succeed in getting open the hatch in the leg, I was right there with Asami. I think he just about made up for all the horrible stuff he was about to commit five years ago. However, I also think that he knew life with his daughter wouldn’t have been the same, even if they succeeded in taking down Kuvira. I think he knew there would be some part of Asami and the others that resented his old ties. Nevertheless, he did what he had to do in order to keep his daughter safe. Cheers, Hiroshi.

Way to go Wu for using the badgermoles to get the rest of the refugees out of the city. Yay for bringing back old favorites from ATLA! When they almost got captured in the tunnels, I thought when they left Wu that they were really gone, kinda like one of those moments when you think the team has got everything in control but really don’t. I’m glad to say that wasn’t the case. Wu has turned out to be a pretty smart cookie after being so shallow.

All in all, it was great to see the whole crew working together to defeat this colossal giant. Not any one person can be credited with being the sole reason Team Avatar won the day. That’s what I like. Just as the four elements work together inside the Avatar to create balance, so too did Team Avatar protect the liberties of the United Republic and Earth Empire.

Chapter Thirteen: “The Last Stand”

Alright, time for action and bending galore in this final chapter.

I have to say there’s always gotta be an epic firebending moment in every finale, and Mako delivered. That lightning bit was excellent. The animation was beautiful. He really demonstrated the grace and coolness found in lightning bending. Beautiful. I almost thought Bolin was gonna pipe in and help his bro out. He did, but not in the way I expected.

When Beifongs took down the spirit-canon, I think it perfectly showcased Kuvira’s character when she literally ripped the arm off the robot and cast it aside. She emulated the Pure Blood notion in Harry Potter when Tom Riddle talked to Bellatrix and Narcissa about cutting off the infected branches of the family tree, until only those of the pure remain. Nice touch. Also, it is so great seeing Lynn and Su kicking ass and having each other’s back.

I enjoyed the opening of a new spirit portal. It was surprising and unexpected.

At first, I didn’t realize why Korra saw herself in Kuvira the last time they fought at Zaofu. Right before they said it, when the two Korras were looking at each other in blue and purple, it hit me. There is a great presence in this episode of pairs and duality, working in teams not alone: Mako and Bolin, Asami and Hiroshi, Varrick and Zhu Li, Lynn and Su, Airbabies and Tenzin (not a pair but still), and finally Korra and Kuvira. Korra saw herself in Kuvira because she is what the Avatar could have been had she been led by a different path, perhaps been more arrogant or too rebellious/controlling even. Korra has gone through a lot of character growth in a much shorter amount of time than the Gaang had, and I’m pleased to have seen it. Kuvira too. She was revealed a much more sympathetic villain than perhaps Zaheer (mostly because we didn’t know him at all before book three). Her orphanage at Zaofu and feeling like she needed to do something when no one else would is a compelling argument. The same thing was said by Herr Hitler in the 1930s and 40s. Both had the potential for great change and success in their nations. They just took it too far, were twisted by a carnal desire to take revenge on the world. It was touching to seeing the two relate on the same plain of being afraid of fear.

Not to mention, KORRA SPIRIT BENDED! WHOOOO!!

The wedding was hilarious and showed the kind of relationship between Varrick and Zhu Li.

When Mako and Korra were talking, and he was saying all those things, I was saying “no, no, no” thinking they were going to kiss. Thank God they didn’t. Makorra getting back together was not something I wanted to happen in the end. Leave the romance to Aang and Katara.

Seeing Korra and Tenzin talking again brought me back to the first book when it was them having Avatar meditation/talk time. Master and student learning from each other and able to appreciate their time of peace.

Wu’s abdication was something I never expected. I don’t think that he never would have come to that conclusion if this didn’t happen. His desire to emulate the United Republic was a nice demonstration at the evolution of politics in the Avatar world, how similar it is to ours.

I thought it was appropriate to have the final scene be between Korra and Asami. The show really brought out the skill and universal appeal of character no matter gender. Two friends going off into the spirit world was a pleasant final scene. I almost called they would hold hands going in. There was something almost there, but then there wasn’t. It would have been totally out of their characters. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about.

Korra’s mentioning of  understanding suffering hails back to Buddhist/Hindu teachings and makes me curious to see how she’ll grow. She might become a guru. Who knows? I think it is clear that this show without a doubt carried on the legacy of greatness that was ATLA and forged its own mark in the Avatar pantheon to not need to be compared to ATLA anymore. So much change happened since we first saw Korra, and it was a joy to take this ride with her. Each character became their own in their own time and way. We were taught that not everybody is what they seem, and that one should take caution when  underestimating one’s ability, values, and point of view. Whatever comes next for Brike, I am sure it will be exactly as Korra put it in the last word spoken in The Legend of Korra: perfect.

Cheers.

 

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