Monday, June 25, 2012

Thoughts on "Legend of Korra" Finale

This past weekend was the finale to season one of The Legend of Korra the sequel to the successful Avatar: The Last Airbender on Nickelodeon, and holy cow was it great!

Caution: Some mild spoilers may follow.

Like most fans of the original series, I was a bit skeptical of a sequel series, largely because the original was such a wonderfully self-contained story.  I always have respect for TV writers whose series have a definite beginning, middle, and end, and Avatar pulled it off fantastically with the tale of Aang.  I was worried that Korra was just going to be an attempt to capture lightning in a bottle twice.

Luckily, my worries were put to rest almost immediately.  The new series is a perfect example of what a proper sequel should be:  it builds upon what was laid down previously but is not afraid to write its own story within that world.  I think a lot of people wanted a direct continuation of the characters with whom they fell in love the first time around, but I'm glad they did not do that.  "The Last Airbender: Part 2" would have been fun at first, but I think it would have quickly gone stale without more newness to offer.  Instead, we got new characters, many with connections to the old series, some without.  My personal favorite was Tenzin.  As Aang and Katara's son, he is an important bridge between series, and I absolutely love how they constructed his uptight personality that at least partially yearned to balance work with play the way his father did.  Plus his three children had me in stitches every time they had screen time.

Also included in that group of new characters is Korra.  It took me a while to warm up to the new Avatar.  I found her difficult to like at first because of her brash personality and tendency to not think things through.  I was also bothered by her lack of progress in training to become a fully-realized Avatar, and early on it felt like there were to many distractions for her to properly focus on her training.  After  few episodes however, I finally saw that that was the point.  Korra is not Aang, nor is she supposed to be.  She is thrust into this new rapidly modernizing world at the same time we are, and her discoveries are the audience's as well.  In addition, she is perhaps the strongest female lead in a series (animated or otherwise) that I have seen in a long time.  While there is an obligatory love story sub-plot, it is not front and center for much of the season and is thankfully resolved when all is said and done.

The final moments of the finale gave me exactly what I wanted to see and it felt like a massive release after a dozen episodes of building conflict and tension.  I was a little disappointed by the revelations about Amon, the story's main antagonist, but the way his arc was resolved (hopefully), while initially appearing like a cliche, "I will have my revenge!" moment was shocking and inspired in its execution.  My hat is off to Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko on a brilliant finish to a fantastic season and keep it up in the forthcoming season 2.

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