Reviews Comments: PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS: itty bitty personal character

PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS: itty bitty personal character
I've had negative opinions about Korra's characterization. She's treated as THE AVATAR and not a person; a worthless protoplasmic sack lugging THE AVATAR around. I was deeply hoping this show would turn around and have our heroine show us what she's made of. So they force Raava out. I wanted precisely that to happen; make Korra not the Avatar anymore, stripped of her powers when she needs them most.

Understandably, Korra's upset. She's failed and is single-handedly responsible for ending a long and proud tradition. Tenzin steps in and tells Korra that she doesn't need Raava to set things right. This is what I'm banking on.

So how do they resolve the threat of an ultra-powerful dark spirit promising to bring 10,000 years of darkness? Simple. Turns out Korra doesn't need to be the Avatar after all because she already has all the PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS AND DESTINY built right in, and uses that to save the day. Except that's not enough, and Jinora has to bail Korra out because it's still too much for her.

It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I wanted to see Korra solve problems without taking her powers and destiny for granted. Bolin demonstrated heroism all by himself, being in the right place at the right time, not accountable, said "I've got to do something about this!" and did it. Korra grew in power, but she still hasn't grown as a person.

Even her breakup felt tacked-on. She says that their relationship isn't working out, but she doesn't address the reasons: Korra often acts unreasonable and Mako is afraid of disagreeing with someone who could bend off his head for disagreeing. Korra can't push others around because she's the Avatar. Her judgements aren't infallible, given her sheltered upbringing and youthful lack of life experience. And she can't use the previous Avatar's wisdom as a justifying crutch if she never used their wisdom and then lost them anyway.

Well, there's always next season, I suppose. Hopefully they can paint THE AVATAR as someone who doesn't need to rely on her PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS AND DESTINY to help the world and can solve problems like a responsible human being. And show how Korra's unwise decisions will give her bad karma that will bite her in the butt and she'll have to own up to it.


As someone who caught a lot of flack about criticizing Legend of Korra for similar reasons, I disagree. The first book Korra saved the day, learned air bending, regained her elements, energy bending, and the Avatar state. The second book, Korra saved the day but at a significant (10,000 year old) loss. I think we're beginning to see some character development that we didn't see after book one. Korra seems to understand that her actions have consequences.
comment #22141 son 19th Nov 13
I'm somewehere in the middle bewteen you 2. Losing the past lives doesn't seem like a big loss for Korra. She didn't really have a relationship with any of them, certainly nowhere near as close as Aang was to Roku. It again seems like a bigger loss for Tenzin than for Korra.

She does have real character development at the end, and I think she's finally beyond 'punch everything I don't like the moment I don't like it.' It wasn't well handled character development, but it is development nonetheless.
comment #22147 uncannybeetle 19th Nov 13
The 400-word review limit meant I couldn't say everything I wanted. But the laconic version isn't quite a Broken Aesop, but somewhere in the Sweet and Sour Grapes family.

Basically, the whole season Korra is told that being the Avatar is her destiny and isn't treated like much of a person beyond that, and the human being she is isn't exactly a stellar example. She's very much Destiny's Child. So when I want to see what Korra is on a day where she doesn't have to be THE AVATAR with '''PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS AND DESTINY, all I see is that Korra still has the powers and the destiny, and then gets back her Avatar state in a few minutes, tops, zero meaningful consequences.
comment #22151 DennisDunjinman 20th Nov 13
I must point out that the most people who only see her as the Avatar, simply wish to hurt her, or manipulate her. Those who love her do see her worth as a person, specifically her friends.

But there's also a few facts of the matter:

1) She IS the Avatar, and therefore, the cosmic power angle is needed because it's a part of her. 2) She's already (subtly) begun to realize she's valuable as a person already, when she was trapped in the spirit world looking for Jinora. That was the entire point of her regression-into-a-kid (she's at her weakest form, she can't bend, and she really do anything until she learned otherwise). 3) Her entire initial characterization was that she believed she was only good as the Avatar; that's not gonna go away this early in her story.
comment #22164 omegafire17 21st Nov 13
I interpreted her spirit world journey differently. Even as a child who couldn't bend, I felt that the point of it was "Even if you feel powerless, you're still the Avatar, and therefore you can cut through anything because you're Destiny's Child!" This continues on as Korra is basically acting as Raava's vessel throughout the entirety of the climax. When Korra's ready to give up, what happens? Raava says "No, you can't give up. You're the AVATAR. Stand up and fight." Not herself. Raava.

It doesn't make sense to me to have Korra stripped of her powers and then show she has them anyway, unless literally anyone could do the same in her position. I feel cheated that Korra's Brought Down to Normal isn't normal at all. They did the same thing last season by having Korra stripped of her bending, then proceed to trounce Amon with airbending despite not even knowing what she was doing. Korra's upset she's down to one element? Thinks she's absolutely nothing without it? Guess what, she's the AVATAR, so of course she'll just get them back before she decides she's a human being beyond mere Avatar vessel.
comment #22187 DennisDunjinman 22nd Nov 13
If that's the case it seems your issue is with the concept of the Avatar in general, rather than Korra. Aang was just a vessel of Raava as well. He was disconnected from the Avatar spirit during most of book 3, but it was only when he reconnected (Nice Job Fixing It Ozai) that he was able to turn the tables.
comment #22190 son 23rd Nov 13
As well as Roku abdicating his duties as the Avatar, leading to the 100 years war.
comment #22191 son 23rd Nov 13
Well, there are still 2 books left. Your points are valid, so I hope they'll adress them sooner or later.
comment #22192 kay4today 23rd Nov 13
Aang's case is different. He was still strong enough to defeat Ozai, but he didn't want to kill him. If anything, his dilenma in the finale was trying to be MORE than the Avatar. And he succeeded. Wheras when Korra tries this, she suddenly pulls a giant blue pseudo Megazord out of her ass. Ugh the finale was so bad
comment #22198 nicksmi56 23rd Nov 13
And Aang suddenly pulled energybending out of his ass to conveniently solve his moral dilemma. That's not really much different.
comment #22200 kay4today 23rd Nov 13
I was addressing son's assertion that Aang was also reliant on being the Avatar. Anyway I think the Lion Turtle was done better because Avatar was as much a learning experience for the viewer as it was for the characters. It had always been implied (with the mention of learning from badger moles and them actually learning from dragons and such) that there was more to bending and energy than we knew. So when the Lion Turtle showed up, it was easy to assume it was one of those age old teacher, probably older than the others. It fit. Korra's Spirit Mech was never hinted at and completely rewrites the rules out of nowhere
comment #22202 nicksmi56 23rd Nov 13
Exactly. And the whole "cosmic energy" thing is something we saw in A:TLA too, if you remember the Guru Pathik episodes.
comment #22213 kay4today 23rd Nov 13
Yes, but we were never told we could send it out and pilot it like a mech. The imagery is there but the concept is definitely not. It's out of...heck, not even left field fits. It was sent from Pluto
comment #22220 nicksmi56 23rd Nov 13
And we were never told you could take someone's bending away either.
comment #22226 kay4today 24th Nov 13
Let's just say the allusion of a lion turtle teaching Aang how to take away Ozai's bending or at least giving him the knowledge to do so, especially after book 2 Lo K giving you redundant insight as to what those turtles are, is hell of a lot more logical than, aibending tutor, Tenzin's pep talk awakening Korra's cosmic inner-self after her connection to Raava was completely severed.

No avatar state at her disposal as there should have been no way to connect to the cosmos without the spirit that technically makes anyone the avatar, and unless she was blessed by the turtles directly, she should then only be able to bend water. ie: all of this is the definition of powerless, and the writers should have taken a much more ingenious route to tackle a seemingly undefeatable aggressor. It's great that Korra learned she should be herself, but the message sounded better in theory than in practice. Scratch that, the lesson was practically lost in translation.

...How balsy would it have been if Korra at that insanely weak moment confronted Unavaatuloq on her own, no gimmicks? She would be more in character and there'd still be nothing to dictate Jinora could'nt help out even if Korra did just that. Plus, the immense tie in that would have with that horrible book 1 finale(Aang wouldn't have shown that time; the almighty avatar state capable of causing immeasurable damage under the control of a first-timer would). In the way I presented she would finally have conquered her overarching fear of being powerless, she would finally appear way more than just a Mary Sue, Michael & Bryan would've gotten that anime ending they thought was necessary and even if she failed, there would still be a season to have Korra and her gang come out on top (might give more time to explain wtf is Jinora).

Not looking forward to how the creators explain 'energy' next season -_-*.
comment #22253 mostezli 25th Nov 13
Yes, but it's a new form of bending. That at least fits within established logic cause Aang has been learning the full show. We were never told about bloodbeing but that fit because it fits within the logic that there are other forms of bending that are unknown to most of the world. Energybeding is the same concept. Spirit mechs are an asspull.
comment #22254 nicksmi56 25th Nov 13
mostezli gets it :)
comment #22255 nicksmi56 25th Nov 13
Lol, of course Aang randomly and conveniently getting energybending gets better explained later. Doesn't mean it wasn't an asspull back then, so you should hold your horses until the next Korra season.

I'm not saying Korra's random-ass spirit self wasn't an asspull, just that Aang's energybending was just as much of an asspull.
comment #22260 kay4today 26th Nov 13
There are a couple of differences between Aang's energy bending and Korra's giant form. One is that Aang had already won the fight before he revealed he had that power, while Korra's thing was required for her to be able to fight at all. The other is that it was clear from the moment Aang spoke with the Lion Turtle that he had gained a new power, and we were just waiting to see what the power was. My problem with the Lion Turtle teaching Aang was that they didn't properly explain what the Lion Turtle was. Even with it showing up in pictures beforehand the moving island with a face seemed like an @$$pull much more than the energy bending itself. It always seemed logical to me that a fully realized Avatar could have that power, especially since he was the bridge between worlds and could merge with spirits. I would have preferred Aang to figure it out on his own instead of being given the ability by the Lion Turtle.
comment #22261 uncannybeetle 26th Nov 13
@kay4today "randomly & conveniently" to those who can't see an actually good set-up because Aang started off that finale weary of just flat-out killing Ozai and he's been like that for quite a long time as well. So, no, most definitely NOT "just as much of an asspull".

@uncannybeetle Agreed, but at least Aang had one final mini-journey of self discovery that ties in to the past seasons. He could have easily turned away again, which is pretty much what happened at the beginning, but he made the decision to take up the Lion Tutrle's wisdom and really live up to his responsibility.

@nicksmi56 Only reason I'm not looking forward to it is because of how these past two seasons were written and every expalanation I got, meant as much to me as a game of jeopardy or trivial pursuit.
comment #22262 mostezli 26th Nov 13
Then you don't know what an asspull is, mostezli.

^^ None of that has anything to do with the fact that energybending was a convenient Deus ex Machina.
comment #22263 kay4today 26th Nov 13
Ass Pull "the audience never saw the character attending the lecture in question" ~ yeah they did, Aang ends up meeting the lion turtle & turtle taught him something, sh*t happens after that In this case, the lion turtle, like uncannybeetle stated, is more of an asspull. Unless, you think easter eggs are all it takes to justify that as being otherwise.

Again, ATLA had the better set-up to your "asspull/Deus Ex Machina" and works within the established world & story. At some point before the actual ending, quite a few might've eventually realized that this would be one of few ways Aang would be able to beat Ozai without essentially killing him (stripping the hero/villain of its power, what a trope!). "It's Deus Ex Machina-esque" Not a single person would think Korra would be able to go mecha,kaiju,w/e without Raava. Clearly everyone underestimated how OP an avatar can be without technically being the avatar. So...not the same level of "asspull".

If you wanna talk Deus Ex Machinas and asspulls, let's just say ATLA's finale pales in comparison to Lo K's book 2.

-"tree of time"? ~ saw it before; never actually explained til this finale -"Bolin has a genuine thing for Eska"? ~ when he made that talk as him & Mako were captured, made sense, but wtf afterwords? -"Jinora" ~ no clue as to what she did (something, something teapot as few theorized)

I would go on, but I'd have to rewatch the episode & I think I made my case. Feel free disprove.

comment #22275 mostezli 26th Nov 13
"..[to] disprove"
comment #22276 mostezli 26th Nov 13
I'm not so much concerned about Ass Pull, my review was more concerned with the idea that Korra trouncing Unavaatu through astral projection with a booster from Jinora, while neatly wrapping up the storyline in an appropriately climactic and amazing manner, didn't prove anything that I felt Korra should have proven about herself and her personal character; that she's more than just her powers, destiny, and other things that fall into Designated Protagonist Syndrome.

I feel that without the Avatar's powers and responsibilities, Korra's either not very interesting or she's not very easy for me to root for wholeheartedly as the heroine; either she tends toward aggressive Protagonist-Centered Morality, and during the times when she's calm and wiser it's usually because destiny is at stake.

This is just an opinion, but I wanted Korra's spiritual growth to include growth as a human being, and she's only really grown more as the Avatar, which is only just one role she plays. I want to see a more mature Korra without her being or abusing being the Avatar by sheer luck of fate. I want to see Korra as a person, not a Cosmic Plaything.
comment #22288 DennisDunjinman 27th Nov 13
@Dennis Dunjinman Sorry the ass pull discussion had little to do with your review.

Anyways, agreed, which is why I mentioned that "what if" scenario in my first post. Although, I do believe people would think Korra finally meditating to resolve her issues is a sign of growing maturity as a person. The outcome of that moment is sheer luck of fate.
comment #22300 mostezli 28th Nov 13

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