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Season 2- The Dark Knight Rises of the Avatar series
Well, season 2 has come and gone and I have a strange feeling of deja vu. I'm a huge fan of the series, I enjoyed it while it lasted, but once it was over, I felt a little disappointed and unsatisfied. And the more I think about it the more I start to notice the flaws. Ultimately, I have to say this was the weakest season of both shows. Yeah, it's The Dark Knight Rises, all over again.

Both this and TDKR tried to be bigger and more epic than their immediate (and better) predecessors. In TDKR the villain plot involved a nuke wiping out Gotham. In Spirit, an evil entity from the dawn of man is going to break free, destroy mankind, and start a new age of darkness. So there's more at stake, but while the Season 1 villain, Amon, was compelling and iconic, Unalaq is very flat and Vaatu is something of a generic doomsday villain.

Both TDKR and Spirit are plagued with problems with their pacing and logic. We won't get into TDKR, but Spirit doesn't really get into the spirit world, the real villain, or the real meat of the season until about halfway in. Korra makes good character development IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON, after completely backsliding in the first half for no apparent reason. And then there's the finale. It starts off promising.

(SPOILER ALERT!) Korra loses her avatar powers and there's a new "Dark Avatar" tearing everything up. I was thinking: "Yes! Korra's going to have to save the day using nothing but her wits! It's a complete 180 from earlier, when she relied on brute strength for everything! This makes perfect sense for the character's progression!" Only... it doesn't happen. At all. Instead, she meditates in the tree Vaatu was stuck in and summons a giant blue version of herself (with NO AVATAR POWERS OR BENDING, just because), beats Vaatunalaq in a wrestling match,pulls out Raava and saves the day. Giant blue Korra wasn't foreshadowed AT ALL. Some people complained about Aang and the giant sea turtle, but this is much worse in my opinion. That actually made sense from a characterization standpoint. This is nothing but deus ex machina with no character development. It's the worst part of the season for me, despite it being a cool fight scene.

Like TDKR, there's some good stuff here too. The Spirit World is great, as are Tenzin's family's character development and Varrick. Still the weakest season, overall.
I don't think I've ever seen anyone dislike Varrick. He's one of the truly great things about season 2.
comment #22212 kay4today 23rd Nov 13
To quote MFM, "I think your enter key is feeling neglected."
comment #22214 Tuckerscreator 23rd Nov 13
While I wouldn't agree with the whole TDKR thing, I do agree with just about everything here. Just how they completely ignored her character development was sad.
comment #22219 nicksmi56 23rd Nov 13
@ Tuckerscreator- I went back and edited to give the enter key some love. When I wrote this, I was worried about running out of characters, and then I had to leave in a rush. So I barely had any time for editing. Hopefully it's easier on the eyes now.
comment #22222 fallinq 23rd Nov 13
Varrick IS pretty great,and I hope they bring him back and do something fun with him in season 3.
comment #22223 fallinq 23rd Nov 13
I hardly believe the giant Korra was a deus ex machina - remember when Aang 'let go' and accessed the Avatar State in Season 2, only to be shot? We saw almost the exact same cosmic energy being thing there (just switched Korra's form for Aang's), so it wasn't pulled out of complete nowhere

Also, personally, some things don't NEED to be foreshadowed :)
comment #22224 omegafire17 24th Nov 13
"Korra makes good character development IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON, after completely backsliding in the first half for no apparent reason."

I don't get what you mean. The entire firt half of the season was set up for that development. You can't just keep "developing" characters if you don't set up who are you developing them from.
comment #22228 strejda 24th Nov 13
I thought the first season set up where they were going to develop her from...
comment #22230 fenrisulfur 24th Nov 13
I'm not seeing how she could "use her wits" to save the day. With Amon, it'd be plausible, but we're talking about Ahriman level of evil here.

Likewise, you seem to forget that she didn't lost her bending (she can be seen airbending and waterbending, for starters). Didn't you pay attention to Tenzin saying that she needed to bend the energy within herself? Yeah, it's energybending. Maybe a Deus ex Machina, but given the context, not really.
comment #22231 peryton 24th Nov 13
I disagree that it would be impossible to win by coming up with a clever plan. I did sort of like how she used Unalaq's own spirit calming technique against him. Why not get close to Vaatunalaq, with some distractions from her allies and possibly a Break Them by Talking moment where she explains why he sucks, and use that to rescue Raava (as a normal human, not a giant blue spirit monster). Vaatu would almost certainly underestimate her, since she's not the Avatar anymore, but "just a regular human". Then, with everyone's help (including Jinora's) they take Vaatu down. Everything else would be basically the same, but Korra could be shown being clever instead of purely using brute force, and there's no deus ex giant blue megazord spirit.
comment #22235 fallinq 24th Nov 13
Spirits is clearly a Base Breaker so I'm not surprised some people don't agree with my point of view. After reading the arguments though, I still feel the same way. Here's why:

Korra showed more maturity in the later parts of season 1 than she did in many parts of the first half of season 2. Look at how she blows up on Mako or is unnecessarily harsh with Tenzin. She MADE character development in Air, but here her maturity level bounces around as the plot demands.

A blue spirit may have briefly appeared during Aang's death but, 1)he was still the Avatar (entering the Avatar State, in fact), and 2) the spirit certainly showed no signs of beating up Azula and saving the day. It was a sign of his DEATH. As for it all being due to energy bending, I remembered it, but it's just a Hand Wave. Is energy bending just an all purpose phlebotinum that can do anything whenever it's convenient?

I DID forget that Korra bended after losing Raava, but that doesn't make a whole lot of sense either. In every intro it says, "Only the Avatar can master all 4 elements". She's not the Avatar anymore, so she should be, at best, back to just waterbending.

You don't have to agree with me on any of this, and don't think that I completely hated season 2. There were things I liked about it and I'm glad I saw it. I just think it was the weakest season so far.
comment #22236 fallinq 24th Nov 13
@fallinq

Korra still bending the other elements actually makes sense. Wan temporarily had Raava pass through him when he learned the other elements (it wasn't until his battle with Vaatu that they actually merged). Raava technically "passed through" Korra so she's capable of bending the other elements after Raava was removed.

Also, I think Korra's behavior at the beginning of book two reflects the ending of book one. In book one she had everything handed to her (airbending, the avatar state, Mako reciprocating her affection). She's understandably cocky and stubborn in book two because of this.

I would say that season two helps the otherwise mediocre season one. Korra should see the consequences of her actions now.
comment #22238 son 24th Nov 13
I'm not surprised she's more violent in the first half of Book 2; her family was directly threatened, and since it was personal (quite literally), she was more than willing to be violent. But it's also noted she REALLY tried to be diplomatic, to try and talk, so that shows she's still matured enough from the last book

And I think it was okay for Korra to still have all 4 bending elements after Raava was gone; Raava just held them together in the same body. Korra retained the bending knowledge, so really, she just couldn't use them all at once or at boosted power imo

And actually, we saw the spirit BEFORE Aang 'died'; the spirit couldn't do anything afterward because Aang (the vessel) was hurt. That seems to be a fairly standard thing you've missed
comment #22239 omegafire17 24th Nov 13
One basic problem is that Korra takes place in an already established world, while Avatar had the luxuryy of establishing that world. So Avatar could get away with having seeming deus ex machinas a little more, like when Aang lets Roku take over when he is in the fire temple, because we did not fully know the rules of the world yet and were more open to those kind of surprises. The surprises may not fit our expectations, but they don't break any established rules. Rather they establish those rules.

With Korra, because we are already familiar with the rules, we are more questioning of things that at first don't seem to fit or aren't properly explained. So things like the Lion Turtles giving bending to man, which blatantly contradicts things like story of the founding of Omashu, or the 'Avatar Spirit' which was supposed to represent Aang's mastery of the Avatar state, now becoming a giant spirit monster version of Korra, stand out as more noticeable problems.
comment #22240 uncannybeetle 25th Nov 13
@fallinq: I find that even more contrived and prone to destroying my suspension of disbelief than what we got. It relies on the assumption they could really manage to outmaneuver a guy that can smash them to smithereens without even trying, and rescuing Raava when only Jinora's help managed that.

Also, it is stated that Raava switched the elements in Wan by mixing their energies. Since their souls fused, the elements all passed to the Avatar, which is not bond by any nations (see Yangchneg's dialogue in ATLA), which means Korra has no intrinsinc waterbender nature.
comment #22258 peryton 26th Nov 13
Not that I disagree with what you say in this review (most of it is correct), but I admit being puzzled by how many people wanted to see Korra de-powered and win without her powers. I mean, while I hate stories about heroes being de-powered (what's the point of giving characters powers if you don't want them to use it?), I get that you want her to prove she is something beyond the Avatar and grow up as a character. The problem is, when that kind of plot happens, the enemy has to be limited in power for it to work. At this point, Unalaq had become a friggin' Humanoid Abomination God of Evil; do you REALLY think there was ANY realistic way to have a powerless Korra defeat her without a Deus ex Machina? I don't think so. That could have worked with Amon, who at least was human, but with Unalaq, there was literally no way to defeat him other than by a Deus Ex Machina. Granted, that's a flaw of its own, but my point stands.
comment #22265 Theokal3 26th Nov 13
One more thing, since there is supposed to be 2 more seasons, where can they go from here? How do you escalate beyond dark-Godzilla-Avatar who is trying to doom the world to 10,000 years of darkness? This wasn't a season finale, but a series finale. There is nowhere to go but down.
comment #22266 uncannybeetle 26th Nov 13
I think that's the entire point uncannybeetle; they likely won't build up an even greater villian (because there's little that top Vaatu), but instead focus on the aftermath, with personal interaction and more character development instead. That seems to be what the third season "Change" will be all about

Whoever/whatever the villian is then, it won't try to be greater (and it shouldn't); it'll just try to be fresh and new
comment #22271 omegafire17 26th Nov 13
So it'll be 2 season's worth of The Search and The Promise? Maybe it could work, because Korra hasn't been all about one quest the way the first series was, which was the real reason the aftermath had to be told in comic-form. Still seems like 1 season's worth of story at best.
comment #22273 uncannybeetle 26th Nov 13
Weakest Season? There's only two and everyone hated the last one.
comment #22346 Codafett 2nd Dec 13
That's a very subjective way to see things. I thought the first season was okay. Not fantastic and a bit rushed, but still okay.
comment #22348 Theokal3 2nd Dec 13
@Theokal3, I have to disagree. I really think they could have beat Vaatu if everyone worked together and they used some kind of strategy. I don't even see why Megazord Korra was needed at all. The Spirit Calming Technique used to defeat Vaatu is something Korra can do on her own. Why not just keep Vaatu busy, using all the benders and resources Republic City has, so she can get close and use it?

Even if we do need a Deus Ex Machina, there are still better way of doing it. Jinora brings back Ravaa, right? THERE'S your Deus Ex Machina if we need one, and even that doesn't have to be the terribly blatant one in turned out to be if you had her appear in front of Korra for a second and say "Hey, Raava still exists inside Vaatu. I can feee her but I need time."
comment #22369 nicksmi56 3rd Dec 13
@ Codafett: I'm including all three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender in that statement. Also, most fans I know didn't hate season 1 of Korra at all. Maybe it's different in your area, but it's a bit of a blanket statement to say "everyone" hated it.
comment #22374 fallinq 3rd Dec 13
nicksmith56: Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to defend that finale; I agree that the finale was flawed and could have still been done better. What I say is that it was dumb to expect Korra to defeat a Physical God in a realistic way if she was just a regular Water Bender. It'd be like expecting Green Lantern to defeat Parallax in a fight without his ring, that just can't work realistically.
comment #22375 Theokal3 3rd Dec 13
That's what you have Jinora for. Notice Korra didn't even need Raava after it was released to defeat Vaatu+Unaloq. A new godly superpower seems to make the old ability pretty damn pointless. I look forward to Korra casually abusing this cosmic thingamajig. After all this series has been through, anything & everything is possible.

comment #22383 mostezli 4th Dec 13
When it comes down to "defeating a physical god" then most head on approaches (at least to me) will come off ridiculous. If it really is a fight with a phyisical god, then the solution would have to be something clever (not in terms of writing, but the characters being clever) and not immediately recognizable.

In comparison (though I am comparing the IDEA not execution) a show like Atop the Fourth Wall deals with a god attempting to assimilate everything into itself by having the hero convince it to discover death (since it is immortal and cannot conceive of what dying would be like). Now that wouldn't have worked with Unalaq, but for a season supposedly about spirits, a fight seems anticlimactic. Maybe if Jinora's part was expanded it would have worked more to show something more.

This is just my thing. A lantern beating Parallax with just his/her wits and will will make a more interesting conflict to me. Then again, that could easily come off as too simple if the writers didn't plan everything out.
comment #22386 fenrisulfur 4th Dec 13
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