Reviews Comments: Season 1 Retrospective

Season 1 Retrospective
I'm ambivalent on Korra, a show that started with great promise in its pilot. The animation, music, art design, and choreography are all excellent, CG is used decently, and characters like Lin and Tarrlok stand alongside the franchise's best. It's 80% of an excellent show. It's the other 20% that's the problem. Korra can't decide if it wants to be a plot-driven show or a character-driven one, and that indecision creates a muddle. Poor arc pacing is also a problem.

The setting isn't developed enough for the viewer to invest in its plot-driven fate. Compared to the vividly realized culture of Ba Sing Se in the original series, a six episode arc, we know little about Republic City after twelve episodes. Why are the Equalists rebelling? It's hard to buy benders are really oppressive when Mako and Bolin, the only main cast benders who work in the city itself, are constantly exploited: low-paying, non-union jobs at the power plant, and an arena boss who pays them so little that they can barely cover monthly expenses like food and rent. If the triads are the real cause of bending oppression for the common non-bender, then what does it say about a Police Chief that the show goes to length to venerate? The result is Bender/Non-Bender strife exists in a contextless void, a revolution without a cause, with no answers because the show offers minimal details. Things happen. Then more things happen. It's bloodless drama.

The cast isn't developed enough for a character-driven drama. Lin and Tarrlok are well-drawn for the time we get with them. Korra herself starts off strong on an enlightenment arc in the pilot, but her character growth slacks off in the back half of the season and never pays off in the closing arc. The rest of the cast has minimal development. Mako is an overprotective mama bear, which hurts his romances. Bolin is flat, with only Episode 5 to shine in. Asami's Luke/Vader conflict is never exploited for the logical drama it could provide. Amon's wonderful backstory sadly shortchanges the Equalist plot, and is clumsily inserted at the 11th hour.

The saddest thing is, it wouldn't have taken much to make the show really solid. A little exploration of Republic City's culture, of benders and non-benders, of the characters and their interpersonal relationships. Instead, Korra is the lesser son of a greater sire.


I think the season finale was extremely rushed, but I think the writers were trying to tie up the loose ends before (just in case) Nickelodeon screwed them over. However the lack of development (or possible development) could be traced to the rushing. I disagree about Bolin being flat, so much as he's being reduced to an extra in favor of Mako and Korra shine out more. Mako is the Flat one, being the "serious", troubled Estrogen brigade bait that Korra is attracted to is his biggest characterization. And the finale has him declare his love for Korra just in time, oh boy. Korra seriously had more chemistry with Bolin (I'm personally ambivalent toward shipping since Teen Titans got canceled. I'm just making an observation.) Asami could have been more developed as well but she was also taken a back seat to Makorra. The resolution was too easy in my opinion. Amon is a bender and he dies along with Tarrlok, Korra gets her bending back after losing it in the same episode and a connection to the Avatar state. Maybe they'll rectify it all in the second season, we'll see.
comment #15093 son 27th Jun 12
Teen Titans got cancelled? I thought it just ended.
comment #15096 noitsnot 27th Jun 12
My personal opinion is that your expectations of what creates 'real' drama are too high... many, many, MANY of the show's moments were strong and only kept getting stronger, despite the lack of much development of your kind.

Korra's entire character was based around being the Avatar; anything that hurt that or truly scared her (Amon) were serious blows. Mako and Bolin's characters are much more subtle: Mako, who had to raise his brother and be protective, it made him the serious, No Social Skills guy he is, including the tough angle that can come across as blunt and uncaring. Bolin had live with the knowledge his brother did everything for him, something he didn't want him doing (he wanted to share it); he also cared about his brother's opinion.

For these brothers, and Asami, their characters and personalities are all mostly developed by their backstories... not the show itself. And backstories are still worthy of drama.

Also, Teen Titan's fifth season ended awhile back... they've been rerunning the show on Boomerang, though they did add a new few shorts about them.
comment #15099 omegafire17 27th Jun 12
I see the points you're trying to make, but I honestly can't agree with them. Personally, I think omegafire makes great points about the characters and the plot, and that those are descriptions I understand more than yours. I do agree the ending was rushed and Amon's backstory was meh, but I'm fairly certain that chalks up to the above cancellation caution.
comment #15103 UchihaKat 27th Jun 12

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