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.
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