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A Few Points Short of Greatness
The Legend of Korra is the sequel to the series Avatar: The Last Airbender, but it falls short of many of its predecessor's strengths. For most of the season, the characters lack motivation in their relationships and battles. The antagonists' and the protagonists' goals and ideals are also barely defined and, in some circumstances, incomprehensible. Because their ideals lack definition, it is hard to care about either Team Avatar or the Equalists.

The show had a great start: I cared about and was interested in Korra, Tenzin, Mako, and Bolin in the first two episodes. Korra recognized that Republic City was "out of balance," and it appeared that the season would revolve around her overcoming her brashness in order to bring balance back to Republic City. The first season doesn't do this, which is to be expected, but it doesn't even progress along those lines, it becomes one big "Uh-uh. Nuh-uh." fight. And on the relationship side of things, once the pro-bending arc ended, it didn't feel like they had much reason to be as close as they acted.

This is the summation of the first season's Equalist conflict: "I am Amon and I have the power to take away a person's bending. I will use it because we know benders have been the leaders of every war, and even in Republic City there are bending gangs that use their abilities to bully nonbenders and threaten nonbenders' lives and property." "I am the Avatar and I say no, you're wrong because bending is really cool, yo." I'm not kidding. No bender ever brings up the fact that benders have also been some of the greatest people, such as Avatar Aang, that bending is incredibly useful and powers the city, or the fact that nonbenders have just as great a capacity to be bullies as benders do. What makes this even more egregious is the fact that the worst things the Equalists did before the season finale (in which they kidnap children and other innocent benders) was destroying private property and imprisoning attacking police officers.

The biggest mistake this season took was waiting until the last three episodes to make Amon the ruler of Republic City. If the second half of the season had been Team Avatar fighting the oppression of Amon, they would've had a reason to be close, and Amon would've been able to be shown to be as evil as the protagonists thought.
Generally agree with your review, but I think you're too light on the Equalists. While indiscriminately bombarding a civilian population technically involves "destroying private property," it goes far beyond that. The bombs the Equalists dropped from their airships weren't done so tactically from what was shown on-screen. Bystander non-benders and benders alike were surely hurt, if not killed, by so many bombs going off, especially given Republic City shouldn't possess air raid shelters or a populace trained to handle such an event after seventy years of international peace.
comment #15109 LavanyaSix 29th Jun 12
I definitely think that the Equalists turning into indiscriminate terrorists made them clearly evil. Before, you could sympathize with them and understand where they were coming from, and they even took bending away from assholes who deserved it (a criminal leader, cheating sports players). But they moved from "taking bending away" to "taking prisoners", which was a step over the line, and from there to "destroying the city", which is just plain stupid of them.

You make a lot of good points here, even though I also enjoyed the cartoon a lot.
comment #15111 BonsaiForest 29th Jun 12
I just don't agree here.

Defining 'care about characters' based on outright spoken ideals and motivations just seems shallow and sets yourself up to disappointment, to me. And you are being light on the Equalists... they may not have appeared truly evil to the public (which was part of the plan), but the heroes and we all knew they were, and we/they KNEW things would get worse until they stopped them. This was why they had to be stopped as quickly as possible.

As for the characters being close, there's Fridge Brilliance in that: Korra was basically by herself (plus Naga) for a good ten years and more... so when she gets good friends, she latches on real good. Bolin and Mako only had each other for a good amount of time, so they were of course close... and probably had the same feeling for a good friend like Korra. And while Asami had less time, she was in a relationship with Mako, which practically demanded getting closer. All this combined, plus getting through tough times (which also build relationships)... it adds up quickly. And they've probably had more interactions off-screen, while other things were happening.

I don't mind that you have your opinion. But mine is that your opinion seems to be laboring under false assumptions, or something similar.
comment #15112 omegafire17 29th Jun 12
^^^But that kind of "fridge brilliance" is worthless to casual viewers who aren't massive nerds. "Show Not Tell" is a rule of storytelling for a reason, especially for characterization, and the need for speculation just illustrates that the story fails to engage as a real story. And honestly, that's the problem I have with Korra. The original show could appeal to anyone. By the time Korra was at it's halfway point, it was obvious it was written to appeal to nerds. That's probably why the finale had a lackluster performance ratings-wise and why the show lost viewers over the course of the first season.
comment #15127 jujilo 30th Jun 12
EVERY show loses viewers over the seasons; it's a constant, not just for Korra. And Korra's held pretty constant viewership, more-or-less: the highest being the first two episodes at 4.55 mil, and the lowest being 2.98 at "When Extremes Meet". Every single episode after When Extremes Meet had half-a-mil more viewers than that (just check Wiki on it's list of episodes)

And ratings? It's been praised by virtually every critic and fan, and not just at the beginning. I hardly call that lackluster.

And speculation is an ADDITION to the main story, not a need to fill in gaps... that's just nonsense.
comment #15144 omegafire17 2nd Jul 12
"destroying private property and imprisoning attacking police officers"

Those are both pretty serious crimes. "Destroying private property" included a bombing attack on a civilian stadium, when it was at its most crowded. As for "imprisoning attacking police officers"... imagine if a contemporary extremist group kidnapped a bunch of cops and crippled them. There would be a national outcry and every person in law enforcement would take it personally, while many civilians would likely feel less safe.
comment #15303 Ayasugi 10th Jul 12
"I definitely think that the Equalists turning into indiscriminate terrorists made them clearly evil."

That's exactly the thing which was disliked by people who weren't awed by the finale: Turning the Equalists into some Complete M Onster organization, and conveniently turning their leader into a hypocrite bender was just a cop-out from actually dealing with the very real issues that they had raised.

I get the feeling the writers wanted to deal with it better, but they just kinda only went halfway there and, IMO, monumentally screwed up the ending (albeit with some decent animation - props to the studio).

And, frankly, the psychopathy of the fandom isn't helping.
comment #15776 Darkmane 13th Aug 12
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