Reviews Comments: Disappointment
The first season of the Legend of Korra began with a bang. I liked pretty much everything about it before it launched and throughout the first half of the season. In the second half, my excitement began to wane, culminating in a severe disappointment in the finale. The biggest problem is probably the pacing. For the first half of the season, roughly speaking, it's fine. But from Episode 7 onward, it gets worse. Everything happens too quickly, and no subplot is finished properly. Characters aren't developed, Team Avatar being perpaps the biggest offender - there's no chemistry between them. Even the fights are rushed and stiff. All in all, the story really deserved more than 12 episodes. So that's one thing. Another is the the Equalists. They started out so great! An army of badass normals who aren't happy with the current social order that puts people who get their powers handed to them on the top of the totem pole. But also radicals who don't care if their victims are innocent. Ultimately, a great contrast to the enemies of the previous series. Sadly, it was wasted. Their motivations are shallow - Hiroshi is the only one who even gets a spelled out one, which is "Firebenders killed my wife!". Yawn. They come off as crazy hatemongers because the "oppression" against non-benders is never actually shown. Weren't the Equalists supposed to be morally ambiguous? Finally, their competence had waned so much by the time of the finale it was just sad. And then there's Amon. Gods, he was such an awesome villain. Steve Blum's voice, intimidating speeches, masterful planning, incredible fighting skills, mysterious origins and power... and then he turned out to be a bloodbender with daddy issues. His power was revealed to be inexplicably powerful bloodbending. How did it work? Beats me. Why did he want to rid the world of bending? We're left to guess. His father was horrible, but there's quite a leap of logic between that and an insane quest to end all bending. The whole revolution was reduced to a joke, since they'd all been duped by a bender. The finale itself tops it off. It's horribly rushed, as I said. Korra gets her bending taken away and "discovers her spiritual side" (somehow) in all of 10 minutes. Then Aang shows up and everything is fixed. No struggle, no development, no attempt to overcome her limitations. Just a clean wrap-up.
The last ten minutes work if you assume the gaze over the cliff—like, her teardrop actually going over the ledge, so her head's protruding—is Korra about to kill herself.
comment #15789 Wackd 14th Aug 12
comment #15790 Wackd 14th Aug 12
People bring it up a lot, but I just don't see it. First, it's not shown at all that Korra is about to kill herself. Sure, it's not impossible... but I don't have a habit of accepting anything as true based on conjecture unless we're talking about the kind of story that expects us to fill in the blanks. Which Legend of Korra isn't. Second, even if it's true... it doesn't change anything. There's still no actual development, just Korra getting Equalized, agonizing over it and getting fixed in the span of 10 minutes. The only difference is that she's even more depressed about it.
comment #15792 Morty 14th Aug 12
You know, I don't entirely buy the suicide theory and I STILL thought it was fairly obvious how her spiritual and character growth worked over the series. She was devastated over losing her bending. It's all she has as her identity and it was stripped from her. I'm chalking this up to Bryke overestimating their audience's attention span. As for "finding her bending again!", no. We just did an entire series about another Avatar learning the ins and outs of bending and sprituality. Why do you think there would somehow be an amazing story if Korra's story turns into a carbon copy of Aang's? As for Amon's motivation, it was very clearly spelled out - he saw bending used as an oppressive force and he had the ability to remove that. The revelation of him as a bender makes perfect sense because short of us getting a completely contradictory presentation of the spirit world's basic policy of non-interference without direct provocation, that's the only way he could do that. They showed plenty of examples of benders oppressing the city, through the crushing poverty, the council composed of only benders, Tarrlok blatantly using Equalists as an excuse to arrest and harass non-benders, etc. And for that matter, Hiroshi himself grew up in the crushing poverty of a city stacked against him and made a life for himself in spite of it. No shit he'd snap if after all that, a bender came in and took a precious example of his success from him.
comment #15793 Rebochan 14th Aug 12
@Morty As you know a lot of the flaws with the first season was that it was rushed. I presumed that they completed it before Nickelodeon greenlit the next season. Other than that, Rebochan is right insomuch that many of the issues you have are spelled out in the story. The suicide thing, however, illustrates why some people cannot see the flaws with this season. The try to fill in the gaps with fanon instead of admitting the gap is there, giving it more depth than it has. The season almost ended too easily with her getting her bending back, getting Mako Bolin becoming okay with it, and connecting to the Avatar state. Although season one of Aang's story ended on a similar note positive note, we also saw that there was more on the horizon (Azula's reveal).
comment #15798 son 14th Aug 12
Why does the character need to commit suicide for Korra's weak emotional state to not matter enough? And how is it "fanon" to point out that Korra would have been completely devastated to lose her identity when even the creators themselves pointed it out in the commentary? And why should we needlessly drag out Korra getting her bending back, since it would no doubt just retread the exact same character arc Aang had in learning about the elements? Why would that be a better story arc to see a completely useless Avatar angst for god knows how long about not having the powers that this show is sold on her having and no doubt getting them back in the exact same way? Maybe it felt "cheap", but what would really be "cheap" would be a mere waterbending being able to permanently take a spiritual power from people and the Avatar being incapable of stopping it. The show hinted earlier that the Avatar state at full power can counter bloodbending without much effort in the flashback with Yakone. I'd also argue that Bolin being "okay" with anything is premature, seeing how we never saw his reaction to Korra actually hooking up with Mako. His reaction to talking about the kiss seemed to imply the opposite of what he was saying. Oh, and going back to the review - the show itself pointed out that Benders with unique abilities aren't that unusual. Sparky Sparky Boom Man was the example given, but even he's not alone since only Azula has been depicted as capable of using blue fire. Again, I swear the real "flaw" was overestimating the attention span of the audience. So much information is given without it being explicitly told to the audience in this series, compared to the last one which explained everything in excruciating detail (well, when you have 26 episodes, you can take an entire episode to talk about the philosophy of rocks I guess.)
comment #15802 Rebochan 14th Aug 12
"Why does the character need to commit suicide for Korra's weak emotional state to not matter enough? And how is it "fanon" to point out that Korra would have been completely devastated to lose her identity when even the creators themselves pointed it out in the commentary?" It's fanon to say she was suicidal, it was obvious that she was "devastated" and "bending is a big part of who she is", she just got it back extremely quickly. "And why should we needlessly drag out Korra getting her bending back, since it would no doubt just retread the exact same character arc Aang had in learning about the elements? Why would that be a better story arc to see a completely useless Avatar angst for god knows how long about not having the powers that this show is sold on her having and no doubt getting them back in the exact same way?" To say an Avatar with no bending "would have retread the Aang story arc" is no different than saying Spider-Man can't have more stories if he's married. You can do A LOT with that type of story. Understanding the experiences of the equalists comes to mind (a walk in their shoes type thing). "Maybe it felt "cheap", but what would really be "cheap" would be a mere waterbending being able to permanently take a spiritual power from people and the Avatar being incapable of stopping it. The show hinted earlier that the Avatar state at full power can counter bloodbending without much effort in the flashback with Yakone." The spiritual/Avatar State solution would still be gathered one way or another, just not so Deus Ex Machina. Let her stew for a while first. "Again, I swear the real "flaw" was overestimating the attention span of the audience. So much information is given without it being explicitly told to the audience in this series, compared to the last one which explained everything in excruciating detail" Wouldn't it be underestimating the attention span? Especially if people are complaining about how the season seemed rushed? Meaning they "understand" the story, they just wanted more.
comment #15803 son 14th Aug 12
"To say an Avatar with no bending "would have retread the Aang story arc" is no different than saying Spider-Man can't have more stories if he's married." Not a really good comparison, since Spider-Man getting married has nothing to do with basic premise of "Man fights crime with super powers". This show's basic premise is "This girl fights whatever with powers". A depowering arc, in addition to being another entry for Women In Refrigerators, would mean that Korra has to re-learn elements - something we already know and something the last series covered in depth. "You can do A LOT with that type of story. Understanding the experiences of the equalists comes to mind (a walk in their shoes type thing)." Except in addition to really dragging out the melodrama of a completely shattered Korra, it kind of misses the point of the show being about how the Avatar handles the world. Plus she could still airbend, so she still can't directly relate to non-benders. "The spiritual/Avatar State solution would still be gathered one way or another, just not so Deus Ex Machina. Let her stew for a while first." So, more angst until she gets her powers back through...well, it would have been exactly the same means because there's nobody else alive that could teach her and we already know Avatars can commune with the spirit world and as the series progressed, Korra's own connection to Aang had increased over time. So she's still have to summon Aang to do exactly what he did. And we already know that the Avatar State's abilities as well as communing with spirits are often at moments of desperation or stress since we did a lot of that with Aang already. I really don't want to re-learn things I already know from Aang's story. Learning about rocks was good the first time because, hey, the viewers don't know a lot about earthbending and it was an important change in the character dynamics. Korra learning the same things about rocks? Not as fun. "Wouldn't it be underestimating the attention span? Especially if people are complaining about how the season seemed rushed? Meaning they "understand" the story, they just wanted more." I would have liked a few more episodes myself, but only to better establish the same arcs, not to repeat older storylines like a lot of fans seem to think would have been a better storyline. I guess the creators felt the same way since the remaining three books are going to have two additional episodes, but at the same time, this show seemed more focused on packing more into each scene due to the lack of time. It was a deliberate experiment in some respects, and it also makes this iteration stand out as its own storyline and not simply ATLA: Season 4, 5, 6, and 7.
comment #15804 Rebochan 14th Aug 12
"would mean that Korra has to re-learn elements - something we already know and something the last series covered in depth" That's your interpretation. Amon's trick did not remove bending, it just blocked the use of bending, kinda like Azula's lighting blocked Aang's access to the Avatar State. Korra might have searched and found the solution in the spirit world in the second season which is quite different from re-learning the other elements.
comment #15805 GrandPrincePaulII 15th Aug 12
@Rebochan Losing your bending isn't the same as forgetting how to bend. She wouldn't need to relearn the basics (which would rehash the previous season). Her experiences and the solution to her problem would be different comepared to someone who hasn't learned to bend.
comment #15813 son 15th Aug 12
More than likely, as I've already read one person write, they already finished the entire season before Nickeloden greenlit the two seasons worth of episodes. After all, on average, Word Of God says that it takes 9 months to complete an episode.
comment #15904 seg162 24th Aug 12
To Grand Prince Paulll and Son - the only way to not have Korra get her bending back exactly the same way we just saw is for her to have to relearn bending or relearn Chakras. Again, it's rehashing Aang's arc. It's also a really disappointing Women In Refrigerators arc - instead of us getting to see a fully realized female Avatar, we end the season with her completely depowered and stripped of her title. Hooray?
comment #15928 Rebochan 27th Aug 12
"the only way to not have Korra get her bending back exactly the same way we just saw is for her to have to relearn bending or relearn Chakras. Again, it's rehashing Aang's arc."
- Not necessarily, but let's not beat a dead horse.
- I'll probably catch a lot of flack for this but in this case Women In Refrigerators would have developed Korra more than this Strong-female character Deus Ex Machina ending. Ideally though, they never should have ended the Amon story arc. The first season should have ended with the Korra, Bolin, Mako and Asami leaving the air temple to convene. Instead of "wrapping everything up" they should have gambled with a cliff hanger. Nickelodeon is aware (for better or worse) how well the show does.
comment #15932 son 27th Aug 12
I really agree with the original review. I found Amon and the Equalists to be really fascinatiing and challenging to the viewer, but the backstory between the brothers and Amon actually being a bender, and with no explanation why he came out against bending was frusterating. Before the reveal towards the end of the story Amon had this interesting V from V for Vendetta feeling but the writing of the backstory made the Equalists movement seem meaninngless. I feel that Korra loosing her bending is a great device for the plot and for Korra as a character, since bending has been such a part of her life. She could have spent more time trying to reach her spiritual side, and perhaps spending time among non-benders to learn about the relationship between them and benders, why they feel oppressed. Having her loose it at the end and then so easily restore it was such a lost opportunity. Hayley ^_^
comment #15955 Manateehugs 29th Aug 12
Couldn't agree more with this review.
comment #16201 Dormin 19th Sep 12
The whole "being really depressed is how you spiritually grow" bit at the end was awful. I can't see how anyone can defend crap like that. And Korra regaining bending over a season or so could easily be done without rehashing the Aang arc. It could have been done with an in-depth look at the spiritual side of bending and having Korra learn energybending. Sure, Aang learned how to energy bend, but this was never examined in detail. While Aang demonstrated a lot of the spiritual side of bending, he started out in a pretty good place here, so there wasn't a whole lot of development (e.g. he already deeply respected life and others even enemies, etc, etc). Plenty of room for new stuff. I don't see why they didn't redo the last 5 minutes of the last episode after they knew there'd be more. Of course, none of that would get over the flaw with how she learned airbending. She was able to air bend for no reason and used it just like she used all other bending. In other worse, none of the limited training she had seemed to matter.
comment #17833 drachasor 24th Jan 13
"The whole "being really depressed is how you spiritually grow" bit at the end was awful. I can't see how anyone can defend crap like that. " Well, it's a good thing nobody's said that! Including in the show!
comment #17857 Rebochan 26th Jan 13
I sort of agree with Drach here. She's suddenly like "POOF! I can totes airbend now!", after... what, a rough-and-tumble with Amon and his bloodbending? I didn't like it. Though to be fair, I felt the whole resolution (Except for the event with Noatok and Tarlokk) was rushed: Korra getting her bending back and learning to restore other people's bending, the romance with her and Mako (When the guy ALREADY HAS A GIRLFRIEND, but that's another issue) etc etc. If the series can clear all these issues up in the next few seasons, I'll eat my words. However, as it stands as a miniseries, the resolution to just about everything is incomplete and rushed.
comment #17865 MrMallard 27th Jan 13
Rebochan, maybe there's another way to interpret the following lines in the last episode, but I don't see it. Aang: You have finally connected with your spiritual self. Korra: How? Aang: When we hit our lowest point, we are open to our greatest change. So how is that not saying being really depressed is how you spiritually grow?
comment #17879 Magischmoose 28th Jan 13
When people hit their lowest point, they sometimes turn to faith. What Aang is saying isn't necessarily wrong. I still think it's a lazy conclusion, but hey - there are still some more seasons to go. This can be resolved.
comment #17885 MrMallard 28th Jan 13
And sometimes when people get hurt, they see a doctor. But that doesn't mean someone who is hurt should magically become bandaged in a mere second with no doctor around. Even if it is a "turning to faith" thing, they still skip all the essential middle steps and instead resolve the problem in a split second. All we see is her very depressed — and it doesn't help that it seems very self-centered when she does have some bending and other people have no bending. As Mr Mallard points out, her character and the writing isn't helped with the whole boyfriend-stealer arc. It's just horrible writing. You can't undo really awful past writing with future writing. That doesn't mean future seasons can't be good, but they aren't going to make Season 1 any better. Just like Season 2+ of Star Trek TNG doesn't make Season 1 good. There are other issues with this as well. Aang's line is rather trite and of debateable truth, honestly. And at best a low point can be the start of change (though change can happen without that). It also seems to have a more westernized view of spirituality, Christian in particular, where it isn't a path one travels, but something you accept/embrace on faith and belief is what is most important. Spirituality in the show and with the Avatar hasn't been like that before (it has been more Buddhist), and it is a highly suspect change imho. So it's rather weird in that respect as well. Maybe that's overexamining it given the short screen time, but it seems to be the only lens where what is said and happens there makes sense.
comment #17907 Magischmoose 31st Jan 13
and it doesn't help that it seems very self-centered when she does have some bending and other people have no bending. I think a blind person should be able to feel sad without being self-centered just because other people are both blind and deaf.
comment #17908 Scardoll 31st Jan 13
Or a person with one leg or one arm because they're people without both legs or both arms, etc. She was bending since she was a small kid, it was part of her life, that's why the negative feelings are more prominent in people who suffered a change like going blind than people who were never able to see in the first place.
comment #17930 marcellX 31st Jan 13
"Aang: When we hit our lowest point, we are open to our greatest change. So how is that not saying being really depressed is how you spiritually grow?" Ever heard of the phrase "hitting rock bottom"? Because that's usually a point where people rebuild their lives. In Korra's case, she had been completely and utterly deconstructed. Depressing though it is, that's also the moment where people are forced to re-evaluate themselves. This is not rocket science, this is reality. Your "doctor" example is also pretty stupid when Katara literally brought Aang back from the dead in Season 2. Frankly, Korra took longer to learn the Avatar state than Aang did because she had to learn how to become patient and calm enough to even make contact with the spirit world. Sorry, if you're going to complain about "cheap" resolutions now, may I recommend a new franchise for you that involves no supernatural elements whatsover? Because the last series did it all the time. Nostalgia's a bitch, ain't it?
comment #17976 Rebochan 3rd Feb 13
[quoteblock]] Ever heard of the phrase "hitting rock bottom"? Because that's usually a point where people rebuild their lives. In Korra's case, she had been completely and utterly deconstructed. Depressing though it is, that's also the moment where people are forced to re-evaluate themselves. This is not rocket science, this is reality. [[/quoteblock]] I agree.
Your "doctor" example is also pretty stupid when Katara literally brought Aang back from the dead in Season 2.The spirit water did indeed do the impossible and bring Aang back from death, or at least near-death. However, it was a Chevhoks Gun from the start of season 2, and Aang was pretty much in a coma for months afterwards. Not like a quick wrap-up with a touch to the forehead. I do feel like the ending is cheap, because Korra gets the master key at the end with no soul-searching, no extensive meditation and little to no effort: she acts like it's over, like there's absolutely no hope, then she gets her bending back. I can understand that this season was a miniseries, but the ending, those last few minutes, needed to be paced better: We have Korra getting her powers back on the fly, a happy relationship moment between her and an attached guy and Lin's bending returned: everything is wrapped up in those last few minutes, and it's this whole big rushed clusterfuck. This season was stellar aside from that, and I have full confidence that future seasons will be just as good, if not better. My only qualm is the ending.
comment #17983 MrMallard 4th Feb 13
"Ever heard of the phrase "hitting rock bottom"? Because that's usually a point where people rebuild their lives" It's also a long and arduous process that doesn't happen at the snap of a finger, as it does here. People don't turn their entire personalities around on a dime, rock bottom or not. People's complaint about this moment isn't that it's impossible for Korra to re-evaluate her life or change, but that that re-evaluation is so quick and easy. But to me what's even worse about the moment is we get no window into Korra's head. What makes her change her mind? Why does she suddenly decide that she can keep going on? What was the thought process? We don't know because we're given no insight into the character. Instead we're just meant to accept that something happened and so she gets her bending back. Well what happened?
comment #17991 XiVXaV 4th Feb 13
Korra doesn't NEED to do any MORE soul searching - she's already DONE it over the course of the entire series and changed as the episodes passed. The problem you seem to all be having is that they haven't drawn this out over a cliche "get your powers back" storyline.
comment #17994 Rebochan 4th Feb 13
"The problem you seem to all be having is that they haven't drawn this out over a cliche "get your powers back" storyline." And your problem is you always seem to think you know what other people are thinking better than they do. "Korra doesn't NEED to do any MORE soul searching - she's already DONE it over the course of the entire series and changed as the episodes passed." So then why the need for the dramatics? If she's already over her problems and her fears why do we even need this scene? If this is meant to be the culmination of her learning, the ultimate proof of her change, she should be the one who resolves the problem, because as the way it is the cliff scene doesn't serve this purpose very well. We don't see what she's learned, or how she's changed, this ultimate proof of her completed arc, we only see Aang pop in to solve things and tell us how much she's changed. It's sort of like if The Southern Raiders didn't show us Katara's confrontation with Yon Rha, and instead simply had her show up later and tell us about it. Sure, we would still have all the character building moments from past episodes, but we really need to see this final proof of who she is and what she's about. This key, culminating moment of her story arc. If it's just words, the moment loses all of it's punch.
comment #17997 XiVXaV 4th Feb 13
"And your problem is you always seem to think you know what other people are thinking better than they do." Really, because that's all anyone seems to complain about here, because it always gets back down to "why didn't they do this cliche storyline that draws out getting her powers back?" And I say "it's because apparently a children's action show was too complicated for you to follow." "Korra doesn't NEED to do any MORE soul searching - she's already DONE it over the course of the entire series and changed as the episodes passed." "So then why the need for the dramatics? If she's already over her problems and her fears why do we even need this scene?" Golly, because that was the culmination of a season's worth of character development to get her there in the first place? I mean, her entire goal was to gain enough spiritual understanding to use ALL of her powers. But hey, if that bothers you, you must have REALLY hated when Roshi kept showing up and giving Aang free outs and information throughout the entire last series. And that's not even bringing up the Lion Turtle bit. Oh gosh, it's like they're trying to reinforce that spirituality can depart greater understand of magic. Oh, I'm sorry, she should just do what Zuko always did - constantly explain all of her feelings and conflicts to the audience and then just tell you when she's over them. It's not that Zuko has a crappy arc, its that I can't help but notice all the complex characters in the last series never shut up about their problems. This show seems to expect the viewer to now be intelligent enough to not need everything explained to them in tiny details. I take it they overestimated their audience considering we've even got anti-Randians screaming about the show as an anti-communist piece. "It's sort of like if The Southern Raiders didn't show us Katara's confrontation with Yon Rha, and instead simply had her show up later and tell us about it. " Yea, in a false equivalency kind of way, sure. You know, since Korra also showed the relevant information along the way. Oh, and for that matter? Yon Rha showed up for all of one episode and is a really flat character. Which he should be because the life story of a complete mook is entirely irrelevant to the growth of Katara. Your assertion here be like claiming that Katara's mother came out of nowhere and Katara had no reason to behave as she did in that episode because they didn't do a massive 12-episode story arc about hunting down her mother's killer. Just like how we don't need a stupid "get your powers back" arc with Korra because she's already grown as a character in the previous scenes leading up to this one. Much as the scene where Katara shows a moment of mercy to Yon Rha is powerful because of an entire series leading up to that moment, Korra's scene on the cliff is powerful because it shows how much she's changed to become the person she actually needs to be instead of the person she thinks she has to be.
comment #18000 Rebochan 4th Feb 13
I'm done. No more.
comment #18003 MrMallard 4th Feb 13
A) The old show wasn't perfect either. As such, "Well the old show did X!" is not an excuse for Korra's flaws. B) Which show was it that had the main character react to a particular tale of woe by bluntly stating it was "...the saddest story [she'd] ever heard"? Oh, right. It was this one. Don't pretend this show is somehow above expository dialogue. C) More to the point, oh Lord of Strawmania, "wanting a window into the character's head" does not necessarily mean "I want blunt, expository dialogue to tell me exactly how the characters feel". There are plenty of abstract, visual ways we can be given an understanding of what a character is thinking or feeling. For instance, the energybending scene in A:TLA's finale. The debending scene in Korra makes it clear that there aren't really orange and blue beams of light flying around. Instead, that was an abstract representation of the invisible, spiritual struggle going on between the two characters. This is what the Korra scene lacks. I'm given no insight into what the character is thinking or feeling, so I have no emotional attachment to her struggle. Second, wanting Korra to solve the problem herself does not mean we need a long, drawn out arc. It could simply mean having Korra sit down, meditate, and demonstrate to us her spiritual growth, that she no longer views herself as just a vessel for bending. This introspective moment could lead her to discover energybending for herself, and allow her to undo the damage Amon did on her own. There are plenty of other possibilities, and this one may not even be the best, but again, stop assuming you know what other people are thinking. D) Next, O Condescending One, "because that was the culmination of a season's worth of character development to get her there in the first place" is precisely the reason I brought up Katara in the first place. Yes, we've already seen her character grow throughout the series, but the confrontation in the Southern Raiders is the final, defining moment of that growth, the moment we see, once and for all, who Katara is and what she's about. That she's not about to sacrifice her morals in the name of revenge, especially for so pathetic a man as Yon Rha. Notice that despite Zuko being there in this defining moment it is Katara that must make all the decisions, Katara who must take all the actions. This is her struggle, her defining moment, and so she is the one that has to finish it. Korra, on the other hand, has someone else come in, tell us "Well because you grew this is possible now here have your powers back bye!", and that's that. What is she thinking? What is she feeling? What is going through her head that demonstrates this growth once for all? I don't know because I'm not given anything to go off of. It doesn't negate the earlier struggles, or somehow make them less valid, it just makes this final, defining moment a let down.
comment #18019 XiVXaV 5th Feb 13
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