This is where the Legend of Korra series really starts to pull away from the standalone episodes. The first three episodes set things up – episode one brought Korra to Republic City and hinted at the problems the city faces. Episode two introduced her to her training, both the traditional methods under Tenzin and the modern methods with her new friends Mako and Bolin. Episode three introduced the series villain, Amon, and demonstrated just what kind of a threat he is.
Episode four attempts to move forward, conducting the last of the setting up and moving the overall plot arc forward.
The problem is there there’s a lot still to set up. There are several threads running through this episode, leaving it feeling disjointed, jumping around.
The threads in this episode can be broken down into three key subplots: Korra vs Amon and her own anxieties; Councilman Tarrlok’s powergrab and manipulations; and Mako’s introduction to and fledgling romance with Asami Sato.
With episode three, The Legend of Korra really starts to get into the meat of the plot, and the way it moves from the smaller scale of episode two into the series arc is really quite well done. Episode two was heavily focused on Probending, with Korra ultimately joining the Fire Ferrets as a permanent member of the team. Episode three starts with the Fire Ferrets needing to pay an entry fee for the tournament, a fee they cannot hope to afford – so Bolin takes an opportunity that presents itself, and gets himself into trouble in the process. This pulls Korra and Mako right into Amon’s plot and makes it impossible for Korra to simply train with Tenzin and the Fire Ferrets and ignore the revolution that’s happening in Republic City.
Backing up a little, first, though, when the Krew are discussing the 30,000 yuon championship entry fee, Mako asks for ideas, but then scorns the first thing Bolin suggests – an animal circus starring Bolin’s pet fire ferret Pabu. Having dismissed this idea, rather than ask Korra for suggestions or continue to brainstorm as a team, Mako instead says “Don’t worry, I’ll figure something out. I always do”.
Apologies for the delay in posting this. I’ve had some problems with my DVD playing software that are now, hopefully, resolved.
The goal of this episode seems to be to introduce two of the series’ main characters: Bolin and Mako, the probending brothers that make up two thirds of the Fire Ferrets. This has been done with a self-contained episode that doesn’t mention the main conflict in the show – Amon and the Equalists – but it does feature prominently Korra’s core personal conflict, her difficulty in learning airbending, and another major theme, Korra in conflict with a figure of authority. Using these conflicts in a scaled-down version of the overall series is an effective way to establish them and their importance in Korra’s story.
It’s a well-structured episode too. It opens with a reminder of the first episode, narrated by the same voice actor as the probending announcer, with the visuals in sepia tone with visual artefacts to give it a feeling of being old, a nice little nod to the time setting of the series, an industrial, almost modern world.
When I first watched The Legend of Korra, I wasn’t too happy with it. I said “I generally enjoyed watching it, but was constantly aware of major flaws in the story” in my first review of the series, and though my second review, just before the second season came out, was more favourable I still didn’t rate it highly.
Now I’ve got the DVDs for all four seasons, and it’s time I re-examined the series. Over the coming weeks I will be examining the show in more detail, looking at the successes and failings in its writing.
With the second season of the Legend of Korra about to begin broadcasting, I thought it would be a good time to rewatch the first season to get up to speed ready for the new stuff. In November last year, I reviewed the series, and frankly I wasn’t too impressed with it at that time. Upon second viewing, though, I have come to re-evaluate my assessment.
Here I’ll go through my previous concerns and look at them again, and below that I’ll add new insights and feelings.
Be warned: this contains spoilers for Legend of Korra book 1 and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The Legend of Korra is the sequel to Avatar: the Last Airbender, set some 70 years later, in which the new avatar, Korra, finds herself caught up in a civil war in Republic City and fighting a mysterious masked opponent who seeks to take bending powers from those with bending abilities.
I’ll start by stating that I do not rate the series highly. I generally enjoyed watching it, but was constantly aware of major flaws in the story and probably wouldn’t have gotten far in if it stood alone, without Avatar: the Last Airbender backing it up. By the second half of the series it started to pick up a little in terms of excitement, but left behind many unanswered questions. Continue reading Review: The Legend of Korra→