Last week was the end of The Legend of Korra, the sequel to Nickelodeon’s highly-acclaimed cartoon epic, Avatar the Last Airbender. It came after the show’s third and fourth seasons, both of which came out this year in rapid succession with a surprising jump in story and character quality. Now that Korra is over, it’ll be hard to see how Nickelodeon will retain interest from the older fan base, especially when shows like Gravity Falls and Star Wars Rebels are gaining momentum on Disney.
In this two-part finale, we see Kuvira continue her conquest of Republic City using her superweapon to devastate everything in her path. Korra brings in allies both old and new to the fore of battle, leading up to an epic rematch with Kuvira now that she’s overcome her fears and inhibitions. The end result is a deadly blast of dark spirit energy and the creation of a new portal to the Spirit World, as Kuvira’s reign of terror is brought to a swift conclusion in a touchingly emotional and spiritual way.
So what does the finale to The Legend of Korra have to offer?
- Excellent fight choreography. You might think that watching a bunch of tiny people going toe-to-toe with a giant mecha in the middle of a city would be dull. Except these are some of the world’s most powerful benders, led by the Avatar herself in a desperate battle to breach Kuvira’s Colossus. It’s an excellent showcase for everyone’s talents, from the engineering of Asami and Varrick to the sibling teams of Mako, Bolin, and the Beifong sisters.
- A nice resolution of several character arcs. Everyone gets something out of this, from the oft-teased romance of Varrick and Zhu Li to Asami reconciling with her father to closing out the subplot of Prince Wu. But most importantly, this is a fantastic way to end Korra’s story, as she finally achieves a spiritual status as the Avatar. She doesn’t beat Kuvira with a blow to the head, but a sit-down chat and an examination of the trauma they share.
- A high-energy climax worthy of its predecessor. In both episodes of the finale (“Day of the Colossus” and “The Last Stand”), nothing sits still for a minute. Much like the epic four-part finale to Avatar, the end of Legend of Korra is full of earthbending matches, giant laser beams that split buildings in half, enormous badger moles digging holes, and watching so many beloved characters get knocked out of the sky or nearly shot down.
- One last romantic moment. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises in the finale is its quiet ending scene. Much like how Avatar the Last Airbender ended with Aang and Katara’s passionate kiss, we have a moment between Korra and Asami forging a new bond as they walk (hand-in-hand, no less) into the spirit world for a much-needed vacation. It was a huge nod toward all the Korrasami shippers in the fan base (including myself) and reading Bryan Konietzko’s own words on the subject is a breath of fresh air. For a show that always pushed the envelope, this was a great step forward and a nice resolution for Korra herself.
A few years ago, I wrote a review that compared the entirety of Avatar the Last Airbender to the first season of The Legend of Korra. At the time, I saw a lot of unrealized potential in Korra that Avatar had managed to achieve on its own. Looking back now, I can honestly say that, if the studio had given Korra the budget and attention it deserved, it honestly could have been a more groundbreaking show and another triumph in the spirit of Avatar. As it is, we’ll have to be content with the beautiful animation and all the hard work that Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino, and everyone else on their team put into it.
Bibliography: The Legend of Korra Book Four: Balance. Created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino. Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Ki Hyun Ryu, Colin Heck, and Ian Graham. Written by Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Tim Hedrick, and Joshua Hamilton. Produced by Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Joaquim Dos Santos, and Tim Yoon. Ginormous Madman, Studio Mir, Nickelodeon Animation Studio, and Studio Pierrot. Nick.com (channel). Original broadcast date: April 14, 2012 to December 19, 2014.