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‘The Legend of Korra’ Series Finale Is Revolutionary, But At A Cost

legend of korra series finale

If you haven’t seen the latest episode of The Legend of Korra, the series finale, be wary of major spoilers ahead. Or just re-watch Book 1.

Thursday’s season finale of The Legend of Korra saw the end of almost a decade-long journey of animation through the universe of bending elements, spiritual journeys, blends of eastern and western ideologies, and the avatar. It’s been a journey that I’ve been so personally invested in, and it’s been extremely difficult for me to say goodbye. It almost seems surreal that we watched the series finale. In fact, that’s exactly what it was. Surreal, unbelievable, and underwhelming.

Now before I go into why I thought that this show – my number one favorite show, the show that I dedicate a lot of my free time thinking about, the show with some of the most amazing characters, especially led by females and underrepresented minorities – was underwhelming, let’s backtrack a bit and start at the very beginning. Actual discussion of the finale starts after discussion of Books 1-3, but I’m going to try and make this review more of an ode to the whole show and not just the finale episode.

Books 1-3 Analysis

Starting off with Book 1, the dynamic of everything was on point. There were new, fresh characters apart from Avatar: The Last Airbender’s set, though some paid homage through subtle characteristics (Bolin/Sokka parallel is the obvious one). The setting of Republic City, a vibrant, San Francisco-characteristic city infused with eastern elements was incredible. The music, delivered by the glorious Jeremy Zuckerman, constantly took the audience into higher dimensions because it was (and is) just so darn amazing. And the storyline of having equalists as villains, non-benders that opposed the presence of the Avatar, was so different compared to the villains characteristic of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It wasn’t about taking over the world. It was about a deeper ideology and philosophy targeted right at the heart of the Avatar, our main character. Dismantling the strong, stable character narrative that we find ourselves in love with.

Considering that Nickelodeon was only intending on releasing one season to the public, Book 1 did an amazing job of being the spin-off to the show that so many people loved. Each episode had me gripping whatever was closest to me. Every single cliffhanger was unanticipated. Amon as a villain was so extremely terrifying (a lot of it had to do with the fact that he wore a mask), but I loved it so much. And the ending of the Book was satisfying and beautiful, with Korra entering the Avatar State, seeing Aang, and gaining the ability to give benders their bending back. It celebrated Korra as the Avatar, and Korra as a person.

Now let’s take a look at Korra. Korra is one of the best female characters in popular culture. She’s muscular beyond belief, extremely beautiful, hot-headed, bold, confident, willing to speak her mind no matter the cost, though simultaneously compassionate and so selfless in helping those around her. It’s an Avatar-inherent quality. Simply put, she’s a huge inspiration to her audience, myself included. I would definitely go so far to say she’s my favorite fictional character of all time.

Tenzin, Aang’s son, does a great job of being her father figure/confidante/teacher right from the start. I absolutely love and cherish the dynamic that the two have, and I’m so glad that this stays true till the end of the show.

The comradery formed between Korra, Mako, Bolin, and Asami was also written extremely well in Book 1. It starts off with just Korra, Mako, and Bolin as pro-bender teammates, sharing a competitive, quirky, and lovable dynamic. Considering that the main target audience is around the same age as those of our main characters, the “Krew” struck chords in our hearts as relatable people, our fictional friends whose journeys we live through vicariously, whose words we speak through vicariously, whose actions we try to demonstrate vicariously because it feels so natural (apart from the whole bending-fantasy environment of course).

I’m not gonna go too much into Book 2, as compared to Book 1 the story was a little bit more underwhelming with promise of spiritual journeys and revelations. It was additionally weighed down by relationship drama, which is a shame. One of the major highlights were the two episodes in the middle entitled “The Beginnings,” where we were able to see how the Avatar line was created with the very first Avatar, Wan (pun surely intended). We are introduced to the core elements of the Avatar: Raava and Vaatu. While Raava, the spirit that represents all that is good with the world resides with the Avatar, Vaatu is the opposite. Wan’s interference in the fight between the two spirits knocks the world in imbalance, thus creating the avatar’s single purpose of bringing balance and peace to the world, in addition to being the bridge between the spirit world and reality. The most significant result from the season is Korra unfortunately losing the connection to her past lives, following the aftermath of her fight with Unavaatu (combination of Vaatu and her uncle).

Moving onto Book 3, the terrorist organization known as “The Red Lotus” serve as the main antagonists. We learn more about the Beifongs and are introduced to the innovative setting of Zaofu. Because of the Harmonic Convergence of Season 2, a new era of Airbenders emerge. The biggest turnaround occurs at the end however, when Zaheer (leader of the Red Lotus with communist tendencies) straps Korra in crystal catacombs and poisons her. Korra is able to defeat Zaheer but is emotionally, physically, and mentally rendered unstable after the poison infiltrates her body. She yields to suffering and PTSD.

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Book 4 Finale

Now Book 4, the last book of the show and of the universe, is where the story begins to be underwhelming, opposite to what its intended effect should be. Our new antagonist is Kuvira, the so called “Great Uniter” who, after the effects of Zaheer’s political agenda, has set forth in the Earth Kingdom, trying to rebuild the land under one flag. Like all villains, the power gets to her head and ultimately she refuses to hear “no” for an answer, answering to no one and making quite irrational decisions. For a villain who had the potential to be different and perhaps more trademark of a unique villain like Amon, Kuvira and the writers let me down. I’ll elaborate on this later.

Korra’s journey from start to end of Book 4 is extremely commendable. At the start, she is still paralyzed from the terror unleashed thanks to her battle with Zaheer. She is able to overcome the initial hurdles with Katara and her wonderful healing abilities, and later regains her fighting mojo and moxy with Toph in the huge swamp. This development is wonderful and so important for those going through similar transitions from PTSD/depression into recovery.

When it comes round to the finale, which is what this review really all is about, it just didn’t feel like the end of a show for me, which was so difficult for me to come to terms with. Yes, Kuvira and her army of Kaijus were raw, bold, monumental, and freakish, but the first half of the finale of the show was an extended battle scene of mostly everyone trying to take down the main Kaiju, named “Colussus,” with Korra barely involved. When we get to the second half, she alone is able to stop Kuvira, and with the monumental power in her, is able to bend the spirit energy away and creates an entirely new spirit portal. It truly stands testament to how amazing of an avatar Korra is. However, the actual spiritual meaning and grandeur of Korra’s actions was entirely missing.

Kuvira herself is not actually the villain I envisioned for Korra to have her final battle against. Right before Kuvira and Korra enter the portal, Kuvira is shown with the spirit arm shooting the spirit lasers at everything and anything, having lost total common sense and control. There was no lead in to her demise, no significant downfall. Her phrase “The Great Uniter” went all to waste because her fight in Republic City lost all meaning. She had no purpose or real motive to fight in RC other than proving to herself how strong of a warrior and protector of the Earth Kingdom she was. If we parallel Kuvira to Azula, Azula had significant moments towards the end of Avatar’s Book 3 where the audience could plainly see her downfall, what her motives were, what her hamartia was, why she ultimately lost in the end. The writers didn’t even allow Kuvira to have this type of complexity in the end, which is a disservice to how cool she was from the concept art to the beginnings of Book 4. When she is in the spirit portal with Korra, it takes her the span of a 2-minute conversation for her to realize that she was wrong. Outside the portal, her army men simply accept the fact that their leader says “I’m done! Avatar won!” Kuvira ultimately just feels super underdeveloped.

While Korra opening the portal is amazing, it’s just the start. There’s no discussion of how she was able to do it, no celebration of her efforts at the final scenes. Even in Book 2, which a lot of fans feel is the weakest of the four, the finale showcased Korra, in all of her spiritual potential and awe-inspiring power and determination, able to take down Unavaatu and transcend the normal tethers that Avatars share in the spirit world. In the final book of Avatar, Aang was able to share and soak in the glory of restoring balance to the world at Fire Lord Zuko’s coronation ceremony, yet Korra is sidelined at the marriage of two secondary characters. There is so little relevance to how important her actions were, and how important she is, that it’s a little disgusting. Yes, the ending is characteristic of a season finale, but truly not that of a series finale.

I wanted there to be more spiritual meaningfulness with the end of Korra’s story. I wanted her journey to be as large-scale as what she deserved. I wanted her to reach some resolution with her past lives and adventure as the Avatar herself. I wanted to see more exploration into how she was able to open the portal. I’m not here to compare Legend of Korra to Avatar: The Last Airbender, but let’s just say that the Avatar finale featuring Aang and the Lion Turtle completely wrecked me. It was so amazing and so bold. Being able to do the impossible and reforge her connection to her past lives would have made the ending so much more satisfying to me. There wouldn’t have to be any words spoken, just ethereal beauty as she realizes that she’s so powerful, confident, and compassionate that she was able to do the impossible. She silently stands amongst her lineage, spiritual family, soaking in their combined power and love.

When the final credits are about to roll around, the conclusion still feels a little salty. Her relationship with Mako, following their beginnings in Book 1 to the breakup in Book 2 to the awkwardness in Book 3, has seemed to reach a point of no return in Book 4. Their relationship is so formal, and not characteristic of any of the journeys they’ve been through. Hell, Bolin, the first friend she ever made upon arriving to Republic City, doesn’t even share a word with Korra, let alone a hug at the end. Bolin does officiate a marriage though.

And this is what really gets me. The writers totally pushed aside Team Avatar and their original friendship. Mako and Bolin cared so much about each other and about Korra and Asami, and we barely got a feel for that towards the end. There’s no acknowledgement of their past adventures and journeys. That Mako sacrificed himself in an act of selflessness that he learned from Korra so that he was able to protect them. That the two have comforted both Korra and Asami in the past when things started to go downhill. These friendships should undoubtedly remain true to the end. And if not in an explicit form (ie: group hug, going down to the portal together at the end), then at least more words shared. If I recall, Bolin and Korra barely spoke to each other at all during the extent of Book 4.

I get that the writers wanted to leave things open-ended in terms of how Korra’s journey would eventually take her post-credits. However, there’s a huge difference between leaving things open-ended and blatantly ignoring relationships and friendships between certain characters.

Korra’s last talk with Tenzin may have been redeemable, if it weren’t for the problematic undertones. In her conversation, she states a revelation she made: because she suffered, she was able to feel compassion, compassion for Kuvira especially.

This is where I feel that writing wavered specifically. There is a way of maturing a character so that they may not be as brash or hot-headed as before. I can definitely see how the writers intended on making a character mature, such as Korra, so that she can develop into a more thoughtful and respected human being. However, Korra’s last words to Tenzin (“The only way I could be compassionate was if I suffered”) left me feeling super uncomfortable. In my perspective, she was saying that the only way I could be compassionate was if I suffered” (this isn’t true at all, as there are plenty examples in Books 1-3 where she was already compassionate). So we are presented with Korra’s character flaw being that she was “irrational”. That she was “hot-headed”. “Non-compliant”. The list can go on and on. And when we are given the final version of Korra, it’s a subdued version of her.

My wish for Korra was for her to become a well-rounded character (which has nothing to do with the fact that she’s a strong female character, rather that she should become a well-rounded character, regardless of gender and of the word strength, especially since strength can come in many different forms). Someone who yes, has changed as a result of her traumatic experience, but says nothing bad about who she was prior to her suffering (a person who “didn’t take shit from anyone”). Basically, those specific qualities of being bold and standing up for herself were qualities that shouldn’t need to change. Those qualities are/were Korra being Korra.

Yet change they did. Her last statements with Tenzin detract from her being a *well-rounded character* (and again, not a “strong female character”), because they emphasized that she deserved to suffer, otherwise she wouldn’t be able to be compassionate, be more thoughtful and aware, be more of an improvement compared to where she was at before. They emphasized that she needed to change because of her original qualities. Her meek demeanor shouldn’t have to be her growing up. Her growing up and maturing should be a blend of all these characteristics, and not that she had to lose her bold and confident self in order to grow up. This is what makes a character a character because it gives them life and realistic qualities of being well-rounded and embodying varying amounts of specific qualities and characteristics.

I have thought about this long and hard and swung from case to case. I had convinced myself after writing the article that maybe the writers were intending on maturing her. And I get why. But here’s the thing: they matured her by making her lose some of her character. She doesn’t have to change her outlook on life without losing some of the vivacity that we see Korra embody between Books 1 and 2. She can be patient and empathetic without losing her mojo from Books 1 and 2. A person can change, but not be broken down. If that traumatic experience changed Korra, I feel like the final outcome from her experiences should have not been emphasizing that she deserved to suffer so that she could become a better person.

So yes, I understand that the writers wanted to mature her as a character. That she learned from her mistakes. But they matured her at the cost of her own characterization.

Now let’s get into the part that everyone wants to talk about. I’m not too heavily invested in shipping Korra with characters. Personally I ship Korra with herself as she is that amazing, hardly deserving of anyone else. But if we are going to talk about potential love interests, I would have to say that I most expected Mako and Korra to end up together. They shared subtle moments of romance throughout the last two books, in addition to the filler episode with Mako explaining his romantic intents with the avatar and later telling Prince Wu (one of the most useless side characters in the entire show and perhaps all shows in general) that he will never be with Korra.

Let’s take a look at Korra and Asami’s journey. Starting with Book 1 and Book 2, their relationship had always been a bit bitter, as they both shared the same boyfriend at different points. During Book 3, their relationship began to grow as they became closer, bonding as girlfriends. Asami helps Korra in the wheelchair at the end of Book 3, sharing a tender moment. Korra writes letters only to Asami in Book 4. They’re all very subtle nods to their budding relationship. But it was nothing monumental. So seeing their relationship culminate into a canon romantic relationship was quite surprising to me.

Don’t get me wrong, it is so wonderful that Korra can now be characterized as a POC and bisexual character thus giving a voice to not one but two underrepresented communities. It’s wonderful that Legend of Korra is such a progressive show, addressing all areas of social reform. It’s wonderful that this finale is truly revolutionary, marking a change and landmark for all animated shows in the future. If their relationship had been given more showcasing throughout the show, I would definitely be on board. Their romance is not, however, fitting to be the last scene of the entire show. Asami in fact barely had any lines in Book 4 (she herself was sidelined). If the entire series was supposed to end with a shot of Korra and another character, I would want that other character to be just as prevalent as Korra. From a character narrative point of view, there seemed to be more that could have been developed with Asami specifically.

Where is the applause for Korra? Where is the monumental change affected by Korra’s actions? Where is Korra recognized single-handedly for her passion and determination? Again, all we are left with is the image of a meek Korra, accepting that her suffering was okay in order for her to grow as a person. She absolutely did not have to go through pain and suffering to undergo “character development”. Her pairing with Asami somehow manages to erase all of the glory that came out of the last fight and potentially future stories. An alternate ending that I would have preferred would have been for her to yes, perhaps make her relationship with Asami canon with a kiss or something of similar nature, but then journey into the spirit world by herself (or with Mako, Bolin AND Asami by her side–no one can forget the bonds of the Fire Ferrets) and, as I mentioned before, see that by creating the spirit portal she somehow was able to reforge the connection to her past lives, and as she stands in the beauty of the spirit world she is surrounded by the lineage of her past lives. There shouldn’t have to be any words spoken. Just Korra embracing the warm touch of her legacy. This is her story about being the avatar anyway.

Also, where the hell was Naga in this finale? The idea of the avatar having an animal companion, especially based off of the relationship Aang had with Appa in A:TLA, makes the show even more endearing, and Naga barely having any scenes with Korra in the finale pisses me off beyond belief.

So here’s the problem. There are so many characters introduced by the end of Book 4 that Korra, the leading star of her show, has become sidelined. The writers disguised this with the incredible fighting scenes between Korra and Kuvira, the fact that Korra was able to open up a spirit portal, and that the hero ends up getting the girl.

The grandeur of the final episode, the disappointing character arc of Korra, the sidelined relationships between her and those that matter most to her, the lack of meaningful and spiritual undertones of the conflict between her and Kuvira, were all so underwhelming compared to what I would have expected from the series finale.

While the story and writing has wavered, I will give credit where it’s fully due.

To Studio Mir, the company responsible for the beautiful animation in the show, thank you for providing such rich imagery to complement this beautiful world and for beautifully animating all the characters. To Jeremy Zuckerman, thank you for creating, simply put the best soundtrack I could ever have the privilege of listening to, a soundtrack which never fails to make me cry (check out his Soundcloud here and his iTunes here). Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante Dimartino, thank you for providing a show and outlet for me to escape reality into this fantastic and beautiful world of bending elements, with fun and relatable characters and tremendous storylines. The details on every single aspect of the show is clearly seen to be taken with the utmost respect, which is all that the show deserves.

So yes, Book 4 had its moments (mostly during the Beifong battle with Kuvira and the parts that feature Korra solely). But if I had to characterize my emotions coming out of the finale to some of the greatest stories told, I would simply say confusion, which is an extremely difficult way for me to say goodbye.

 

  • dpz

    THIS IS EXACTLY HOW I FEEL!!! I wanted there to be more! She and Asami didn’t even say goodbye to their friends. Where’s the closure? And the idea that you wrote about her connecting to her past lives when she created the spirit portal would have been AWESOME! She is such a great character and should have had her moment to bask in the glory with her family and friends; I would have shipped her by herself too.

    • Sirisha

      The series ending definitely felt very incomplete to me–and I agree, Korra is 100% deserving of being surrounded by those who loved her at the end as a final goodbye. Thanks for reading and the warm words 🙂

  • Kendyl Clem

    Even more disappointing was how disorganized the additional cast of characters’ necessity to the overall storyline became by the time the series came to an end. Even though ATLA had a seemingly equal amount of side-characters as well, virtually ALL of these characters had some sort of voluntary role in the development of the story and especially in Book 3, they all seemed to have the starring role in ending the war. It’s not as if the side-characters in TLOK were all poorly developed or presented, but I struggled to find a genuine reason they ever needed to be apart of the story, even as minor characters. In fact, if they have a motive to be involved at all, it’s a cheap, insulting one: love interests solely for the purpose of generating fan interest in newer OTPs and so this character or that character isn’t single by the series’ end. Even characters I particularly enjoyed the presence of, like Opal and Kai, ultimately failed to become truly vital to the story other than to become potential love interests.

    And when worse came to worse, other characters were either poorly presented or given very, very cheap motives. Even in Book 1, one character that stood out to me more than anyone else was Amon’s Lieutenant, who despite being a background character had one of the most interesting and visually striking fighting styles throughout the show. And yet his purpose was ultimately one of the cheapest upon realization: he was there to get beat up, a lot, being Team Avatar’s beating stick to avoid frequent confrontation with Amon until the season finale, only to be literally tossed to the side then (which was actually kind of heartbreaking once you pay more attention that scene). And to touch on what you said, Prince Wu (or however that’s spelled), is one of the most annoying, half-assed, and totally useless characters in the Avatar franchise, probably of all time. The finale tried so hard to make us resonate with him as comic relief, but came off as cringeworthy and wasn’t even remotely vital to the show’s development, let alone deserving of any screentime during the last few minutes of the show. He’s the Scrappy of TLOK and I’m not joking one bit.

    I actually have a lot more complaints, but I don’t want to write an essay and would rather just say I agree with virtually everything you said. Another absence I noticed during the finale: Jinora was such a vital character in Book 2 and Book 3, I felt like she characteristically represented Aang in a lot of ways and was a notable highlight of the series. So how come she was malnourished of screen time besides being on the battlefield and more importantly, did her voice actor call in sick or what? She didn’t speak not once, her sister didn’t either, but at least she got a bit more focus earlier that season. That really irked me.

    Anyway, amazing review, it really summarized the ups and downs of a series I overall enjoyed, but could have enjoyed to a broader extent comparable to its groundbreaking predecessor. The finale really did feel like a season finale rather than end to a series and although Korra and Asami’s more or less confirmed relationship was certainly groundbreaking and I was satisfied to see Asami get closure after having it really, really rough in Book 1 and after losing her father right after getting him back, but I wish there would’ve been more emphasis on that earlier on. Rather than merely flirting with the concept of it, I would’ve enjoyed seeing some genuine onscreen chemistry other pairings got to have before their relationships, but I guess we’re lucky Nickelodeon even let it pass through at all.

    • dpz

      I agree. I’m not sure just how “lucky” we are that Nickelodeon let the series finish but I want to say that they might be the reason for the underwhelming last season and the disorganization of the last episode. Maybe if the creators had more time, support, or money they would have had more of an opportunity to write a SERIES finale that addresses all of these points in Sirisha’s review. Right now the finale, no matter how I try to spin it in my head, still feels like a season finale. Maybe that’s what they wanted it to feel like but I believe that’s a disservice to ALL of the fans who deeply enjoyed this show because it very well may be the last time we get to see these characters animated. :-/

    • Sirisha

      What you’ve written is exactly on point. I feel like ultimately A:TLA handled all the secondary characters (Suki, Mai, Ty Lee, Hasook) extremely well and gave them some type of final resolution. There was no emphasis on Opal and Bolin’s relationship, and Kai barely got a word in for the entirety of Book 4. The fact that Prince Wu got more screentime than JINORA (who I totally agree, was set up and rightfully so from the end of Book 3 to be a significant character), Opal, Kai, even Mako at points is really horrible considering how extremely worthless he is as a character. His only redeeming quality was the one-line phrase at the end proclaiming the Earth Kingdom a democracy. Concerning Asami, the resolution with her father was great even though yeah it was definitely rushed (that one episode featuring her and her father from prison seemed forced). I’m glad that Bryke could put in their gamechanging ending (and definitely get it past Nick), but not like this. Anyway, thanks for reading! 🙂

      • Avinash Tyagi

        I’m sure the would have loved a dozen more episodes and more money to tell the story and no restrictions on sexuality, but that isn’t what happened and it wasn’t possible.

        But in spite of the restrictions, they still made a masterpiece.

      • Sirisha

        **whoops, meant Hakoda, not Hasook!

      • Kendyl Clem

        Agreed about Mako. He ultimately became a cynical character with no significant characteristics except for being handsome, I guess. Not until that sacrificial moment, anyway, I didn’t care for him that much. But anyway, agreed. As you and dpz suggested, if the prolonged action sequences were snipped instead of the budget, maybe we would’ve got genuine closure and a true Team Avatar moment. Hey, even keep the ending as it is, but I really wanted one last group hug at the least. I have no qualms with Korrasami, I just didn’t want it to be the only highlight we’d remember from it.

  • Avinash Tyagi

    Sorry, I actually disagree with most of what you said.

    First let’s address Kuvira, the whole point was that she didn’t need more explanation of her motives or more depiction of her fall. Because she didn’t have a downfall.

    Kuvira’s motivation was pretty simple, she had grown up abandoned and felt that she was the only person who could prevent the earth kingdom from being abandoned.

    Her desire for power was to prevent ever having to feel weak or abandoned.

    When Korra showed her power and her own similar fears of feeling vulnerable and weak, it showed Kuvira that the path she was taking would not result in what she wanted.

    That amassing power and control wouldn’t make one feel invulnerable and powerful. It showed Kuvira that such a feeling would only come from inside, not through conquest.

    Kuvira was not evil, she had a legitimate desire to protect her people and to make the earth kingdom strong and not vulnerable. She took it too far, and Korra showed that to her.

    As for her not being as important at the wedding, I think that is more a personal desire, you could see she wanted to detach herself and move on to the next adventure in her life.

    Coming to republic city was one big adventure for her but now she knew it was time to move on.

    This played into her conversations with Mako and Tenzin, she was saying goodbye and they knew it. With Mako they were reaffirming their friendship, but only friendship, but it was a goodbye (not forever but for a while), this is why they didn’t need to show any more of a goodbye, they had already said it.

    As for Korrasami, your argument about how you wanted it more showcased is very naive. Our culture is not at the point where a lesbian couple can be showcased on a television show watched by kids. The creators probably pushed the envelope as far as it would go without the network stopping them.

    • dpz

      I’m not sure just how evil Kuvira was/is(she did want to kill people) but I do know she is intelligent. Her motivation was simple and was a legitimate motive but it was brought up in their first battle at Zaofu.

      That motivation was too simple for all the actions she took against the “Krew” and family.

      I believe if the other motivation you mentioned was addressed as well, her desire for power and control, it would have developed her character more.

      I get it, she didn’t want to feel weak or abandoned and her legitimate desire to protect her people and to make the earth kingdom strong and not vulnerable is honorable, but she chose to detach herself from her friends and family in an attempt to amass power and control which was actually her character flaw. Korra did the same thing as well and learned that was not the correct path. Had it been addressed it would have resonated better to her realization and regret. Kuvira’s character was so much more complicated than how she was portrayed. Or at least should have been.

      I do like how Korra showed Kuvira that feeling powerful and in control would only come from inside, not through conquest and that she took it too far. But it should have been shown that her blind ambition for power and control has consequences.

      I like how another commenter, Daniel Mirante, wrote it: “Kuvira’s regret and the immediate sympathy garnered was way too fluffy, considering that she acted like Stalin and was attempting to kill the Avatar and her allies (and her partner). There could have been a more potent lesson about self-responsibility and about how acting like a monster has spiritual consequences.”

      Perhaps if while in the spirit world if the scenes had played out like this it would’ve been more satisfying:
      After Korra comes to and is floating seeing her reflection, she immediately sees all of her past lives appear behind her reflection showing that she had re-established her connections. She’d be basking in their inherit love for humanity and the sacrifice she had just made to save Kuvira.

      The past avatars would dissipate and then Korra’s reflection would’ve turned into Kuvira. They’d float down then Kuvira comes to. After realizing she’s not dead and that she lost the battle she would’ve been angry. She would’ve gone into a spill about how Korra ruined her plans to unite the Earth Kingdom and prevented her from saving all of the people in the empire. She’d tell her how all alone she felt and not in control. Korra would have began telling her that she hurt herself by isolating and betraying her people, family, and friends by going too far to be in control and have power. That she tried that herself (isolation) and learned that is not the correct path. That it is important to care about family and friends and how important they are to keep you in balance. She’d tell her how the desire for control is toxic and how she came to terms with her inability to keep the world in balance.

      Then the spirits would have surrounded Kuvira threateningly and Korra would have had to have acted as mediator between them to convince the spirits that Kuvira deserves a to be forgiven and given a second chance, because, she and Kuvira are a lot alike: brash, determined, etc. and that her heart was in the right place. Kuvira only wanted to unify the people of her nation and got lost along the way.

      The sprits would have disappeared and then Kuvira would have had her moment of regret and realization before they helped each other walk out of the spirit portal.

      Damn budget cuts. :-/

      As for the part about Asami, you are right. It is naive to say it would’ve worked better if their romantic relationship had been more displayed throughout the show but for the amount of time that it was given it wasn’t worth upending the theme about true love, which is: willing to sacrifice your life for someone.

      I agree with Sirisha in that the messages about love of family and friendship should have been more prominent because those were the ones that everyone were the most invested in.

      Not wanting to get too entangled and isolating herself at the wedding was uncharacteristic even if she was wanting to move on. Not saying goodbye to her friends, especially after all they’ve been through, left much more to be desired.

      Probably that’s what the writers wanted, it just wasn’t the best way to do it because this may be the last time we get to see these characters animated. 🙁

      • Avinash Tyagi

        As for the Kuvira part, all that seems excessive and unnecessary, sure would it have been a visual treat, yes, but would it add all that much to the story, not really. In fact it probably would’ve unecessarily weighed down the story, simplicity is better.

        Also, anyone can find a reason to die, the greater sacrifice can often be finding a reason to live for yourself and others.

        Korra and Asami finding a reason to live for each other is a very worthy end.

        Both experienced great loss and suffering, but both came out on the other side stronger and found each other and in doing so found a new reason to live.

        Korra detaching herself is in character, it mirrors her action when she left her home and journeyed to republic city.

        At that time she detached herself from her home and said her goodbyes to Katara and her parents and left for the city and a new journey.

        In the same way she said her goodbyes at the wedding and left Republic city with Asami on a new Journey.

        You wanted a big tearful goodbye with lots of drama, but it wasn’t necessary, not only will she and Asami come back some day, but what was important had already been said.

        • RobertStark

          A heart warming goodbye with team avatar and all the characters that created a strong friendship with Korra is what we wanted. This actually possible without any drama.

          • Avinash Tyagi

            Maybe nice to see, but they know she loves them and would die for any of them without hesitation, and she knows they love her and would die for her without hesitation.

            Such a scene is not needed to show the love

        • dpz

          I agree, simplicity is better. Like my art teacher taught me in school: Simplicity is complexity resolved. I don’t agree however, that it would have weighed it down. It would’ve added to the story otherwise we would be talking about something else as it would’ve satisfied our fascination Kuvira and the question about Korra’s lineage.
          I haven’t heard if they are making a continuation comic book(probably are) and because I’m not sure, I’d preferred that those questions be addressed with the series finale(just in case).

          Yes, anyone can find a reason to die, the greater sacrifice can often be finding a reason to live for yourself and others.(I haven’t met anyone outside of the few friends I’ve told this exact thought to who understood the significance of this sentence.) I would fist bump you for that sentence. Very cool. The movie Hook(One of my favorites) has that same message.

          I guess there’s no other way to understand ‘sacrifice’ other than death. Because you can also show love by giving up the right to live your life on your own terms selfishly. To give up your desires and ambitions and instead, put other people(family and friends, a nation), or one person(husband, wife, friend), before yourself.

          Korra and Asami finding a reason to live, for each other, is a good ending. It’s just the rest of the family should’ve been included. Mako, Bolin, Tenzin, Lin, Su-Yin, Opal, Jinora, Ikki, Meelo, Pema, Kya, Bumi, Naga, Pabu, etc. Their family and friends, they are also with living for.

          I forgot that when she left her home and journeyed to republic city she did detach herself. And you’re right she said her goodbyes to Katara and her parents and left for the city.

          But she didn’t say her goodbyes at the wedding before leaving and that’s what Sirisha and everyone who agrees with her are referring to.

          We wanted a big tearful goodbye which is possible without drama. We want it because this was the series finale and because we don’t know if there will be comic books to continue their journeys.

          It could’ve been as simple as
          the family and Krew standing at the edge of the spirit portal crater. After some last words and some hugs, they would wave goodbye with Korra and Asami waving back before going into the spirit world.

          I hope they do come back some day, because what was important and needed to be said, was not said.

          • Avinash Tyagi

            I’m sure if they had had the budget for another episode or two, they may have done all that other stuff you wanted, but they had to make cuts due to budget.

            I think they balanced the needs for closure with the time and monetary restrictions they had quite well.

            I’m sure when the comics come they’ll address the relationships with everyone, may even be a big deal everyone finding out they are in a same sex relationship.

            Would having a final farewell with everyone been a nice touch, sure, was it necessary, not really, since its not like Korra and her friends didn’t know how they felt about each other. They all rode together into potential death many times and fought side by side. They all knew how much the others cared about them.

          • dpz

            I hope so. Nickelodeon would be passing up on some money of they don’t.
            I think it’d be an even bigger deal if the creators flat out say that they are just really good friends. That they have a friendship that no one understands in this day and age. Just my humble opinion. 🙂

          • Avinash Tyagi

            If they were just good friends, they wouldn’t have had the scene with them gazing at each other lovingly while holding both hands.

            Sorry, but the fact is they have a romantic relationship.

            I know you and others may not be ready for seeing two girls in love, but its a fact of life, some girls love other girls.

          • dpz

            Well I was ready.
            Even though the writers presented their interactions as friends, I understand how it could’ve been interpreted as more than just a friendly gesture.(I had my theories) It just seems like there was an attempt to ‘make a point’ with Asami. To other fans, it seemed to have come out of nowhere so it felt grafted on and lessened the value of the rest of the relationships. Almost like saying, “Here, this was the most important relationship of them all.”

            Throughout the whole series Mike and Bryan made the main relationship themes about family and friendship stand out the most. (It’s why I love the show) It is also why they stopped the whole romantic triangle thing in the end of the second season. And it is why I complain.

            And yeah, I have come to the realization that some girls do develop romantic feelings for other girls. I don’t commend it with adulation but I’ve come to accept the fact. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

          • Avinash Tyagi

            No, the signs were there it was obvious to most fans, which is why Korrasami became the most popular ship, from their interactions together and the letters and so on, it was clear they were more that just friends.

            It was more subtle because of the remaining homophobia in our society, but it was there

      • sirisha

        Yes! Your alternate sequence reminds me – I feel like there was definitely so much more to be explored in the spirit world, including the consequences of Kuvira’s actions (especially her attacking the swamp and the main tree, with little regards to how the power would be manipulated). If Bryke was given more episodes and weren’t downgraded by Nick I would like to believe we would have had more exploration into all these themes, including friendship, love, etc.

        • Avinash Tyagi

          Well the spirit world will be explored by Korra and Asami in the comics if they have those.

          Some of what you want will be explored more when Korra comics start

    • sirisha

      I totally get what you’ve written about the motivation behind Kuvira. I even understand her a little bit when it comes to her wanted to take down RC — she wants to claim what is rightfully Earth Kingdom land. What makes little sense to me is how she lost control. Her development just seemed so rushed, from marching into RC with composure and fighting precision to shooting lasers at everything and destroying anyone who came in her path. I guess I would definitely have preferred to see her from an earlier point to be developed more. Especially since Bryke has given her the name “Evil Korra” in the past — there’s definitely more to be learned from her.
      And as dpz put it, if her flaw had been addressed more I think their conclusion would have definitely been more resounding. It definitely comes down to very little amount of screen time allotted to the conversation between the two. If anything, I would have preferred for the first part “Day of the Colossus” to shorten down the battle scenes so that Korra and Kuvira could have a more meaningful resolution and not have it appear so entirely rushed.

      I can see how Korra wouldn’t want to be entangled. But the fact that her interaction with Mako felt forced and interaction with Bolin was nonexistent (the first people she actually met in RC) is annoying. To me it’s not about having an open-ended ending. Sure, I’m fine with the Korrasami ending and my bit on it being showcased is pretty negligible (if anything, I would have preferred more showcasing on Asami if they were going to make Korrasami endgame and Asami more significant– replace Mako with Asami during all the Makorra scenes leading up to Book 4, have Asami be the sole designer for the hummingbird Mecha suits, etc etc). But it was at the cost of Korra’s other relationships and at her own premise of being the Avatar and having more light shown on that aspect. What it comes down to (which dpz wrote in the alternate spirit world sequence — nice job on that!) is there being a bigger weight on Korra’s impact in the spirit world. The finale is definitely fitting for a season finale, but not a whole series finale.

      Yes it’s mostly Book 4 that I have most complaints with. And it definitely has to do with the restrictions that Nick placed on the show. Apart from that (as I wrote in the article), I still love the story so much and all the characters hold very special places in my heart. It’s too bad we don’t get an unlimited supply of these stories.

      • Avinash Tyagi

        First off putting more showcase on korra and Asami isn’t realistic.

        You don’t seem to realize that Americans aren’t ready for explicit lesbian couples in a cartoon.

        I understand why you wanted more, but it’s naive to expect what cannot be given.

        They did as much as possible with Korrasami as the network and American culture would allow.

        Now on to her parting with Mako, it wasn’t forced rather it was a bit of a bittersweet parting of former lovers, it’s never easy, because even though they have moved on there is still a part of them that care about each other.

        The tenor of the conversation was such because of that leftover affection.

        Now why did they lack a conversation with Bolin, because what would they have said that they haven’t said before?

        As for Kuvira it’s easy to know why she went off the rails, when you’re all about amassing more power and control, then you are always trying to add more and anyone who stands in your way is a danger that must be crushed.

      • dpz

        Thanks, it was your and my sister’s idea. I didn’t even think about how it would go down until you said it. I only had ideas on an extended scene with Mako and an alternate ending but that’s all I had thought about. Despite the flaws I still enjoyed the finale. I just wanted more. (I know, I’m needy) :-/

  • daniel mirante

    This is a really insightful review and I agree completely. I love the show (especially season 3) but this ending felt like it didn’t resound the depth of the investment with the characters and their bonds, and ended up feeling like a very shallow treatment of the characters we care about.
    And yes, there did seem to be an attempt to ‘make a point’ with Asami, but it came out of nowhere so it felt grafted on and weird.
    I also feel like Kuvira’s regret and the immediate sympathy garnered was way too fluffy, considering that she was in actuality a murderous dictator. There could have been a more potent lesson about self-responsibility, and about how acting like a monster has spiritual consequences.
    So the ending is still kind of open… who knows – perhaps they are keeping things open for an encore in the future…

    • sirisha

      I’m definitely very interested in learning more about Kuvira (aka “Evil Korra”). They’ve been building her up since Book 3, placed in very subtle parts (around Zaofu, saving Tonraq at the end of Book 3), so I definitely expected more from her character. How her actions impacted the spirit world and what the spiritual consequences would have been — Yes! While Korra opening up the spirit portal is beyond amazing, I feel like the spirit world did get sidelined (although the animation in the scene between Korra and Kuvira was so beautiful). Thanks for reading!

  • Julie

    I agree with your view and found it thoughtful. I was also hoping a reconnection with the past Avatars since Raava’s return but found that the Avatar cycle was to start anew since the fight with Vaatu.
    Naga was in the scene where Korra and Tenzin were talking.
    I was not that impressed with the ending but to each their own. I’ve loved the Avatar series since the last airbender because of the writing/stories and art. But I also wasn’t that impressed with that ending either.

    • sirisha

      Thank you for reading!
      Yeah, the ending definitely felt a bit lacking in showing how instrumental and impacting Korra’s development was, especially spiritually (though it reached a high point already in Book 2’s finale). And, well, considering Naga was in that scene where I felt Korra lost a bit of her characterization, I feel that more explicit Korra-Naga interactions should have taken place. Despite the flaws I found with the finale I still love both Aang and Korra’s stories deeply and will definitely continue being obsessed with the series!

  • Zutarafan

    All I wanted was to see a reunion of the original living members of team avatar. With Toph , Zuko and Katara seeing each other. I love the series of korra but I didn’t get to see the fire nation sigh

    • sirisha

      Thanks for reading! A reunion of the original living members would definitely have been nice, though as the show showcases Korra and the new Team Avatar I’m not sure how they would have tried to fit that in (although Prince Wu made it clear to sideline Korra and Team Avatar in Book 4). I recommend checking out the comic series by Gene Yang and Gurihiru for more original Gaang interactions if you haven’t already!

  • Q

    I think it’s important to remember that the universe hasn’t ended yet.
    There will be Dark Horse comics following the show, just as ATLA.
    The elements missing from the finale will be explored when the universe actually ends.

  • Isadora Diableaux

    Thank you! Now I’m not the only one. For me the Korrasami ending came completely out of nowhere. Asami had maybe 30 minutes of screen time in the whole season and Korra and Asami, the two of them alone together, maybe had 5-10 minutes in the entire season. We were supposed to decude that they had a budding romantic relationship from that one time Korra blushes in like episode 5 or something when they are talking about clothing?! Really?
    It just felt incredibly forced to me. Sure, it’s great that they try to make a point like this on children’s television, but when you are as good as the writers of Korra, at least make it come off like it has been a natural development. Now it was just: Korra and Asami get close in Book 3, they don’t see eachother for 3 years, and then they see eachother maybe 5 times in the whole of Book 4, and then suddenly they’re in love.
    Although I do think they could’ve done so much more to have it make actual sense, I think it also has to do with the fact that they only had 13 episodes per season, instead of the 21 that A:TLA had. With 21 episodes there are still about a short seasons worth of the actual main storyline (13-15 episodes) and then 8-6 more episodes to REALLY get into the character development, also of the minor characters. I think if they’d had those 21 episodes, a lot of these complaints wouldn’t have happened.
    But they didn’t have 21 episodes to work with, and they knew that, and it’s still a shame and honestly kind of bad writing the way they did this.

    • Isadora Diableaux

      The only people who say that it didn’t come out of nowhere (Tumblrs devoted to it, for example) are the people who were Korrasami shippers. If you’re a shipper of whoever, you interpret EVERYTHING as flirting or possible forshadowing of a relationship. They are just viewing it from their own shippers point of view, not from a sustainable and logical writing point of view.

      • Xanegoh

        Agreement 100%. They like to criticize us not seeing it due to our “hetero goggles”. Well if they took off their shipper goggles and looked at this objectively, They would see the relationship was unwarranted. The interactions between korra and asami were nothing two close friends wouldn’t do. Really I consider them to be surrogate sisters to each other. Both are only children; asami lost her mother and was the daughter of a business tycoon; korra was the avatar and pretty much isolated from society her entire life and never had any real friends, let alone female friends to confide in.

        This feels a lot like the naruto ending with narusaku fans being so butthurt. Yeah I am a naruhina fan, but if it didn’t end up that way I would not have made that big of a deal about it. Sure I would have raged for a few days, but I would have gotten over it.

        I am fine with the creators decision for a same sex couple, very progressive of them. But this is nickelodeon they’re not ready for that. So throwing that last scene in to please the shippers is just bullshit. Either do it or don’t.

  • I’m glad that I’m not the only one who felt the ending had issues. I really felt that Book 2 (despite some of the sloppy writing) and Book 3 were the best parts of Korra, and as many others have argued, it was only in Book 4 that Korrasami was a thing, and even then it wasn’t handled extremely well considering how little time Asami got with Korra.

    I’m actually quite annoyed with the overall structure of the show (don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it a lot) and am working on a rewrite that actually ends with most of the events from the end of Book 2. When I was watching Book 2 I honestly felt that they’d written themselves into a corner, and when they revealed Zaheer, I actually groaned because I felt it was a step back from the scale of events in Book 2.

    Anyway it’s late, and I’m rambling. Great writeup. If I ever get around to completing my plot rewrite I’ll come and post it here.

  • Alixii

    I also agree with this review 100%. I am an ATLA an TLOK fan. I was however disappointed at the end. I have a lot of questions I thought was unanswered or was put aside. 1. Why was Kai BARELY in season 4?!? I mean, I was really looking forward to seeing him especially with Jinora and their relationship. The only time he spoke was in the early episodes in the Earth Kingdom territories with Opal. It was very disappointing. 2. Why didn’t the writers bring together Zuko, Katara and Toph? I mean if it’s the end…..the finale, at least bring them back together for christ sake! EPIC STUFF 4. I was also sad about Korra losing her connections to ALL PAST AVATARS…..someone said it before and i TOTALLY AGREE that would have been some epic shit if she re-connected!!!!!!! We all miss Aang and Roku and Kiyoshi etc. 5. I’m still pretty confused about Asami and Korra’s relationship I heard going around, can someone please explain?! 6. I wanted to say this anyway even though it’s the end. I hope there’s a season 5 or something 🙁 🙁 🙁 don’t leave us stranded like this….my imagination is killing me…… 7. I’m still waiting to see who’s Beifong’s father…… 8. I felt like Nickelodeon rushed the writers or something….alot of confusing things happened….when it went off air…all that came in my mind was….. is the show doing bad!?! (panic attack because i always made sure to never miss an episode). 9. I almost forgot…what happened to Rohan??? I honestly hope someone can please explain to me whats going on? I’m really curious

  • chippochippo

    Pretty much everything “missing” from the S4 ending was lost in the cutting room thanks to Nick slashing their budget mid-final-season. Add that clipshow episode back as a full 20 minutes of S4 and the Kuvira conflict gets a lot more breathing room as well as extra time for friend closures. Their clothing changed from the wedding to the closing shot (from dresses to adventuring gear); so, there was definitely more that happened in that gap that got cut. Easy to imagine there was a Bolin & Korra scene or Team Avatar scene in there that had to be cut for time/money reasons.

  • Rizmah

    I am actually very happy that through the media pandering and cliched sucking up that many mainstream articles are doing that there is one person in their right mind who sees that LOK went downhill after Book 2 that it lost its flare and had faced so much criticism in storytelling that I am amazed that just some Korrasami pairing fallaciously erodes how poorly it was executed near the end. LOK introduced important factors from Book 1 that just disintegrated as a deus ex machina by Book 2 with no remnants and that seemed peculiar. They introduced an important concept as spirits but by Book 3 that is also relegated much and I found the Red Lotus boring and if they had qualms Korra doesn’t care about it. The only times I saw her care is in Book 2 keeping spirit portals open and in Book 4 just last second caring about Kuvira. Also I do not like Korra with Asami and this has nothing to do with gay couples. Asami is a non-existent character whose popularity rests solely on her being with Korra and making a few fans happy. If they wanted to do justice to a gay relationship they shouldn’t have written Asami so poorly and only as a bimbo love interest. I can see that Kuvira and Jinora have a more valid chance in ending up with Korra than Asami as a better portrayal of a gay relationship. Also Makorra or Korra/Mako relationship was actually a good one; they just ended it for no reason but then by Book 4 it’s apparent that they may still be chances of them going together as Mako and Korra obviously have feelings. So in the end Korra is basically in love with two people but chooses the safest choice for the moment except the person who completes her (it could have been Asami if she was better portrayed and Mako only after some time). It was just a cop-out and I thought Korra and the others could’ve have matured more but it didn’t happen.

  • Sollo

    Book 4 is so plot-filled and so Korra-centered that it ended up having
    really little space for everything else, that’s true. They put tons of
    meaningful and deep themes in only 12 episodes (the clip episode doesn’t
    count, of course), with a great attention to Korra’s development.

    I must say that I do not agree with the writer’s perspective about
    Korra’s character arc: she just found a meaning in her suffering, it’s
    something that everyone would do to accept a great grief as the one she
    went through. And basically, she’s the same as before, only more
    compassionate and concious of her role. Need an example? She still sees
    her struggle as a matter of force, she’s still lacking in her spiritual
    side, but she matured enough to understand that she must TRY to be a
    better person in order to become one. She still has the same flaws she
    had in the past, but she has learned to tame them, and frankly I thought
    it was pretty clear throughout the whole season.

    Then. let’s remember of Mako’s and Korra’s characters: Mako is almost an
    awkward and anti-social man dedicated to duty; Korra has always tended
    to be a loner, isolating herself from the people she loves because of
    her proud persoanility. Theirs is not a friendship like Aang and
    Sokka’s, or even like Aang and Zuko’s, when the latter’s shyness was
    compensated by the airbending Avatar’s cheerfulness.

    Still, it’s also true, that the series finale was lacking in
    terms of dialogue and friendship, but let’s face it: it’s a
    miracle they did all this with 20 minutes cut in the middle of the
    production.

    Still, I must agree about Varrick and Zhu Li: their love story was just
    nonsense, as well as giving them so much space in the ending.

    Regarding Kuvira, it’s true she was underdeveloped, but she still serves
    a purpose as a character: being a degenerated version of Korra,
    reminding her that without an inner, moral “brake”, she’s doomed to
    become an horrible person.

    Summing up, LoK’s finale is supposed to be the beginning of Korra’s real
    journey, opposed to AtLA’s, which was the ending of an adventure. In 20
    minutes, everything can happen, so I’m just glad that they managed to
    keep such an high level in this flawed finale (let’s remember that in
    one only episodes Korra dealt with spirit vines going crazy, learned
    about her new power, regained her connection to Raava, talked to Zaheer
    and more).

    And then, Korra’s character is not underwhelmed at all, but she’s the
    only character in the series who became completely well-rounded and
    complete, an icon of self-control, balance, which ended up being the
    most complex character this franchise and maybe the whole animation have
    ever seen. Regarding her “losing” her former vitality: that’s totally natural. After everything she’s gone through, it’s normal that she became more of a melancholic and dramatic character, alway kind of bittersweet. Maybe it’s not what you’d like best, but it’s not a series’ flaw, it’s just realistc and wheter you like it or not depends on your personal taste.
    I’d like the writer to reply to this comment, because I like friendly sharing of opinions and ideas.

    Forgive any grammar mistake, english is not my native language. Greetings from Italy.

  • Lance

    Well actually, Korra did not create the new spirit portal. The sheer amount of spiritual energy fired from Kuvira’s weapon at the end, all concentrated into a single point on the ground, is what created the new portal. I believe they even mention that in the episode.

  • Nitroshinobi

    Nick caused all of this to happen. I mean, why would they torture the series as much as they did? They cut the budget, causing a filler episode, and that filler episode could have made room for more development for the ending. They didn’t air about 1/3 of the episodes on TV, and they just all out destroyed the writers creative freedom. If Michael and Bryan weren’t signed up with Nick, they could have turned the avatar series into something truly amazing.