Previous Korra reviews:Ep. 13+14: "Rebel Spirit" and "The Southern Lights"Ep. 15: "Civil Wars, Part 1"Ep. 16: "Civil Wars, Part 2"Ep. 17: "Peacekeepers"Ep. 18: "The Sting"Ep. 19/20: "The Beginning, Part 1&2"Ep. 21: "The Guide"Ep. 22: "A New Spiritual Age"Ep. 23+24: "Night Of A Thousand Stars" and "Harmonic Convergence"
As always SPOILERS!
LEGEND OF KORRA, EPISODE 25 and 26: "DARKNESS FALLS" and "LIGHT IN THE DAKR"”Find the light in the dark.”
For all its faults, Book Two at least makes up for it with a killer story. Irregular pacing aside, the Dark Spirits plot has been amazing and its conclusion is nothing short of mindblowing. It’s pure, undulated epic
. Giant Korra vs. Giant Unalaq is kind of stupid, but it comes from an appropriate place and it's hella cool. Unalaq's transformation is intimidating in that unearthly, slow descent of gradual doom kinda feel. I got the same vibe when Rei turned into Giant Naked at the climax of End of Evangelion.
I made a comparison image between the two, but I'm not particularly sure if I can show it on DA. Rei's naked, but not graphically so and both her and Unalaq is stylish eldritch enough that it may be Safe For Work, but I'm not taking any risk on DA. Better safe than sorry. You can check out the comparison picture on my tumblr review here
Unalaq is a boring ass character, but he plays the heartless villain well and his demise ends in a bang (well, a flutter of light, but picky, picky.) Everything that lead up to this conclusion is written nigh-perfectly. Korra’s journey reaches its highest point yet; compare how she reacts here over Book One's finale. There she loses all her Bending, turning her into a (justified) crying mess until Aang pops in, gives her a few words of comfort, and…returns her Bending. Just like that. It was anti-climatic and rewarded Korra for something she never really achieved or suffered enough for. Book Two dramatically improves upon that formula: Korra loses Raava and with it, her connection to the past Avatars. Unalaq is terrorizing Republic City and there’s nothing Korra can do. She isn’t crying this time, she’s just…done. So done.
It’s somber, it’s heartbreaking, and it hits all the right notes. The build up is much better and her weariness is genuine. The only big niggling issue is that the past Avatar attachment thing only worked for me because I've already seen Avatar.
Korra barely ever spoke with any of them. Seeing Aang, Roku, and the rest disintegrating before my eyes only worked because of Avatar.
Look,it's a sad scene, but would I have been as emotional if I had only watched Korra?
Isn’t it appropriate that it isn’t Aang who gives her a leg up this time, but his son, Tenzin? He tells Korra about the Tree of Time and reassures her Raava doesn’t define who she is; Korra must find her own inner spirit. In a great nod to Avatar’s
“The Guru”, Korra enters her own cosmic path and Rita made her monster grow. All of this is accompanied by a really gorgeous score by Jeremy Zuckerman. It’s powerful and dramatic, yet poignant and atmospheric. Are they going to make a second Legend of Korra
soundtrack because I want this piece so badly.
After such a slipshod attempt at character development in Book One, “Light In the Dark” nearly makes up for all the complaints I had. While I can’t say this is necessarily the end of Korra’s character arc (we still have two more books), it’s a step above from the rest and greatly boosts a refined, mature Korra. Now all I have to do is cross my fingers and hope they keep it that way.
I like Jinora's last minute power up, but I don’t really get it. I think she was blinding Unalaq/Vaatu with her soul light or something. They never really explain it or how she even got it (is she producing the light on her own?), but it’s alright. I liked that Jinora had a bigger role and I can forgive the lack of explanation for her sudden trump card.
Also, is Vaatu gone? I wager Unalaq is, but what about him? The show emphasized very clearly that light cannot kill dark and vice versa. Vaatu isn’t stuck inside a mystical tree anymore, so at best, Korra shaved off some time until he returns. Since he merged with Unalaq, does that mean they’ll be reincarnated into a new Dark Avatar? I mean, is there a baby crying in the distance carrying Vaatu’s spirit somewhere off-camera now? I doubt we’ll get any answers in Books 3 and 4, but food for thought. I will say it’s probably the best outcome of the whole light vs. dark balance. I was honestly disappointed that they resorted to the whole "Light is the superior path because we're good and stuff" instead of the more Eastern philosophy where both sides are equally balanced and necessary. To Book 2’s credit, they still do emphasize a balance and it IS consistent, just not the
balance. Despite how it pontificated, the show was kind enough to admit Vaatu and Raava are pretty much destined to battle each other for the rest of eternity. Vaatu's fate is actually ambiguous, but it doesn’t contradict it either, so I’ll take it.
I like the subplot with Aang’s children; they’re a vast exception in a sea of assholes and idiots. The problem with Book Two is that there are only two default types for most of the cast: self-entitled dicknuts (Korra, Bolin, and later Mako) and clueless morons (Asami, Lin, and Bolin..<ei>.again.</i>) Book Two relied heavily on contrived plots and easy convenience to drive any sort of conflict they needed. While I defended a lot of Korra’s behavior in the beginning, I understand watching her act like a violent ball of unrelenting wrath for five episodes straight requires an Olympian level of patience to deal with. The great thing about Tenzin and his siblings is that they don’t fit any of these issues. Their stories are sparsely laid out and given the right amount of focus. Imagine having to listen to these three argue for five episodes straight. Kya, Bumi, and Tenzin's idiosyncrasies fluidly bounce off each other without ever feeling stilted or forcefully slapped in for the sake of plot. They simultaneously have the most tolerable and least flawed character arcs of Book Two. I loved every moment of their time together.
Tenzin’s demons are effectively solved in “Darkness Falls” when he has to confront his issues in a mist filled with lost souls. It’s fitting: he’s not Aang’s son, he is himself; valuable life lesson he eventually installs in Korra. I think it does rely a bit too much on “I feel this” and “I think that”, but I guess if you’re literally going to confront yourself, it kinda goes with the territory. Maybe I just feel that way because Book Two really lacks some of the subtly that made Avatar
so great. Still, it finishes nicely and I liked it.
This is minor, but I really dug Kya’s “You can’t tie me down” line when she was temporarily consumed by the spirit mist. For that matter, I also like Bumi referencing cannibals in his. I think both lines fit their characters perfectly. Of course Bumi would mention something so wild it could only come from his stories. As for Kya? Well, the show hinted (and supplementary materials confirmed) that she’s a free-spirited hippie-type who traveled the world before settling with Katara. Of course she doesn’t want to stay in one location for so long because it isn’t what she wants.
like the Iroh cameo in “Darkness Falls.” I felt he was best as a one-time thing only and having him reappear for a brief fifteen second cameo downplays the poignancy of “A New Spiritual Age" and renders him a, well, gimmick. Fortunately, Zhao’s cameo is masterfully delivered: seventy years later, he’s still ranting about capturing the Avatar (at one point mistaking Tenzin for him.) It is delicious (and fucking hilarious.)
All of the good is topped with a finale that changes every single freakin’ thing about the Avatarverse. Korra decides to keep the Spirit Portals open so humans and spirits can try and live in peace. I do think her decision is sudden and lacks weight. Look, it’s not that the show hasn’t emphasized the pros and cons of a human/spirit world and I like her decision, but she has to actually linger and think this through. You can't make an impromptu decision like that!
Either way it’s certainly a risky choice for Bryke to make. It’s pretty damn clear they intended to wrap this up by the end of Book 2. The next one is subtitled “Changes” meaning a lot of the aftermath will likely be answered there. Good, because there’s plenty to ask: What will Korra do now that the Avatar role no longer serves as a bridge? Will other humans take on new roles in light of these changes? How will humans and spirits get along? There’s definitely going to be conflict between the two. Will Noh the Face Stealer be lurking in the shadows of Republic City? Will we see Zhao wandering around its streets rambling like a maniac in the background somewhere? And so much more. I find Korra relinquishing some of her duties to be interesting. This is a girl who at the age of four proudly announced her role and embraced it openly. Now she has to essentially burden some of it to others. It’s a game-changer and it’s good.
I love everything about this. Yes, it’s different and alters some of the rules, but that’s the point. The integrity of the world is still left intact, only now there’s something new to tinker with. I'll argue that Book 2 will sit alongside the Avatar finale as a defining moment of the entire franchise. It honestly gets to a point where I legit have to ask: How can Books 3 and 4 top this?
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses (surprise, surprise.) The romance is still deplorable. Bolin/Eska is just awful, awful, awful.
Overall, I like the twins and their weirdly-defined behaviors. These two interact and function on a whole different level than most people and they stand out beautifully (and hilariously) as a result. I enjoyed their struggled between loyalty to their dad and Team Avatar, though they got over their father real fast and seem to take it in stride after the fight. Well, okay. What I didn’t
like was Eska’s romance with Bolin. To her credit, she treats him much
better here than she did in the beginning, but I cannot say I'll miss the pairing—it was a toxic relationship. I'm just annoyed that Eska
broke it off, not Bolin. It should have been Bolin, but nope, the show is still content to play him as a milquetoast who’s sooo in love with Eska despite her physical and emotional abuse. He doesn’t have the spine to end it because HA HA funny, stooooopid Bolin. *grumble grumble*
Mako is another pile of stupid. Honestly, this guy could have had potential. I liked
him in the first half because at the time, he was a voice of reason for Korra, something she needed. He tried to make the most of their situation and when he broke up with her, it was for the best. I was rooting for this kid. Hell, even their brief romantic moments that didn’t involve screaming their heads off were kept to a minimum. The romance wasn’t any less awful, but it didn’t consume the overall plot like it did Book One, so points for that. But then “The Sting” happened and it just collapses from then on when Mako eventually reciprocates Asami’s leftover feelings. And like the big dumbass that he is, Mako evades any problem that comes out of his romantic entrapment. This is on top of Mako’s Competence Mode where he plays detective and seems to be on the ball conveniently in time for everyone else to be a dumbass. Those two dumb cops are meant to represent the supreme idiocy of the entire Republic Police Force because heaven forbid anyone else help; we gotta have Mako figure this whole thing out because he’s the only
intelligent cop in the damn city. *sigh*
Korra finds out about the big break up after remembering it from the Tree of Time. Along with her new maturity comes sensibility and she breaks up with Mako “for good." Mako at least has the good sense to agree. I don’t know how long “for good” is because there are still two books of this madness to deal with, but I'm betting Book 3 will deal with Mako/Asami. Mako conveniently forgot to mention his time with Asami to his now ex and Asami last gave Mako the biggest stink eye ever, so there's that to look forward to. ...Joy.
I am getting very worried for Asami’s character. In Book One, Asami was in the middle of a love triangle that ended poorly for her. Mako was torn between two women and though he tried to stay loyal to Asami, his feelings for Korra were so blatant that at one point, he dissed her. It took maybe three-four episodes before she finally confronted Mako about it, but he doesn't do anything until the last episode of Book One and he (and Korra) does it in a vein-poppingly obnoxious way. Mako
breaks up with her and instantly hooks up with Korra, a callous act from both if there ever was one. Not one of them asked if Asami was alright with this. The good part is she had a compelling arc with her father and his involvement with the Equalist. This carries over to Book Two because she’s now Head CEO of Future Industries and must keep her family business afloat. It’s the only thing Asami has left of the Sato household and the struggles she must face living under her father’s shadow would have made a great subplot. Of course this doesn’t happen. “The Sting” is a great Asami episode, but it’s the only
Asami-centric episode. There’s very little of her before and after. We rarely see her in her new role, we don’t see her fighting alongside Team Avatar at the trail end rendering Bolin’s woes in “Night Of A Thousand Stars” almost mute, and we certainly don’t get to witness her daddy issues. No, the only time Asami mentions her father is through Bolin’s mouth when he tells Mako. This is a really damn big problem because it’s ignoring Asami yet again, utilizing a tell, don’t show method by having another character explain Asami’s concerns instead of showing it.
Why can’t we see Asami’s sadness for ourselves? Why can’t there be a scene where she’s upset the two men most important in her lives are both jailed? I really love Asami, but she's becoming less of a character than a flaky piece of skin flapping out of Mako's foot.
Book Two is…it was an interesting trip. I’m not sure how to feel about it. I guess I’m stuck solely in the middle, largely mixed to the whole thing. I mean, the finale was freakin’ great and it validates a lot of the issues. Yet it’s peppered with some serious pacing issues. The Spirit plot gets tossed aside at one point to focus more on Mako and his city shenanigans. Despite what Doug and Rob Walker said in their Korra
vlogs, I don’t think those and Varrick’s plot were pointless because the whole idea is to drive three out of the four main characters to their appropriate conclusion and Varrick happens to play a huge role in doing so; the character arcs just sucked donkey's butt. The character development goes back and forth in terms of quality. Korra’s wrath retroactively works for the greater story and while it could have been spread out like Tenzin’s arc, it would have to drastically change episode orders to do so and I can’t imagine how they would do that—it’s practically perfect where it is. I already talked about Aang’s children. Arguably, Mako’s subplot paced fairly well, he’s just a douchebag. Bolin’s is satisfying, but had a lot of hiccups, and Asami’s is practically non-existent. The point is, they’re all over the goddamn place. I hesitate to use the Eight Deadly Words (“I don’t care what happens to these characters.”) because I want to believe Team Avatar can still be enticing, better people, but Book Two’s biggest issue IS the shitty character arcs.
In a perfect world, a show can master and balance both Characters and Story, but I will often emphasize Characters first because they are the heart. If I don’t give a shit about these guys, then what’s the point of the story? With that in mind, I cannot believe I’m saying this, but The Legend of Korra
is now officially an exception. I love the story, I think it’s fantastic. I loved the Benders vs. Non-benders stuff in Book One and really wished it had the same loose end that Book 2 does (since it deals with a subject matter that can’t be solved just like that.) I loved the Dark Spirit stuff. I love the Spirits and Human conflict. I love the addition of Raava and Vaatu to the overall Avatar mythology. But the characters? God, it’s touch and go. It’s hit-or-miss. It's a MESS
. I don’t know if Book Two suffered all this because it directly occurred after the series' renewal. Maybe Bryke just can’t handle shorter episode arcs. Who knows? But for all its flaws, they have
improved since Book One.
There's a lot of pressure on Book 3 though; that one is the point of no return. We’ve reached the halfway point and if it doesn’t get any better after, there’s no hope for this show. At the least, if the characters still stink by then, the story might be super fantastic. That’s kinda sad, but it’s still got a better plot than a lot of TV shows out there. Perhaps I'm being too hopeful (unusual as it is for me) and bias because of the many untapped potential this show still has (and because I'm sentimental enough for Avatar
to keep giving them the benefit of the doubt), but I want to believe these characters can still move me. After all, they've reached their lowest point. All that's left is to go up, right?
Well, all except Mako. No, this guy has officially lost his second chance. He would have to pull something gastronomically huge and impossible to counter his awful character. He gets nothing, good day sir. Fuck Mako.DARKNESS FALLS: AND A HALF OUT OF FIVELIGHT IN THE DARK: AND A HALF OUT OF FIVEBOOK 2 AS A WHOLE:
To my surprise, Grey Delisle is the voice of the Spirit Mushroom; itself a hilarious character. "ZHU LI, DO THE THING:"
The eldritch horror of Unalaq and the possible apocalypse deters none of Varrick's energy; he breaks for escape the minute he has an opening with a goddamn glider. I love this guy. Please let him return in Books 3 and 4. BEST LINE: ”But you will always hold a special place in the organ that pumps my blood.”
The twins may have their ups and downs, but damn if they don’t get some goddamn funny-ass lines.
STUPID FANCOMICSDiscovery (A Transformers Animated Fancomic):
Read the entire thing here. More updated as the series progresses. Placed there for archival purpose.Chess Piece (A Danny Phantom Fancomic):
An AU Danny Phantom
comic. It's been canceled, but for those morbidly curious to read this convoluted train wreck, the link is here.
If you ever want a list of links to all the reviews/rants/analysis/time-wasters I wrote.My Twitter:
Follow me ramble in 100+ words or less here.My Tumblr:
Lots of pretty pictures I like. I may also submit sketches of "Discovery" that I won't put on DA.REQUESTS:
No, I do not. Sorry.