‘The Legend of Korra’ Season Finale: TV Recap
By Christopher John Farley
We’ve reached the end of the first season, and I’ve realized that part of what makes “The Legend of Korra” so distinctive is that it actually has an end. Most kids programs assume lowered attention spans and reduced expectations; their plot arcs don’t continue from week to week, much less the course of a whole season. “Korra” respects its story and its fans. J.K. Rowling bet that kids would read 800 page books; Suzanne Collins wagered that young adults could handle themes of violence and social control. The creators of “Korra” are hoping they’re not telling their tale to a nation of amnesiacs, and that viewers, whatever their age, will stay with a complex story, if it is told with wit, style and drama.
As we begin the two-part finale with the episode “Skeletons in the Closet,” General Iroh and the United Forces have arrived–but they’ve sailed into a trap. Hiroshi Sato has invented the biplane, and, in a scene that evokes the bombing of Pearl Harbor, they stage a surprise attack against the fleet.
“Where does Hiroshi find the time to keep inventing new evil machines?” Bolin asks, in one of a number of Sokka-quality wisecracks he gets to toss off this episode.
Nursing his wounds, Iroh regroups. He orders the rest of the United Forces fleet to stay back, and readies a fresh attack on the equalist air base. Meanwhile, Korra decides it’s time to confront Amon, and goes with Mako to battle him on Air Temple Island.
In a jail cell on Air Temple Island, Korra and Mako run into Tarrlok.
He tells them a secret: “I’m Amon’s brother.”
Tarrlok tells them his tale of family woe. Tarrlok and Amon (who had a different name growing up) are both sons of the gangster Yakone. After his defeat at the hands of the Avatar, Yakone settled in the Northern Water Tribe. But after their father discovered both his sons were waterbenders, he secretly trained them in the forbidden art of bloodbending. (The scenes of the brothers bloodbending wolf-like creatures are sure to disturb PETA, though I’m pretty confident no actual wolf-like creatures were harmed.) Driven by his lust for revenge, Yakone forced the brothers to bloodbend each other for practice; in disgust, Amon rebelled and ran away, nursing a hatred of bending while also showing a rare gift for it.
After hearing that family history, Korra and Mako decide to go to an equalist rally to expose Amon as a bender. It’s on.
In the second part of the two-part finale, titled “Endgame,” Iroh, Bolin, and Asami find Hiroshi’s secret airfield. They are captured by Hiroshi who boasts that he knows where the rest of the United Forces’ fleet is hiding.
Meanwhile, at the rally, Amon tells the crowd the lie that he was attacked by a firebender as a child. Korra announces the truth to the assembled mob, but, to bolster his case, Amon removes his mask to display what seems to be a horrible burn scar. It’s a move that evokes Darth Vader in “Star Wars” and the masked revolutionary in “V for Vendetta.” Amon then springs the fact that he has imprisoned Tenzin and his family–the last airbenders. Provoked, Korra attacks and frees Tenzin and his kids.
In a duel, Amon strips Korra of her bending, and then moves to do the same to Mako. Korra soon finds that stripped of her other skills, and fueled by her desperation to save her friend, she can airbend–”I can airbend? I can airbend!” she shouts– and she knocks Amon out of the building and into the nearby water.
His empty mask surfaces, bobbing on the water.
Amon comes to under the waves, and instinctively jets to the surface where a crowd sees him using his waterbending skills; his fake scar has also been washed away along with any hope of passing himself off as an anti-bending rebel. Amon swims off, and the revolution is shown to be a fraud.
Near the airfield, Iroh heroically takes out some of the equalist planes, and forces one to run into the huge statue of Aang, whose head had been covered up by an Amon-style mask. The crashing plane knocks off the mask.
“Thanks for looking out for me Aang,” Iroh says to the statue.
In a scene that conjures up the exosuit battle scenes in James Cameron’s movies “Aliens” and “Avatar” (the one with the 3-D blue creatures, not “Avatar: The Last Airbender”!), Asami and her father fight while in hulking Future Industries gear. “Mr. Sato, you are a horrible father!” Bolin declares, just before helping Asami to bring the industrialist down.
On the run, or rather on the swim, Amon goes to see his imprisoned brother, seemingly convinces him to give brotherhood another shot, and the two head off in a boat together–but Tarrlok blows it up, apparently killing them both. In this mob drama, Fredo fights back.
Katara tries to heal the benders who have lost their powers, but it’s beyond even her formidable talents. The Avatar is inconsolable–are you really the Avatar when you’ve lost the ability to bend three elements?–but Mako tries to console her, and winds up confessing his love. Now she feels even worse and runs off into the frozen waste.
Leaning over the edge of a massive frozen glacier, sobbing, she sheds a tear that falls past the cold cliff walls below.
She senses someone approaching.
“Not now Tenzin, I just want to be left alone,” she cries.
“But you called me here.”
Surprise. It’s not Tenzin.
“Aang?” Korra asks.
“You have finally connected with your spiritual self,” Aang says.
“When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change,” he replies.
(So true. As Lao Tse once said, “Failure is an opportunity.” And as LeBron said this week, after losing the championship last year and winning it this year, “It’s about damn time.”)
The other Avatars appear beside Aang, and Korra, eyes glowing, enters the Avatar state.
(“I was so glad when her eyes finally glowed like that,” my seven year old daughter said.)
The music swells and Korra levitates as the elements swirl around her. She has her mystical moment, and then floats back to earth as her boots touch the ice again.
“I love you too, ” she says, and kisses him.
As LeBron might say, it’s about darn time.
Returning to the others, Korra uses her power to heal Lin Beifong and bring back her bending. The Avatar has returned, and she’s going to bring balance to the world.
“I am so proud of you–Avatar Korra,” Tenzin says.
The student is now the master.
What did you think of the finale? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
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