WARNING: Spoilers from the series to follow.
Nickelodeon’s acclaimed animated series “The Legend of Korra” has had a strong six-episode start to it’s final season.
The spin-off of the wildly popular “Avatar: The Last Airbender” has long since established itself as an animated powerhouse, thus earning the love of its predecessor’s fans. The Legend of Korra has had three great seasons since it’s debut in 2012, and the newest season is nothing less than what Korra fans expect out of the show.
Six episodes in and with seven more to go, the fourth and final season of Korra has set itself up for what could be a very memorable series finale.
Book Four of the series, titled “Balance,” began with a recap of what occurred in the three-year span between the events of season three up until now. Mako has been protecting Prince Wu, a clueless teenager who is in line to become Earth King. At the same time, Bolin is working for Kuvira, military leader and Book Four baddie. Kuvira, also known as “The Great Uniter,” is feared across the Earth Kingdom and poised to grab power. A conflict waiting to happen you say? How very astute of you! This leads to an argument between the brothers. Despite Mako’s utter disdain for Prince Wu, he recognizes that Kuvira is a dictator, something that Bolin fails to see. Bolin defends Kuvira, setting up a bigger conflict down the road. In Bolin’s defense, Prince Wu isn’t a great choice for Earth King.
With all of this political drama surrounding the world, Avatar Korra remains to be seen. We flash back in episode two and see a broken, battered and utterly lost Korra. “Korra Alone,” a homage to the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” episode “Zuko Alone,” was emotionally charged and arguably the best episode thus far. We get to see Katara begin to heal Korra, which was loaded with powerful moments, including Korra’s first steps since her battle with Zaheer in Book Three. It was really powerful seeing Korra begin to rehab, then turn around and show so much frustration. As Korra leaves the Southern Water Tribe, she sets off on her own personal journey around the world, unbeknownst to anyone else.
This leads to the best part of episode two. We. Saw. Toph. TOPH!!! If you watched the end of episode two when Toph said, “Nice to see you again, twinkle toes,” then you are probably like me and screamed, “What!? YES!” in the Columbus Airport Starbucks. No shame. The beloved character from “Avatar: The Last Airbender” made a shocking appearance, and set up a great storyline throughout the next two episodes.
This of course led to episode three, which featured some sage wisdom by Toph. It’s pretty much a complete parallel to “Empire Strikes Back.” Toph teaches Korra valuable things, and they are even in a swampy setting, very comparable to Dagobah.
The third episode of Book Four did a lot of story building. We find out that Korra still has metal in her body from her battle with Zaheer that needs to be removed. Additionally, we see Mako and Bolin confront each other over their differing views on Earth Kingdom politics, as well as Kuvira’s absolutely cold-blooded proclamation that she is the new Earth Kingdom leader. This belittled Prince Wu and got the Earth Kingdom citizens behind Kuvira. Once again, this episode took a political route, which I found to be interesting, though not as captivating as Toph and Korra’s storyline. Through her interacting with Toph, Korra begins to see that she hasn’t moved on from her traumatic experiences, which comes full circle in the next installment.
Episode four starred Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo as they searched for Korra. Tenzin sent his children to find Korra in the midst of all the political turmoil, hoping that some of these looming issues can be solved by Korra. The kids received an episode, and overall it was really good. Although there was some childish humor here and there, it wasn’t all bad. Additionally, it was interesting drawing parallels between Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo’s outing with Aang, Sokka, and Katara’s adventures. We saw some very emotionally charged moments with Korra, such as her crying upon seeing the kids. The most important takeaway from this episode is that Korra is back. She has let go of her past battles and removed the metal for good. This metaphor shows that Korra is back on track, and Team Avatar is looking to be reunited soon.
The two newest episodes emphasize the political aspect of the fourth season, with Kuvira on the doorstep of Zaofu. Kuvira is attempting to take control of the metal bending city, thus completing her takeover of the Earth Kingdom.
In episode five, we learn more about the super-weapon that Varrick and Zhu Li are working on. Through harnessing the power of the spirit vine, Varrick plans on developing a weapon with devastating power for Kuvira. When Varrick realizes how dangerous the weapon will be, he backs out of the project, only for Kuvira to use force in persuading him to continue the endeavor. Later on, Bolin attempts to create peace between the city of Zaofu and Kuvira. Su Beifong, leader of Zaofu refuses to give in to Kuvira’s demands. Bolin finally comes to the realization that Kuvira is an insane dictator, which was a rewarding moment. It’s good to have Bolin back on Team Avatar. Varrick, Zhu Li, and Bolin all try to escape together from Kuvira’s army, only to be captured. The fight scene in episode five was actually really cool; Zhu Li came into her own in this episode, and really kicked some ass in that mech suit. Zhu Li pledges her allegiance to Kuvira, which probably isn’t truly sincere. Either way, Kuvira accepts Zhu Li into her circle, while Varrick and Bolin are sent away. Sidenote, Su Beifong and her sons try to take out Kuvira while she is sleeping, but get captured.
Throughout episodes five and six, we see the first interactions between Korra and Kuvira. While the two start off on good terms, Korra and Kuvira’s disagreement over what should happen to Zaofu culminates in a pretty cool fight in episode six. Kuvira defeats Korra pretty handily in this bout. While Korra shows off her power in the Avatar state, she quickly leaves the Avatar state when she once again sees “Evil Korra,” or whatever you want to call her visions of herself. This led to Korra and the airbender kids all fleeing via air bison, and Kuvira taking control of Zaofu. Additionally, Varrick and Bolin have escaped the hands of Kuvira’s guards, blowing up a train and making them believe that they are dead. Kuvira is full steam ahead on the super-weapon project, however, as it will now be headed by Zhu Li and Bataar Jr.
Clearly Korra has not overcome whatever mental debilitation she suffered in fighting Zaheer. In the past two episodes we see Korra struggling to find some sort of balance between the part of her that is a fighter, and the part of her that wants peace. There are still problems that she needs to face, and her cast of friends seem to be aware of that. Korra and Tenzin will interact soon; he will probably give her some much needed advice.
There is an evident struggle in Korra trying to assimilate herself back into the world after being gone for so long. Korra doesn’t seem to know where she fits in anymore, and this identity crisis is sure to be a theme for the rest of the season.
Legend of Korra Book Four has been very strong through six episodes. I expect more great episodes to come from creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko.
I’m sure I didn’t harp on every event and storyline from every episode, but in case you haven’t watched Book Four yet, or just want to watch again, you can click here to watch the episodes for free on Nickelodeon’s website.
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