Last week marked the end of the second season of Nickelodeon’s hit series The Legend of Korra, and also the end of another chapter in the life of the newest Avatar. I’ve been a huge fan of this series since it started last year, loving every single moment of it with every episode. Despite a rocky start and at times, not quite being able to capture that same creative magic it had in Avatar : The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra still manages to being a creative story with likeable characters and worlds. However, speaking as one just fangirl, this season did have it’s problems. Problems such story pacing, essential character envolment and plot developement. Some of the same complaints I had in the first season still remain in the second season, but does that make it another hit-miss?
In this next chapter, Avatar Korra, the ever hot-headed teenager, is still learning what it means to be the bridge between both the material world and spirit world while. On the outside, it appears as though she has made some considerable strands in her training and has achieve levels further than her previous incarnation. To a certain degree, she has. However, despite her progress, she still lacks the spirit discipline required of the Avatar, much to the frustration of her mentor Tenzin. Korra is all punch-first-ask-questions later, and her complete lack of patience ultimately results to shouting matches with those around her. For the most part, Korra is still as immature as she was in the first season and just as brash as ever with how she approaches a problem. She’s not exactly open to suggestions either, whether it’s from her teachers, her family or even her boyfriend Mako who all have a tough time trying to get through to Korra. To make things worse, it’s around this time that world begins to experience a significant change with the unexpected invasion of dark hostile spirits from the Spirit World.
To combat these dark spirits, Korra recruits the help of her spiritual uncle and tribe leader, Unalaq, to take over her spiritual training after abandoning the teachings of her mentor. It doesn’t take long before Korra realizes that her mistake after seeing that her uncle is more than he appears to be and that this sudden arrival of these dark spirits could just be the beginning of something far more serious. Through out the season, Korra uncovers a plot to bring about the end of the material world with the return of the evil spirit lord, Vaatu, a civil war that threatens the peace between the North and South Pole while also learning of the origin of the very first Avatar and what it means to be the bridge between the two worlds.
Pros and Cons
I’m adding both the postive and negetive assepts of the show together since during this season, the two kinda went hand in hand.
I have always enjoyed the story-telling style of Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. So far in this new series, they’ve managed to repeat the same success of what made Avatar: The Last Airbender so intriguing. Not just with the unique world that Avatar is set, but also with how human and relatable the situations and characters can be at times. One of my compliants from the previous season was that character development was rushed at times and not much dedication was given to the characters. Though that problem hasn’t changed as much, it has improved (somewhat). After the first couple of episodes, it comes off as though Korra didn’t learn anything during her battle with Amon. She comes off as an immature brat who is unreasonable, stubborn and something of a know-it-all bitch. For the viewer, it’s a bit frustrating to see this huge step back for her character. It makes it seem as though that the events of the first season were pointless. I’m still debating whether or not this is due to the fact that the creators of the show didn’t knew whether or not they were even going to get a second season and the events in the first had to be wrapped up quickly.
However, as the show progresses, we thankfully see that Korra doest start to learn from her mistakes, take responsiblity for them and even learn from the them. I will say that this could’ve been executed better in terms of better story-telling, but even though we had to go the long way around, at least we got to the essential point. I can see what the writers were going for this season and in a way, it kinda works even with how rushed both seasons are. The essential theme of The Legend of Korra is showing her developement as not just as The Avatar but also a teenager. She’s growing into her own, finding her own path as the Avatar and finding out what that means in terms as her as a symbol but also as an identity. It speaks strongly for the writers to use this as another way of showing how growing up isn’t easy and is littered with roadblocks. This season proved interesting as a time when Korra’s character really started to grow.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for the rest of Team Avatar.
Unfortunately this season, the reason of the Korra characters (mainly Mako, Asami, Bolin and Tenzin) took a backseat and didn’t provide much involvement in the show other than progressing the subplots. Unlike in the first season where the group worked as a team to stop Amon, this time the group were more reserved to dealing with their own problems rather backing up Korra. For Asami, it was finding a way of keeping her business from going bankrupt by means of doing deals with a charismatic Howards Hughes business man named Varric. For the brothers Bolin and Mako, Bolin finds himself at the peak of celebrity as a star of the very first motion picture/propaganda films and Mako struggles at his cop as a rookie cop whose trying to uncover a plot of someone sabotaging and profiting from the civil war of the North and South. Sad to say, none of this subplots has any lasting impact on Korra’s story, which is the essential focus here. Don’t get me wrong. They are interesting to watch and enjoy, and to a certain degree, they do advance the characters just a bit. But not enough to where I call it actually growth. These important characters were reduced to mere fillers which was really unfortunate since it’s the second season now and none of them have yet had a chance to come into their own as Korra had the chance to this time around.
In fact, the only sort of character development that makes any advancement this season is Tenzin’s story. We are introduced to Tenzin’s siblings, water-bender/healer Kya and non-bender Bumi early on and we learn along the way that their childhood was slightly different from Tenzin. With Aang focusing much his attention on his air-bender son and no much on his other children.
As the son of the previous Avatar, Tenzin holds his father up on a pedestal and believes its his responsiblity to live up to his father’s expectations as the future for the Airbender race. He lives in his father’s shadow and does all he can to reach the same potential as Aang. Tenzin goes through some major growth in this season, coming to realization that he is not his father but his own man. It’s especially interesting to see this as fan of the original Avatar to come to the same conclusion that Aang was not perfect and that comparing the past to the present is only setting yourself for disappointment. A realization such as this could easily be used when describing the fans who’ve been having trouble acclamenting this new world of Avatar and are constantly making comparisons between the two shows.
Now I wouldn’t be much a Legend of Korra fan girl if i didn’t talk about the ever popular unpopular love-triangle going on between Korra, Mako and Asami – a subplot that is both loved and hated by fans and is often at times has more attention than anything else in the show. I’m not joking when I say that this subplot is often confused as the whole premise of the show since it’s the one that creators always seem to come back to more often than not. It’s also the subplot that fans love to watch and love to rant about. Never before in any sort of series have I seen the term ‘shipping’ used more times in one episode.
Now I don’t totally hate this. I will admit that whenever I watch Legend of Korra, my main concern tends to be focused on Korra and Mako and their complicated relationship. I’m guilty of shipping Makorra hard – my tumblr has made it pretty clear where I stand on this. And I do understand what the creators are going for here in making Korra’s path in life not to be solely about being about becoming the Avatar. It also has to be about her life as a teenager and having responsibilities. But there needs to be a balance between the main plot and the subplots and the show hasn’t quite mastered that balance just yet. If the fans are more focused on the characters love life than the overall theme of the show, then you have to dial it back a bit.
Overall, The Legend of Korra Book 2 : Spirits is not good, but it gets a passable okay. Try as I might, I can’t be too harsh with show simply due to the fact that I enjoy it so much despite its mistakes. Hell, I even love the stuff they get wrong sometimes. To me, this season’s theme was all about making mistakes and learning from them. These characters aren’t perfect in the slightest. They are flawed beings that do things that could ultimately hurt the ones they care about unintentionally. And that’s something that needs to be really praised rather than hated upon. I’ve seen a lot of fans this seasons absolutely trash the characters and show mercilessly because of this and that as well as the show creators. It was unfortunate and it really started to affect how I viewed the show for a time. Fans of the show are passionate, almost to the point that they can be sometimes harsh with their opinions. The creators are more than aware of this and have tried their best to deliver a good show.
All I can say is that I hope that in the next season, the main plot and the subplot (if there are any) will be better balanced out and that the characters be given a chance to blossom individually. I’ve enjoyed what the show has delivered so far, so I only expect to enjoy what comes next season.