So Book 3 of Legend of Korra finished last night and I have to say I think it’s the strongest of the series so far. I would put it on par with the finale in season one of The Last Airbender. The series has finally grabbed a footing and dug in successfully with some beautiful animation and jaw dropping art coupled with well written characters and a masterfully woven conflict. I don’t think the Red Lotus are as potent of an antagonist as the Fire Nation in AtLA or even as strongly conceived as Amon in Book One, but they are certainly well done enough to pose a legitimate threat and make you care about the protagonist’s safety. A lot of people scoff at me when I mention what a great bad guy Amon was, but I won’t back down. Conceptually, the Equalist movement was a brilliant move and the most logical step in story development. Not only was this villain tragic, he made you wonder if maybe he wasn’t right. These are the best kinds of villains- Magneto villains. These are the bad guys you can definitely see where they’re coming from and, put in a similar situation, you might even do the same thing. I get the feeling that Book one could have been a multi-book epic like AtLA but because Nick said it would be a miniseries, the creators crushed three books worth of plot into a few episodes and the overall story suffered greatly from it.
Book one featured a natural story progression. Benders were part of the old world and in the new technological revolution (an aspect that’s not really addressed but we’re just told to go with it in LoK) it makes us wonder if they were still necessary. At the very least, they shouldn’t be superior to normal folk. Korra would have had to work to find the avatar’s place in this brave new world, with more and more people turning against her and what she stands for. The Last Airbender was about finding peace. It was about friendship transcending differences of tribes and nations, uniting the world as a whole. LoK would have been about keeping that peace. Republic City, a place where different benders and non-benders lived together was a perfect setting for that: the entire world condensed into one city. The benders try to hold on to being needed for everyday life, to being depended on even when non-bending innovation was making them obsolete. Amon was the voice of progress and Korra would have had to work to realize that even though she was the bendiest of benders, it doesn’t make her superior. An undertone of AtLA was that natural life (Earth, Water, and Air benders) was good and that technological industrialization (the Fire nation with their ships and tanks) was bad. Heck, the soot belched from the Fire nation ships was the omen of bad things to come. However, Korra’s message could have been that change, no matter how ominous, can be good and sometimes clinging to what works just because it has proven successful in the past may not always be prudent. That’s what I was hoping for in book one that never got delivered and part of me is still jonesing for the rest of the story that got cut out of it.
When book one was proven successful, book two was announced and a story was rushed and stitched together. That’s honestly the overall feeling from book 2: rushed and heartless. The history of Avatar Wan was definitely the strongest part of book 2 and I’m very glad they took two episodes to tell it. They took their time there and it payed off. The rest of the book however, especially the finale, left a rather deus ex machina bad taste in my mouth. Book 3 however makes me feel like the creators are finally taking their time again and I’m hoping the next book proves as rewarding as this one was. I mentioned above how LoK should have been about changes, how the new world, the new Avatar, and the new philosophy behind it should not be considered bad just because it’s leaving the past behind. Finally, everything seems to be going in the right direction. I mean, book 3 is called “Changes” and it was phenomenal. Everyone dig in for book 4 because, as of now, the Avatar is back.
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