TV Review: ‘The Legend Of Korra’ Lives Up to Predecessor

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Grace Papas, Outgoing Executive Editor

The Legend of Korra, the much-anticipated sequel to the popular Avatar: The Last Airbender, excels in some places but lacks in others. With this show, what was first intended to be a 12 episode miniseries turned into a fully developed show with four seasons.

The main premise of the series takes place about 50 years after the plot of Avatar: The Last Airbender. The series follows Korra, Aang’s waterbending successor, as she faces political and spiritual unrest in this modernized version of the beloved world fans know.

Korra as a show features a strong female protagonist with traits typically seen in a male character. Korra is brash, impulsive, aggressive, and prideful. She knows how talented she is, and she is unafraid to show it. This is something I would love to see in more female characters: a more prideful and confident attitude.

Korra, for all her faults, is one of the best-written characters in TV shows I have watched. She is a great role model for younger girls and more than once I found myself marveling at how admirable she was, especially during her fight scenes. She is loud, bold, and confident—Aang’s polar opposite—which caught my interest right away. 

It is rare to find a show spotlighted on a skilled female fighter, especially one that always fights first and talks later. You cannot help but root for her the entire way through.

I also loved the concept introduced in season one called “pro-bending”. Team Avatar is united by their passion for pro-bending, a spectator sport in which two teams composed of an earthbender, waterbender, and firebender throw each other out of a ring using bending techniques. I liked the concept and the scenes were interesting enough to hold my interest.

The cast of characters making up the new Team Avatar were two brothers named Mako and Boulin and a young tech CEO named Asami. I found myself intrigued enough by their dynamic, but ultimately I did not connect with them as I did with Team Avatar in the original series. 

Without considering its prequel, Korra’s setting presents an interesting modernized setting combined with the magic of bending, which is a combination that rarely works, but the show pulls it off. 

My biggest qualm with the series is its plot. Unlike the original Avatar series, this show featured seasonal villains,  like an “Equalist” uprising, or an underground organization of benders or vengeful spirits, because this show had way too many antagonists to keep track of.

As someone who liked Avatar’s build to the Fire Lord as an ultimate endgame and villain, I wish Korra had taken a similar approach. As soon as one villain was defeated, another one spawned out of nowhere without depth or build-up, and was defeated in the same way.

The Fire Lord and Azula, the two main villains of the Avatar series, were menacing because they were developed and had solid build-ups to their action. Korra’s villains all had cool concepts, but they all fell short and were executed poorly.

I was also disappointed by the lack of chemistry and development of Korra and Asami’s relationship. While I was thrilled to see a queer relationship in such an influential series, I was let down by the build-up—or lack of one—to it. It did not feel believable, and I wish they had more screen time together. I wanted to love their relationship as a queer person myself, but ultimately I was not able to.

In other characters, Mako felt underdeveloped as well. A lot of people brush him off as the quiet, edgy one because of lack of development. While I do not think Mako was a bad character, he was an underdeveloped one.

However, there is a difference between characters with wasted potential and flat-out bad characters. The second villain was so dumb that I do not even care to remember his name. I thought it was stupid when he combined with the evil stingray kite ribbon. Then, Korra’s spirit grew big and punched the giant bad guy as a result of what was like, her fourth mental breakdown of that season, and the whole thing was a mess.

In my opinion, this show shined best in its third and fourth seasons. To conclude: was The Legend of Korra a bad show? No. Was it as good as Avatar: The Last Airbender? No. 

With that being said, I still enjoyed what Korra was, and I had a good experience watching it.