It seems like just yesterday scenes from the first episode of The Legend of Korra leaked all over Tumblr. Fast forward a couple of years and Korrasami is canon, Hiroshi Sato is a martyr and Zhu Li and Varrick have officially declared their mutual affection. Needless to say, things have changed a bit since we were “Welcome(d) to Republic City.”
In this podcast, J and I explore the finale episodes of Book 4: Balance, “Day of the Colossus” and “The Last Stand.” We begin by reflecting on Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko’s moving words on the Korra/Asami relationship (both are absolutely worth reading). We then get into the stuff of the first episode: Varrick’s EMP attack, Meelo’s balloon attack and Wu’s melodious (or cacophonous?) control of badger moles.
We follow that up with a conversation about stakes in this episode. Specifically, we look at how Hiroshi Sato’s last moments set a precedent for Mako’s sacrifice and the final fight between Korra and Kuvira. From there we go through our finale predictions from Episode 16 and earlier (that the spirits would come back, Jinora would save the day again, the old masters might reappear, etc.). Almost none of these things actually happened.
This leads to a conversation about Korra confronting Kuvira (Super 8 style). J praises the choreography of the ensuing melee and I can’t help but reference yet more video game tropes. We talk about energybending and the moment where Korra saves Kuvira’s life (even though she doesn’t know if she can) and how that plays into Kuvira’s villainous character arc.
We also recognize that Korra never regains contact with her past lives in the finale. This suggests that Korra has stepped outside of the paradigm of the Avatar: that she is, as J states, just as much the “first” Avatar as Wan was. This is a big moment because it reveals the entire arc of The Legend of Korra. This was a story about a young (queer) woman (of color) redefining the most important position in the Avatar universe. How huge is that?
Finally, we talk about the major themes that we’ve seen explored in Korra (and Avatar: The Last Airbender) that come to a head in these last moments: environmentalism, spiritualism, genocide, sexuality, balance/empathy, loss, post-traumatic stress. This concludes with the two of us angrily commenting on the stupidity of television networks for not running with more female-centric animated fantasy/sci-fi series. Good on Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino for taking a real stand on these issues.
The last stand, you might say.
Note that this podcast contains spoilers up through “Day of the Colossus” and “The Last Stand.” As always, you can subscribe to Ember Island Airwaves using iTunes. Alternatively, you can check out the episode online or download it here. Happy listening!
Here’s the color scheme comparison between Korra/Asami and Raava/Vaatu, and here is a cute parallel between the first scene in Avatar: The Last Airbender and the final shot of Korra. For those of you wondering who’s in that band performance, here’s a fully annotated shot of the ensemble. Also check out this fan’s re-imagining of Varrick’s last moments in “The Last Stand” – it’s brilliant!
Last but not least, you have to see this amazing fan art that projects Asami and Korra into the far future. It’s incredibly charming and the art is spot-on.
Did Korra and Asami’s affection for one another take you by surprise, or did you see it coming? What will you remember most about The Legend of Korra? Was it a worthy follow-up to Avatar: The Last Airbender? And what power does Bolin have to marry anyone? Let us know in the comments!
Stay tuned – (at least) one more episode of Ember Island Airwaves is coming your way. Among other things, we’ll be looking back on The Legend of Korra and the entire Avatar franchise.