the Legend of Korra – air (Book 1)

Well after much effort, we are BACK online!  (still, was nice to have more time to devote to a new writing project, which I may need editors for soon)

Lots of shows to catch up on, so in the meantime, here’s Korra (which I was fortunate enough to have downloaded before the crash).  Tomorrow will be SPN then we’ll start next week with nothing but ponies!

Not much to go over episode wise, they’re all good and must-sees.  It turns out that Amon is… uh the brother of one of the characters.  This is one of the things that bugs me about the A:tLA crew, they hide the villains’ faces when it wouldn’t make any difference to the audience.  It was worse with Aang’s series because while it’s excusable that a show may want a villain to be hidden and “monsterized” in the audience’s mind, it also means he’s dehumanized to the audience so we’re not as in sync with Aang’s desire to not take another life.  In Korra, it’s more understandable as Amon is meant to be a larger-than-life figure, one who is “dehumanized” in the other direction where they seem “greater than”.  But then viewers are going to start guessing who is “behind the mask” and ask which “ally” in the show is actually the villain, so it feels cheap to reveal that there’s no right answer anyone could possibly guess.  Though I did like that the two brothers ended up working “together” by serendipity, though it would have been entertaining had they both been conspiring and consciously coordinating their efforts to control republic city, one wonders if they could have been defeated at all.  Shame their father never got to appreciate the irony of them obtaining his goal, by working two opposing angles.

Although I haven’t confirmed it yet (will after posting this, TV tropes at least thinks so), I’m willing to bet that “Endgame” is a series fauxnale, and the suits only ordered for more episodes after it was too late for them to update the episode.  (Here’s hoping the next three books won’t be post script seasons.)  Like Day Break before it, having a limited run really focused the series and made it top notch.  A lot of shows just don’t have the material to run for longer arcs.  One of the things I appreciate about Supernatural is that despite usually having seasons of 22 episodes, if an episode isn’t related to the arc for that season, it at least examines and advances the characters’ arc (and partially why the last few seasons haven’t been great, they’ve left the main characters stuck in neutral).  Thus with Aang, “The Great Divide” is loathed because it’s wasted time affecting neither the plot nor characters.  Contrast with “The Beach” which at least allowed us to explore unseen facets of characters (as well as fanservice).  With Korra, we have not a single wasted episode.  Every episode moves one of the arcs.

However, it is disappointing how the show “wraps up” Amon in a pretty little bow (whereas if they were confirmed to have more time, I’d like to think they’d leave open some storytelling possibilities).  When Korra knocks the guy into the water, he does a big display right in front of a crowd.  Had he escaped there without notice, then we could have had an entire series on just the ramifications.  Even if his brother still blew them both up, you could have rumors and movements still carrying on “in his spirit”. (and the next book is called…?)  The movement he started would have been a lot harder to defeat had he not shouted with a bullhorn “I’m a liar” metaphorically speaking.  Of course he’ll probably still have some syncopates around because our heroes always need antagonists to fight, but part of me wishes it had gone just a little more grey there.

Korra’s “cure” at the end is one of those things that’s acceptable if this was the only season – ever, but less so now that we know there is much more to come.  On the other hand, it is somewhat nonsensical if you think about it too hard.  Since with Aang Chi was described as a river, let’s use a river in this metaphor to point out how the “solution” makes little sense.  As rivers are created from a spring bubbling up (simplified I know), energy-bending would be the equivalent of removing or adding a spring.  What Amon does in this series, is the equivalent of damming the river.  So affecting the spring that creates the river isn’t going to do much to the dam blocking it (yes, we could take the metaphor too far and get around it, the point is that we’re mixing up causes and solutions here).

Now I will admit that while I was intrigued by the possibility of spirits turning against man (sound familiar?), I like the revelation that Amon was doing something else.  This whole season had a motif of “bending 2.0”.  Fire benders use lightning (higher level fire) to power the city.  (since the lightning is produced from chi, and chi is energy we gain from eating etc, does that mean Republic City runs on biofuels?)  Earth benders use metal (higher level earth) to protect the city.  Three water benders use blood bending (higher level water) nearly prevailed over the city.  Thus, Amon’s new use of blood bending was, fundamentally, a higher level of chi blocking.  A very nice unity of theme.

I liked seeing the characters as adults.  Aang and Sokka seemed to have grown up a lot while Toph… a little, though I notice the show is still being coy about how all the relationship threads beyond “Kataang” ended up.  Crowning moment of “squee” was definitely Zuko’s Iroh’s appearance – nice to see the old Fire Lord show tribute to the man that was more of a father to him.  Although I’m not real committed to any ship, I’m a little disappointed that Korra/Mako is the official couple because I wanted to at least see some sparkage between Korra and Iroh2.  Zuko’s son falling for the next Avatar just makes me laugh.  Maybe next book…

All in all, I still stand by my initial grade that this series is much superior to its predecessor – though that is no disrespect to A:tLA since LoK stands on its shoulders.  While I initially said this show was to the first as TNG was to the original Star Trek, after finishing book 1, I think it’s more apt to say Korra is equal to DS9 with Aang being TNG.

And yes, it will probably be a long time before I can ever type out anything that geeky.  Catch you guys for book 2!

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