TV Review: The Legend of Korra Season 2 Finale (2013)

“Do the thing.”

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By popular demand, get ready for my two cents on the season finale of The Legend of Korra: Book 2.  Prepare ye.

Season 2, Season 2, Season 2…it was a ROLLER COASTER.  In terms of the feels, in terms of the quality – take your pick.  I will say this…it got significantly better, considering where it started two months ago.  Click the link if you need to be reminded of my, ahem…very candid thoughts on the season premiere.

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Nevertheless, I still have my share of issues with the second season as a whole – from an uncharacteristically mean Korra, to a generally useless and distracting Bolin, to superfluous story lines with Tenzin’s children, to a severe lack of Lin Beifong.

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Seriously, what gives.

Then again, I’m not here to review the entire second season of Korra…believe me, we’d be here forever.  Without further ado, let’s get to the epic two-part conclusion of Book 2.  Warning, there be spoilers.

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Wait, first – can we all just agree that this moment made all of Season 2 worthwhile?  Great, moving on.

THE GOOD

As always, the film-worthy animation and music never disappoints.  From the beautifully choreographed fight scenes to the quieter, more emotional moments, the polished, anime-inspired animation and the sweeping score do their job tremendously well: they tell the story.  Any fan knows this.

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Aesthetics aside, the narrative content is great too.  Thanks to an AMAZING two-part episode that details the origins of Avatar Wan,  we have suspenseful build-up that leads to the finale’s nail-biting conclusion…while Nicktoons is known for happy endings, I still wasn’t sure what to expect.  I’ve heard some fans griping over the added existence of Raava (April Stewart), a light spirit that gives cyclical life to the Avatar and his/her powers, but I personally don’t mind it.  To me, the story was done well…so I was anxious to see how it ended.  Hell, I’m ready for Nickelodeon to come out with The Legend of Wan.

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Back to aesthetics real quick – I am lovin’ Korra’s hair.  I’m a girl who doesn’t love to rock the ponytail…so I was personally pleased to see Korra doing the down-do.  What a bad-ass.

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Girl, look atchu.

Sorry, back to real stuff: character development!  Ah, yes…I’m lookin’ at you, Tenzin.  It was great to see this guy finally face his Daddy issues.

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The show wrapped up Tenzin’s shortcomings as a spiritual teacher nicely…turns out, he had his own spiritual growing to do before he could help Korra at all.  After a nostalgic, bittersweet encounter with the ghost of his father, Tenzin passes on a new and very adult moral to his pupil…there’s an important difference between who you think you should be, and who you really are.  Powerful stuff for a television series aimed at children…but what else can you expect from the Avatar franchise?  Just genius.

Tenzin’s advice leads to the awaited showdown between Korra and the fusion of Uncle Unalaq and Vaatu (Jonathan Adams), the spirit of darkness.  And it’s a BIG showdown, in every sense of the word.  Anyone else see Pacific Rim this summer?

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Bumi’s reaction to this was priceless.  It was nice that the finale didn’t get so wrapped up in its own seriousness…there was some great comedy too.  Aubrey Plaza KILLED me once again as the deadpanned Eska, Bolin’s obsessive “love interest.”  I really hope her character makes an appearance in Season 3.

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I am her.  Just a little bit.

Speaking of appearances, the creators were clearly swimming in their own nostalgia and loving every minute of it.  Well, so were the fans, including THIS fan.

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Iroh returns one last time this season to – of course – share some words of wisdom.  Admiral Xiao also makes a cameo, after having gone mad as a lost immortal in the spirit world.  Call ’em cheesy if you must, but I love these throwbacks to the original series – I’m still waiting for Zuko to show up…

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We also get one last, satisfying appearance from Varrick (John Michael Higgins) – who, in my opinion, is the strongest new character in the show.  Hands down.

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Hilarious, eccentric, central to the plot, and…a little bit evil.  Yet completely likable.  Varrick is complex, compelling, and the best thing to come out of Season 2.  I might complain that his appearance in the finale was too short…but that just leaves me with hope that he’ll have much bigger fish to fry in Season 3.  I just wanna see him order Zhu Li around some more.

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Finally – and I really mean FINALLY – the most satisfying break-up in the history of animated television.  If you have a better one in mind, I welcome you to comment below.  Really.

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I’m sorry, but Mako is an unlikable, boring, bland, indecisive character.  I have no problem with a character having flaws or just flat-out being a jerk – those make for some of the best characters.  But, man, you gotta give me something more than boring and brooding…otherwise, you end up with THIS:

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I’m thrilled that the writers decided to break these two up.  I think it’s progressive that a children’s series doesn’t need to end on a happy note, complete with wedding bells.  The fact is, a female character can have a happy ending AND be single.  In my opinion, Korra’s much better off…and maybe this’ll leave room for a former love interest to make a move.

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Maybe I just have a thing for goofy guys.  I think if Bolin matures a bit more, he and Korra would be good together…but that’s just me playing matchmaker.  All in all, there was a lot to like about this finale.  Lots of Good to go around.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD

Does anyone else think that Asami just gets the worst end of anything in EVERY episode?

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At least she’s pretty…?  There’s that.

Look, she’s a compelling and strong character – there’s really no reason to dislike her.  I have no idea why the writers decided to totally exclude her from the finale…Korra pretty much just tells her to go home in the prior episode.  And Asami’s like…sure thing, buddy!

It’s not a terrible flaw…but, I wanted to at least see her kick Mako’s ass.  For lying to her YET AGAIN.  Watch, I bet they’ll still get along great as friends next season…I’m sorry but that’s not how life works!

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Another minor complaint: I loved the development of Jinora’s character this season…but are we gonna get any explanation as to why she has spiritual powers?  Any?  Nope, she’s just gonna glow and save the world.  Got it, I’ll shut up now…

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Again, it’s not a huge problem, but a little background and explanation would’ve been nice.  At least, I hope they’ll explain her abilities next season.  It could make for a really compelling story arc.  Go Jinora.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Believe it or not…there was nothing BAD here.  Honestly.

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Yeah, this season wasn’t the strongest…plot holes, some uninspired writing, and whatnot.  But, in terms of the Season 2 finale itself…it ain’t bad!  All of Book 2 is available for free on Nick.com…I recommend any Avatar fan to head over and see them all – at least for the sake of this excellent season finale.

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Lots of suspenseful action, beautiful animation, strong characters, and a valuable life lesson…all in all, it makes for great television.  As I said in my first Korra review on this blog, it’s impossible to judge an entire TV show on one episode – that’s not how the narrative works.  I had hope for this season, and, in the end, I’m really glad I stuck with it…a lot of good moments made up for some of the bad.  In the end, The Legend of Korra is a beautiful and grown-up series, with a healthy balance of drama, humor, political commentary, and spirituality.  What’s more, this season finished with an inkling of change…Korra may have saved the world, but things certainly aren’t “back to normal.”

So, onward to the next book!  It sounds like there’s more of a story worth telling.

4/5

*Heads up: animate this will go on a very brief hiatus – no new review next weekend.  Turkey Day is a’comin’, and I’m heading to my hometown to hang out with my family, see old friends, and eat lots of pumpkin bread.  I think everyone can use a break this week, including some of you dedicated bloggers out there.  I hope you guys relax and enjoy the holiday!  I’ll be back the following week with an all-new review!

In the meantime, which animated films are you gonna watch this week?  There’s nothing I love more than chillin’ on the couch and watching movies with my family.  Seriously, that’s what we do…we’re like this:

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And this:

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And, obviously, this:

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Thanks for reading!  Happy Thanksgiving!

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5 thoughts on “TV Review: The Legend of Korra Season 2 Finale (2013)

  1. I’ve never watched this show or the “Avatar” one, but I do want to review each episode of an animated show for my blog. I’m just not sure which show to pick.

    I may watch “Planes” this week. I’m not expecting too much. Then again, I’m not expecting too little either.

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