Heh, that hour long finale must have taken me at least two hours to watch- I was furiously scribbling notes on it the entire time, pausing every so often to run upstairs and yell at my bewildered sister about something that just happened on screen. Ah, what a finale it was! It was by no means perfect, but it was pretty darn close, and many of the issues I had with it are personal or minor ones, so feel free to, like my sister, accuse me of nit-picking after reading this post if you so desire!
The best thing about this finale (and the series in general) is that it’s really easy to get carried away whilst watching it. Because you’ve come to care about the show’s characters, watching them overcome hardships and develop as a result of them, it’s nigh-on impossible not to feel something when you see them in mortal peril, which, of course, is a very good thing! I mean, if you don’t feel anything whilst watching a show, after having viewed it in its entirety, well, that’s pretty crap really… The whole purpose of a story is to get its audience involved in it after all! So pleased as punch am I that that isn’t the case with Legend of Korra, or its finale- I leaped up and down out of my chair and ran about my house shouting like a loon numerous times throughout that episode, shouting stuff like: “OH MA GAWD, the Equalists have planes and bombs!!”, “OH MA GAWD, Amon’s a dirty, little liar!!”, and “OH MA GAWD, Amon’s about the wipe out the air-benders, an endangered species!!”, and so on and so forth… Getting you this het up over what’s going to happen to the characters serves a dual purpose: to get you more involved in the story, and to divert attention away from nasty little plot holes, of which there were several in the finale, but I’ll get on to that later…
There were a few of characters who really earned my respect during these episodes: Bolin, Tarlokk and the moustachioed Equalist lieutenant. I believe each of their characters managed to grow outside of their respective labels, that is, the comic-relief, the secondary villain, and the grunt. Bolin’s “You’re a horrible father!”, in reference to Sato, may have been said in as jocular a tone as ever, but I think it was a really important line. I think that it, in a way, freed Asami, who was no longer hesitant about fighting back against him- a man she probably still thought of as being the loving father of her childhood- and sending him packing. So what about Tarlokk? Well, he came through in the end. It was shocking to see him as a child, so gentle and caring when all we knew him as being was this forceful, manipulative bastard. Seeing him how he used to be and how he is now as a result of his father’s years of psychological abuse really made you feel sorry for him, something I would’ve thought impossible a couple of episodes back! And as for moustachioed lieutenant… You truly were the noble villain Amon turned out not to be- you truly were fighting for what you believed to be a worthy cause… I salute you!
There was however, a character that sunk considerably in my views on them, Amon. Part of the reason I was so moved by moustachioed lieutenant’s plight was because I too felt betrayed by Amon- he hadn’t instigated the rebellion for equality at all, but for a far more stereotypical reason. There was this one line Amon said during Tarlokk’s flashback that I believe explains his actions: “The Avatar is the most powerful because the Avatar can take away people’s bending” From this line we can infer Amon was doing what he was doing not just because he despised benders, but because he was trying to achieve what he saw as being the ultimate power, taking away people’s bending. This would make sense when you take into consideration many of those that have been abused often crave power and control over others themselves as a result of feeling so powerless at the time of abuse. Whilst this reasoning means Amon is definitely deserving of our sympathy, in terms of storytelling, it’s simply not as exciting as a villain acting on higher principles of justice or a good ‘ol amoral villain- it’s just been done so many times! Finding out the whole revolution was the result of one man’s thirst for power was just a little disappointing…
Something else which bothered me during this finale was how many plot holes it had. There were baby ones such as how Naga managed to evade the electric fence and the guards surrounding the building to rescue the new Team Avatar, and how the Equalists managed to capture the air-benders, and then there were more important ones such as what Amon’s full, unabridged plans were (what was he planning to do after taking everyone’s bending away? The benders weren’t just going to happily follow the guy after that were they!?), and what his motives were. I mean, my theory that he was simply doing it for power is a solid one, but they never did say for sure… Now, my sister’s a little irked by my finding these plot holes bothersome (because it’s Avatar, and that, apparently, voids any flaws), but she fails to understand how important it is that a story is consistent. In theatre there is such a thing as a suspension of disbelief, where an audience will actively ignore inconsistencies in the story, or the time frame within which it fits into because, well, it’s theatre! It’s difficult to tell such huge stories, that can often span over weeks, within about an hour and a half. But the same principle doesn’t always apply to shows in regards to inconsistencies within their stories- the time that producers are given to present them is far greater and far less restricting. This means that the audience are far more likely to notice if something doesn’t fit, be somewhat irked by it and become less involved in the story. The idea that some seem to have, that viewers will just nod along and accept inconsistencies because it’s an anime, or a cartoon, is an argument that’s as flimsy as fuck. Anime is still a story-telling medium, so it’s important the story gets told right and that it flows in order to seem convincing! So yeah, that slightly marred the finale for me… But don’t get me wrong, it was still very good!
I also wanted to touch upon something else briefly in this post. I wonder what the future of bending is in this universe… With technology becoming increasingly advanced (they now have electricity, cars, planes, bombs, and, most importantly, plastic surgery) will there be a need for bending for much longer? People will no longer need bending in order to live comfortable lifestyles thanks to electricity and new-fangled machinery, and this series showed it was definitely not necessary in order to successfully wage a war. The only reason I can see to keep it up would be to adhere to cultural tradition. It’s a little grim really that such a fantastical world with people with such amazing abilities could, given time, become as dull as our world, its people equally as reliant on machines, rather than their own abilities, to survive…
Overall, aside from the plot twists, and my own personal disappointment over Amon, this was a very satisfying finale to an amazing show! Can’t wait for the next season- but I guess I’m going to have to ‘cause it took years for the creators to make even this 12 episode long series! Hope you enjoyed reading my first batch of episodic posts as much as I enjoyed writing them! If there’s something you think I could do to improve my future episodic posts, please do let me know! Or if you think they’re already flawless, let me know ‘bout that too- I’m a vain bugger who adores receiving compliments!
What? You expected me to say something about Korra and Mako realising their love for one another? You already know how I feel about them two… And besides, if I didn’t approve of them as a couple back when Mako was single, why would I approve of them now when he’s stringing another girl along!?
It’s okay mustache man we still love you even if your leader is a traitor and a liar.
You summed up the series nicely and I’d like to help you fill in some of the plot holes by being creative. I think one of the great things about the series is that plot holes are so easy to fill.
Take the scene where the air benders get captured. You don’t need to see it but after watching the entire first series with Aang and Uppa it’s pretty easy to guess how it went down. The sky bison tired in it efforts to flee and the remaining airship caught up. There was an entire day for this to happen so it’s plausible.
The other thing I took differently to you was Amon’s motivation. He had already gained the ultimate power before the series started so I like to think that he was trying to cleanse the bending so that something awful won’t happen to children like it happened to him. He had solid motivations even though he went about enacting judgement the wrong way.
The scene with Amon on the boat at the end with Tarrlok was by far the best. Seeing a tear in his eye right before his death was the most powerful imagery we were given and it’s a shame he was defeated so easily because he was such a great character.
I can’t wait for a second season.