Legend of Korra: Chapters 11 and 12

Legend of Korra
2 x 11: Night of a Thousand Stars
2 x 12: Harmonic Convergence

Full episodes available at Nick.com.

Episode Summary (from the Avatar Wiki): At the South Pole, Tonraq and his rebels are defeated by Unalaq and his forces. Meanwhile, in Republic City, Bolin prevents four waterbenders from kidnapping President Raiko and his wife. After a brief battle, the earthbender forces one of the man to reveal Varrick as the mastermind behind it all, leading to his arrest. With Mako’s allegations proven correct, he is released from prison. Korra and Tenzin and his family return to Republic City to gather reinforcements to travel South in order to stop Unalaq from freeing Vaatu and destroying the world. When Raiko refuses to send the United Forces, Mako, Bolin, and Asami accompany them instead on Varrick’s battleship.

After leaving Jinora’s spiritless body in Katara’s care, Korra and her friends attempt to break through the Northern defenses in order to reach the Southern spirit portal. Although initially unsuccessful, they manage to enter the Spirit World, where Bumi, Kya, and Tenzin leave to find Jinora’s spirit, while Mako and Bolin hold back Unalaq in order to give Korra the time to close the portal. However, when Harmonic Convergence starts, Korra had not yet managed to close the portal and Vaatu manages to break free from his prison inside the Tree of time.

Where do I even start?

  1. Bumi – The original Bumi was goofy and fun, but also clever and far more devious than most people realized. This Bumi is … dammit, I’ve tried to defend him. I’m done now. He was a United Forces commander, and he’s all but useless in planning an attack. He took out Unalaq’s camp by accident. Bumi is the Mister Magoo of the Avatar world.
  2. Ginger – Just what Legend of Korra needed, an attractive female character to bring out Bolin’s creeper side who then got to be the trophy reward for Bolin’s heroism. Don’t get me wrong, I liked seeing Bolin rip off his sleeves and Earthbend the snot out of some bad guys. But here’s an idea … what if we treated women as real people instead of one-dimensional prizes for the men?
  3. Lin Beifong – Or whoever that character is. It’s certainly not the Lin Beifong from season one. It’s a good thing there’s not an ongoing trend of weakening or sidelining female characters, or pushing them into secondary roles, or else I might start to get annoyed. Oh, wait…
  4. Zhu Li – Another woman who exists only for a man, to the point that she goes to jail with him so she can continue to serve him. Seriously, what the hell?
  5. Asami – I want Asami to have a show of her own, free of Mako, free of clumsy romantic drama, and free of writers who have so little idea what to do with her character. Asami is a badass. I want her to pilot one of her company’s mechs right out of the screen to forcefully remind the writers of that fact.

I really want to care about this show, dammit!

These two episodes made me realize how little emotional investment I have in any of these characters or anything that happens, and I hate that. I almost cared when I thought Unalaq had actually killed Tonraq, but of course, he wasn’t really dead. Just beat up enough for the story to move on.

We’re about 1/3 through watching Book Three of Avatar: The Last Airbender here, and the contrast is painful. In TLA, I care about the heroes. I care about the villains. I care about secondary characters I thought were just throwaway villains, and then they come back and grow and change and die heroically. I care about the history, the pain of a century of war and loss, the personal struggles, the failures and the victories.

Legend of Korra feels like the outline of a story. They’ve given us all of the plot beats, but haven’t taken the time to really develop the story. The characters are just pieces on a board, moving through their assigned spots because that’s what the outline says they’re supposed to do. I’m trying to think of one episode where a character did anything truly unexpected or unpredictable, or where there even seemed to be any real conflict about their choice.

Tomorrow’s finale.

In my dream world, the finale is all about Jinora, who rescues herself (instead of being turned into a convenient hostage, one who’s lost any agency she used to have in the story), and then shows up to kick Unalaq’s ass with her natural spiritbending abilities. See, I actually care about Jinora — seeing her loneliness, her moments of vulnerability and uncertainty combined with her determination to help Korra get into the spirit world, made her feel more real. She’s one of the few characters I still care about in this season, and I want to see her continue to come into her own strength and power.

Ooh, I just had a thought. What if Jinora escaped and made her way to the twins. What if she was the one who persuaded Eska and Desna to turn against their Dark Avatar father? I could see Jinora getting through to them where Korra couldn’t, and that’s a team I’d love to watch in action.

Beyond that, I don’t know. I’ve seen a few spoilers already. Mostly this season — with a few exceptions — just makes me feel depressed.