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Don't get me wrong: I like Legend of Korra, but....




First, I need to point to this, which nails many of the problems I saw. But here are the things that stood out most for me:

1) Iroh shows up with a fleet--which apparently was a one-man fleet, because after he's saved by Korra--where are all his men? Dead? Every last one? Then shouldn't we get even a slight pause to--I don't know--acknowledge the loss of, possibly, hundreds of men and women?

And if they're not dead, where the hell are they? Are Korra's writers incapable of writing stories that involve more than seven or eight people?

2) Could the Korra/Mako relationship feel more forced than it is? Granted, I was never entirely convinced by Aang/Katara, but that at least had substance to it. Korra/Mako has been railroaded from the start. And worse, it's simply not interesting.

More to the point, it's been done. We've had love triangles in the Avatar universe before--plenty of them. Are Korra's writers incapable of coming up with a different approach to romance?

Also, what exactly was wrong with Mako/Asami? Does it demean the Avatar somehow if another woman is allowed to be the object of desire of the male lead? Is a female Avatar only legitimate insofar as she's desired by the alpha male? Is she not really a credible Avatar otherwise?

3) Given how few characters there are in Korra, the way Asami has been largely ignored is lamentable. She was brought in just long enough to have the start of a relationship with Mako and be a hook into the conflict with her father, Hiroshi. And then she is immediately set to the side. She's barely a presence except when it's necessary to highlight Hiroshi (or to moon after Mako), and even then, her struggle with Hiroshi happens--most egregiously in "Endgame"--with no support whatsoever from Korra or the rest of the team.

Granted, Korra has an understandable obsession with Amon which blinds her to other concerns, but that's no excuse for the rest of the team. Mako, in particular, comes off as quite the douchebag in this respect, but it's the writers who are at fault here. Is Asami part of the team or not? Considering how Hiroshi's inventions wiped out Iroh's fleet and have stymied Team Avatar at every turn, how is it possible that stopping him has been ignored and left to Asami as an afterthought?

Are these really the writers who gave us the first series?

Add to that the fact that Asami is the only major non-bending character. Her being sidelined like that is--well, actually it goes along with the most troubling aspect of the entire season:

4) Is anyone else more than a little bothered by the entire Equalist/Bender debate? Or rather the lack of a debate? Why have we had no serious discussions about the claim that benders are a privileged class in Republic City? Benders dominate the council. The police force is staffed by benders. Criminal gangs use bending against non-bending citizens.

You don't have to be a card-carrying member of the Occupy movement to find the dominance of benders in positions of power in Republic City a bit.... odd for an American series, particularly one directed at a young audience. The attitude of the main characters toward Amon's argument can only be described as outrage at having their privileged standing questioned. How dare he question the Avatar? Doesn't he know his place?

This is potentially ugly, ugly stuff we're talking about here. Reframe 'bending' as race or gender or sexual orientation, and ask yourself how you'd feel about this series then. And yet, no discussion of this whatsoever? Only righteous outrage from Korra and her bending friends and mentors?

The writers could have balanced this to some degree by how they dealt with Asami. But what we get is a character largely ignored, and cynically used to provide a love triangle for the alpha bending male and female. It's hard not to wonder if the writers consider a non-bending character just not as interesting.

5) On Korra's connecting to her spiritual side and the immediate recovery of her Avatar powers, the post I link to above covers the point very well. But it's worth restating that what we just saw was a team of writers failing to see that they had just set up the second season beautifully: Korra finally has to start working on her spiritual side. Season two would then be a true mirror of the first series, with Korra having to learn what Aang started out with, and her final reward being the connection he always enjoyed with the Avatars past. Along the way, we could have had encounters with Aang, just like in 'Endgame,' but with him playing a Yoda-like part, helping her step-by-step along her difficult path.

Instead, we get an instant resolution, with no effort from Korra required at all. She's not spiritually open at that point. She's depressed and demoralized. That's when connecting to one's spiritual side can start. You don't immediately win at that point. You have to goddamn work for it.

But, instead, we get privilege. The alpha female gets her desired goal simply handed to her. What a tremendous missed opportunity, and what a terrible message to send to kids about how one achieves difficult goals in life.

Seriously, are these really the same writers as ATLA?

6) And then, of course, we have Korra's feeling unworthy of Mako (unconvincing as he is) when she loses her bending powers (which, by the way, she didn't--airbending was all Aang had from the start). Are we to assume that a non-bending woman is unworthy of a bending alpha male?

I realize that a lot of this could be written off as Korra being a teenager with a lot to learn. But the way the show fails to address these issues around Korra, leaves us with Korra's interpretation of things alone. (Even Tenzin basically reinforces Korra's view of the world. He only questions the way she tries to promote it.) If this was a brutally cynical series on HBO or AMC for an adult audience, it wouldn't bother me as much (though it would still be very sloppy writing). But for something on Nickelodeon for, at least in part, a younger audience? That's troubling.


Anyway, very interested in hearing what all of you think.
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