Thoughts on Korra Finale

–SPOILERS ALL OVER THE PLACE THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING–

Okay, so Korra has come to an end. Overall, it was a great series and a great finale. The action and animation were absolutely beautiful. So to begin I want you all to know that I’m happy for the series, I’m fine with the finale overall, and the franchise (is that the appropriate term?) still has my support.
That said, there are many things about the finale that I did not care for.

 

1) Lack of screen time for characters.
Legend of Korra Book 4 Kai & Jinora.
I know they tried to fit everyone in that they could, but I would have liked to have seen more Kai and Jinora, specifically. They spent so much time developing them in Book 3 that I felt they deserved more screen time in the ending. Jinora is one of my favorite characters and I felt like they just completely forgot about her in Book 4.
Korra & Naga | Book 4: Balance | Legend of Korra | Avatar
I also felt the same way about Naga. Korra and Naga share a bond like Aang and Appa did and even though I know Naga wouldn’t have been that useful during the finale, I think we should have at least had a scene with them both. She was present in the last scene with Korra and Asami at the wedding, but she was just kinda off to the side of the frame.
And we did not see any of Firelord Izumi or General Iroh in the last two episodes. I was really hoping that the Fire Nation and the spirits would come in at the end and help out, but nope. I’m glad we got to see them in other episodes, though. I’m just a fan of the Fire Nation characters in general. Can’t really get enough of them.

 

2) No Original Team Avatar
Avatar: The Last Airbender
I had this wild vision that the original members of Korra would be there at the very end: Katara, Zuko, and Toph. Maybe Aang’s spirit. Toph did have that line, “At some point, you’ve gotta leave it to the kids,” but we opened the series with Katara, so I thought it would be fitting to close with a small reunion. Granted, I’m not too upset over this one because I realize that Korra was a spin-off series, not a sequel. This series was about Korra, not Aang. No matter how much I crave the old characters.

 

3) Loose Ends
We were told that all the main questions would be answered. But I still have so many questions. Who is Su’s father? Will Korra ever reconnect with her past lives? Who is Zuko’s wife? What will happen to Kuvira?
I know they had to leave some things open in order to continue with the comics, but man. Still so many questions.

 

4) Ambiguous Ending
image
I’m going to fully explain this one below since it’s the one that everyone’s talking about.
Update: Bryke has officially confirmed Korrasami on their tumblr pages, which can be seen here and here.

 


But before I go into how I feel about the Korrasami ending, I wanted to make a list of my favorite parts of the two-part finale:

 

6. Hiroshi Sato’s death
Although I really don’t think it was necessary for him to die, it redeemed his actions in Book 1 and this shot of Asami is just breathtaking. And heartbreaking.

 

5. Varrick proposes to Zhu Li
Varrick proposing. This was so cute!!!!
This was just really cute. I never really liked Varrick, but I love Zhu Li and I think she brings out the best in him.

 

4. Team Avatar against Kuvira’s giant mech
This sequence was just so beautiful. I could watch it on repeat over and over. I loved how they all worked together and each person had their own part to play. It was really, really well done.

 

3. Ikki and Meelo save Jinora and Tenzin
I heard a lot of people commenting on how they were crying during the finale. I didn’t have that happen to me, but it was close after this part. I’m glad that Ikki and Meelo got to be the heroes for once, since most of the glory always goes to Tenzin and Jinora, while they’re just seen as the bothersome younger siblings. Jinora got her time to shine in Book 3, so it seemed fair for Ikki and Meelo to have this scene.

 

2. Creation of a new spirit portal
I had been expecting Korra to absorb the vine energy somehow, but I never expected the creation of a new spirit portal. I think it was surprising, exciting, and really brought the themes of balance and connection to the spirits full-circle.

 

1. Mako’s lightning-bending
This. This is the Mako moment that we have been waiting for all season long. No, not even all season. All four seasons. I mean, it was awesome (and also really tragic) whenever he electrified Ming-Hua in Book 3, but other than that, we don’t really see Mako do a lot of fighting, and definitely not using a lot of lightning. I loved Mako during the first book, but then he turned into a jerk during Book 2 and ever since then he really needed a redeeming moment. So yes, I loved this part. It showed how far his character had come, how much he had grown since he and Korra broke up. (Which, in my opinion, would have been a good way to set up them getting back together.) It was beautiful and powerful and I am completely and utterly happy that it was included.

Now, let’s talk about those last few minutes.
I’ve read a lot of articles about the ending. Up until a few minutes ago, Bryke had not said anything in confirmation of Korrasami, and honestly, I did not expect them to. I understood them leaving the ending a bit ambiguous (even though it was frustrating) so that fans could decide for themselves. But, it’s now official: Korra and Asami have romantic feelings for each other.
Did I see this coming? To an extent, yes. I had a tweet after an episode a few weeks ago commenting on how Korra blushed when Asami complimented her hair.
And then there was that time during the clipshow when she brought her tea:
A few preemptive words about Episode 408, “Remembrances”… In a couple hours the eighth chapter of Korra Book 4 will be released online, and I suppose, if you are none the wiser, a few minutes into it you will feel duped and yell at your screen, “Hey! This is a crummy clips episode!” And that is (almost) exactly what it is––except we all worked really hard to make sure at the very least it isn’t crummy. I’m here to explain why we ended up having to do one. Sometime around a year and a half ago we were similarly duped on a large scale. We got the news from the higher-ups that our Book 4 budget was getting slashed, almost to the tune of an entire episode’s budget. We had two options: 1) let go a significant number of crew members several weeks early, or 2) make a clips episode. We never considered the first option. We weren’t going to do that to our crew, and even if we were callous enough to do so, we never would have been able to finish the season without them. But having grown up on TV in the ’80s and ’90s, we all dread clips episodes, where characters sit around saying, “Remember that time when…” and leftover footage is reheated for no one’s enjoyment. Anyone who suffered through TNG’s “Shades of Gray” knows what I’m talking about. Anime fans know this is a common occurrence in Japanese series as well. In fact, as Mike hung his head in disappointment at our fate, I remembered how one of my favorite anime series, Samurai Champloo, made what I thought was a really awesome and clever clips episode. They mixed about 5 minutes of new footage in with the old, and set up a context where the characters would be reflecting on past events while narrating over them, offering new insights or at least providing some humor. I pitched this angle to Mike and he agreed this was the best way to turn this big old lemon into some lemonade. Back on Avatar, we had something that functioned as a sort of clips episode, though it was all new animation and really hard to make, Episode 317, “The Ember Island Players.” Our heroes went to a play where they saw themselves and their tales performed by actors on stage. It was simultaneously a reckoning for the characters before they headed into the denouement, and a lighthearted romp where we got to poke fun at our own show before things got really serious in the remaining episodes. Korra’s “Remembrances” ended up serving the same function, albeit with old footage instead of a newly animated play. There is about 5 minutes of new footage, wonderfully animated by Studio Mir, and a bunch of funny and touching narration from the characters. There are also some fun chibi heads and other treats in there to spice up the old footage. What started out as a reluctant chore ended up being a really fun episode to make, and in the end I truly love it. Mike did an awesome job directing it and storyboarding all the chibi hilarity, as well as overseeing the wonderful script by Josh Hamilton, Katie Mattila, and Tim Hedrick. Joaquim Dos Santos, Ryu Ki Hyun, and Lauren Montgomery drew fantastic storyboards for the new footage (particularly Lauren’s insane Varrick posing). Lots of other folks worked their tails off on this one, namely Amaris Calvin, our animatics editor; Christie Tseng, our character designer who drew and colored all of the final chibi art; Matt Gadbois, our After Effects artist; and Chris Hink, our final picture editor. Last but not least, Aran Tanchum and Vinny Guisetti on foley, Benjamin Wynn on sound design, and a stellar new score with all your favorite hits by Jeremy Zuckerman. And plenty of other fine folks I’m forgetting! So now you know what it is and why it happened. I hope you do end up enjoying it after all, especially as a last lighthearted, nostalgic romp before POOP. GETS. REAL. And then the series is done. Love, Bryan P.S. I forgot to mention our cast’s amazing performances, especially John Michael Higgins’ million words a minute as Varrick in act three!
But did I actually think they had feelings for each other? No.
And why was that? I’ll tell you.
Because the entire series, the fans were made to believe that Korra and Mako were what the story was pushing towards.
Riding on Naga
image
There was development, there were hints, there was a full story arc, but the conclusion to the series did not acknowledge it. That’s my problem with the last scene. It’s not that I don’t like Korrasami, it’s that there was not adequate development for it throughout the series. It was just sprung on us. Up until that point, it had pretty much consistently been Makorra, even in books 3 and 4 when they weren’t a couple anymore.
Even though I don't ship them (what they did in season 1 just made me really upset)
Even in the finale, there were scenes that hinted towards Makorra, like when Jinora did not find her in the mech and the scene cuts to Mako’s expression:
And then the final scene with Mako, with Korra’s eyes glistening when he says that he’ll always have her back:
We were given lines like, “I’ll always love you.”
Bryke told fans that they “were made for each other.”
And look, I’m a Makorra fan, just like I was a Zutara fan. But that does not mean that I didn’t also support Kataang, because there was accurate development for it. Their story had a full arc. And honestly, if Katara had ended up with Zuko, I would have felt a bit cheated, just like I feel like the writers cheated us with this rendition of Korrasami.
If that’s where the story was headed, then they deserved more and the fans deserved more.
But look back through the other books, Emily. Korrasami is all over the place.
K, fine. Let’s look back through the other books, especially Book 3:
Korra n Asami looking like what the hell...Boys. They did that a lot in book 3. #LOK #Korra #Asami
Korra & Asami Book 3
Korra and Asami. Book 3
Korra and Asami | The Legend of Korra Season 3
A friendship in the last episode of Book 3.
Korra and Asami's letters to each other. 4.02
Yes, they had moments. But they were always centered around friendship. Now that we know they ended up together we can go back and point them out, wondering if it was a hint at something, but at the time there was absolutely no hint or mention of any kind of romance.
Honestly, the only time anything romantic was even hinted at was the last few minutes of the finale. And that, to me, is not a fair portrayal. It’s definitely not a fair way to end not only the season, but the whole series. I respect this show and I’m hesitant to say anything negative over the writing because time and time again it has proven to be so amazing, but this ending, in my opinion, was not well-executed.
Korrasami
I think it was only done in this way to provide a shock-factor, or maybe because they were worried that if the relationship was displayed too much throughout the season, Nick would stop airing it or the fans (or the parents of the fans) would get upset. I’m not sure why they chose to do it in this way, honestly. There were probably many factors that went into it that I don’t know about. But as a fan, I was a little disappointed. That kills me to say, because I love this show. But the way this was written was not satisfying.
I’m not saying that Korra should have ended up with Mako. I realize that they had their time and it didn’t work out so well. Korra and Asami had more chemistry. They understood each other in a way that Mako and Korra never really did. And I’m glad that Korra and Mako still ended on good terms. But I think it would have been better to not have her end up with anyone than do to this quick-lets-fit-in-this-Korrasami-scene-to-freak-everyone-out. I mean, I wanted the show to end with a bang and in a way that will never be forgotten. But I wanted that ending to be justified, and I don’t think this one was.

 

 
I’d love to hear more thoughts on this. Korra fans, do you agree, disagree, not sure if you agree? Let me know!

 

–Emily

2 Comments

  1. Jimmy Morey
    January 3, 2015

    So I literally just finished the series half an hour ago and this is the first thing I wanted to read afterward. You have a really good attention for detail in this series. I missed a lot of things you pointed out, namely Ikki and Meelo saving Jinora and Tenzin, as well as the absence of Kai and Jinora in the last few episodes. I wish they had given Kai and Jinora more screen time, especially since the beginning of Book 4 promised a little more of them (I mean, it opened with Kai and Opal working to save an Earth village).

    As for the last few minutes, it's hard for me to gauge how ambiguous that was since I had Korrasami spoiled for me before I even started Book 4 (I was waaaaaaaay behind on this series). Knowing they would end up together, I kept an eye out for moments hinting at their relationship. I think for me the biggest hints are when Korra writes to Asami exclusively and not to Mako, and when Asami teaches Korra to drive. I both those scenes, Korra opens up to Asami in ways she can't quite do around Mako. I initially took that to be a "just girls" thing, guys aren't that up front with their emotions anyway, especially Mako. But Korra struggles with her emotions as much as Mako does, and I think she needs someone like Asami to balance out her hotheadedness. Possibly they were afraid to show more explicit signs of romance between two same-sex characters in a kids show, but to me their decision to build Korra and Asami's relationship subtly makes it more believable. It avoids the pitfalls of the first series because it was so obvious they wanted to put Aang and Katara together at the end. And after reading their statements about the ending, I think they expected to surprise audiences, but I don't think they made Korrasami happen purely for shock value. They knew it would make waves, and they wanted to make those waves, but that didn't compromise any of the character development in my opinion.

    Anyway, great post Emily!

    Reply
  2. Emily
    January 8, 2015

    I'm glad you finally finished the series! It's always great to have another person to discuss it with. I agree that Asami and Korra balance each other out pretty well, much better than Mako and Korra. But I'm not sure I agree with your comment that building the relationship subtly makes it more believable. I guess to an extent, yes, this makes it more realistic. In literature, though, it is important to prepare the audience so that they feel like the relationship makes sense. Otherwise, it will feel like the writers forced two characters together. It's true that Aang was interested in Katara from the very beginning, but this did not mean that they were destined to end up together. (I'm a Zutara fan through and through and was ALWAYS rooting for them despite Aang's love for Katara.) It only meant that the audience got to see the struggle between Aang loving Katara and wanting to be with her throughout the series. When he did end up with her, they were prepared for it and knew that after everything they had been through, it was reasonable.

    Thanks for reading and the discussion! I'm currently rewatching ATLA so hopefully I'll have some posts about things that I missed the first time through.

    Reply

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