The Legend Of Korra: Book Of Change – 08 Review
Three seasons. The writers of Legend Of Korra had three fucking series – and they STILL haven’t learned how to write good villains. The villain of the first season appeared to be somewhat interesting but ended up being a disappointing fake. And the one in the second season was SO obviously evil, it was just stupid how Korra had even trusted him for a second. And the third time around? Well, they’re obviously evil but that’s not really the problem. The problem is them running around most of this season for whatever reason and doing nothing noteworthy. They’re just the setup for a finale that hasn’t happened yet. Who knows if they actually will be able to carry the finale for this season…
Legend of Korra had been an uphill-battle from the start. Everyone had high expectations for this project and so when the first season didn’t deliver, the audience went away. But Nickelodeon still believed it had the second coming of Avatar: The Last Airbender in its hands and so it was faced with the disappointing truth that Legend of Korra wasn’t that exactly. The second season was flawed in many ways, but most importantly (at least that’s how a network sees it, I would think) not many people actually tuned in for the show. The second season of Legend Of Korra was a failure.
So, here’s the third season. It’s a season that should not exist. Nickelodeon REALLY believes in this franchise to have granted it this third season in the first place. After the end of the second season it really seemed like Avatar was a franchise with ever-diminishing returns. That Nick even aired the third season was an act of mercy. Naturally it was still done with the hope that it could somehow recuperate and get a somewhat big audience, I believe. And the ad-campaign for the third season didn’t help there as in that it didn’t exist. The third season just appeared!
And just like that it also disappeared from TV again.
Now, ending a TV-show in a manner independent of the show’s creators isn’t entirely new. There are a ton of series out there that actually delivered a fascinating first (!) season only to be scrapped by the network since it wasn’t “good” enough in their eyes. Just look at Terriers (2010) or Awake (2012) for example, those series were immediately canceled after the first season because of their low ratings despite the fact that both series have a somewhat open ending and are really compelling. And just killing a season by just silently pushing it into a time-slot just to fill time isn’t unheard of either. Bent (2012) was way better than the network gave it credit for by just shoving it into some timeslot mid-season without really giving a shit.
Nickelodeon already felt like they were walking on broken glass by airing this third season, I bet. And they were trying very hard to muffle the sound of pain as they saw their hopes for Big Money (the only kind of money for any corporation nowadays, it seems) die. It wouldn’t have been unimaginable or unusual if Nickelodeon had just forced the team behind Legend Of Korra to produce two more episodes to wrap up the season or if they had finished the season with the message that there will be no Book 4 in the series.
That they didn’t do any of that is actually the most interesting element of this. And it’s not only Nick-related as the rest of this third season can be found on most of the popular streaming-sites. In the end, Legend Of Korra is just another example of a series with a devoted fanbase that escaped the hell of competitive network-TV and found a home on the popular streaming-sites that exist nowadays. House Of Cards with Kevin Spacey is the prime example of such a series that primarily exists on such streaming-sites. Dan Harmon found recently a place for the sixth season of Community on Yahoo. Mitch Hurwitz’ great series Arrested Development was cancelled due to low ratings as well but then new episodes were being released on Netflix.
Right now, it really seems like these cult-series everyone would rave about imagining what their sequels would look like – actually get sequels. Well, naturally not all of the time, but those internet-streaming-services are trying hard to compete with TV and find series-flagships for these endeavors. So, in the end that Legend Of Korra gets cancelled by Nickelodeon – and STILL ends up being able to find a place to show the rest of the season and probably an entire new season is only possible because of the relevance streaming-services are fighting for nowadays.
But now as for the actual episode. The most interesting moment of the moment is when Korra gets drugged during Zaheer’s kidnapping-attempt. It’s indicative of what this whole series is doing and that is putting side-characters into the pilot-seat for the plot. The second season was a rather lackluster attempt to show a more confident Korra in control of the plot. Ultimately, these decisions lead to a lot of bad and weird decisions that made Korra as a character more unlikeable than compelling. Korra is a very flawed character personality-wise to begin with, so the actual story and plot have to do a lot to make these flaws seem sympathetic. So, it’s an interesting and a good decision to put the focus on the side-characters this time around.
And this isn’t done in the format of some formulaic arc-like plot but these side-characters rather get these organic moments created by circumstances instead of a plot where obviously one character rushes into a problem that needs reflection and characterization-moments to be solved. In this episode, it’s Mako’s turn again as he’s able to show off his investigative skills. And it really helps that there’s no character needlessly explaining why Mako is the one who’s the most suspicious of Team Avatar when it comes to the first suspect in this episode’s investigation. Everyone just accepts that he knows what he’s talking about. While the dynamics of the Team-Avatar-group aren’t quite refined yet to use witty banter to sell these sorts of moments, it’s good to show a side-character being helpful in a manner that doesn’t heavily involve Korra.
One character, though, that really lacks any sort of real presence so far is Asami. I mean, at this point it’s just weird to even be reminded of her existence by her appearing on screen. She barely does ANYTHING in this episode and the other episodes aren’t all that different in that regard, actually they are even worse. Her best moment was in the first or second episode when it was established that she still was good friends with Korra. Other than that, her character was pretty much a non-entity this season so far. I mentioned in my review of the first episode of this season that she could’ve been the Iron Man of the Avatar-universe and that she hasn’t become that, doesn’t get anywhere more obvious than in the bending-fight-scenes of this episode as she’s… just there. Nothing more, she’s just sort-of present.
As for the actual story of this episode, it’s definitely saved by the good pacing and the believable deductions Mako makes (with the help of Varrick). For anyone who has seen this kind of situation in a mystery-series before, it was quite obvious that the real culprit wasn’t anyone of the guards but Aiwei himself. The way Aiwei plans this conspiracy he really turns out to be quite the petty character. That random young guard is hardly material for a frame-job that was necessary for giving Zaheer access to the Avatar like this.
In the end, the episode ends with a bit of a cliffhanger but only because what Team Avatar is doing seems like a REALLY bad idea. I get why Lin wants the Avatar secure in Republic City and I get why Su is all for advocating revenge on Aiwei. But without Korra the rest of Team Avatar had a REALLY hard time dealing with Zaheer and his villainous colleagues. Why would it be a good idea to chase Aiwei when there’s the possibility of encountering Zaheer and so on? This all seems like a very foolish quest.
- That Bolin proved useful in a serious scene like the bending-fight-scene was a nice touch, although it was done with the most straightforward telegraphing imaginable.
- Suyin’s character doesn’t seem entirely trustworthy either in the way she encourages Korra to rush out with her friends to find a criminal. Maybe the show’s trying to make some point here by having Suyin help Korra follow up on her revenge-fantasies, but overall it really seems like a bad decision.
Posted on July 26, 2014, in Anime, Reviews, The Legend Of Korra: Book Of Change (S03) and tagged Anime, Avatar, Book Of Change, cartoon, Legend Of Korra, reviews, Season 03. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.