Monday, June 25, 2012

The Legend of Korra: Season Finale

This is it, the Season 1 finale of The Legend of Korra.  Over the weekend Venessa I watched all ten episodes leading up to the one hour finale that consisted of Skeletons in the Closet and Endgame.  This has been a fantastic series.  Re-watching all the previous episodes has show what a carefully crafted piece of storytelling the Legend of Korra is and it has been a joy to experience.  In Episode 11, Skeletons in the Closet, we learn the truth that Amon has so carefully hidden and we get our Endgame in Episode 12.  Spoilers from here on out...

Republic City is now under the control of Amon and the Equalists.  Korra is hiding underground with Asami, Bolin and Mako.  Korra and Mako have been scouting the city disguised as chi blockers and getting a bit cozy.

Amon is using Air Temple Island as his headquarters where he’s been systematically stripping the Republic City police force and the White Lotus guards of their bending.  The United Forces soon arrive under General Iroh’s command but they are not met with any resistance.  That is until they are hit by underwater mines and are then attacked from the skies!

The United Forces have never faced a threat like this before and it doesn’t take long for the Equalists to destroy the battleships.  Korra does what she can but the Equalist’s air power is too much to withstand.  General Iroh is knocked into the water by a torpedo blast.  Fortunately Korra is there to pull him back up and takes him back to the underground tunnels New Team Avatar have been hiding out in.

The fleet is lost but General Iroh informs them that a second wave of reinforcements are on the way.  With Gommu’s help a message is sent to Commander Bumi (Tenzin’s brother) about this new air threat and to wait for Iroh’s signal before approaching the city.  They plan to take out the Equalist's air fleet but Korra decides to stay in the city.  She’s tired of hiding and plans to face Amon.  Mako volunteers to stay with her.  General Iroh doesn’t like the idea but gives in, saying his grandfather would respect the Avatar’s instinct and so will he.  Sending Naga along to watch out for Bolin, Asami and General Iroh, Korra and Mako then make their way back to Air Temple Island.  Their plan is to ambush Amon, so Korra leads Mako through a secret way into the temple.  Inside an attic they are shocked to find an imprisoned Tarrlock.  And it is Tarrlock’s story that gives us this episodes title, Skeletons in the Closet.  Tarrlock reveals he is Amon’s brother!  And that’s not all.  Not only are Tarrlock and Amon brothers, but Amon is a waterbender and a bloodbender!  Doh, there goes your revolution Amon!  So it was already revealed that Yakone, the gangster from Korra’s flashbacks who gets his bending taken away by Avatar Aang, is Tarrlock’s father, making him Amon’s as well.  Yakone fled Republic City afterwards with a new face and identity and settled down in the Northern Water Tribe, got married and had two sons: Noatak (who we know as Amon) and Tarrlock.  They led a happy life until Noatak and Tarrlock discovered they were waterbenders and Yakone’s true nature began to show through once again as he began training his sons.

One day Yakone revealed who he really was and how his bending had been taken away by the Avatar.  He wanted his sons to avenge him, to take back Republic City and destroy the Avatar.  Once the boys mastered waterbending, they began to learn how to bloodbend, first starting out on animals, then forced to bloodbend each other.  The event created a rift in the family with Noatak running away, not to be seen again until recently when brothers once again faced each other.  After Tarrlock finishes his story, Korra realizes that Amon uses his bloodbending to take a bender's power away.  Knowing this she can’t think how he can be beat without him bloodbending them.  But she does come up with a plan.  With the information they now have on Amon being a bender, they will undermine his revolution by revealing the truth... 

We continue with Asami, Bolin and Iroh on their way to the secret air field.  There they plan to tear up the runways to prevent the planes from taking off.  As they approach, Asami wonders why there are fence posts with no fence but they soon discover why.

Meanwhile, back in Republic City, Korra and Mako are disguised as chi blockers once again to infiltrate Amon’s rally.  Korra reveals her presence as well as the truth about Amon in front of the thousands who have gathered.  But Amon continues with his charade, even revealing his face, “scar” and all.

Since Korra’s plan didn’t work the way she had planned, she and Mako prepare to leave.  But Amon reveals another card up his sleeve...

Back at the hidden air field, Asami, Bolin and Iroh wake up, tied up and behind bars.  Hiroshi Sato, Asami’s father, approaches them and tries to convince Asami to see things his way.  She refuses and Hiroshi doesn’t like that at all.  He then reveals he intercepted Iroh’s message to Commander Bumi and knows where they are in order to annihilate the reinforcements.  But with a little help from Naga (and Pabu) they are able to escape.

Asami takes a seat inside a mecca tank and Iroh goes after the planes.

Back in Republic City, Amon threatens to rid the world of airbending.  Korra tells him to let the airbenders go.  Amon says come and get them and they do.

They clear the stage of Equalists and release Tenzin and the kids.  Backstage they separate, Tenzin and the kids go to get Pema and the baby, while Korra and Mako try to distract Amon.  But Korra and Mako are not able to hide from Amon for long.  He captures them with bloodbending and as Mako watches unable to do anything, Amon then takes away Korra’s bending!

Meanwhile, Iroh is hot on the trail of the air fleet.  He’s able to bring down all the planes before they can even leave Republic City.  Back at the air field, Bolin tears up the runways while mecca tanks try to stop him until Naga comes in to stop them.  Asami destroys the planes that are left in a hanger and is confronted by her father who is also in a mecca tank.  They fight and Asami is down but Bolin comes in on Naga to back her up.  The distraction is enough for Asami to get back up and teach her father a lesson.  In Republic City, Korra is weakened and Mako is still under Amon’s bloodbending control when Amon’s lieutenant (Mustache Guy) faces him after witnessing Amon bloodbending.  Amon attacks his lieutenant then goes for Mako, intent on taking his bending away.  But Mako is able to fight through the bloodbending and hits Amon with lightning.

Mako picks up Korra and tries to escape but he’s not able to get far.  Amon stops him with another bloodbending attack.  Amon tosses Mako around like a rag doll then comes in again to take away his bending.  Korra gets up to try and stop him and manages to airbend!

Amon tries to stop her with bloodbending but she fights through it and blows him out of a window into the bay.  Seeing Amon tossed out the window and apparently drowning, his supporters turn against Korra, until Amon waterbends himself back up, scar-less, in front of everyone who now see that Korra was telling the truth about him earlier.

His true identity revealed, Amon has no choice but to run and manages to get away.  He then goes back for his brother Tarrlock.  Everything is lost but they still have each other.  Awwww…

Everyone is reunited on Air Temple Island and we get a quick glimpse of Bumi as he sails in with his fleet and Tenzin does not seem all that pleased that he will have to deal with his brother now.  Amon, or rather, Noatak and Tarrlock are speeding away on a boat where Noatak entertains delusions of reconnecting with his brother as Tarrlock looks on not entirely convinced by Noatak’s plans.  Tarrlock then takes one of the Equalist’s gloves and holds it over the gas tank and…

We return to the Avatar training facility where Katara has tried to restore Korra’s bending but has not been able to.  Korra, feeling lost without the rest of her bending leaves so she can be by herself.  But Mako follows and confesses his true feelings for Korra, that he loves her.  But Korra does not want to deal with it and runs off.  On her own looking out at the ocean, Korra starts to cry when she is approached by who she thinks is Tenzin but turns out to be Aang!

Aang reveals to Korra that she has connected with her spiritual self, that it was after hitting her lowest point that she is open to the greatest change.  And then we get to see what we have all been waiting for… Korra in the Avatar State!

And Korra goes on to bend all the elements, in front of an astonished Mako.  She jumps into his arms and tells him she loves him too.

But let’s move on to something more important than Korra’s love life; Korra restoring Lin’s bending!

And they all live happily ever after… until Season 2!

So many revelations and twists and turns I hardly know where to begin.  We definitely got our resolution: We found out who Amon is and what turned him into this Equalist tyrant.  We got Korra learning to airbend.  Mako finally make up his mind.  Lin’s bending has been restored.  And of course, Korra connecting with her spiritual side and achieving the Avatar State.

I’m happy, what about you?  Pretty much everything I guessed was wrong but that’s fine.  Amon was using his bloodbending to block bender’s powers, not a chi block.  I did guess that Amon and Tarrlock might be related but I didn't want to commit to how and Tarrlock had no idea who Amon was until after his bending was taken away so it doesn't count, considering they each had their own agendas.  I had hoped Korra would reach the Avatar State before Amon had taken her bending but I’m really liking the way this happened.  It gives Korra her own journey, it’s not a repeat of Aang’s.  They are two very different Avatars caught up in very different circumstances and I enjoyed watching their stories and the way they each handled these trials.  I also love learning about these new layers involved with the Avatar State.

Korra is great.  She's strong and smart.  She relies a lot on her muscle and bending but she's shown she is clever too.  She's made mistakes but she's learned from them.  She can lead and stand up for herself and her decisions but she will also listen to what others have to say.  She will be a great Avatar and she's a character I don't mind my daughter looking up to.

I'm glad Asami didn't turn on her friends and there was a mature resolution between her and Mako that was handled well.  I'm not fully on board the Mako and Korra train but we'll see what happens with these two in Season 2.  At least Mako wasn't as annoying and had some great moments in this finale.

Now for our villains: Amon and Tarrlock.  Two sides of the same coin, twisted and tormented by their father, Yakone to try and take back Republic City in very different, yet very wrong, ways.  Of course, the Big Bad was Amon but I liked Tarrlock for that extra element of suspense and drama he added to the mix.  I also like him as the man who had nothing left to lose and decided to help Korra and in the end rid the world of a very dangerous bloodbender.  That had to be a tough decision, to kill yourself and the brother you thought lost.

I really liked Amon as the villain.  He had crazy ideas but he seemed so cool, calm and collected, always one step ahead of our heroes, yet completely mentally unstable.  I love that the only way to defeat him was not just with physical power but mental, to turn his followers against him; his own power of words turned against him.  He would have struck again if Tarrlock hadn't done anything.

Let’s talk about Korra’s bending being taken away but she’s able to airbend.  Was is simply that it unlocked her airbending or rather it was there all the time but she was too reliant on her other bending that once those were out of the way she could airbend?  Then it could be asked, but why wasn’t that blocked like the others?  I have a feeling Amon wouldn’t be able too.  He’s never encountered airbenders before.  There are plenty of fire, water and earth benders to practice on so he may not have been able to remove Tenzin and his children’s bending. 

The whole sequence of the air attack on the United Forces felt so much like the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  This was so scary to watch!  Then again with Iroh taking out all those planes before they could attack Bumi’s fleet.  Those were definitely pulse pounding moments.  Someone watched a lot of war movies.  And I have the sudden urge to watch Wings now (no, not the TV show but the very first Academy Award winning movie).

Bumi looks like a wild one!  I hope we get to see a lot more of him (and General Iroh) in Season 2.

Memorable Moments:

Korra redirecting the torpedo

This shot as General Iroh goes after the planes on his own

The past Avatars

Lin earthbending!

Growing up I didn't watch shows like this.  The closest I can think of was The Secret of NIMH; something dark and intense.  I am very glad smart, mature animated shows are being created for both kids and adults to enjoy without feeling like we're being talked down to but still giving us a good laugh.  I am going to miss having a regular show to watch with Venessa as we wait for Season 2.  We looked forward to each new episode and had a great time flipping out together.  I am so very impressed with this show and look forward to new adventures with Korra.  

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