The Legend Of Korra season 2 episode 4 review: Civil Wars Part 2
The Legend Of Korra isn't just inferior to The Last Airbender, argues Kaci, it's simply not very good television...
This review contains spoilers.
2.4 Civil Wars Part 2
I try not to compare this show to its predecessor. It's not fair; sequels never hold up to the nostalgia we have for the original. Time passes and we start to see the original through rose-colored glasses and any imperfections are easy to gloss over through those eyes. The sequel is more immediate; we're looking right at it in all its flawed glory and we think back to our fond memories and say to the sequel, 'You're not worthy.'
So I try not to compare Korra to The Last Airbender. It's not fair to either of them. They're different beasts with different strengths and they deserve the effort it takes to look at each of them as a fully-realized creature and evaluate it on its own merits.
That's why I am not going to sit here and extoll the virtues of The Last Airbender and tell you how Korra falls short. Korra is flawed, but not because it's put in comparison against its predecessor and doesn't hold up. It's flawed as a piece of television, full stop. And here's why.
We live in a world where we've experienced truly great feats of storytelling in the television format. Modern shows couldn't get away with the lack of continuity and character development that defined, say, Star Trek: the Next Generation. (Call me when the writers figure out if Riker and Troi are soulmates or if he's dating someone else this week; by the time I get that call, it'll probably be on an actual badge communicator.)
Television viewers have learned how amazing this medium can be when it's done well and when a show lacks nuance... we notice. We know it can do better. We expect it to soar.
And that's what Korra lacks. Nuance. Nuance is the thing that takes a halfway decent story about two brothers clashing over religious beliefs or the lack thereof and turns it into a black and white story where the bad guy might as well be wearing a black hat and the good guy is waiting to be canonized as a saint any day. Lack of nuance is what makes a story about complicated family dynamics into a trite, 'We're all different but we're family so let's hug,' moral.
These characters don't feel three-dimensional to me. They don't feel like people. They feel like plot devices. They exist as puppets whose strings the writers can pull to tell their story rather than telling a story about their characters.
So when I see people comparing The Legend of Korra to its predecessor in order to talk about how flawed it is, I want to tell them... they not only shouldn't be doing that for an entire myriad of reasons, but also, they just don't need to. Korra isn't just failing as a sequel to The Last Airbender. It's failing as television. Somewhere along the way, it's as if the writers got tired and stopped caring about writing something good and just started hammering it out. It's the NaNoWriMo method of writing and anyone who's ever finished that challenge can tell you... quality is not forthcoming from that process.
If only The Legend of Korra would slow down, take a breath, and remember not only who its characters are, but the arc they went through last season. Then, and only then, it might become the show it's always promised to be.
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