This review contains spoilers.
3.12 Enter The Void; 3.13 Venom Of The Red Lotus
The season three finale of Legend Of Korra is easily my favorite finale this show has done so far. I had a problem with the finale of season one, you might remember — the last five minutes shoehorned in a happy ending. Korra and Lin got their bending back, Korra and Mako got together, and virtually every other sacrifice that had been made was “fixed.” In short, it ignored the realities of violence and war. I bring that up because this finale proves to me that this show is at its best when it doesn’t do that — one of the many reasons Korra is so amazing to me and a worthy successor to The Last Airbender is that it peels back the layers of oppression, violence, and heroism to show you the true consequences of this world. When we leave Korra at the end of the episode, she isn’t back to her old self. She isn’t even back on her feet. She looks, for lack of a better phrase, like death warmed over. They could’ve taken the easy way out and had her smiling and happy and physically fit, but they didn’t. It wouldn’t have felt true to the battle she had to fight.
I also particularly enjoyed the character development of Bolin and Jinora in this episode. They’re two of my favourites, and I often feel like they are overlooked by the other characters. It was great to see Jinora take not only the initiative to assist Korra, but to lead the other airbenders in a joint assault — when she is made a Master at the end of the episode, it truly feels as though she’s earned it. Even if he’d been in better shape, I don’t know that Tenzin would’ve had the mental and emotional strength to rally at that moment. Jinora is, by and large, a more optimistic person than her father. I’ll grant you this is not always a good thing, as sometimes Tenzin’s pessimistic pragmatism is needed (a trait he shares with Lin, and part of why the latter is such a good police chief), but as I say: in this instance, I don’t know that Tenzin would’ve had the faith necessary.
It was also nice to see Bolin get his moment to shine, and I particularly enjoy that it flipped the expectation: most of us were assuming his big triumph would be in metalbending, since he’d tried so hard earlier in the season. But the more I think about it, the more right it seems for Bolin to be a lavabender and not a metalbender. Metal is processed and refined, but earthbenders are able to seek out and bend the earth particles inside it. That’s fair enough, but when I think of the word “refined,” Bolin doesn’t exactly come to mind. That’s not an insult, for the record, just an observation of the kind of person he is. He is, for lack of a better term, a “salt of the earth” sort of fellow. Lava is raw and messy and unrefined. Between it and metal, it’s easy for me to see why lava would suit him more.
All the fight sequences in this episode were pretty impressive, actually, particularly Korra and Zaheer while she was in the Avatar State. There was a moment, when she was first breaking free of her shackles, that I actually got chills down my spine. I thought to myself, not only can you not chain this woman down, but she will break out of them and use them as weapons against you. I could tell you how important it is for me, as a woman, to see women like Korra, Asami, Lin, Su, and Jinora kicking ass and taking names, but even outside of that, it’s empowering as a person to watch someone at their lowest break free of that and rise to their highest.
I think the only real complaint I have is that I wish Zaheer’s destruction of the class system in the earth kingdom had been addressed; as I stated in my review for that episode, he did in fact have a point about the way the lower class was treated in Ba Sing Se. There was barely any mention of that here. I am, however, hoping that we’ll see more of the repercussions of that next season, and I am more than willing to wait after such a great finale. This season has completely restored my faith in these writers and I can not tell you how much I am looking forward to book four.
Read Kaci’s review of the previous episode, The Ultimatum, here.
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