I have written on Legend of Korra before, but considering the amazing final season, and the last few episodes in particular, I felt it only right to speak on it again. Obviously there will be some SPOILERS as I will be referring to events in the final episode, so you have been warned.
So, first off the last scene, or really few minutes of the episode, has been discussed, dissected, and analyzed by many others, some more qualified than I to speak on media, so I will not be focusing any of my efforts on it. I will say that it was impressive on Nickelodeon’s part, and I fully understand why it chose not to go further than what was shown. As well, it was a logical and organic development. That’s all I have to say on the ending scene and I will also leave this along.
As one of the linked articles mentioned, both Legend of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender had massive appeal with, and beyond, the intended children audience of Nickelodeon. I was watching the finale and thinking this is what this show has been building toward. After the less than stellar (being nice) first season, Korra has been on a steady rise and this finale was the culmination of said work.
It was the first episode where I felt like I was watching the continuation of the original Avatar series. Not to say that Korra was bad; simply it was something different and at times seemingly unclear as to what kind of show it was trying to be. However, throughout the series, there was the underlying potential and glimpses of what could be. Of course, as I continued to watch and rewatch the series, I began to wonder why this show so popular, moving, and effective. Why did I, and the audience, care about this world and these characters?
This thought kept bumbling around in my head for several days until I arrived at a Eureka moment, at least for me. The show is extraordinary because of its ensemble and the fact that it is actually treated like an ensemble. Hear me out before you leave.
In both series, the main conflicts revolve around the main characters Aang and Korra in Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra respectively. However, the rest of the casts are fully developed three dimensional characters with their own agendas, desires, and plans. At times, they conflict with the main characters and at other times they aid them, but it is always clear that there are different voices and “actors” being presented.
What is illuminating is that the narrative does not suffer or try too push toward one particular direction. Every person gets their own time and story and purpose beyond ‘keep the hero on track’. This is apparent in the final seasons and finales of both shows. Each character of the “Avatar Team” got what they really wanted and desired be it purpose, redemption, victory, peace, or something more tangible. Hell, even a few of the villains got their heart’s desire along with the heroes though not as clean cut or easily.
The characters were flawed and made huge mistakes at times as people do. Even better, there were no easy fixes. Each character struggled to be better than they were even the heroes. Frankly, both shows were the best written, acted, and had some of the best characters ever seen on television. I strongly believe that had to do with the writers treating each character like a character and not a trope or plot device to further a story.
So, how does this semi-long rant and expulsion of words lead to a lesson? Well put simply, in order to make something great everyone gets a turn and serves a purpose. Both in fiction and real life, everyone has a story and goal. Some will be great while others will just be a chapter in the overall story, but every person, place, and thing has some significance. It is something to keep in mind and really take to heart in the coming year.
Thus endeth today’s lesson.