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The Legend of Korra - The Day of the Colossus & The Last Stand - Review: "One of the most progressive cartoons of all time comes to a great end"



I have been a fan of The Legend of Korra since season one ended and I decided to catch up with it; I first watched the original Avatar The Last Air Bender and I was amazed with what I saw, an outstanding children cartoon that I enjoyed to the fullest. Korra was a pretty different show that just happened to be in the same universe; as the characters were older in this series it felt that the show was able to go to darker places than the previous series (which had its own dark places from time to time) and as a whole I felt that the show created its own identity, developing some themes that were more mature than the ones seen in the previous series. That being said, Korra is not without its faults, it has been a bumpy ride, but as a whole a pretty great one.

First things first; before I start reviewing the finale (which I’ll say that I liked right ahead) I need to say that The Legend of Korra has been one of my favorite TV shows on the air these pasts years I’ve been following it and that I feel absolutely no urge to compare it with The Last Air Bender (which I also adore),I rather treated it like its own series. But if you ask me, I think The Last Air Bender’s finale was better, but the comparison in itself is unfair since that show had 4 episodes to wrap up its story while Korra had merely 2.

Every season of The Legend of Korra is vastly different from the one preceding it, each one trying to tell a different part of Korra’s story. While The Last Air Bender is the story of a world and the implications it has for its main characters, The Legend of Korra is the story of a woman and her development through the series. Through book 4 the focus has been mainly on Korra more than anything else, on her injury and her path to recovery and as such sometimes it felt like everything else was slowly fading into oblivion, but it actually it was all coming together for the last stand. The finale is not that much a closing point for the story, but display on how much these characters have evolved through time.

Considering I haven’t made regular reviews of the show this season it is hard to just talk about the finale when there is so much to talk about this season, the Beifong family drama (including some Toph appearances in the mix), Kuvira’s dictatorship campaign, Korra’s recovery, among many other, but I’ll skip ahead and talk about these last two episodes right ahead.

“The Day of The Colossus” is an action packed episode with a lot of tension and outstanding visuals that is all about breaking in the giant mecha robot that is destroying Republic City while “The Last Stand” features the final fights from the series and closes everything with a very earned happy ending.



Many people think happy endings are boring and/or clich├ęd, but I think they are great endings if the characters actually earn it through pain and sacrifice and The Legend of Korra does just that. This whole season we saw Korra go through rehabilitation after being injured by Zaheer in the season 3 finale and both her physical and mental disabilities were developed greatly through the season and made her grow into a more mature and more compassionate person which is key for the finale.

Honestly, if I was to complain something about the finale it may be that the giant mecha robot didn’t really fit with the whole Avatar lore and seemed like a way to make the stakes higher than something made with the proper build up, but that’s a minor complaint since it brought so much greatness through the finale. One could also argue that many characters didn’t have their proper time to say goodbye, but through the series they all developed and grew and by the series finale all of them seem to be on a place that is fitting for an ending. For instance, Lin patching up her relationship with Toph is enough to end her journey and there is no need to showcase extra character development through the finale, and even then she gets some pretty awesome moments.

What makes “The Day of The Colossus” so epic is the way our heroes struggle to stop this giant robot which brings some of the most outstanding visuals on the show as the benders try to win some time while Varrick and Asami get their hummingbird suits ready to cut the platinum surface of the giant meach robot. There is a lot of tension and great action that made me think plenty of times “I don’t want this to end… I’m not ready.”

The episodes moves forward and a lot of things happen; while working on ways to stop Kuvira’s attack, Varrick finally comes to face his feelings for Zhu Li and through the episode he lets her know how much he cares for her and finally proposes, to which Zhu Li agrees immediately. Varrick is the funny muscle of the series, always providing great comedy, but it also great to see him getting more serious as he sees the ending is near and he finally starts treating Zhu Li as an equal rather than his assistant.

Talking of which, there’s something very remarkable about The Legend of Korra as a whole; the focus on the women character and how they are as powerful, as smart and as complex as the male characters makes this one of the few shows that gets gender equality right (like The 100, for instance). Women are not just strong and independant, they are complex and well developed characters fully fledged out, just like the male characters.

The show handled the evacuation part of the episode greatly with Prince Wu showing how much he grew as a character by leading the evacuation with the badgermoles he leads with his singing. It is pure and great comedy and makes me realize how wrong I was with my initial impression of Prince Wu as a character; I thought he would be annoying and wouldn’t serve almost any purposes, but I didn’t give the show enough credit, as in the finale he gets to bring out countless chuckless during the evacuation bit while showing us how much his time with Mako has allowed for him to grow.

Asami’s father, Hiroshi, comes back as Lin gets him out of prison so that he can help them out figure a way to stop Kuvira. He helps attaching some technology to the hummingbird suits that cuts platinum so that team Korra can break in the mecha robot and destroy it from the inside.
Possibly the most surprising turns of events is Hiroshi’s death; Korra manages to freeze the robot so that Asami and Hiroshi and cut through it, but Kuvira manages to break through the ice and Hiroshi ejects Asami from the hummingbird suit while he stays so he can finish to cut through. He is squashed in the very next second, while Asami sees how her father dies in front of him.

Book 3 and 4 have been able to develop Asami as a full fledge character; as soon as she stopped being there as a love interest for Mako and started developing her relationship with Korra she started feeling less marginal and more integral to the story (we’ll go deeper into that in a moment). Book 4 for Asami has been about her being able to come to terms with what her father did and forgive him, and before he dies she manages to do so and to tell him that she loves him, which makes it all the more devastating to see Hiroshi’s death, not because he is a beloved character, but because we care for Asami and seeing her so hurt has a huge emotional weight.

“The Day of The Colossus” ends with team Korra (Korra, Mako, Bolin, Lin and Su) infiltrating the robot after Hiroshi’s sacrifice and the final episode of the series starts rolling.

“The Last Stand” felt as it went out quickly, but not really rushed. The final battles are great and they gave our characters time to show off one last time and go out in a blaze of glory. I don’t want to compare Korra’s finale with The Last Airbender’s finale because they were developed differently, but I can’t help but feel a bit bummed that Mako and Bolin didn’t get as an awesome fight as the Zuko/Katara vs Azula showdown was, or that Asami didn’t get a Sokka like moment to show off in the end. I wish they did, but that doesn’t make the episode less stellar.

Su and Lin get to work together one last time as they disable the weapon by destroying the center of control. Honorable mention to Kuvira’s grunts for offering great -even if short- fight scenes against Lin, Mako and Bolin, those scenes were pretty outstanding and offered really great action. As soon as Su and Lin disable the weapon, Kuvira decides to just ditch the weapon and breaks the mecha robot’s arm and throw it away, so Lin straps her and her sister with metal so that they can survive the impact, but they are out of battle now.

Mako and Bolin fight off Kuvira’s grunts and they try to stop the spirit vines, and as they make it through that they discover there is some kind of overdrive that makes it impossible to stop it, so Mako decides to go heroic and zap the vines with electricity to make it explode. It allows us to see one last time how much the brothers care for each other as Bolin asks Mako not to do that. It is great because Mako is pretty much one of the most forgotten characters of these last two seasons, so it’s nice to see him having a short emotional moment with his brother before the series end and to see him getting the spotlight before closing the curtains.

It sure feels as if the show was about to kill Mako and leave him as a sacrifice as the music heavily hints that, and it would have been a very bold choice that I would have approved, but I’m fine with him surviving. Mako is a good guy, one that came all the way from a teenager who didn’t know what he wanted on life to an adult with a great sense of responsibility and as we see him taking down the spirit vines somehow that journey comes into completion, even when these last two seasons there wasn’t that much character development for him.

But the heart of the finale is Korra and Kuvira’s showdown. Having the final villain being a woman makes the final showdown between Korra and Kuvira all the more interesting in the way they connect; all the previous male villains had valid arguments for what they were doing, but Korra never connected with them as she did with Kuvira, and her fight with her feels the most realistic and it is the best executed of them all.

Their fight is interrupted when the giant mecha is destroyed, but Kuvira doesn’t want to give up and she runs to the forest to use the weapon one last time, but she loses control and as the weapon is about to kill her Korra saves her by going to the Avatar State and stopping the spirit blast, creating a portal to the spirit world, to which both Korra and Kuvira crossover.

All the pain Korra has gone through makes her able to understand why Kuvira did what she did and through the compassion she is able to make Kuvira understand where she went wrong; she had noble intentions, but somewhere down the line she started craving for power and lost her way, acting as a dictator to her people.

Both Korra and Kuvira are fierce and determined to succeed, sometimes without thinking things through. And they both wanted to be in control when they were vulnerable, with Kuvira creating an army so that she and her people wouldn’t be vulnerable and with Korra so desperately trying to recover from her injury. At the bottom of it all, there was fear: it wasn’t about hatred or evil, it was just that the fear of it all made Kuvira go nuts, and as such it feels right that the conflict ends with Korra showing compassion, as she understands that fear so well. It is something the writers of this show built up well and even though at first it didn’t feel this deep, on my second watch I realized how huge is for Korra’s character development to show compassion to her foe instead of outright beating them up as she used to on the past.

And so Kuvira turns herself in and all is good in the world. Su and Lin arrest her as she stands down her army, and it is clear that Su won’t come to forgive Kuvira for what she has done, but she says how sorry she is there seems to be some hope for Kuvira’s atonement, but that’s up to each and everyone of us to decide.

And so we reach the final minutes of the show, where Varrick and Zhu Li get married on a wedding officiated by Bolin. It is completely perfect and it builds up to a happy ending that feels pretty much earned.

Korra and Mako share one last conversation in which Mako says that he will always be there to battle alongside Korra, but they don’t get back together, and it feels more like Mako talks as a friend as someone interested on her and with his mind set on his responsibilities and Korra seems happy to know his friends has his back.

Korra shares one last scene with Tenzin, in which him praises her for all the wonderful things she achieves as an avatar, how much she changed the world and how good is to see her so full of hope. It is a wonderful moment for student and mentor as Korra is recognized for coming so far on this bumpy road.

And then there’s Asami: honestly, there’s a lot of things that makes this finale memorable, but ending a series that was initially aimed to children and teenagers heavily hinting a same sex couple is really something outstanding and downright beautiful. I already covered some of it in the Scene Of The Week section. The writers have subtly, but constantly, building up towards the Korra and Asami pairing since Book 3 and it really pays off in this ending.

Korra and Asami get a moment alone and Korra apologizes to Asami for being gone all that time and not coming back sooner, which already tells us that Korra senses a responsibility towards Asami, that she has to be there for her; she doesn’t apologize to Mako or Bolin, but to her because their relationship is just that much more intimate. Asami is just happy that she is there, she couldn’t have handled losing her and her father, cue to Korra showing her condolence and hug her.

It is really a beautiful moment, and it becomes all the more beautiful as both girls decides that they don’t want to go back to the dance floor, but instead that they should go on a vacation together, just the two of them, to the spirit world. And as they hand hold while they are going to the portal, as they cross it they share one very intimate look as the camera goes up and the words the end show up. Cut to credits.

Though it could be argue that Korra and Asami are going to the spirit world just as friends, their relationship is shown so intimate that it becomes really clear that they are actually on their way to become a couple. and if it didn’t end on a kiss is probably so that a part of the audience that wanted Korra and Mako to be together again wouldn’t feel alienated, but it is pretty clear that they were aiming for the same sex couple here, which is a beautiful and deep message that tells us that, as long as we are happy, it doesn’t really matter if we are with a man or a woman, they are equal.

In the end it is all about balance; balance of mind, body, spirit, the elements, man and woman. The world and the people on it are always on a quest for balance, to achieve happiness through the right measure of things, the right measure of compassion, perseverance and love. And love knows no gender, it is just there and it is up for us to share it with those close to us, man or woman. Has there ever been a more beautiful message on a children’s show? I can’t think of any other show that has done so, and that’s why The Legend of Korra may -and should- go down as one of the best and most influential TV shows of our time.

Grades:
The Day of The Colossus: A-
The Last Stand: A
Series Grade: A-


Stray Observations:

-Some other grades:
Book 1: A-
Book 2: B
Book 3: A
Book 4: B+

-Varrick: “Zhu li, do the thing!”
Zhu Li: “I’m afraid there are no more things to do.”

-Kuvira’s grunt to Prince Wu: “Your song is so bad, your badgermoles deserted you.”

-Varrick: "Zhu li moon, would you do the thing for the rest of our lives?" Best Proposal Ever!

-Varrick: “Now, let’s gotta attach these barely functional rust buckets to a giant killer smashing machine!”
Zhu li: “It’s exactly how I always pictured our engagement.”

-Bolin to Mako: “This isn’t the time to prove how awesome you are. I already know how awesome you are. You are awesome!”

-Bolin: “You may now, do the thing.”

-I honestly felt bad that great characters such as Kaya, Bumi, Kai, Opal, Jinora and others didn’t have screen time during the finale, but by the time the finale aired they all had already been developed to a point where it was fitting for their own journeys to end, so in the end it isn’t really something to complain about.

-If Michael Dante DiMartino and/or Bryan Konietzko make another series -animated or no- you can count me in.

-If you follow my Once Upon a Time and Marry Me reviews, I'm really sorry for the constant delay: so much has happened on my life right now, with an uncle's death, an ugly break up and just as a whole some very difficult times during the past few weeks. It has been the worst timing ever. So I'll bring up those reviews as soon as possible, but that may be after Christmass. Sorry to keep you waiting, when both shows return I'll do my best to bring these reviews on time.

-I’ll really miss this show; it made my Fridays truly awesome, something that hasn’t happened since Fringe ended. Hopefully, soon there will be another awesome show that can take its place.

About the Author - Pablo
I'm currently studying Psychology while also writing fantasy books (one already published in my home country, Chile, you can check it out on the facebook icon). I watch many different types of shows, including my favorites Revenge, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time and about 23 more. Currently writing reviews for Once Upon a Time, The 100, Community and Marry Me
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