WARNING! Spoilers below!
It’s clear that the writers wanted the first episode to feature almost no Korra and the second to be all Korra so to be speak, and really works well here. This is the kind of storytelling we expect from Legend of Korra, and though there are still questions, the few that were answered was done in a wonderful way.
“Korra Alone” faded in and out between the present (where Korra literally just walked out of the Earthbending fight) and the past where more-or-less left off in the Season 3 Finale. And in the first few minutes we’re shown that not only is Korra not 100%, she’s seeing things. What exactly is still a mystery, but it’s affecting her big time, and the commonfolk don’t see what she sees, leaving her thinking she’s gone crazy. And after what she’s gone through, that may not have been too much of a stretch.
In the course of the 22-minute episode, we fly through three years of rehabilitation, training, and discovery for Korra. It was great seeing Katara again, a character who was mysteriously missing in Season 2 and 3. Having her be a kind of last resort for Korra was great, and it led to some of the best scenes in Legend of Korra and possibly The Last Airbender history.
Why? Because more than ever before, we really got to see Korra struggle, and get taken to her lowest point. Sure, she was there when she thought she lost her bending, but that was reversed in 30 seconds flat, here, it took over six months just to get back on her feet! And then she had to retrain herself to try and get to the level she’s accustomed to. It would’ve been incredibly easy for Katara to heal her and get Korra back on the job, but this gives us a deeper insight into Korra, as she was clearly broken by her fight with Zaheer.
The outburst from Korra to Katara was wonderfully done, both in voice and animation. You could feel her anger and frustration as she relayed how the world was getting better, and her friends were saving it, all the while she was confined to a wheelchair. It was passionate, and real, and totally Korra.
A nice twist was that we also got to see what she did in the 6 months before the premiere episode, where her father and mother thought she was with everyone in Republic City. Instead, she went globetrotting to find the answers she needed. Along the way, she went to several familiar places, including the Tree of Time! It was a nice touch to have the spirits there, and debating where she was Korra or not. Funny stuff.
The best part from the Tree of Time bit was the true revelation that the Avatar Spirit (also known as Raava) was not in her, as one spirit noted. Which will no doubt lead many to wonder if the being haunting her IS her Avatar State trying to tell her something.
With the past now settled, the present returned and gave us a very cool and chilling scene as Korra fought her “hallucination” again, which resulted her in meeting…
TOPH! TOPH’S ALIVE!!! And still as epic as ever! I’m saying it right now, if the next episode isn’t all Korra and Toph it is a FAIL!!!
Though this episode was miles ahead of the premiere there were still some drawbacks. It seems that the writers sometimes NEED to put comedy in places there doesn’t need to be. The spirit scene was hilarious, but the scene with the vendor? Not so much. The result of the scene was fine, with Korra losing to street Sandbending thugs, but the setup was pretty lame.
Also, while the skipping to key events was nice, sometimes we barely got a transition between the jumps. Three weeks quickly turned to 6 months, and then 2 years, and then 2 1/2. It was shocking to learn we had gone so far with so little seen in the middle. I wasn’t expecting a Rocky style montage to fill in the gaps…but it might’ve helped.
In the end, “Korra Alone” did a wonderful job setting the series back on track. And it did so by focusing on the character we needed to see…and giving us the character we WANTED to see. There are still a lot of questions, but this episode makes waiting for the answers a little more bearable.