Book Three of Legend of Korra has been about one word: Change. Both in that it’s the title of the book, and that since the events of Book Two the world has indeed changed. The two-part finale to Book Three, “Enter the Void” and “Venom of the Red Lotus” set to firmly change the world again. And it did so, yet maybe not in the way you were expecting.
“Enter the Void” was both epic and shocking. Even from the outset with Korra admitting that the only way to save the captured Airbenders was to give herself up. This was key for Korra, as usually she’s always the one asking for plans or is willing to risk everything on a chance instead of “doing the right thing”. Here though, you could see the pain in her eyes (a recurring theme in the finale) as she knew the only way to save Tenzin and the new Air Nation was to give herself up.
Now, no doubt many of us thought, “It’s a trap!”, and indeed Korra and the others predicted that (“it is undoubtedly a trap…”) and made preparations. And boy was it a trap, and a freaking cool one at that!
Ming-Hua using her Waterbending to make body duplicates was equal parts cool and chilling (as in terror). The betrayal realized the gloves came off and the longest fight of the season rang out. It’s amazing how creative the artists and writers of LOK can get in the fight scenes. And just the fact that Korra was bound (with platinum) and had to bounce and hop to attack was awesomely entertaining.
For me though, the coolest part of the episode was the tag team fights. Bolin and Mako (with Asami helping Tenzin) vs. Ghazan and Ming-Hua, Su and Lin vs. P’Li, and the showstopper, Zaheer vs. Korra AND Tonraq.
The constant shifting between the fights really built up the tension, as you wondered how things would end. Especially when Tonraq cut the tether to the Air Ship, stranding both P’Li and Zaheer on the plateau.
There are so many things I could note about the fights, but that would take a LONG time, so allow me to give the greatest hits. Tonraq and Korra holding their own against Zaheer? Awesome. Su and Lin bonding before…and I can’t believe I’m saying this…BLOWING P’LI’s HEAD OFF WITH HER OWN ATTACK! WHAT?!!?!? And of course, Bolin learning to Lavabend in order to save everyone. How awesome was that? Many of us, including myself I believe, thought that Bolin would Metalbend to save the day. Instead, Lavabending! Epic!
The ending of “Enter the Void” was especially shocking, as Tonraq was “killed” (“say hello to the Earth Queen for me!”), Korra was beaten, P’Li as stated before was killed, and to top it all off…Zaheer can fly! Remember that verse that Zaheer kept saying? “Be empty, enter the void, and become wind”? Well apparently, that means you can fly! Wow.
Oh, and speaking of ‘wow’. Zaheers’ plans for Korra was FINALLY revealed. As he revealed that he intended to end Korra in the Avatar State, thus making the cycle end. No Avatar, no leaders, just disorder.
Pretty grim huh? And that was just the first episode!
“Venom of the Red Lotus” was all about…well the venom of the Red Lotus. Korra being infused (literally) with the poison and struggling to stay out of the Avatar State was both powerful and gripping. Especially when some “old friends” arrived to taunt her. It really spoke to who Korra was.
A curious thing about “Venom of the Red Lotus” was the focusing on Jinora. Who once again was there to save the day in a way. Her using her astral projection form to search for a way out (inevitably finding Korra) and getting the others to team up to free themselves was awesome.
Speaking of freeing oneself, Korra busting out of her situation was epic. It was almost stupid how Zaheer didn’t anticipate Korra freeing herself when she went full Avatar State. The escape alone was awesome and beautifully animated. From Korra’s rage filled demeanor, to how she used her different elements to rescue herself, to all but hulking out on Zaheer, it was amazing. These are the kinds of moments that get our heart pumping.
And that was just the warmup! The battle itself between Avatar State Korra and Zaheer was something to behold. The art was breathtaking as attack after attack was waged on both sides and you just wondered how it would end.
On the flip side, to take a quick break. The rematch of Bolin vs. Ghazan, and Mako vs. Ming-Hua was totally epic. Especially when the brothers got to turn the tables on the Red Lotus members. Many, and I mean MANY, have wondered why Mako never used his lightning against Ming-Hua…or against anyone this whole season. Well we finally got our wish, and in another example of chilling deaths, Mako electrocuted Ming-Hua as she tried to use a small body of water to kill Mako….shocking….yeah, I went there.
The biggest surprise though was on Ghazan, who rather than losing and going back to prison literally brought the house down on himself. Only some quick thinking on the behalf of Bolin saved the brothers from a similar fate.
Well,the “I’m in the Avatar State and I’m going to break out of these chains” blunder aside, Zaheer clearly knew what he was doing. As the poison soon took hold, slowly choking the life out of Korra. Who could save her now?
…Jinora perhaps? In true master fashion she rallied the other Airbenders to summon a freaking massive tornado to stop Zaheer. With a little help from Korra and a chain (try and tell me you didn’t shout “GET OVER HERE!!!” when she did that?”) to stop him for good. And to top it all off, Bolin put a sock in him, yes, literally.
But what about Korra right? She still has the poison in her right? Yes! And they didn’t forget that, and once again Jinora was there to save her. Informing the others (though I’m not sure how she knew…) that the poison was metal, allowing Su to save her life…at a cost.
The true jaw dropper from the finale was the reveal that Korra hadn’t been fully healed from the poison. In fact she looked downright terrible! Not being able to walk, bags under her eyes, her pained-filled face, it was all there for everyone to see. And even with the cheering up from Asami and the others, you could tell it didn’t matter.
Leave it to the Airbenders though to change things. If anyone (yes, I was among them) was wondering what the point of bringing the Air Nation back was for, Tenzin spelled it out for all to see. Knowing that the Red Lotus was still out there, and that the Earth Kingdom was in disarray still, a new protector of the world was needed…at least for the moment.
Tenzin’s reveal that the Air Nomads would be true nomads and roam the world to try and bring peace and balance back to it was an aspiring idea. And one that I’m sure Aang would be most proud of. Add to that, that Jinora became a true Airbending master, complete with tattoos, to help lead this new order was amazing. This act alone justified everything that she had done since Book Two.
…and yet, the final shot of Korra crying broke my heart. After she had done, all the fighting and sacrifices she had made since her arrival…she was essentially being replaced, with no guarantee that she would be able to rise from her wheelchair ever again.
For me, both as a TV watcher and a writer myself, I love character moments. I love seeing characters grow, struggle, evolve, etc. Because without it, all we have is standard stuff. Even in the world of Avatar where there is life and spirits and bending, if there’s no deep characters we wouldn’t care. Seeing Korra in that vulnerable state, again, after going through so much is exactly what I love about this show. She didn’t need to say a word, we all knew what she felt.
Now, as a reviewer, and a fan, I have to be fair in my assessment of the finale. Not just as standalone episodes, but as parts of a whole book. If you scrolled down to see my score first and read up to this point, you’ll think I have no complaints about the finale. That’s not exactly true.
A couple things really stood out from this being perfect. First was the four main Red Lotus members. With the exception of P’Li, who had an equally beautiful moment with Zaheer, we knew nothing about them. We don’t know how they came together. Or their abilities in some cases, like how Ghazan learned Lavabending. Zaheer especially gave us no explanation for how he became so adept at Airbending, when at best he had a few days in a cave to learn all the techniques. That rubs me the wrong way. Add to that, the reveal of him wanting to kill Korra in the Avatar State. Effective? Yes. Simple? Yes. Too simple? Yes. After all the grandstanding and epic moves, it all came down to killing the Avatar…again.
The other main problem I had were curious moments in the story. Like the Naga/Pabu/Grandma scene. Or the scene with the Metalbending captain Kuvira. It goes to surmise that she’ll be in Book Four. But the way she was introduced makes me think she’s Red Lotus. And if not that then something else evil, her introduction just didn’t feel right to me. These moment just didn’t fit the finale in my opinion.
And of course, there’s the elephant in the room. Heartbreaking moment aside, we all KNOW that Korra will be back. It’s called, “The Legend of Korra”! True, it could take a few episodes, and hopefully it will be better played than in Book One when she lost all her bending. That being said, she’s coming back, we all know that. The world needs the Avatar. It always has, and it always will.
In the end though, the finale of Book Three set the tone for the final book. Things have definitely changed, and the world won’t be the same. Between the epic battles, the clever character moments, shocking revelations, and true jaw dropping and heartbreaking moments, these episodes brought a great season to a fantastic close. I can’t wait for Book Four.