Joey Sack ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Book Three: Change of The Legend of Korra finished unbelievably strong this week with “Enter the Void” and “Venom of the Red Lotus,” the 99th and 100th episodes of the entire Avatar franchise. These two episodes were full of emotion and action that builds fans’ expectations of both the finale and the fourth and final book of this series. Is there a character whom you think didn’t get enough love this season? Don’t worry. Chances are, they get their moments in these very episodes. It’s not the darkest finale, the most heartfelt finale, or the most action-packed finale; it’s the finale with the right balance of everything that’s so great about Korra and Avatar, wrapping up one of the best seasons in the Avatar franchise’s history.
Enter the Void:
In the first part of the finale, “Enter the Void,” Korra and her allies make their way to the Northern Air Temple to try to save the airbenders; Korra feels that the best way to save the new Air Nation is to surrender to the Red Lotus. But after a double cross, Korra decides to fight back. The resulting battle between Korra, the Metal Clan, and the Red Lotus, is another intense fight, one of many that have served as highlights of this season. Not only did Korra have moments to shine, but Su and Lin also work together to fight against P’Li, showing that they have really reconciled and are willing to fight as allies.
One thing that was unexpected and welcomed in this episode was a brief and touching moment between Zaheer and P’Li, who, despite being in a romantic relationship, haven’t shown a lot of love for each other since being reunited. But in a scene before the fighting begins, P’Li thanks her boyfriend for showing her “what true freedom means.” They may have the upper hand, but they know that if even one thing goes wrong, they could never see each other again. These kinds of moments work well when it comes to humanizing these villains, showing that they really care for one another, and that they are completely dedicated to their cause.
While Korra and her father, Tonraq, battle Zaheer, and while the Metal Clan battles P’Li, Asami, Mako, and Bolin travel to the Northern Air Temple to rescue the airbenders, including Tenzin, who are being held captive by Ghazan and Ming-Hua. This results in another fight and a daring escape where a couple of people really step up to help save the day, unlocking potential they never thought they had. In addition to the fight at the Temple, Kai comes in with the flying bison who rescued him at the end of “The Ultimatum” to help Bolin, Mako, and Asami out of their situation. It really shows how much Kai has really grown into his role as an airbender and how much he cares for the people who gave him the chance for a new life.
“Enter the Void” is full of great bending, great moments for characters to shine, and ends on a great lead-in to the next part of the finale, “Venom of the Red Lotus.”
Venom of the Red Lotus:
The second part of the finale, “Venom of the Red Lotus,” sees Korra captured by the Red Lotus, who finally reveal their plans for the Avatar: by injecting her with a poison, she will be forced into the Avatar State in order to protect herself, and once in the Avatar State, the Red Lotus plans to kill Korra, ending the Avatar Cycle, freeing the world from the interference of the Avatar, so they can pursue their goal of “order through disorder.” One thing to consider, however: an angry Avatar is powerful enough, but an angry Avatar in the Avatar State is nearly impossible to defeat (need we remember almost every instance in which Aang entered the Avatar State?). In this episode, we see bending battles that, in terms of choreography, animation, pace, and music, rival the battle between Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Ozai in the series finale of Avatar. Every shot of the fight make you feel like you’re right behind Korra and Zaheer, getting whipped around with every sudden move.
The Red Lotus’ plan to kill Korra while in the Avatar State may not be the darkest or most thrilling plan, but for the Red Lotus, sometimes the best solution to a problem is the easiest one; the Red Lotus believes that “the natural order is disorder,” and that “new growth cannot exist without first the destruction of the old;” this secret society believes that the world shouldn’t be divided by borders or governments, and they see the Avatar as the one who keeps the nations of the world separate. In a way, the Avatar could be seen as the ultimate world leader, and we all know how the Red Lotus deals with world leaders. The Avatar has kept the world at a steady norm for the past 10 thousand years, and they may see this as the ultimate restriction of freedom.
The way the poison affects Korra and how she attempts to resist its effects is an intense part of the episode, since you know that if stops resisting, there is a very good chance that the Avatar Cycle will be ended right then and there. More importantly, Korra hallucinates several enemies from her past, which shows the strain that she has gone through since the series began: she has had a masked revolutionary try to take her bending away forever; her uncle tried to destroy the source of the Avatar’s power, Raava, the spirit of light and peace. Now, she has a group of anarchists who want to outright kill her. That would drive any Avatar to desperation, which explains why when Korra does enter the Avatar State, she does what anyone would expect her to do: fight back.
Jinora really shines in this episode: she really shows that both her airbending and leadership skills have increased significantly. It really goes to show how much Jinora is like her grandfather, Aang; Jinora is young, but she is willing to take on more responsibility than she is expected to take.
Mako and Bolin have one final fight with Ming-Hua and Ghazan, with Bolin really shining in his fight against the fugitive lavabender, in stark contrast to their fight back at the Misty Palms Oasis.
The ending of this episode is fittingly bittersweet; while some characters are better off for the events of the finale, others are far from unharmed.
“Venom of the Red Lotus” is an intense second half for the finale of Book Three, and sets the stage for a great final season in Book Four.
Overall Grade of “Enter the Void” and “Venom of the Red Lotus:” A
Book Three: Change closing thoughts:
This section assumes that you have watched Book Three in its entirety, including the previously discussed finale. Warning: this section is full of spoilers. Read at your own risk.
For all the good things that came out of the first two books of Korra, there were always problems, whether it was deus ex machina at the end, an underdeveloped main villain, or a choppy narrative. Book Three: Change suffers from none of the problems of its predecessors. Not only did this Book have an excellent villain in Zaheer and group of villains in the Red Lotus, but also a cohesive story throughout with mini-story arcs throughout that serve to flesh out old characters and introduce new ones.
One thing that makes this Book better than the last two is that the events of the previous book tie into the events of this one; if you really think about it, what carried over from Book One: Air to Book Two: Spirits? There weren’t any Equalists after Book One, and Korra was back to her overconfident self before she left for Republic City. In contrast, at the very beginning of Book Three, the events are directly influenced by the events of the Book Two finale; Republic City is covered in spirit vines and Harmonic Convergence has cause the reemergence of airbending in non-bending citizens of the world. This was made better due to the fact that in the show’s internal timeline, the jump from Books Two and Three is two weeks, whereas the jump from Books One and Two was six months. It’s easier to feel connected to the characters and the stories when you feel like there isn’t too much going on off-screen that adds to the story. We don’t know what Korra and friends were really up to in the six months before the events of Book Two, and while we don’t know what they were up to in the two weeks leading up to the events of Book Three, it’s less of a time jump, so it isn’t as jarring for viewers.
The returning characters are fleshed out more in this season than in any other, and the characters introduced this season are also really great. Kai is a surprisingly enjoyable character, and though he started out as your common pickpocket character, he really grew into his role as a member of the new Air Nation. Suyin Beifong, Lin’s half-sister, is a very likeable metalbending master and warrior. Opal, though she hasn’t received a lot of screen time, she is still a nice character and, from the looks of it, already a powerful airbender. The inclusion of a now-elderly Zuko, from the original series, doesn’t feel too forced; he isn’t right in the center of everything, and moments with him don’t feel like fan service. He serves as a source of wisdom, and to show how much the world have changed in the 70 or so years since Avatar. Most importantly, he still sounds and acts like the Zuko fans all know and love; the face that he makes when Korra tells him that she has spoken with his uncle Iroh on several occasions was complete and utter Zuko. It was a great thing to see.
While the story of Book Three does wrap up neatly, for the most part, there are still threads left open for the rest of the series. At the end of Book Three, the Red Lotus has been defeated, but Korra didn’t get out unscathed; she is in a weakened state, unable to walk or perform her duties as the Avatar until she recovers. In addition, she is quite visibly depressed, perhaps because it is starting to sink in for her that so many people in the world don’t want the Avatar around anymore, and that a group of those people got incredibly close to killing her. She has to recover both physically and mentally from her encounter with the Red Lotus, and given how much she went through, it won’t be an easy journey. Another thing that Korra might be feeling is fear about the security of her role in the world; she has faced several groups that don’t believe that the world needs the Avatar anymore; could it be possible that she’s starting to see the point in their beliefs? There are people out there who want to help keep the world in balance while the Avatar is unable to do so, but what will happen if and when Korra makes a full recovery? Will there still be a place in the world for the Avatar?
In addition to Korra’s story this season not being over, the new Air Nation seems to be heading in a new direction: Jinora has received her airbending master tattoos, and Tenzin has decided that the new airbenders will travel the world, like the Air Nomads of old, helping to restore peace to various parts of the world while Korra recovers. And there’s still the Earth Kingdom: let’s not forget that their monarch was just axed by a group of anarchists and the entire country is still in turmoil. That’s probably something that will need to be addressed in the next and final book of the series. So did this Book end with a cliffhanger? Yes and no. No, because the main villains of Book Three were mostly defeated, yes because our main characters now have to deal with the consequences of the villains’ actions.
Book Three: Change of The Legend of Korra is one of the best books of the entire Avatar franchise. The writers use every single frame of animation to tell one of the best-paced stories in this world that we have ever seen. These characters have finally come into their own, the stories work amazingly well, they’ve become darker and more mature, and the action and animation works perfectly to tell the amazing adventures of Avatar Korra. This season wrapped up enough loose ends to satisfy fans with a really exciting finale while also leaving problems unresolved to build anticipation for Book Four, the next and final season of The Legend of Korra.
Book Three: Change Overall Grade: A/A+