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The Legend of Korra: “Skeletons in the Closet” and “Endgame” Review

So at last we have the season finale of The Legend of Korra, the sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender. This one-hour, two-part ending to Book One answered many of the questions that have loomed over the series in the three months it aired on Nickelodeon. At the same time, it brought up a few more questions the answers to which we have no choice but to wait for when Book Two starts.

Oh, if you haven’t seen the finale or the series, stop right now. Spoilers ahead.

Book One has introduced us to Korra, the current incarnation of the Avatar. Unlike sweet and playful Aang, the previous Avatar and hero of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Korra is fearless, headstrong, impetuous, and a little spoiled. Compared to Aang, Korra’s had it easy. She has members of the Order of the Lotus looking out for her. She didn’t have to search the world for benders to teach her how to master bending the elements. The fact that her firebending mastery test was conducted at the South Pole, where her Southern Water Tribe lives, suggests that maybe her teachers even went to her.

That all changed as Book One progressed, however. Living in Republic City to learn airbending under Aang’s son Tenzin’s tutelage brought Korra in direct conflict with Amon. Amon is the leader of the Equalists, a group dedicated to creating a social balance between benders and non-benders not just in Republic City but also in the entire world. Her encounters with Amon made Korra learn fear and uncertainty. Korra enjoyed special status as the Avatar. But given that Amon has this mysterious ability to take people’s bending away – an ability previously known to be limited to the Avatar – can Korra still be the Avatar if Amon managed to take her bending away?

All these came to a head in the Book One finale. In “Skeletons in the Closet,” we finally learn the secret behind Amon’s ability to “cleanse” people of their bending. He is, ironically, a waterbender who practices the illegal art of bloodbending. How Amon could remove other people’s bending abilities the finale never showed us. We can only assume that Amon has mastered some advanced form of bloodbending, as theorized by IGN’s Max Nicholson.

Anyhow, Korra’s fears were ultimately realized by the time “Endgame” rolled in. As shocking and unbelievable as it may seem, Amon was indeed able to lock away Korra’s bending, with one caveat: Korra could finally airbend, a skill she found hard to learn, let alone master, the entire season. Still, it had to hurt. The question of Korra being the Avatar now comes to the forefront. Not only that, she’s essentially a Water Tribe girl who is now an airbender. It does kind of twist the knife a little.

Korra’s dilemma, to my chagrin, didn’t last long. Sure, it was awesome to see Aang and the other past Avatars make their appearance at long last. Sure, it was awesome to see Korra enter the Avatar state, as people have no doubt been waiting for the whole Book One. However, I can’t help but feel that this whole event is rather rushed. The struggle for Korra to unlock and master fire, earth and water again could have made a good arc on its own. With this, it looked like Aang and the past Avatars just couldn’t stand to see Korra cry so they just handed her powers back to make her stop.

Another element to the Book One finale that I found rushed and icky was the resolution to the whole Korra-Mako-Asami love triangle. Of course, anyone who has watched Book One from the start would know that Korra and Mako are the It Couple of this series, much like how Aang and Katara were in Avatar: The Last Airbender. But did Mako really have to break Asami’s heart just like that, going for Korra without properly breaking up with Asami first? As much as I liked Mako, all I could think of was he’s a total cad. Seriously, it sucks to be Asami right now. She lost father and boyfriend at the same time and no one cared.

I’m not that impressed with General Iroh, either. I definitely love it that Dante Basco returned to the Avatar universe to voice Iroh, the grandson of Basco’s original character Firelord Zuko. But really, rushing headlong into the enemy base without noticing that there are fence posts but no fences? Why are you a general, Iroh? Nevertheless, Iroh did show us some neat firebending moves while taking down those airplanes Sato deployed. I hope young Iroh proves his mettle a lot more come Book Two.

As for the other big reveal of the finale – that Amon and Tarrlok are brothers and are sons of Yakone, the gang lord whose bending Aang took away as seen in Korra’s visions – I have nothing much to say. I kind of knew there was a link between Amon, Tarrlok and Yakone, so the fact that they’re family didn’t really surprise me. I also think that the resolution given to these two brothers was a tad melodramatic. But given Tarrlok’s motivations, it did seem fitting that he blew himself up just to put an end to Amon and, with Amon’s demise, the Equalist movement itself. I wonder, though, if Sato or some other leader would carry on where Amon had left.

All in all, the season finale is good enough to satisfy fans and tie up loose ends. I just feel that those loose ends are too neatly tied up. Okay, a standalone Book One is nice and all. Okay, Korra’s journey to regain the mastery of the three elements she lost may parallel Aang’s story too closely. But I think a cliffhanger ending to Book One where Korra is left only as an airbender would have been more satisfying.

What’s your take on the ending of Legend of Korra’s Book One? Sound off on the comments below.

 

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Anna Sibal-Gonzaga is a freelance writer based in the Philippines. She likes reading books and watching movies and TV shows in the sci-fi, fantasy and historical genres. She is also a casual gamer and an all-around nerd.

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