The Legend of Korra used to be a series about adventure and discovery. It may not be the globe-trotting epic that The Last Airbender was, but Republic City was an enjoyable setting for Korra and her friends to explore. Now, the troupe is off on their own quests, searching for their identities in fame, business, and police work. Why does this beloved franchise feel so empty?
Some say to have faith in the writers; as if DiMartino and Konietzko have a magical trick up their sleeve. Are they saving the best for last? If that’s the case, then this week’s episode, entitled ‘The Sting,’ is the perfect example of saving the best for last, but in the worst way possible. The only significant event was finding Korra washed up on a Fire Nation beach. The Avatar has lost her memory after her encounter with the water spirit, and must now endeavor to remember who she is, or the Southern Water Tribe will be outnumbered in the coming battle. The scene took less than three minutes, so what was the point of the other 27?
Look, the reason behind this passionate outburst comes from a place of caring for one of the best animated programs on television. Both Aang and Korra have had stellar stories of adventure, friendship, and heartache built upon an intricate, and well developed sense of mythology. That sense of wonder and excitement has been lost this season. Sure, there were echoes of it in the premiere with the emergence of the sprits, but after six episodes the echoes have faded.
Waiting for the writers to give us something interesting is not fair to the viewer. Remember, The Last Airbender is not an hour-long drama, like a Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad. The plot should not take 5 episodes to become interesting. That’s not to say The Legend of Korra is a childish series; far from it. When at its best, Korra balances that fine line of childhood wonder with adult themes. That is why this series has appealed to such a diverse group of people over the past several years – yet now, it seems that the writers have lost their sense of direction.
Excluding the final two minutes or so, let’s look at the plot from this week’s episode. With Korra missing-in-action, Bolin continues down the path of fame and fortune, struggling to win the affections of his co-star, Ginger. With his brother enjoying the finer things in life, Mako and Asami team up with the Triple-Threat Triads, in order to find out who’s been stealing goods from Future Industries. Is Varrick just a shrewd business man, or do his intentions indicated that his up to something more sinister?
Unalaq makes an appearance at the Southern Portal. What was he doing in the spirit world? Again, we are made to wait for answers, which would be fine if the plot of ‘The Sting’ was filled with more interesting moments; however, who really cares about Asami’s business ventures. This may be overly harsh, but it brought back memories of The Trade Federation from Star Wars Episdoe 1: The Phantom Menace. While watching a thrilling adventure story, who really cares about trade embargoes and failed business ventures? Are the writers just weathering the storm until season 3, when the story gets interesting?
Korra is not without hope though, for it sill possesses the characters we came to love just a year ago. Perhaps Korra’s time in the Fire Nation will spark new life in this season? DiMartino and Konietzko are still capable of creating incredible stories for us to get lost in, but let’s hope they don’t make us wait too long.
The Legend of Korra continues with ‘Beginnings, Part 1’ next Friday @8:30pm on Nickelodeon.