[This is a review of The Legend of Korra season 4, episode 3. There will be SPOILERS.]
Only three episodes in and The Legend of Korra feels like it's lacking just one small component to make it outstanding. 'The Coronation' was still an impressive thirty-minutes of animated goodness, but the lack of a good antagonist is holding Book 4: Balance back from achieving greatness.
Perhaps that was a tad bit harsh, since we did get to see the legendary Toph Beifong slap Korra around the swamp for most of the episode. Last week it seemed as though she would act as a Yoda-like figure for our struggling Avatar to learn from and instead, Korra discovers something she already knew. This problem she faces, is not so much about the metal inside her body, as it is a problem of the spirit. According to Toph, this is an ailment only Korra can fix.
Let's get back to the topic of villains. To be fair, Balance is still in its infancy, slowly developing a story we still know little about. Not every adversary will be as compelling as Zaheer, who came out with a spectacular bang, which in turn escalated into the greatest fight sequence since Aang fought Fire Lord Ozai. Kuvira may be that next great opponent for Team Avatar to take down, but until then, Korra is now (if you'll forgive the cliche) her own worst enemy. Before she is tasked with a new mission to complete, she first needs to conquer her own sickness. She needs to become the Avatar again. Will she find a way?
Everything else outside of the Korra and Toph story was entertaining, but also felt frivolous in comparison. Prince Wu had some nice comedic moments and Sunil Malhotra (Diablo III: Reaper of Souls) deserves credit for his voice acting capabilities. Bolin and Mako's "falling-out" is nothing new and also feels predictable, since the brothers will most likely reconnect later down the road. There's nothing wrong with a conflict between the two siblings, but again, we've seen this before. What are Konietzko and DiMartino setting up here?
Another question that's still lingering from the early stages of this season - what are Kuvira's motivations? Her confrontation this week with Suyin Beifong leads us to believe that the war for the Earth Kingdom might begin on the Metal Clan's doorstep. Much like Zaheer, Kuvira is one of those people who gets their strength from the strong beliefs they possess. While Zaheer instilled chaos and rebellion in the hearts of people, Kuvira is generally loved and adored. In a way, her control of people by fear and military might is a scarier reality than that of the Red Lotus. What do you think?
However this season wraps up, surely it will be one to remember. Since this is quite possibly the last time we'll see an Avatar on our television/computer screens, everything is heightened. Fortunately, The Legend of Korra is in highly capable hands. Stay tuned to see what happens next.
The Legend of Korra continues with 'The Calling' next Friday on various streaming services.
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