Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Legend of Korra Series Finale: Three Reasons it Didn't Work

LOVE

This article has been republished on GeeksUnderGrace.com.

Spoilers ahead. You've been warned.

I love Avatar: The Last Airbender. Bingeing on the whole series during the summer of 2009 was what finally convinced me to start writing my own book, An Autumn Veil, in October of that year. I consider myself a student of Avatar. I have studied the martial arts and philosophical roots of the show, the intricate backstories and relationships between the characters, and the perfectly plotted thematic structure (I am of course ignoring the ill-conceived "Great Divide"). Anyone who wants to learn to tell stories well should study Avatar: The Last Airbender.

So I was thrilled to hear of fans' second chance to enjoy the Avatar universe with Avatar Aang's successor, Avatar Korra.

Image is property of Nickelodeon.
Legend of Korra's first season provided an intriguing new glimpse into the world we once knew in Airbender, but seventy years later. This twelve-episode first season was plotted as a miniseries and worked well as one, despite feeling a little rushed in the last few episodes with some of the gobbeldygook surrounding Tarlok and Amon (IE, they should have been in cahoots; that would have made a lot more sense). Season one began and concluded pleasingly, leaving no glaring loose ends to be tied.

But a problem arose in season 2: the story entered a metanarrative tailspin. I've been withholding judgment about Korra's metanarrative in hopes that the series's finale would amend some of the foibles of the earlier seasons and, perhaps, cast in a new light some of the things I believed to be insurmountably problematic. Now that the show is complete, I'm disappointed to say my hopes were not realized. While these disappointments were practically nonexistent in the show's sublime third season, they reared their ugly heads once more in season four and came to a head in the show's two-part series finale, which premiered December 19, 2014.

If you're reading this, you're probably aware of the potentially controversial final minute-or-so of Korra, which has been making news for portraying a same-sex relationship on a kid's show. Let me quickly address two things before continuing:
  • In a perfect world, I would review the entire series before composing this editorial to ensure I'm not missing a beat about this particular issue. I won't bore you with a list of reasons of why that review isn't happening. Feel free to comment with details I've overlooked should you have interest.
  • In response to the following line of commentary I've already started seeing from some, which goes: "The only reason you didn't like the finale is because you're a gay-hating, right-wing, fundamentalist bigot."
    • My short response: Guess again.
    • My longer response: Legend of Korra's writers don't get a free pass to mishandle storytelling because they decided to out their protagonist's sexual orientation as something other than "hetero" in the finale, and, wow, look how progressive they are. My real beef with this aspect of the finale is that the actual plotting of the show after season two did not convincingly establish any character as a credible romantic interest of Korra's...despite the fandom's cries of "Korrasami! Korrasami!"
So here are my three big beef-frigging sandwiches with the finale of Legend of Korra.

BEEF 1: EVERYTHING AFTER SEASON TWO'S FINAL CONFLICT WAS IRREPARABLY OVERSHADOWED or "EPIC SOUL-CRUSHING DEATH GIGAS IS WAY WORSE THAN ASSERTIVE, ATTRACTIVE DANCING GIRL"

This both is and isn't a problem particular to the two-part series finale. It's a pitfall the writers set themselves in back in 2013, when they decided to put the earth-shattering, cosmos altering battle between the great spirits of good and evil – a battle of far greater import than anything Aang ever dealt with or anything Korra would ever deal with - into the show's second season. This is the biggest thing I was hoping would be amended: that the writers would somehow unravel this clustercuss and give me a reason to believe that, yes, there was something that merited the premature appearance of the Dark Avatar. We get the cunning Red Lotus and the Great Uniter Kuvira, but the truth is, every threat after the Vaatu-infused Unalaq was political or ideological.

EPIC DEATH GIGAS VERSUS....
....Assertive, attractive dancing girl.
The Big Bad Vaatu, who would have banished the Avatar world to 10,000 years of darkness and misery, was introduced and neatly tucked away in fourteen episodes – and really, less than that, if you consider that Vaatu doesn't truly come into the picture until halfway through the season.

There is another thing that bothers me, because it ties into the "lack of completeness" I'm going to address below. This other thing is the start of the new Avatar cycle tied to the conflict between Raava and Vaatu that ultimately led to Korra being cut off from her previous Avatar incarnations. This severance meant all the interesting backstory about Aang's life - advice from Roku, Kyoshi, or Kuruk - all of it went down the drain in book two.

I understand a big part of the writers' goals with Legend of Korra was to make it a distinct show from the Last Airbender – and it is. But I think they went too far. One of the things I was most looking forward to in Legend of Korra was seeing an older, wiser (yet still incurably goofy) Aang offering sage wisdom and humorous quips to an eye-rolling Korra. We were teased with this possibility with the visions of Yakone in season one, and it seemed like Korra was going to come into a new state of spiritual understanding in which the audience would be rewarded with occasional appearances of Advisor Aang. Instead, Aang makes a brief appearance to Tenzin, not Korra, in season two, before vanishing forever into the annals of Avatar history. The perfect segue to naturally integrate Aang into the story while still having it be Korra's story was never employed. My heart.

My heart. Source.
Ultimately, harmonic convergence needed to happen. It's a good idea, and it's a foundational principle of the Avatar universe. But it came too early, and by coming too early, it ruined so many cool potentials fans of the original series had been eagerly expecting. More than that, its premature appearance imbalanced the metanarrative and ultimately subtracted from the series as a whole. Season two should have been season four, because season two was the truly significant conflict of this series, with the highest stakes and the greatest risks. Everything following it was small potatoes.

BEEF 2: LACK OF SATISFYING RESOLUTION or "HOW AVATAR: THE LEGEND OF KORRA SHOULD HAVE BEEN PLOTTED"

If there's one way I could summarize this objection, it's this: "The Korra finale didn't feel like the end of the series. It felt like the end of the Kuvira plotline."

A show with such a diverse cast of characters demanded a conflict that would bring them all together and see all of their respective character arcs satisfyingly tied up. Unfortunately, all of our characters were not brought together and all of our character arcs were not satisfyingly tied up. What was this conflict that would have brought everyone together? I'm'a beat that dead horse: Vaatu.

And let's not forget that placing Korra and Asami's romance in season three would have given season four the space it needed to properly explore that aspect of the story.
Vaatu was the Big Bad that would have seen the Fire Nation, the Water Tribes, the Air Nation, the Metal Clan, and the (in my proposed rewrite) remnants of the Earth Empire Army, converging on Republic City – maybe even with the grudging assistance ("the enemy of my enemy is my friend") of Zaheer and Kuvira, and maybe even with Katarra, Zuko, and Toph as advisors – to stand together against the truest threat to the world: not a political ideology, but an evil, spiritual reality that connects to the origins of the Avatar herself. And isn't this one of the biggest themes of Avatar: the juxtaposition between the spiritual and the secular; the natural and the man-made; the material and the immaterial? What better way to personify that dichotomy than a battle between humans and an army of corrupted spirits under the sway of Vaatu and Unalaq?

Having to face Vaatu at the series's finale would have forced Korra into a heartbreaking scenario in which she had no choice but to sever her connection from the beloved Aang, who would have been a recurring advisor, in order to preserve the seeds of peace Aang and his friends had fought to plant and Korra and her friends had fought to preserve. It would have been a noble sacrifice that would have made us root for Korra all the more while mourning the final farewell of one of animation's greatest characters.

What fans got instead was a climactic battle – and it was – that unfortunately had some notable faces missing and didn't have the earth-shattering weight the battle with Vaatu also lacked.

I'm saddened by the complete lack of Katarra after season two. I was hoping season four would feature a tasteful tribute to her via her peaceful death. Assuming my proposed rewrite, we would have just seen Aang "die" by losing his connection to Korra. This sets the perfect stage for Katarra, already well-advanced (perhaps we could have seen her getting sick in the latter half of the series?) in years, to slip away. Korra, now a fully-realized Avatar with access to the spirit world, sees in the distance the forms of a young adult Aang and Katarra finally reunited. The love of these two characters would, thus, have been eternally canonized. Korra catches just a glimpse of them. She knows it's okay. So do we. Heartbreaking. Heartwarming.

Other gripes: Where was Kya in season four? Am I right in thinking Bumi had no more than five lines in all of season four? What of Eska, Desna? Did Kai, who was a major player in season three and is presently the consort of Jinora, have a single significant line in the latter half of season four? Did Ichi speak at all after the Airbender kids found Korra? Why was Tenzin, who was such a pivotal character throughout the entire series and a mentor to the protagonist, relegated to a second-tier set piece who barely interacted with his protege?

These questions bother me. Legend of Korra's finale didn't have the completeness that the Last Airbender had. There were too many characters, too many knotted threads, too many frayed edges and dead-end turns that were left unresolved, and ultimately, the conflict of book four, while significant, wasn't enough. We needed something that was going to bring everyone, and I mean everyone, together. Because the Earth Empire's blitz was so quickly resolved by the heroes present in Republic City (as opposed to the United Republic's allegedly-existent military), there was neither the need nor the space for this grand, climactic collision. We were teased with the possibility of the Fire Nation redeeming itself by defending the UR. We didn't even get that.

I love the rich world DiMartino and Konietzko created in the Avatar universe, but this series finale was sadly lacking. Plot holes, loose threads, and an unsatisfying conclusion unjustified by the content of the narrative. I was hoping season four would redeem the clustercuss that was season two and provide some justification for putting the earth-shattering conflict with Vaatu so early in the story. It did not. As with much else in Legend of Korra, save the stellar third season, this conclusion felt rushed.

BEEF 3: NOBODY SHOULD HAVE WALKED HAND-IN-HAND WITH KORRA or "'DEALING WITH IT' HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SEXUALITY"

My Papa was an oldschool Italian guy born in the 1930s Bronx, New York. He had a lot of quips and one-liners. Here's a good one: "If you're not gonna do something right, don't do it at all."

As I said in brief above: no character convincingly presented themselves as credible romantic interests of Korra's after Mako. We can all acknowledge that Korra and Asami develop a closer relationship in book three. So what? Asami as a character seemed to take a back seat after things melted down with Mako in season one. She needed some way to remain relevant to the show, as she hadn't been shown to have a strong relationship with Korra up to that point. "Korra and Asami spent time together. Asami took care of Korra after a fierce battle." Therefore...they're sexually attracted to each other? Do I sound convinced to you, internet reader?

Well, do I? Source.
Some commentators see the Korra/Asami pairing as natural and expected. Co-creator Bryan Konietzko said in a blog that if you didn't see Korra/Asami, it's because you were watching the show with "hetero eyes." Konietzko is suggesting that to really understand this aspect of the story, we should have come to his story with a different perspective. But everyone is biased. Every decision we make, every piece of information we interact with, is filtered through our experiences, beliefs, and knowledge. This is called a worldview. You see, people need to have a reason to look at things differently. If you don't give them a reason, they won't. We default to our worldview.

Now that we know what the writers were thinking and doing with these characters, we can go back to these possibly-ambiguous romantic references and read into them the show's epilogue. Respectfully to Mr. Konietzko, this is a cop-out. Your job as a storyteller is to give me a reason to believe, not, drop a handful of possibly-ambiguous hints whose conclusion we'll canonize on the very last page of our script. We should have known this was coming not for socio-cultural-political reasons, but because that's proper storytelling.

I understand that politics make their way into writers' rooms and CEOs' offices when it comes to big-budget TV shows, and "what will viewers think" and "blah blah blah." I get it. If you had wanted to put Korrasami earlier in the show, Bryke, you probably would have gotten nixed by the Suits. That doesn't change the fact that this aspect of the story was not handled well. I take my cues from the content of the story itself. I don't apologize for seeing the world from my own eyes, and I don't ask you to apologize for seeing it from yours. All I'm saying is, as a fellow writer, as a guy who loves stories and thinks you did a fantastic job on Airbender, Korrasami didn't jump out at me, and I think it does an injustice to your characters and to your story that this wasn't made clear until, literally, the last possible moment. It bore narrative meat, and all we got was crumbs.

"If you're not gonna do something right, don't do it at all."

The arc of season four leads us to believe that Korra has a lot of self-discovery and self-actualization to do. The natural conclusion and lesson, in my humble opinion, is that Korra learns to be self-sufficient as the Avatar and to truly step into her role as the Avatar, not to walk off into the new spirit portal (that is there for some reason, because...giant gun?) holding Asami's hand.

So much love in her eyes. Image from season one.
(Here's that full quote: "Look, I like Korra, but you've been keeping the truth from me this whole time.")

I'm'a just leave this right here.
The finale attempts to demystify Korra and Asami's sexualities by refusing to overtly acknowledge them as something worthy of narrative exposition. This is insulting to a fan base comprised significantly of older teens and young (and even older) adults; the themes being explored here are adult, but the execution was juvenile. Korra must have wrestled with her sexuality, since she was interested in Mako in season one and had a relationship with him in season two. At no point in those seasons was there any indication that the eventual dissolution of Korra and Mako's relationship was tied to Korra's sexuality, nor was there any credible indication that Asami, who also had a relationship with Mako, was dealing with the same or similar questions.

We need to discard the notion that Legend of Korra is a "kids' " show and that it's thus exempt from such scrutiny. Most of the major characters are adults or young adults. Season one features a murder-suicide of the two main antagonists. Critics seem to think it's anything but a kids show (see the "critical response" section of the show's Wikipedia page). So that's why I'm a bit unimpressed when Vanity Fair hails the finale as something worthy of special regard for portraying same-sex relationships on a kids show. Unless there's a secret fifth season of Korra in the works, I'll continue to be unimpressed.

"Why do you even care? Korra's sexuality isn't a big deal and it shouldn't be."

Dispense with the illusion that sexuality is "not a big deal" and that many in the American gay community don't view their sexuality as a defining aspect of their personhood. Pretending that sexuality isn't a big deal because the LGBT community is more socially acceptable in America now than ten years ago is to trivialize the very real struggles people with LGBT tendencies endure, whether from disapproving family members, religious institutions that seemingly hate them, or the fact that, maybe, they actually didn't want to be LGBT and had to learn to accept that aspect of themselves. [Before you crucify me for implying that there is reasonable ground to suggest some LGBT people struggle with embracing their sexuality, try reading a book on the topic.] Barring the advances of modern medicine, same-sex couples are incapable of producing biological children. Do you think this doesn't weigh on those same-sex couples who desire to start families? Do you not think there are a whole host of complex issues surrounding this burning, contemporary question? Many in our society parrot "progressive" social values without doing the hard work of thinking deeply about them, then present the cop-out that "sexuality isn't a big deal." I disagree. As a fan of DiMartino and Konietzko's work and as a storyteller myself, I'm disappointed that they didn't view this characteristic of their protagonist as worthy of examination. I know the show is about a lot more than Korra's sexual orientation, but at the end of the day, the two of them walking off together just didn't feel justified, and for that reason, it was an unsatisfying element of the series's conclusion that ultimately subtracted from what the writers actually seemed to be trying to do: portray Korra as a fully-realized Avatar, not, as Tarlok called her in season one, "A half-baked Avatar-in-training."

I'm disappointed to say that this aspect of the finale was a lazy portrayal of real things real people deal with, and tacking it on to the last few moments of the show without making it feel like a narratively-justified revelation should be called what it is: half-baked. Artists don't get a free pass just for doing something popular, either socially or within their fanbase. The storyteller's job is to make me believe that this is a logical, natural step in the story's progression. Nobody should have walked with Korra into that spirit portal.

"If you're not gonna do something right, don't do it at all."

Speaking of romances....

There is a pretense to see Varrick and Zhu Li ending up together. Their relationship in some ways mirrors Tony Stark's and Pepper Potts's - the genius prima donna and the normally cool but sometimes flustered "assistant" he couldn't live without. Yet, I'm not sure ending the show with their marriage was fully justified. While there was a pretense to their romance, we really didn't get any hints of this romance until a quarter way through book four. (At least they were clear about it.) It seems a little hasty, then, to have the show end with their wedding since this dynamic duo barely played a role in the spectacular book three. It would have been fair to show Varrick and Zhu Li holding hands at the end, or to show them in an embrace. But a wedding?

Honestly, I feel like Varrick/Zhu Li was fan service. I think we all could have appreciated a more realistic appraisal of their relationship, even without the wedding vows.

IN THE END

In the end, Legend of Korra had an excellent soundtrack, wonderful voice acting by a star cast, spectacular action and animation, a great first season, and a really, really good third season. I'm disappointed that the story, while trying to relegate the conflicts to each individual season, failed to account for the shortcomings in the metanarrative. I also understand from some of my reading that the Nickelodeon execs couldn't decide what they heck they wanted to do with Korra, bumping the show back and forth from TV to internet. There were funding issues and harsh deadlines that probably kept the creators from being able to step back and really look at the big picture of the story itself, and there was even one point where DiMartino and Konietzko chose to cut an episode rather than fire a few of their staffers (big props to them for putting people over product). I wish they had hired an outside consultant to offer objective commentary on the metanarrative. Legend of Korra is fine as it is, but it feels like 80% of a show. I know it could have been so much better and done so much more, and that's what really irks me.

With everything said of done, The Last Airbender was just better.

Agree? Disagree? Something nice to say? Leave it below.



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Read about my recently-published Amazon serial here.
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31 comments:

  1. Well put. I agree on all accounts. But... you already knew that. We will just have to be satisfied with ATLA.

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  2. I posted this to facebook under your comment but it's probably already been buried.

    I agree on the first two points because I was for Korrasami back in book 2 after that Mako nonsense. I always thought "the girl dating Mako and the girl who wasn't" had better chemistry than anyone Mako was dating.

    But for points 1 and 2? I've been having this conversation ever since the finale. The story feels extremely disordered. What we got didn't feel like a grand finale Aang beating Ozai felt like a finale because from episode 1, Ozai and the Fire Nation were the big bads of the world. We were told that, we expected it, and we were ready for it. Who in Korra's world could possible compare to Avatar's version of Satan? An extremist? A dictator? Small time compared to Vaatu and what Vaatu could've been.

    Further, your reordering is extremely similar to how I ordered things.

    Book 1 > Book 3 > Book 4 > Book 2

    With a few adjustments obviously to keep the story flowing properly. The story still works but by having Vaatu be the big bad of the world, when she cuts off her connection with the past Avatars, you'd actually feel for her.

    I love Korra and I'm 100% all for Korra and Asami getting together, but I cannot sit here and say that the ending we got was any kind of a resolution. It's a to-be-continued that'll never be continued at best. Mako says he has her back no matter how crazy things get? I'd like to see him prove it fighting Vaatu with her. Korra and Asami somehow need more romantic development time? That reordering offers plenty of outlets for it.

    Unfortunately, this is all speaking from hindsight and something like this is never going to happen. Similar to anyone getting an actual conclusion to this story.

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    1. I knew it wasn't just me.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Let's hope Mike and Bryan have the time and creative space to do their next artistic endeavor full justice.



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  3. Hello! I'm so glad you worte this post. The series finale has been bothering me since I watched it 2 days ago, and you wrote down perfectly what I couldn't really put in words. :) I agree with the rest of the post too. Book 2 was strange for me, I was really sad they cut the old avatar cycle and some thing seemed contradictive but I need to re-watch the Last Airbender to put the puzzle together.

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    1. Thanks for reading, commenting, and having the clarity to see the big picture.



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    2. I'm just glad I'm not alone with my opinion. :) I don't have anyone I can share my thoughts with about this show and people on facebook usually bite each other's heads off if their opinions are different, it's nearly impossible to just talk peacefully and accept each other's point of view. One more thing about the Korra+Asami ending: it felt so strange because all I saw was a fantastic friendship between them (which I would be so glad to have in my life!) and I read Brian Konietzko's post about it and he wrote they didn't plan this pairing. Maybe this is why it seemed strange and out of the blue. Somehow it's like they just wanted attention with this ending (I think if they want to send a deep message about accepting same-sex couples (which I think should be natural) they could have done it much better). Like they wanted people to bite each other's heads off while talking about the finale. :D

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    3. Oh and I wish you a Merry Christmas! :)

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    4. Unfortunately true. "Respectful disagreement" and empathy seem to be lost arts when digital anonymity allows anyone to say anything with little to no "real world" repercussions.

      Because I am myself a storyteller, the narrative shortcomings in LoK jumped out at me. As far as it pertains to the storytelling aspect of the discussion, the same-sex stuff is irrelevant. It would have been just as ridiculous if she'd ended up with Mako. I feel like a lot of people weren't really able to see past Korrasami because they were just so happy that it was canon, and because it was same-sex, it was suddenly taboo to criticize it in any way because, surely, the criticism *must* be about the morality of same-sex relationships themselves. So most of the head-biting has been about that instead of the systemic problems implicit in the show.

      This also frustrated me about the major critics writing for Vanity Fair and others, praising LoK for making so many political statements but refusing to criticize its artistic shortcomings. Consequently, I was hell-bent on writing this blog entry.

      LoK was by no means terrible, but having watched ATLA, we all know they are capable of amazing storytelling. That's why LoK makes me sad. It wasn't terrible or unwatchable. It was just *off* at points, and in ways that you know if they had more time, could have been handled better. I feel like we only got 80% of what Korra could have been. When I think about how good it really could have been, it hurts my heart a little.

      Can you link to Konietzko's blog post showing that Korrasami was not originally intended as canon? It certainly explains why the ending didn't seem justified by what actually happened in the story.

      Best wishes to you as well this holiday season.



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    5. And feel free to share/invite others to this conversation who might also appreciate a full-bodied and respectful dialogue about Korra and/or its finale.



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  4. Here's Brian's post:
    http://bryankonietzko.tumblr.com/post/105916338157/korrasami-is-canon-you-can-celebrate-it-embrace
    He wrote the story took them to Korrasami ending. Well, I tried writing a few years ago too. Me and my friend created a forum for ourselves to play RPG, but without dice and written rules. We created a story, wrote it together as our characters reacted to each other's actions. It became quite a long story as we kept playing and it was a bit hard to continue it when a few months or a year passed without us writing. I always wanted to write my own fantasy book (maybe one day I will) but I think to do it I not only need a good idea but I also need to plan things properly to avoid contradictions. Usually only one little thing, one short scene appears in my mind when I want to write and then I try to complete that. That's why I haven't written any more than long forum posts so far. :) Of course I try to pay attention and re-read again and again to pick the story up without contradictions (you can find a lot of them in long mangas) but I'm sure if I want to write a big whole story once, I need to plan a lot of things ahead. This is my theory about storytelling, and this is why Legend of Korra seems not so well-planned (which makes sense considering it originally meant to be a one season show) :) Of course I'm no writer and I don't have the right to judge professionals, I'm just peacefully sharing my opinion. :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing the link. I appreciated hearing Bryan's opinion. I still don't think they handled it as well as they could have. Respectfully, I think "Go back and watch it again," which he essentially says at one point, is a cop out. In the best of all scenarios, there were a lot of social/political undertones to this artistic decision which prevented it from being well-executed. I've read both Mike and Bryan's statements by this point, and I think it's just something I'm going to continue to disagree on. Anyway.

      Whether we like it or not, we constantly judge things. There is a (perhaps unhealthy?) fear of judgment in our culture. Then again, we also have a (perhaps unhealthy?) tendency to attack those with opposing viewpoints without properly addressing those opposing viewpoints. (A little bit of the "empathy" Bryan talked about in his blog would do a measure of good in this regard.) In any case, I think we all have a right to evaluate the work of professional writers, to decide whether political candidate X is full of crap, etc.

      Everyone has a different "process" for storytelling. For me, it was an organic process. It started with an idea, and a general plot shortly arose out of the idea. While there was *a lot* of leg work before I ever really put pen to paper on the story itself, I did have a "timeline" of sorts constructed. I knew what the climaxes - a point in which a story's trajectory is altered irreversibly - were when I started, but as far as the actual writing went, everything between the climaxes sprouted organically. One of my favorite characters didn't even exist until I started writing, when I suddenly realized he was an extremely necessary cog in the machine.

      Vignettes can be employed as shorts or flashes, but they can also be strung together into novels or novellas. I personally found that diving straight into novel writing after years of being a poet was the right path for me. Others have to build up to that point.

      If you're serious about being a writer, I would recommend finding a mentor or a support group of people who could help with practical advice and techniques. Having a community of competent critics was extremely helpful for me. And of course, having readers to just give you their "reader's opinion" doesn't hurt, either.

      Hope you find something helpful in all of that.



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    2. Thank you very much for sharing your experience. :) I will remember it when I decide to finally write something, though it may not be soon because nowadays cosplay making interests me the most. Creating something is just so great.
      Back to judging: my English is far from perfect I guess it can be seen :) I used the word judge with a negative meaning. I think criticizing, being honest or sharing opinion even if they are different from other's is perfectly all right as long as you remain respectful and do it in a proper tone without hurting or insulting others.
      And about Korra again: I've been asking myself why did they feel the need to end the show with her in a relationship? I feel she would have been perfectly fine without a lover.

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    3. Agreed. As I said in the blog, the plot structure lent itself to Korra finding strength in herself as the Avatar. "No character convincingly presented themselves as credible romantic interests of Korra's after Mako." The writers wanted to make a statement, I think that's what it comes down to. The execution was unfortunately flawed.



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    4. Happy New Year! :) I started watching ATLA with my boyfriend a few days ago. This is the 3rd time for me and I realized again how awesome this show is. :)

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    5. Skip over "the Great Divide" and it'll be a perfectly sublime experience.



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  5. https://soduhson.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/legend-of-korra-how-it-could-have-been-deeper-without-changing-the-story/

    Since Bryke, especially with the last two books, wanted to emphasize more political conflicts; they could have made things more realistic. Like any political figure, the Avatar’s decisions will not always be popular, however an unpopular decision isn’t necessarily a bad one. Instead of working everything out in Korra’s favor, allow the viewers to determine if her decisions were the right ones.

    It should be noted that Korra, while she has matured over the course of the series, she isn’t a particularly active Avatar (like Aang, Kyoshi, and Yangchen [reportedly]). Though she isn’t necessarily an indecisive one (like Kuruk and Roku). Korra’s inaction (whether voluntary or otherwise) has led the world to adapt without the Avatar’s presence.

    Here are my complaints and how I’d like to see them addressed:

    Book 1 While Korra stopped Amon, she wasn’t a part of the process to elect Raiko. Has the equalist movement been stopped? It’s just ignored.

    Book 2 While Korra defeated Unavaatu and left the spirit portals open, she wasn’t a part of republic city’s infrastructure being rebuilt. Nor was she concerned about the other nations reacting to harmonic convergence.

    Book 3 Korra was sick and the air-nomads had to take over.

    Book 4 Republic city is in ruins, a new spirit portal is unlocked. The Earth Kingdom’s government needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up. Korra has just gotten past her three year rehab, and decides to go on vacation. What happened to the Red Lotus?

    Compare Korra to the anti-Bush complaints when he flew over Katrina, or when he remained at the elementary school during 9-11. Most of Korra’s in-story opponents came off as more flippant (Toph, Raiko, her “approval ratings”, etc) or evil (Unalaq, Amon, the Red Lotus, Kuvira). None of them were rational, though they could have been. Even when Korra accomplished something on her own, in many cases did not require her being the Avatar to get the job done. The only exception was her role in opening the spirit portals (and creating one). Even “being the Avatar” wasn’t necessary to defeat Unavaatu. She summoned the cosmic energy using the tree of time, without Raava’s help (or connection). Also notice that no one is particularly concerned with Korra’s disconnection to her past lives. No one except Korra herself, and she really didn’t communicate with them on her own.

    The biggest missed plot point, in light of Korra’s inaction, was her preference of republic city. In her defense, it could be argued that republic city represents the four nations, therefore she only needs to concern herself with that place. On the other hand, the Earth Kingdom was being ruled by a despot, we don’t see the fire nation, and apparently the Southern Water tribe is more advanced than the North (which was being ruled by Korra’s grandfather, then her uncle, and now her cousins).

    Should Korra be concerned about these issues? The answer shouldn’t be clear. But the question should be asked.

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  6. You know what ticked me off a lot? They still used the same cliche every show does. The hero ends up in a romantic relationship with someone. Same shit, different orientation. Why couldn't they, for once, ended it off by leaving Korra and Asami as single, but close best friends? No romance at all? And why the fuck do people assume that those who want Korra and Asami to be single are homophobic and looking at it with "hetero-eyes"? Have these people forgotten that there's asexual people? Not everyone is attracted to someone. If they cared oh-so much about representation, they would have remembered there's asexual people out there and there has barely ever been if any representation of them. But then again, there's LGBT people out there who don't find asexuality to be natural.

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    1. No romantic ending seemed like it would have been a better ending to my eyes, as well.

      Thanks for commenting.



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  7. I agree on you on this one. Everywhere I look, they all keep talking about how "progressive" the ending is or great it is...and I personally think that the shippers are running the asylum for this series. Too much focus on the romance and not much for the characters, in my honest opinion. I mean, I dropped the series after season one wrapped up...and I didn't regret doing that and regretted coming back to this because the series somehow made the the teen romance aspect the central focus than the character aspect of the series that made Last Airbender great. I don't feel any attachment to the characters as I did with its predecessor...and also yeah, the Korra Asami thing...I don't see it, even with my "hetero eyes" off, still can't see it. Friends, yeah..romantic rival, possibly...but a romantic couple? I've seen two alien robots with much better chemistry than those two...and if you try to point that out, suddenly you're the "homophobic ass". Honestly, I rather have it end with Korra venturing forth on her own..no romantic relationship, no "ship tease", just Korra going off on her own adventures, combating evil where ever it may come or something/

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    1. Thanks for the comment. "The shippers are running the asylum." I laughed.

      Out of curiosity, where did you find my blog? Was it from one of my links, or did you stumble into my little corner of the Net?

      Thanks.



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    2. I stumbled upon this fine site by accident as I was looking for a review of the series finale that didn't praise the ending as the greatest thing ever since sliced bread(I know a better series that deserved that claim)...and trust me, finding any piece of article that didn't tout the ending on the positive light is pretty difficult to say the least...and it's glad to know that you're not alone to think that the series finale just didn't work.

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  8. I didn't watch Korra because I binge-watched A:TLA on Netflix and intended to do the same with Korra, but fan reports of Korra indicated that it was not as good. I consider A:TLA the best darn kids show ever (TMNT 2012 is a close second), and don't care for...less.

    That said, I don't have anything to add to a conversation that I am largely ignorant of except I agree on "Korrasami." It appears that this situation was/is a bizzaro-world alternative to when fans of Hunger Games first saw the film "discovered" Rue was black...because they didn't read closely enough.

    Instead, here the writers wanted to shock the world or something and decided to make Korrasami gay because reasons so deal with it. Author's intent(ional fallacy) aside, if they really had the balls to do something more than an ambiguous image in which we supposedly are cognitively dissonant in our reading because of "hetero eyes," then they should have ended it with the most common cliche: a kiss.

    Yes, I just said that a cliche was approprite. expertise in literary criticism revoked.

    Anyway, said more here than I intended. Really came here to smile at "the themes being explored here are adult, but the execution was juvenile." Good stuff.

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    1. Thanks for the read and the comment.

      Best wishes,



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  9. Hello, not sure if this blog is active anymore but I'm glad theres a place to release some thoughts.

    I personally hate how alot of the avatar community thinks Book 4 was "amazing" just because of this whole "Korrasami" thing. If you ship this kind of thing then whatever, but for crying out loud the whole season was still a mess. Like you said the characters were not explored to their fullest potiential. I think you are the only person that has pointed out the fact that Aang and Katara disapear after Season 2. Book 3 was a GREAT oppurtunity for Aang to confront Zaheer and explain that this was not the airbender way or something. Not that Aang would save the day or anything, just that this would show some relation to the past even though Korra can no longer connection to her past lives.
    I think even the creators wish they could have a redo. Fan Service was DEFINETLY a thing. They let ratings and popularity cloud their judgement on how to end the series. I mean would you rather have a series that continued and sucked for a couple more years, or a series that was epic and remembered for years to come, just like it's precessor. Ratings are just numbers. Money an illusion if your work will be relived for decades to come.

    Thank you for listening, and I found your blog from your little corner on the web :)

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    1. Thanks for commenting.

      I never considered the idea of Aang himself confronting Zaheer, but it is a definite possibility in the Avatarverse (think Roku confronting Jeong-Jeong in Book 1 of A:TLA). Hypothetically, I don't think Zaheer would have listened because the latter portion of Aang's life was about restoring balance through redrawing the political map whereas Zaheer's goal was to replace "false" balance with "real" balance by inciting anarchy against the very order Aang and Zuko established. Still, that confrontation would have been interesting. A likely possibility they never explored was Zaheer killing Zuko precisely because of his role in establishing the "order" Zaheer sought to destroy.

      This is of course based upon the presumption that they adopted an altered (SEE: "better") metanarrative in which Korrra loses her connection to her past lives at the end of the show instead of somewhere in the middle.

      Regarding the fandom: yeah. The best critique of my critique has essentially been that there were hints sprinkled in books 3 + 4 that showed something was going on with Korra and Asami behind the scenes (see the Korra Wikipedia page for citation of my article and requisite criticism). Even granting that this is the case (on second appraisal I think it is, and moreover, I never argued against the canonicity of Korrasami) it still doesn't address the larger point that the relationship was narratively unjustified. Because the relationship is essentially relegated to hints, the audience has no investment to really want it for the characters. The reason Aang and Katarra worked was not because they were hetero, but because there was romantic tension between them from the moment Aang laid eyes on her. He adored her and we all knew it, and we wanted it for Aang because we all knew it, and it was given real space to breathe in the narrative.

      Korrasami had little to no narrative breathing room because of political and financial restrictions. It's canon, there are hints of it, but as a story element, it's lame and people give it undue credit because its progressive, to the extent of ignoring larger problems with the show as a whole.

      Anyway, the short end of it is: I think you're right. Thanks for talking.



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  10. It's not like the entire gay community accepted it. Watched it with a gay friend, and he was just as confused as I was. Took to Tumblr to see if he was the only one; he wasn't. We agreed it was a token ending. I keep coming back to this topic because I'm wondering if entertainment is just trying to hard to be all-inclusive these days for little to no reason other than "equality" where it does not belong in a narrative. Colour and sexuality are very minor parts of a character. The problem with LoK is that they made it the centerpiece for the ending... because it's progressive!

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