Korra Episode Review – K413 The Last Stand
K413 The Last Stand
Written By – Mike Dimartino
Directed By – Melchoir Zwyer
Animated By – Studio Mir
It has been quite a journey, but at last we are at the final episode of Korra and thus my final Korra review. K413 The Last Stand is an excellent conclusion to an amazing series. It works as a conclusion to Book 4 Balance on its own as well as the series overall, and that was a huge ask, especially in a book where the budget effectively meant we were down 1 episode in this book with “Remembrances”, but this final episode manages to blend together stunning moments of epic action and emotion. Sure there are issues as there always are with final episodes, x thing didn’t happen, y thing wasn’t resolved, z character didn’t get a moment and I have a few of these issues myself, but remember that the ATLA finale left HUGE things open that have only recently been resolved in the comics. Zuko’s mother was only addressed last year Â in “The Search” and Toph’s main arc from the show with her issues with her parents was only resolved a few months ago in “The Rift”. In the grand scheme of the series this finale was a complete success on all accounts and that is all any of us could ask for.
I will be distracted for the rest of the review if I don’t give my thoughts on the final scene right now. So yeah, Korrasami is canon now, if for whatever reason the final shot was not clear enough in showing it just last night both Mike and Bryan confirmed that Korrasami is indeed canon. Â I am so happy and impressed that the creators just went for this, they made it as clear as they could without making a massive deal out of it, the scene felt natural and fit given what had come before. It is amazing to see a show that has already been so important in terms of representation with having a female lead character in an action show Â do even more for representation in media with making a bisexual/lesbian relationship clear and canon and even to give the final scene to showing this moment. Remember that Korra being a female lead was most of the mainstream buzz around Korra when it was initially announced, as Avatar fans we were already aware of how well female characters were done, but having a new show with a female lead was still a big moment. Now we have seen Korra all over both fandom based and mainstream news sites for the finale and more specifically Korrasami, this is a big deal and it is. Mike and Bryan both underplay how important this is in their posts about Korrasami, knowing that perhaps it is not the biggest step forward, but that they have made a difference. Just seeing how emotional and happy so many people are across the fandom and even some not really involved in the fandom at seeing this ship happen and what it means to them is just great to see.
I think the scene is good and I have always been more of a shipper who is more interested in ships that become canon rather than putting my support into character pairings that I think would work, The Doph is really the only ship that I really support in that way. So you can definitely count me in as a crewman on the good ship Korrasami, I am so interested to see more of these two as a couple, I hope that if Korra comics are ever confirmed that they will show this ship.
So while I am all for Korrasami and enjoy the scene we got, I do have issues, but these issues are more with the writing surrounding this decision, primarily the placement of the scene. As much as I love the scene, I really don’t think it should have been the final scene of Korra as a series, because it kind of suggests that this ship was bigger than it actually was throughout the series, that romance with Korra was this big thing in the series, when really since Book 2 it has been non existent minus the little set up moments for Korrasami. What would have made the end perfect for me was to have the scene we got, make it the second last scene, but end the show with a scene of Korra on her own, maybe Asami is off looking at something of interest in the spirit world and this gives Korra a moment to reflect alone on her journey up to now. Perhaps she speaks to Raava, but the key thing that I wanted in the final scene was for it to really show why the show is called “The Legend Of Korra” focus on what she has done , maybe end with Korra realising what the next big thing she needs to do as the Avatar is, then Asami calls Korra over to look at something, The End. This way the final scene still has some Korrasami in it, but the focus is on Korra and makes it clear that the show was about her journey. I want to make it clear I am not really annoyed and it is not a big negative that this was the final scene, but it is something that just sticks in my mind, in the end I think I have almost come around to really accept Â it as the final scene as it really shows how much Mike and Bryan just went for this ship that they would devote the final scene to it. Though at the same time I think Korrasami being confirmed would have worked no matter when it happened in the finale.
As far as the question of “Was Korrasami set up well enough, did it come out of the blue?”. I would say that no it did not come out of the blue as there were moments that definitely suggested it, but at the same time I don’t think it was amazingly well set up. So my initial reaction upon this scene happening was neither “Woah, where did that come from” nor “Yes, after all this set up and waiting, they did it” it was more in the middle “Cool, so they did go for it, I look forward Â to more focus on the relationship” followed by a little explosion of “Yay, great representation, well done Mike and Bryan, you have made a lot of people happy”. I get that now that it is confirmed you can now look back on a lot of scenes and now see them in a more relationship set up sense, but it could have been made more clear. Bryan in his post said this
Â If it seems out of the blue to you, I think a second viewing of the last two seasons would show that perhaps you were looking at it only through a hetero lens.
This for me is the only slight issue I have with his post. I don’t think it was out of the blue, but I also don’t think that there is a massive amount of set up in Book 3 and 4 to make it obvious that Korrasami would be confirmed at the end. I don’t think I viewed the show through a hetero lens, I was aware of the big fan support behind Korrasami and was on the lookout myself to see if they would go that route, but the first time I really thought they are going in this direction was the Korra blush from “The Reunion”. We really only had a big Korrasami discussion on the podcast after this moment, and we go through each episode scene by scene, I really don’t remember many other scenes where anyone on the podcast really said that there was romance set up for these two before then. I like Korrasami, but I think it is fair to say that is definitely not the best set up relationship we have had in the show, if comics cover it more previous scenes may be elevated, overall my main thoughts on Korrasami are that I am excited for more and hopeful that in future Avatar media we may get other types of relationships like this and that other creators are inspired by Mike and Bryan’s decision and may include these relationships in their own works
Last thing to talk about is the second last scene between these two. This is a really good scene between the two, it serves as more set up for Korrasami as well as a conclusion to the Asami and Hiroshi plot. She is saddened by the loss of her father, but glad that she was able to forgive him before the end and also happy she didn’t lose Korra. You really see in this scene that they are very close, definitely on the the best scenes between the two.
So there you go, over 1000 words on Korrasami. That is how important it is, but there is still like 95% of the episode to discuss. The pace is very fast before the epilogue, but without feeling rushed, very quickly we get the colossus taken out. Su and Lin have the spirit weapon taken out within moments of the episode starting, it all makes sense, inside they are surrounded by bendable metal so two masters will get their job done quickly. On the other hand Mako and Bolin are not metalbenders and so they struggle to get to the switches facing metalbenders with so much metal around, you really see how cramped the benders are fighting inside the machine, you see Mako and Bolin’s probending dodging come out a bit here with not much cover in the room. But of course with Su and Lin succeeding so well something has to go wrong as the switches don’t work leaving only one choice to take out the power source. This leads to Mako’s big moment in the finale.
Mako is a character who has really suffered throughout the run of Korra. He has definitely taken most of the fan backlash against the romance in Korra and has not had as many character moments as others. Especially this book, he has spent so much of it as Wu’s bodyguard, I really wasn’t expecting much from him in the finale, but boy did they give him a moment here. This was such a powerful moment. Even Bolin not wanting Mako to do it was great, because Bolin saw it as his brother just trying to be awesome, when Mako is doing it despite what may happen because it is the only option, he is the only one there who can do it and he wants to to save the city. The moment itself is exceptionally well shot and animated. We get a nice explanation of why Lightning has seemed a bit underpowered, usually it is done very quickly and thus only knocks out people hit by it, but here for the first time in Korra we see someone generate lightning slowly really showing us the separation of the positive and negative energies, you can sense how powerful Mako’s lightning is here, he knows he has to overload the power source and so builds the power slowly while also channelling energy from the colossus itself into the vines.
I love the movement and atmosphere in the scene, that Mako does not just stay in one place, instead he does plan to get out, this is not just a sacrifice, he gradually moves towards the hatch, slowed by dodging spirit sparks and even getting hit and injured by some. I really felt like this was Mako’s death scene, the length of the scene combined with the music made this so powerful, so when he is hit and falls no into the hatch, but just a bit short of it, you are fearing for him so much. The cut away at this point is excruciating. Bolin also gets his big finale moment here, returning to save his brother, it works as a big final moment for both brothers. Mako gets a huge moment where he can put himself on the line, while Bolin gets a moment where he saves his brother, when it is usually the other way around.
The 3rd group of focus here is of course Korra vs Kuvira. It is a really good fight, perhaps not as grand or epic as many suspected, but it is still a great fight. You can really tell the animators put a lot of effort into this fight, you know it is an important fight when some MMA action is incorporated in, Korra’s stunning flying armbar throw thing really had me freaking out during this fight. I liked that the fight was very even, both got big hits in on each other, but in the end before the explosion you got the sense that Korra was gaining the advantage. The decision to go more for a confined fight over a fight like Aang vs Ozai which was all big bending was interesting, but I suppose worked given the setting of this fight.
One thing I loved about the finale was that while the colossus was taken out here, it was so powerful while it was active and even had an important role to play as it went down. The explosion allowed the rest of the episode to focus just on Korra and Kuvira, Mako and Bolin were in the legs and barely voided the explosion, Lin and Su were in the arm and out of the fight, but Korra and Kuvira were most protected from the blast being in the head and so are still active after the explosion. I liked that Korra was helping Kuvira out, as much as Kuvira is the villain, she does not want to kill her or have her die, she cares about people. Kuvira is not done and hits Korra before fleeing into the spirit wilds. It was at this moment that I thought I was at last going to get the spirits helping out, I was really expecting her to run into someone like Koh and have her face stolen, but instead they go for the continuity and have her encounter the spirit weapon she threw into the wilds earlier in the episode. It was a shocking, but brilliant moment to see Korra chase Kuvira in and arrive facing the barrel of this giant weapon ready to fire.
I like that this scene was not here to really put Korra at risk, but rather to show how desperate Kuvira is, she should know that if she fires the weapon in the spirit wilds that the vines will react, but she does it anyway and she is the one who is about to be blasted by her own out of control weapon. This leads to Korra’s big moment as she steps in front of Kuvira, enters the Avatar State and blocks the spirit cannon! I wish they had made it clearer how exactly Korra blocked it, I assume some form of spirit/energybending as it was energybending that allowed Korra to free Jinora and co from the spirit vines. Still an epic moment with some wonderful shots, both Korra as she blocks the blast, but also Kuvira behind Korra watching on in awe as her enemy saves her life by holding back her ultimate weapon, 2 wonderful shots.
Did anyone expect a new spirit portal? I know I didn’t, but it oddly makes complete sense. It makes you ask the question, how were the other 2 spirit portals formed, if this one was formed by the sheer amount of spirit energy what did it in the north and south pole. I like that the new portal is different, perhaps the first two were formed near the beginning of the Avatar universe, but this portal was formed by the Avatar a being that is a combination of human and spirit. The potential of the new portal in terms of questions raised, really shows one of the biggest issues with Korra as a series, that they set up that the human-spirit issues would be dealt with. But right now we are left in an odd situation, they refused to help Korra and protect the city they live in, leaving the city as soon as something goes wrong and returning as soon as the issue is resolved. It makes me really dislike the spirits in terms of their personality/world views, if I was Korra I would be so annoyed to see the spirits just return like nothing happened after I had just saved the city for humans and spirits despite no help from them. I assume this issue is one of the things that Korra will try to improve going forward, but in Korra as a series I am left feeling like this issue was a bit of a missed opportunity, especially because it now leaves that scene where Korra asks the spirits for help looking like Korra was in the wrong, and I don’t think she was wrong to ask them. It has a lot of potential as something for potential Korra comics to explore.
Then we get to the big conversation between Korra and Kuvira in the spirit world. I love that Kuvira the opposite of what we usually expect of her, she is usually in control and composed, but in the spirit world, she is scared and powerless while Korra is now completely at ease in the spirit world, she is at her most powerful here. This conversation is really good, you can really see how much Korra has grown here. She accepts that though she may not like it, she and Kuvira are similar and she really understands why Kuvira did as she did, though she questions how Kuvira could not see that what she was doing was wrong. We get the idea that Kuvira has this abandonment complex, she was an orphan taken in by Su and she felt that Su not stepping in to rule the Earth Kingdom was her abandoning their shared ideals for the world, so she decided to do it herself and create an empire where she and her people can never be vulnerable or be abandoned again. This was her ideal goal, but we know it was twisted over time, into a dictatorship, slavery and the imprisonment of those not of Earth Kingdom origin. Korra can understand the want to be in control as she was not in control while she was poisoned, it adds so many layers to Korra’s recovery earlier in this book. The result of this conversation is that Kuvira understands that Korra is like her, but Korra got past her issues and put her power to doing good, so her surrender makes sense. The line she says is perfect coming from Kuvira
I owe the Avatar my life. Her power is beyond anything I could ever hope to achieve.
For someone who admires power above all, to admit that she will never be at Korra’s level is huge.
THE WEDDING. What can I say about the wedding, beyond that it was perfect. Bolin leading the ceremony, everyone’s new fancy outfits, Varrick’s full name and just seeing him overcome with emotion. It was very well done and a great way to have all of the characters together a la Zuko’s Coronation. I potentially wished they had had a scene where Zhu Li threw her bouquet of flowers and someone in a relationship caught it, Opal perhaps to give her and Bolin another scene to show their relationship.
Which leads directly into some key scenes. Wu making the mature and fitting decision to step down as King and allow each state to elect a leader of their own and start a singing career. I was so worried he would just be a silly character with no development, but they really pulled it off at the end showing that he has grown, he does acknowledge the problems of Â such a big nation having 1 end all leader and has made good choices. I was very happy with the end of his arc.
Then we follow this up with the last Mako and Korra scene of the series. She is so thankful to him for what he did in the final battle, putting himself at risk for her plan, and he is just happy to follow her into battle no matter the situation. They may have been a couple before, but now they are just close friends, who have helped each other to grow and will now do anything to help each other. A fitting conclusion to this friendship, a little disappointing that we got no scene with Korra and Bolin just to round of Korra’s relationship with all of Team Avatar.
We then cut to the final student and mentor scene of the series, though at this stage they truly are equals which is very fitting. They reflect on the journey up to now and how much Korra has done already, but the key point here is that Korra is not satisfied with just everything she has done, she wants to do so much more and for a character who has tended to struggle with her path as the Avatar that is key. She Â knows in her mind some things she wants to do and learn, I hope we get to see some of these things.
Well that just about brings this final Korra Episode Review to an end. This show has meant so much to me, like ATLA before it, I think I would be a very different person if I had never seen these shows or got involved in this great community. Mike and Bryan can now say that for Avatar shows they are 2 for 2 in the “Amazing Series” category, very much heped for Korra with how well this episode ended the series. I hope that this is not the last Avatar series on tv we will get and I, like Korra am hopeful for the future. We still have new comics coming out and I would highly recommend any fans who have yet to read the ATLA comics to do so, because for the next while those will be the only new Avatar content coming out and they are very well done, if they sell well then surely Korra comics will have to come at some point and that will only be a bonus for our fandom.
I just want to make it clear that I will continue to write posts for the site, covering news and writing opinions about Avatar as well as doing other site events. In terms of reviews there are new comics to cover and also some other Avatar books coming out that I will be reviewing like the Book 3 and 4 Art Books for Korra as well as the upcoming Avatar Legacy book. The podcasts will continue also.
To end this final Korra Episode Review, I really want to say thanks to everyone who has read these. I put a lot of time into these written reviews and just knowing that others care enough to read my opinion on this show means a lot, the comments and discussions have really kept me going.
Thanks for reading,
Morgan Bannon (Airspeed Prime)
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