I had to take a while to wrap my head around this (probably more than I needed) because this isn’t just the end of Avatar: The Legend of Korra, but more than likely the end of the entire franchise. While I do think it’s essential to talk about the end of the season there is just as much to talk about regarding the series as a whole and its proper place. No more, lets just get into it.
I just wanna get this out of the way now. I enjoyed the finale itself much more than I did the finale to end ATLA. I liked the balance of action and storytelling without having things happen for the sake of the plot. Some of what LOK get’s criticized for is the fact that things happen solely for the sake of plot and there’s no foreshadowing for it or justification. Well if you look at the finale of ATLA much of that happens in the finale. Some can say they can get away with that because of the job they did throughout the series but for me there’s always something to be said about finishing strong. That’s just me but feel free to say why you disagree.
What stuck out the most about the finale was how it wasn’t an over-the-top style of finale. It was not overly formulaic of the final villain going against the main character and went a different route with Korra as a character and her exchange with Kuvira. She showed Kuvira everything an avatar is supposed to be from the power and strength to the wisdom and courage and through all of that she realized that her efforts had been exhausted. I just wish we saw more of Kuvira’s history. Don’t get me wrong, there were standout performances from characters like Bolin, Su, and Lin with lots of large-scale feats to speak of. I enjoyed Korra defending herself from a direct blast from the spirit cannon and Mako detonating the core of the giant mech. I think it’s just that it was less formulaic of a finale and more of an intricate and strategic resolution when the drama reached it’s climax.
There was still more than enough for the fans throughout the season as Varrick and Zhu Li finally made the jump as well as Korra and Asami. Korra finally rounded out as a character befitting the role of an avatar (even though it took a little longer than I had hoped). There was even some room to see Bolin as more than just comic relief and allow for Lin some much more development and time with Toph. Although the recap episode did not help the latter half of the season (like at all), in a vacuum it wasn’t that bad just (highly) unnecessary. The political commentary wasn’t lost as some (like myself) thought that the moments leading up to the finale had us believe that the Prince Wu would be receiving enough development to have us see him as the earth king by the end. I found it fresh and much more fitting to see them take another route as all of the things that took place were reminiscent of the inherent problems of the political landscape as it stood. Also, he just wasn’t ready and Wu even realized that and believed that a democracy would serve the people better.
Verdict: The biggest thing to take from this is that the series (save for the comic book) is done. The comparisons between ATLA and LOK will continue for the most part and as such I think we all know where the favoritism will lay. I personally won’t do too much of it because it’s kinda unfair. The latter of the two had to deal with things the former never had to and was still able to put out a competent product at the least. For me it isn’t about which one was better or not, instead it is appreciating the superior quality the series as a whole has given and how it stacks up as a great animation. It stands out to many as possibly the best western animation in the last decade and a half and has accolades to support that claim. It has captured many and has easily branched far beyond the audience it targeted when it all began. Very few western animations have the following this series has and will continue to have. It is unique unto itself and as someone who has followed the entire series since it’s beginning, I have been reminded by it constantly of what a series can be when an artist has respect and passion for their craft, vision, and their fans. From the production team to the voice actors and everyone in between, this series has heart and a commitment to quality in a way that few series (animated or not) seem to maintain. I have heard that this doesn’t feel like the end or that the finale didn’t have a definitive enough finish. For me it did. I’m done with the series; but not in a bad way. It’s done far more than I could have asked for and I am beyond content. Some can’t let a good thing go forgetting that all good things must come to an end. The series has run a remarkable course and honestly, I have no problem letting go.
Avatar The Legend of Korra Book Four: Balance stays at a 4 out of 5
+ Very cohesive finale without it being excessive
+ Solid fanservice to round out the series
+ Bolin and Varrick both were better characters for the series
+ I liked the political aspects that played out
+ I finally really saw Korra as the avatar in more than just name
– It just took a little too long for my liking to see Korra be the avatar
– Recap episode was unnecessary (Don’t worry, I know why they did it though)
– Needed a little more Kuvira backstory
What? it’s done.