Legend of Korra: Roundtable

Now that the first season of Legend of Korra has been wrapped up, I sat down with Alice Marie and Rick to talk about the show and hash out all our intense, well, feels. We wanted to chat about what we liked about the series, what we didn’t like, and what we hope for in the second season. Read on after the jump for our chat.

New show, new Avatar, new feelings.

Alice: So KORRA.
Rick: Yes. Korra.
Elyse: Korra, oh, I have so many feels.
Alice: Tell us your feels, Elyse.
Rick: I’m wearing Sokka’s Freud-beard.
Elyse: I think the series started off great, and I’m glad Korra was a lead in the first place, and she had some great moments, but I really think the romance subplot with Mako kind of killed the momentum of the show.
Alice: I think Mako kinda ruined the show.
Elyse: I just could not understand why they were pushing so hard for Makorra to be my OTP.
Alice: My OTP is Meelo & Fartbending.
Rick: Mako’s clearly not a good dude. He is absolutely, 100% not a Katara.
Elyse: I just was not feeling it, and the more they insisted it was legit, the less I could focus on the awesome scenes with Lin, Tenzin, Amon, and Tarrlock.
Rick: I think they were pushing to have him be the new Zuko. But being Aladdin did not make him a tortured, brooding hero. It just made him Aladdin.
Alice: YES. He was totally Aladdin. And Bolin was his Abu.
Rick: With about a quarter of the charm.
Alice: I don’t know what that makes Pabu.
Elyse: And he didn’t even apologize at the end like Aladdin.
Alice: Right?!
Elyse: Aladdin at least kind of redeemed himself.
Elyse: My baby Bolin! You deserved so much better, baby.
Alice: He’s definitely my #1 Korra Crush.
Rick: Basically, the best thing Mako did was bring Asami into the mix.
Elyse: I think Season 2 needs to be, dump Mako; Asami, Bolin, and Korra become the new Golden Trio Team Avatar.
Alice: AND IROH. Iroh makes Mako irrelevant, in my opinion.
Rick: I’m feeling like, I think I get where you’re coming from about Korra’s agency, though, Elyse. IF, after seeing how Mako has treated Asami, how he was so hot and cold in the beginning, and how he just totally c-blocked Bolin… if, after all of that, Korra is still gaga for him… it makes me question how smart she is.
Elyse: Well, my problem with their whole relationship is that we were never shown why they would end up together, why they even like each other. And yet they’re making these huge sacrifices for each other, and all of a sudden Mako is the only one who cares about Korra or is allowed to show it? Everything became very much about this relationship that we never got to see develop, just kind of got told, trust us, this is going to work.
Rick: And I’m not saying that he’s not a realistic representation of a handsome, athletically-talented teenager. It’s that handsome, athletically-talented teenagers are kind of dicks. The WHY is pretty baffling as well.
Alice: Mako is TOTALLY a dick.
Rick: It’s not going to work. I have to hope that a big portion of book two is about it not working.
Elyse: And the icing on the cake was that Mako turned out to be the key to unlocking Korra’s airbending. That to me, kind of took that moment away from her. I was actually really disappointed when her big moment was simply “I can airbend?” It was a deus ex machina that revolved around a love interest that I was never particularly invested in.
Rick: I hope that book 2, since she has all her powers, is in part about how teenage love is stupid and does stupid things. Pre-teen love: cute and shy. Teenage love: stupid and intense.
Alice: Is it terrible that I feel like this is almost going to turn Bolin into a Nice Guy? And kinda make me root for him? Because seriously, Bolin has been there from the beginning, has been in love with Korra from the start, and is fun and hilarious and they have a great time together… and I loved it! But no, she goes for the dick.
Elyse: I don’t think Bolin is going to play much of a part in the romance stuff anymore, actually. I get the feeling we’re supposed to think he’s already over it. Which isn’t quite believable either.
Rick: Which is total BS, BTW. Doesn’t work that way.
Alice: Not at all. And I’M NOT OVER IT.
Rick: It’s upsetting that they didn’t even think to actually MAKE him part of the love triangle, you know? He was always just kind of off to the side, with the silly little crush that Mako scoffed at. Though did there even need to BE a love triangle? Ten episodes, guys. Cut the BS.
Elyse: I didn’t even need there to be love interests at all. I was hoping for them all just to be bros!
Rick: They seemed like bros in the beginning. Bros would have worked.
Alice: BROT3
Rick: In A:TLA, they were all bros for the longest time.
Elyse: The Last Brobender.
Alice: To be fair, Sokka was an ACTUAL bro.
Rick: With just enough nudge nudge wink wink to make you ship whoever you wanted. Like with Sokka. You could ship him with any number of characters. Because you got JUST enough to ship.
Alice: Hell, Sokka shipped himself with EVERYONE. And it was great, because he showed how complex those emotions can be. He continued to LOVE Yue, even though he was able to have feelings for Suki, and everyone else.
Elyse: The romance stuff in A:TLA was all just very subtle and well-done.
Alice: Absolutely.
Elyse: I think Bryke got more interested in the fan communities and were way more aggressive about the ship stuff. It kind of started with Korranation, and they were ON TOP OF IT with the ship name hashtags. Just very involved.
Rick: But TEN EPISODES. We don’t have time for this shit. If anything… and I LURVE the show, but the major failing is that Korra brought romantic love front and center. ATLA was more about the love between friends and family, and was the better for it.
Elyse: That is true.
Rick: Like, the biggest problem with Lin Bei Fong… the ONLY problem with Lin was that, ultimately, the reason she is such a badass is because she got left by a guy! Excuse me, really?
Alice: I’m sorry, was Tenzin’s dick that life-altering? (sorry I’m not sorry)
Elyse: I was not a fan of the way they made it seem like Lin and Pema were both not over that. Like, these are grown ass women.
Alice: YES
Alice: Ok, seriously, Korra/Mako/Asami are being echoed in that and it’s terrible, because it says something REALLY horrible about women, in a show that otherwise does women really well. Or equality, anyway.
Elyse: The women in this show did not have the kind of agency that the women in ATLA did, to be honest.
Alice: I absolutely agree. Though, how much of this is the fact that we’ve got 66 episodes of ATLA, and only 10 of LOK?
Rick: It’s always silly for fans to hope this… but what if they have a master plan for the story? One that fixes all the problems? One that has Korra asking, “what the hell am I doing”?
Alice: Or one that has Aang popping in and saying, “Korra, what are you doing? WHAT WHAT WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
Elyse: Well, what I think about that is, the show was originally only supposed to be this one season, right? So they should have prepared for everything to be wrapped up by the end of this. And that should include all the romance and relationship stuff.
Rick: It’s frustrating. Because there’s an excellent show in there.
Elyse: There really is!
Alice: Agreed here.
Rick: I mean, people complain about Korra being plot driven rather than character-driven. And I am 100% okay with that, if it was meant to be a miniseries, which it was.
Alice: And I ENJOYED the plot.
Rick: It was so awesomely gray, too!
Elyse: The story was great. I think they spent more time getting an interesting plot together than planning out their character arcs. Because the plot was top notch, but the character development definitely suffered.
Rick: I’m OK with that, frankly. Again, short season, tell the Equalist story.
Elyse: I can live with that. I don’t know that I’d say I’m OK with it, heh.
Alice: But I think they did have a great responsibility to the fanbase to create characters just as amazing as the ones in ATLA.
Rick: OK… let’s pull this back a moment. Question: How much of the dislike for Korra is based on not taking this new show on its own terms? 10 episodes vs 66? Road-show versus political plot?
Elyse: That’s a fair question. I think I started out seeing the people who were complaining about the show as people who were just mad that the show wasn’t the show they wanted or expected? But as it went on, I was kind of joining their side and thinking, well, no, because I do appreciate this show for what’s different about it, but that still doesn’t excuse some sloppy writing.
Alice : I totally agree Elyse – about what people were wanting or expecting. For example, I’m probably not going to be happy with the “Good Omens” miniseries, because I have a certain expectation.
Elyse: Yeah honestly if they had taken the romance plot entirely out and just gone with the Equalist story, Korra, and airbending, I would have been fine with that.
Rick: So we can defend about 75% of the plot. But that extra 25%, the romance, it’s where it failed. Where the characters did REALLY dumb shit.
Elyse: Yeah it’s still a mostly great show, in my opinion. It just could have really been phenomenal.
Alice : ALL of the Romance though. Not just Korra/Mako/Asami, the Lin/Tenzin/Pima story was also irrelevant.
Rick: Or even Mr. Sato and his dead wife. That was a weird-ass reasoning to sell your only family up the river. “I love my family so much that I will destroy what’s left of it in order to avenge it.”? Romantic love fail.
Elyse: Oh, Mr. Sato.
Rick: I have to say. Korra is currently the gold standard for American animated action. BUT the thing to keep in mind is that Joaquim Dos Santos directed every episode. He also did a lot of Justice League. And he does the fantastic GI Joe cartoons. And a lot of the best fight scenes in book three of ATLA were him, too. I’m VERY impressed with the very well-choreographed, convincing martial arts in Korra.
Elyse: I loved it. They really do those fight scenes exceptionally well.
Rick: But, then, romance. BLEH.
Elyse: Womp womp.
Rick: Mako ruins everything but the pro bending matches.
Elyse: Indeed!
Rick: He’s not even that useful in the Team Avatar crimefighting. Who does all the heavy lifting of assisting Korra with getting the car everywhere and crowd control? Bolin, that’s who. You need a ramp? Bolin. You need a wall? Bolin.
Elyse: Gotta love those earthbenders.
Rick: You need a little goddamned levity? Bolin.
Alice: Firebenders are too intense.
Elyse: So do we think this is going to be a two season series, and that’s it? Or is there potential for Bryke to pull a longer story out of it, like ATLA?
Alice: I’d LOVE to have it be a longer series.
Rick: I would love a longer series. I think they’re just planned for two now.
Alice: Sure, Korra has all the other elements down, but I want to see her actually coming into her own. Maturing as the Avatar, and as a person.
Elyse: I’d love to see more Iroh II and Bolin and less Mako next season.
Rick: I’d love to see more Korra kind of figuring out that she needs to get a handle on herself and the Avatar stuff. You don’t need to be a monk to be the Avatar. It’s in fact encouraged to form attachments. But, you know, she works mostly on instinct.
Elyse: Yes, exactly. I feel like Korra’s development kind of took a backseat to the story this time. I want more time to get to know her, to watch her figure things out.
Rick: She needs to actually LEARN what she’s doing and HOW.
Alice: I want to say one thing before we wrap this up. If they’re going to push any kind of ship, I’d want it to be a same-sex one. Or at least show a homosexual relationship in the show. Because both ATLA and LOK have been very very good about promoting equality.
Rick: Nice. Won’t happen.
Alice: Yeah, I know, kids show. But whatever. It’s 2012.
Elyse: Yeah I ship Asami/Korra but I’m not holding my breath to see it become canon.
Alice: Even if they just like, happen upon a couple in an episode. I want to see it.
Elyse: That would be awesome though.
Rick: It would. But on a kid’s show. I think the best you’re going to see is a sly Harley/Ivy style wink. At best. It’s 2012. But it’s not THAT 2012. We wish and hope, but, geez, can you imagine the uproar over a gay couple on the highest rated saturday morning cartoon show?
Elyse: Conservatives would have to add another company to their list to boycott. One Million Moms would be all over their ass.
Alice: YAY!
Rick: It’s too risky. Which blows, but it is.
Alice: I want ALL the Hollywood Gay Agenda!
Rick: OTOH Ty Lee did have the hugest crush on Azula.
Elyse: True! I saw an interesting parallel of Ty Lee and Azula, and Amon and Lieutenant on Tumblr. All the betrayed feelings.
Rick: Hadn’t occurred to me, but, yeah, that’s right. I hope Lieutenant comes back. And I hope he gets a damned name.
Elyse: That would be nice. I guess we’ll see!

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