Shows

LoK Season 2’s Horrible Spirit Wonderland (SPOILERS)

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Show Review:

The Legend of Korra Season 2

Rating: 4 out of 10 stars

Intro

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Avatar universe and The Legend of Korra (LoK). But Season 2 takes all the worst parts of Avatar lore, runs like a bad fanfiction, and introduces lasting consequences that should never have been a problem in the first place. This is my second time watching it, and I hated it even more the second time.

This review is filled with spoilers. It may not be worthwhile to you to watch Season 2, and if you read this blog post it will summarize everything of importance from that season, allowing you to skip Season 2 if you desire without being lost during Season 3.

Background

The Legend of Korra Season 2, called Spirits, was released in 2013. It was animated partially by Studio Mir and partially by Pierrot. The creators are Michael Dante DiMartino and Brian Konietzko

Season 2 might have been better if it weren’t for strained relations with Nickelodeon and if the series had been planned out better in the first place. Initially, the creators of The Legend of Korra were only contracted for Season 1, so getting a Season 2 had been up in the air.

Summary

Season 2 begins six months after the first season. Korra has to find a way to deal with increasing unrest between the spirit world and the natural world. When her uncle Unalaq convinces her to open the Southern Spirit portal, chaos ensues. To make matters worse, the Northern Water Tribe invades and seizes control of the Southern Water Tribe. Additionally, we learn about the first avatar and the continual fight between Raava and Vaatu–the embodiment of good and the embodiment of evil, respectively.

Pros

  • Introduction of numerous new characters
  • Get to see old characters–Iroh and Admiral Zhao
  • The story of the first avatar was creative
  • Pretty animation at times
  • Good music

Cons

  • Abusive relationship between Bolin and Eska played for laughs
  • Relationship between Varrick and Zhu Li uncomfortable as well
  • Korra acting obnoxious in her relationship with Mako
  • More drama with the love triangle that is just too much
  • Bolin kisses a woman without consent
  • Bolin being a little too dumb
  • Has the worst villain of all the seasons
  • Too much spirit mumbo-jumbo
  • Serious permanent consequences that I really hate because why, oh why…
  • Really awful ending

Review

Characters

Eska and Desna are Korra’s twin cousins and the children of Unalaq. They are typically emotionless, passive, and disinterested in life around them. However, they can be stirred to anger under the right circumstances.

They come from the Northern Water Tribe and are visiting the Southern Water Tribe for the Glacier Spirits Festival. They are skilled waterbenders.

Bumi and Kya are Tenzin’s siblings.

Bumi, the one on the left in the picture, is a nonbender who is brash, stubborn, and fond of telling long and often pointless stories about his military career.

Kya, shown on the right in the picture, is a waterbender whose skill rivals her mother Katara’s.

Varrick is eccentric businessman that Asami seeks to make a deal with. He is a flamboyant, intelligent, bossy, occasionally obnoxious genius. He’s definitely a fan-favorite, but in my opinion he is at his worst in this season.

He has an assistant named Zhu Li who is willing to do almost anything for him.

Origin Story

Avatar Wan

Season 2 introduces the story of Avatar Wan, the first Avatar, and his relationship with the spirits Raava and Vaatu. This is the best part of Season 2, by far. It adds so much lore to the Avatar universe.

Wan’s story starts in a world where lion turtles guard the secrets of the elements and allow various people of the tribes that live on their backs to borrow elemental powers from them. In other words, the lion turtles give people the gift of bending a particular element–fire, air, water, or earth.

Wan borrows the power of firebending from the lion turtle to join a hunting party, but does not give it back when he is supposed to. He then tries to help the poor in his town by robbing the rich with firebending–like a kind of Robin Hood figure. As a result, he is banished to the Spirit Wilds.

When seeking sanctuary among the inhabitants of the Spirit Wilds, Wan is initially rejected by them. After he rescues a trapped cat deer, risking his life in the process, the spirits accept him.

Two years after being banished, Wan decided to find other lion turtle cities. He left with the cat deer, Mula, and during his travels stumbled upon Raava and Vaatu locked in a desperate battle. When Vaatu begged for help, saying he had been tormented by Raava for ten thousand years, Wan used his bending to separate them.

This turned out to be a mistake, as Vaatu was the spirit of darkness and evil. Raava explained the error Wan had made and rejected his offer to help capture Vaatu again. Wan continued on his journey and found an airbending village where Vaatu turned benign spirits malevolent. Wan managed to protect the airbending village until Raava arrived.

Vaatu bragged about how he would destroy Raava when Harmonic Convergence arrived. Raava was growing weaker, so she agreed to join Wan. Wan asked for the power of airbending from the lion turtle whose village he had saved, and was granted it, though Raava was required to hold most of this power until Wan was able to master it.

Wan and Raava traveled together to other lion turtle cities as Avatar Wan mastered the four elements. Coming across a conflict between humans and spirits that escalated when Vaatu turned the spirits dark, Wan temporarily merged with Raava. This allowed him to control all four elements at once. The strain was too much and Wan passed out. After he woke up, he learned that the humans had all been killed.

Raava was so small that he put her in a teapot and carried her with him to the Southern spirit portal, determined to face Vaatu. Wan fights Vaatu and merges again with Raava to get an edge in battle. This time, the merging is permanent, and Wan becomes the first Avatar through this fusion.

Wan defeated Vaatu and trapped him in the Tree of Time. He then spent the entire rest of his life attempting to bring peace to the world. Although he was not successful, he was reincarnated in what was the beginning of the Avatar cycle.

Raava and Vaatu

Relationships

The relationships in this season are so messed up.

First off, there’s Bolin and Eska to contend with. Their relationship is meant to be funny, but it is obviously abusive. That this is a relationship without consent on one side becomes increasingly apparent, even though Bolin repeatedly and reluctantly submits in the toxic relationship.

Their first conversation offers hints and red flags.

Eska: You amuse me. I will make you mine.

Bolin: You mean like a boyfriend? Or…like a slave?

Eska: Yes. Win me prizes.

It gets to the point where Eska dictates how Bolin (and Pabu) dress. She also tries to control Bolin’s future and force him into a marriage with her.

When Bolin goes to his friends for help, they do not take him seriously. And when Bolin tries to break up with Eska, he is threatened. The entire relationship is unhealthy and destructive.

The Bolin Problem

Bolin is not at his best in this season. When he is not a submissive, uncomfortable part of a toxic relationship, he is doing stupid and inappropriate things such as kissing a woman without her consent.

When Bolin becomes a mover (movie) star, it is clear that he does not understand the concept of acting. When Ginger pretends to be into him during a scene, he kisses her even though it is not in the script. When she is understandably angry, he doesn’t get it.

While this is meant to be funny, making Bolin dumb enough to do inappropriate and irrational things makes him a far-cry from the lovable Bolin of Season 1.

The Spirit World Problem

The Spirit World is like Wonderland, and I hate Wonderland. Nothing makes sense. Things change without warning. And with Vaatu involved, spirits quickly turn from good to evil and back again. This whole season is about Korra finding herself spiritually, and in the spirit world she is figuratively and literally lost.

Korra turns into a child in the spirit world temporarily, helps a damaged spirit, and meets good ol’ Uncle Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender. This brings up more questions than answers. For instance, what is the afterlife for people of this universe? Just passing on to the spirit world? Why aren’t there more dead people around?

Also, Korra and Iroh and some spirits basically have a tea party, which makes it all too much like the tea party with the Mad Hatter in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And Korra shrinks and grows like Alice… Did I mention I hate Wonderland?

Even if you like Wonderland, you’re unlikely to like this Wonderland knock-off.

The spirit world in Avatar: The Last Airbender was so much better, because it stayed mysterious and kind of creepy. In Season 2 of The Legend of Korra it lost its cryptic quality.

Ending

The ending sucks.

It introduces the concept of a dark avatar to the canon, which is honestly a mistake. The Vaatu and Unalaq combo is laughable even if it is destructive. It’s like the series jumped genres and became an animated Godzilla vs. Kong. It ends just about how you would expect – with Korra the victor and Unalaq vanquished in a bloodless way.

The real tragedy is that Korra permanently loses contact with her previous Avatar lives. It’s basically like someone hit the reset button on the Avatar cycles. It’s a horrible consequence that fans will be lamenting for seasons to come.

A cooler consequence is that Korra leaves the spirit portals open and spirits integrate with Republic City and the rest of the world.

Animation

The animation is a little bit nicer in this season than in the previous season. When telling Avatar Wan’s story, the animators changed the style. I like that choice as it feels liked it amped up the feeling of storytelling. The style was elsewhere surprisingly consistent considering two different studios were working on it.

Music

The music had a somber quality appropriate for the more spiritual themes of this season.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t recommend watching Season 2. This review says enough about the season to be able to move on to Season 3 with no problem. If you’ve already watched it…then sorry, I guess. Unless you liked it. Some people do.

Honestly, I think this season was appropriate for most people ages 10 and up.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate show, check out my rating system.

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