Shows

LoK Season 3 is Darker than the Rest

Show Review:

The Legend of Korra Season 3

Rating: 9.2 out of 10 stars

Intro

I had the pleasure of watching The Legend of Korra (LoK) Season 3 for the second time with my best friend. It is not as good as Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA), but it is fun nonetheless.

Spoiler-Free Version

First, a spoiler-free sum up of my thoughts, and after that we will get into spoiler territory, so watch out:

This season is much better than the poor planning and execution of Season 2 for many reasons.

The villains, though they lack much backstory, prove that they are resourceful, intelligent, and dangerous. There are lasting consequences to poor decisions in this season because the villains are so competent. Zaheer in particular rivals Amon as a potential best villain of the whole show.

My favorite addition to characters this season was by far Kai. That kid is funny, mischievous, and very likeable.

The settings include a close-up look at modern Ba Sing Se, which is unfortunately as corrupt as it was in Aang’s time, and Zaofu, home of the metalbending clan.

Rather than getting a ton of obnoxious relationship drama, we get a dose of pent-up family drama. It’s kind of refreshing to not have to deal with the stupid love triangle that dominated Season 2. I have to say it – even though Mako was fun at first, his wishy-washy-ness with Asami and Korra was a pain to watch and made we like him less. Last season even made me love Bolin less, and he’s my favorite character.

This season they all find the better version of themselves and move forward with life. The world is starting to regain balance in ways it hadn’t during Aang’s time as Avatar – the spirit world and the physical world have intertwined, causing problems and yet seeming to bring more balance to a world that had been previously deprived of the presence of the spirits in most instances.

Warning: Below this point are spoilers for Seasons 1-3 of The Legend of Korra, as well as spoilers for Avatar: The Last Airbender Seasons 1-3!!

Background

The Legend of Korra was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. It is a sequel to the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA).

Characters in this show are either benders, who can control one of the four elements, or non-benders, who cannot control any elements.

It is a unique blend of anime style with the style of American cartoons.

The Legend of Korra Season 3 was released in 2014 under the name of Book 3: Change. After episode 8, the show stopped airing on Nickelodeon and moved online. This was partly due to leaked content and partly do to unfavorable ratings.

Summary

The Legend of Korra Season 3 focuses on Korra’s efforts to rebuild the Air Nation, Lin Beifong’s reconciliation with her sister and her sister’s family, and Zaheer’s attempt to end the Avatar for good.

Pros

  • Entertaining, appealing old characters
  • New and fun characters
  • Formidable villains
  • Interesting settings
  • Humor
  • Focuses on family drama instead of relationship drama
  • Merging of the spirit world and the physical world brings new challenges
  • The Airbending nation is back!
  • Considers how preservation of old traditions must be balanced with changes that come about as part of the modern setting
  • Consequences for inadequate efforts

Cons

  • Villains without much backstory

Observations

  • Darker than previous seasons

Review

Characters

If you want to learn more about the main characters, look back at my reviews for seasons 1-2. The links are at the bottom of the page.

Kai develops the ability to use airbending and meets Team Avatar when they are trying to round up recruits to rebuild the air nation. He’s mischievous, thieving, and untrustworthy–but chooses good when it really matters. His crush on Jinora and their mutual affection is kind of cute, and puts him on Tenzin’s bad side. Bolin treats him like a little brother willingly, and Mako does more grudgingly. Overall, Kai is a wonderful addition to the team and adds a lot of humor and trouble to the mix.

Suyin is the half-sister of Lin Beifong. This is where the family drama comes in. Suyin was rebellious as a child, in stark contrast to Lin, who was obedient and law-abiding. Suyin is the reason Lin has a scar on her face. She wants to make amends with Lin, but Lin is uninterested in acting like a family again. They get into a serious fight that is amazing to watch. “Fighting is all part of the healing process,” Bolin assures the others, and he is not completely wrong. Suyin is the leader of Zaofu, the metalbending clan, and has a large family of talented individuals.

Opal is the daughter of Suyin. She develops airbending abilities and is trained by Korra. Even though she really wants to go and join the Air Nation, her mother insists she stays at home. Opal eventually stands her ground and is permitted to leave home. Bolin x Opal (Bopal) is so much better than Bolin x Eska (Boleska).

Zaheer is one of the new airbenders, and has long admired Laghima, a long-dead airbending master. At the beginning of the story, he is kept in a prison as a result of his efforts to kidnap Korra as a child. After developing airbending abilities, he is able to escape and fights to release all of his friends from the Red Lotus. Zaheer is an anarchist who believes governments are evil and that the avatar cycle must end along with these governments in order for a new world to be born. Zaheer rivals Amon as the best villain of the series, but I wish he had more backstory,

Settings

Ba Sing Se is a huge, sprawling Earth Kingdom city. Just like in Avatar: The Last Airbender, there is a lot of corruption going on here, and the outer parts of the city are decrepit while the inner circle is immaculate. The Earth Queen rules her city with an iron fist, and tries to make her own airbending army. I found this second look at Ba Sing Se to be a much-needed echo from the past, tying ATLA and LoK together even more.

Zaofu is a beautiful and secure city run by Suyin. It is a place where metalbenders can hone their craft as well as their talents, which for some includes artistic skill. The protective dome makes Zaofu especially safe. It is technologically innovative city, but even its strong defense could not stop Zaheer’s attack.

Humor

This show balances humor with darker aspects. For example, the very serious scene of Korra vs. Zaheer, the poisoning, and the mass destruction are lightened somewhat when Zaheer is defeated and Bolin “put a sock in it” by literally putting a sock in Zaheer’s mouth.

Balance

This season is all about the balance brought about by change. The spirit world becomes integrated with the physical world in a way it never was during Aang’s time. The rise of the airbending nation caused by this is somewhat of a relief considering there was only a single family of airbenders before that. It is heartening to see that the balance Aang envisioned is finally coming to life.

Dark Aspects

The Earth Queen’s murder through suffocation is one of the darkest parts of this season. It’s not bad that it’s gotten darker–just different. Zaheer rips the oxygen from the queen’s lungs and creates a mini tornado-like ball around her head until she dies.

P’Li is one of the few individuals who can combustionbend like Combustion Man from Atla. When her head is encased in metal, there is an explosion inside that kills her. This is a particularly brutal death, but since the metal covers her head, we do not see the gruesome results.

The capture and poisoning of Korra is very dark as well. Even though Zaheer fails to end the Avatar cycle, the poison has lasting consequences.

Consequences

At the end of the season, Korra is unwell and barely able to move, let alone walk. I think that this a good step because it makes the Avatar seem less invincible. It also shows that trauma cannot just be there one day, gone the next typically. Physical and emotional scars tend to stick around, at least for a time.

Conclusion

I would wholeheartedly recommend this season. It is rated PG, but I would not recommend it for younger children since this season is darker.

Rating System

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

Links

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Acknowledgements

Thank you to Alyssa Wilson for her feedback on this article.

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