THE UNCERTAINTY OF CHANGE: A CLOSER LOOK AT THE ‘LEGEND OF KORRA’ BOOK 3 FINALE
By Juliet Kahn
I re-watched “Sozin’s Comet” last night, in the wake of The Legend of Korra’s third season finale. It was still wonderful, still grand and gorgeous and heavy with emotion. But it felt different this time. It felt…funnier.
And really, it is. Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s four-episode finale starts with a beach party. Sokka cracks jokes as he scrambles across a crumbling airship. The last spoken line is a blind joke. It is clear to me, in a way that it wasn’t when I first watched it, that these characters are young teens. Young teens dealing with genocidal dictatorships, Orwellian city-states and the general mayhem of war, absolutely, but their age lends the whole affair a constant, underlying levity. The adults that exist are kept at arm’s length from the action—present, but unmistakably marked as “grown-ups,” and thus distant. Youth, and all its connotations of hope and humor, are the engine of the show.
Legend of Korra, in contrast, is downright grim. The central team all falls between 17 and 20 years old, and 50-somethings like Lin and Tenzin are as present in the story as they are. Their relationships feel less timid, less blushy. Characters like Mako have solid careers and murky pasts involving gang membership. Azula was a terrifying and tragic villain, but baddies like Zaheer (and Amon, and Unalaq) wield philosophical weight alongside their grinning evil.