Cartoon Reviews: The Legend of Korra Episode 12 – Endgame

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The Story
Act 1
At the rally, Korra and Mako try to expose Amon as a waterbender by telling the entire crowd the truth. Amon, being one of the only competent characters in this series, has unfortunately planned for this and reveals his burned face. As Korra and Mako, shocked their plan did not work, start to escape, Amon reveals that he has captured Tenzin and his family.

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What a twist! It’s almost Shyamalanian. In that it makes no sense!

In the meanwhile, Iroh, Asami, and Bolin are captured when they walk right into an electric fence. They are able to escape after Naga breaks them out of jail, and with Iroh going after the planes, Asami in a mechatank, Bolin starts wrecking the runways.

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Act 2
Iroh shoots down the other planes, as they are on their way to destroy Bumi’s forces, and has to bail out when he himself is hit by a bomb, catching onto the statue of Aang, and knocking Amon’s mask off it. Asami fights her father in a mechatank, while the latter decides to kill her after she refuses to join him. With the help of Bolin she is able to subdue her father.

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Korra and Mako help Tenzin and the children escape, and face off against Amon. With his bloodbending Amon defeats the two easily, and steals Korra’s bending. Lieutenant, who saw the whole thing, turns on Amon after he outs himself as a bender. This goes as well as expected. Mako manages to lightning Amon before he can steal his bending, and he manages to escape with Korra.

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Amon catches them, and before he is able to steal Mako’s bending, Korra attacks him using airbending. She knocks him out of the window and he falls in the water. His scar washes off, and in a panic he waterbends himself out of the water, revealing himself as a bender in front of many of his supporters. Mako tries to stop him, forgetting that he has a certain ability that might work better than fire against water, but Amon escapes.

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Act 3
Amon frees Tarrlok and the two escape on a boat. Tarrlok, in a surprisingly dark scene, uses one of the electric gloves, and blows up the boat’s fuel tank.

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Korra and her friends go to the north pole, where Katara is unable to heal her bending. After a confession from Mako, Korra goes to a cliff, in a scene with some dark implications of its own, where she is able to make a connection with Aang. He heals her bending, unlocking the avatar state, Korra and Mako kiss, and then Korra heals Lin’s bending.

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If it seems like a lot happened in that last sentence, that’s because a lot happened in the last three minutes of this episode.

The Review
I suppose I should complain about how much I hate the relationship between Korra and Mako. After all, I did promise in my last review that I would do so. The thing is, I don’t actually care anymore. Sure it’s poorly written, involving at least one character I find detestable. But it’s there, and I tend to pride myself on accepting what the writers declare canon.

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What I will say is that the romance was unnecessary. After the success of the romance in AtLA I bet Bryke (Mike and Brian for those not in the know) decided romance was a key part of a show’s success. And for a certain demographic they are right. But I’m not a part of that demographic, and from a somewhat objective standpoint I can say that romance was not needed in this show.

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Pictured: Pure Fangirl Fodd

With only twelve episodes, and a fairly ambitious plot, it would have served them better to leave romance out of the equation. There just wasn’t enough time to have a compelling romance and an epic story. Or maybe there might have been, but not with how those two were written.

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Truly, a timeless romance.

Now I know that the first twelve episodes were written to stand alone. However, I can’t help but feel like it would have been in service of the show to put off writing a romance until after book one ended. There probably wasn’t enough time to make that kind of change, depending on how much of book one was written after book two was ordered, but I think it would have helped the romance a lot. It would have given time to let Mako and Asami’s relationship run its course, it would have give time to develop Mako and Korra’s friendship. It would have given time for the viewers to really become invested in their relationship. And most importantly of all, it would have more faithfully emulated the development of the relationships in AtLA.

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Imagine, if you will, this scene happening between Aang and Katara in The Storm

I’ve only just started noticing this in the finale, but a lot of the characters in this show are incompetent. If it’s not Iroh, Asami, and Bolin being captured and then having to be saved by Naga, then it’s Korra honestly thinking that the people that hate her, will listen to what she says over what Amon says. And then she’s flabbergasted, flabbergasted, when he showed enough forethought to back his cover story up. It’s like these people don’t understand the concept of not being a complete moron.

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“He thought his plan through!?! That cheating bastard!”

Did Korra honestly think that just coming out and saying Amon is a waterbender, with no proof whatsoever, no plan to trick Amon into outing himself, and that people would listen to her? This is just phenomenal. I have honestly never seen a character as dim as Korra, who wasn’t deliberately written as an idiot! When they learned Amon’s past, and made the plan to expose him, I honestly thought they were going to trick him into bending in front of people. And then they went and did the single dumbest thing they could have! I wouldn’t be harping on this, but it just really pissed me off when the show took the sensible conclusion, and then didn’t address it in the slightest. And then Amon goes and exposes himself, in what I will admit was a believable scene, but no thanks to Korra and Mako. They were just trying to beat him, not actively expose him. It doesn’t speak well for your main character when the only competent character, the villain, has to expose himself. It makes the victory seem less like a success, and more like a pity trophy.

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He’s thinking, “Really, I had to make it this easy for you?”

The scene between Amon and Tarrlok on the other hand was incredible. I know I’m coming across as overly negative, but when you get down to it, people like to read criticism more, so enjoy. But this was by no means a bad episode. The fact that Nickelodeon, the channel that airs Spongebob and iCarly showed a murder suicide on screen is just amazing.

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Not pictured: The very small, and very numerous pieces of our two villains.

The ending…was just a wee bit rushed. While I love the mood created after Katara declares that Korra will never bend the other elements again, it’s quickly tainted by what feels like a rushed confession from Mako. Korra’s breakdown, her depression, and the part where—I heard this elsewhere, but it really fits—I swear it looks like she’s considering suicide, are all great, and would have been a great lead in to a second season, leaving the main conflict resolved, but with lingering plot threads to be taken care of. Of course this does not happen, and instead everything is resolved, leaving me hungry for more, but wondering what on earth book two will be about. 

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A Lin spinoff series? Please?

The finale didn’t quite live up to my expectations. There was a lot to love here, but there was also an equal amount of lingering problems. Problems that have been plaguing Korra for the past twelve episodes. 

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Allow me to make a quick tangent before I finish up with this review. With the focus of “modern styles of fighting” in this series, while the action scenes have been beautiful, they’ve also lost some of the feeling that the fighting in the original series. Gone are the varied martial arts styles, replaced by kickboxing. Which seems a bit odd. Suddenly the specific styles aren’t what matter anymore? Why does Korra’s airbending look suspiciously like firebending? In the move towards a more modern sentiment, a lot of the charm of AtLA was lost.

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This show was an ambitious project, attempting to build upon an established world, while moving away from the fantasy roots the franchise was steeped in. As I said, a lot of the charm of AtLA was in fact lost, and that means there will always be something for the fans to complain about.

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Though I could never complain about Asami, my one true cartoon love…number nine.

And once again, I have to say it, despite all my criticism I still love this show. It may not be as good as AtLA, but it’s miles ahead of most animated shows out there. Just because I point out why it’s not as good as the original doesn’t mean there isn’t something of value there. For one, the music in the show has been phenomenal. I might not have heard anything as incredible as the tracks used in the season three finale, but overall Korra has had some amazing mood music.

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Pictured: Amazing music.

The animation is a lot more fluid, and the art style is more mature. The show, while enjoyed by children, is imitating anime not only in art style, but in how it presents itself. Though Korra aired on Nickelodeon, the themes explored, as well as the art style of the show suggest that it’s supposed to be primarily enjoyed by an older audience. And its success, and recent renewal for a second batch of episodes, shows great promise for the future of animation in the US.

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People often ask me why I watch anime so much when I claim to be a fan of all animation. My answer is usually that despite its faults, there are more anime that take me seriously, rather than speaking down to me. Essentially, anime isn’t just kid’s crap. Korra is showing that there is an audience for a more mature form of animation in the United States. And that opens the floodgates for more shows like it, leading to a future where fans of animation can watch shows without having to ever say, “I know it’s for kids, but it’s really, really good!”

STOP JUDGING ME!!!

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