Legend of Korra Season 3 Finale Recap

I said in my last Legend of Korra article that I thought this has been the strongest season and the finale only strengthened my feelings. Avatar the Last Airbender always had epic season finales, whereas the both previous finales for LoK felt lackluster. Having Amon as the villain, while a great character, made it tough for the writers to justify using the avatar state against an opponent that generally excelled at close range combat. Having the avatar state go all out was a huge factor in how good the finales were. Season 2 went over the top with the avatar state, losing the bending element and setting the stage so grand that it felt dull when the fight actually happened. So while season 1 lacked the avatar state and awesome bending side to the finale, season two went too extreme in the other direction. Season 3 of LoK was a pleasant change and managed to find a balance between the fantastical and human elements of the show. Now let’s talk about that in more detail, spoilers for the finale…duh.

The episode starts off with the airbenders in captivity and team avatar is on a mission to rescue them. Suyin wants to drop in from the sky to rescue the airbenders, but Lin disagrees, stating the combustion lady would snipe them off one by one. Lin suggests they attack them from below, I mean there were really only 2 options at this point, I guess shooting down is tougher than shooting up. Bolin suggests to disguise himself as a lost hiker and distract the Red Lotus with bird calls…I guess there was a 3rd option. Never change Bolin.

bird calls bolinKorra knows the only option is to give herself up to Zaheer. She’s sort of right, but then again she’s backed by the same group that was able to hold their own against the Red Lotus in Zaofu; and now they have her awake and able to fight as well. She can’t risk the lives of the airbenders, and makes the decision to give herself up. Korra claims that her talk with Lord Zuko has led her to this decision; if I were her father I’d be pissed at Zuko. I mean the guy didn’t even come because he wanted to protect his daughter, which sounds like a noble reason, but it’s actually ridiculous. Was Zuko predicting the avatar would lose? He would certainly be needed more helping Korra than his daughter all the way back in the fire nation. You know what would really helpful Zuko? A flying dragon and a fire bending master. Maybe get some elite fire benders to help you out too. Zuko hasn’t gotten any smarter with age. Change Zuko.

Korra puts the air benders lives over he life. A true avatar and Tenzin move. I feel like her life is always on the line, she always puts herself first and one of these days she’s going to have to live with the consequences…which is exactly what happens.

Pabu and Naga fight over Mako’s scarf; I think Naga should have easily ripped that to shreds seeing as she’s a freaking polar bear…dog. Same thing.

red scarf

Zaheer – “Let go your earthly tether, enter the void, empty and become wind.”
And P’Li walks in the room as he chants this, wonder what his earthly tether could be…Honestly I can’t believe I didn’t see this foreshadowing on my first viewing, especially after they kissed. Supporting characters showing any affection pretty much is a death sentence. P’Li says she was saved from becoming a warlord’s killing machine when she was younger. I guess she was singled out because of her combustion bending, but I always thought this was something learned, not something one was born with. How does one discover they have combustion bending…I thought you can only do that by shooting it out of your forehead and that eye tattoo on her forehead was kind of important. Does she not need that eye tattoo? Did she just shoot things out of her eyeless forehead before? She’s so much taller than him…Zaheer learns how to fly just trying to kiss her.

Mako, Bolin, and Asami don’t notice Ming-Hua’s absence in this exchange for the hostages…they only had to keep track of 4 people. Come on team. It kind of stinks that they put platinum handcuffs on her, how did they know she could metal bend? I mean no other avatar has been able to do so before…I guess that lie detector guy told Zaheer. Still I wish her ability to metal bend came into play somehow. Maybe they stole these platinum handcuffs from Zaofu because that’s the only place I can reasonably understand the use of platinum handcuffs.

What practical use of water bending making the hostages. Good job. I’m not sure why they would even give them Tenzin if the rest were fake…why carry out this charade at all? If Ghazan killed the radio as soon as they came into the room then Korra would have no idea she was being doublecrossed. Also why not just give them the air benders, why do you need to betray Korra besides the reason of just being evil.
Ming-Hua – “Will you just burry them already?!”
Good point, they’re in an earth temple and you can lava bend. Melt them. I would make a great villain. Ghazan does just that and now the crew are trapped.
Asami – “We have to get out of here!”
Thanks Captain Obvious. Asami shows how helpful she’s been all season.
Bolin – “Not gonna happen, the exit’s blocked.”
Are you an earth bender or what? This is a stone temple, make an exit with your earth bending. This reminds me when Hermione forgot she was a wizard in the Devil’s Snare trap back in Potter book one. Bolin somehow keeps forgetting that there’s lava coming for them, set up more earth blocks Bolin!

just climb on overThey already got on the other side of P’Li, someone go help Korra and Tonraq…I mean it’s pretty much the 2 Beifong sisters vs. her anyway…Maybe have the metal benders take Korra and run…maybe just send a couple of guys around with Tonraq to help fight Zaheer instead of just him and his limited supply of water…maybe I shouldn’t be too critical of a kids show.
Tonraq goes in for the kill with the ice blade, awesome move, except now he has no water, kind of important for a waterbender…where’d he even get that water in the first place?
Zaheer – “Say hello to the earth queen for me.”
At least the villain didn’t over gloat here; he kept it sweet and simple.
I loved how the chained up Korra was still able to bend. Really creative on her part, well I guess the animators part.

clampP’Li’s face looks ridiculous when she shoots stuff from her head/ 3rd eye. I wonder what she’s thinking about. Maybe just sound effects.The metal birdcage on P’Li’s face was a brutally awesome way to take her out. Maybe mix in some fire bending so it isn’t painfully obvious you’re going to shoot combustions from your 3rd eye, basically your only weakness. Long distance booms seems unbeatable, so I had no idea why she would ever come into close range. You’re opponent was on the ground defeated! Use some fire bending to finish her off, you don’t have to go for fatalities every time. Really awesome way to go out though, and apparently this is a kids show. Zaheer’s earthly tether is gone, and he recovers remarkably fast when Korra starts attacking him again.
The Beifong sisters come up to help, and besides saving Korra’s father the back up metalbenders haven’t done anything… Why give him any warnings? Bend at him sisters! Seriously just earth capture him and be done with this. So Zaheer is able to enter the void after losing his lover and now he can fly in the air without a glider all Superman style, which is admittedly really cool.

If Bolin closed their side escape route off when the lava was coming for them down the stairs then they would have been fine, but then I guess we wouldn’t get this lava bending dues ex machina. The dude can’t even metal bend! I mean I totally love it though, hooray for Bolin! Hooray for plot convenience!
Kai comes up to save them a couple seconds after Bolin pulled lava bending out of his ass, something I do regularly after my visits to chipotle. I don’t think it’s too ridiculous for Bolin to be able to lava bend seeing as he’s always fought like a firebender, learning form his brother, and lava is pretty much fire/earth anyway. Not sure if that has anything to do with it, but I choose to believe.
Kai – “Hey I see the castle is covered in lava, you guys need some help?”

why uisnt the lava falling on them
I mean the lava could totally fall on them right now…why wouldn’t it fall on by their section?

Mysterious captain is introduced bandaging Tonraq…I feel like she’s suspicious now, or they did this because she’s voiced by Zelda Williams and they wanted to give her some speaking lines. Bolin alerts the ground benders with his bird calls, good thing they went over this before the attack or some of them might have been confused. The group doesn’t listen to Kai when he obviously has important information, I get it he’s a kid, but I mean Korra and team avatar are a bunch of teenagers and everyone listens to them no questions asked. They also have a hard time believing Zaheer can fly…people can bend the elements and they have a hard time believing he can fly… Only the named characters go to rescue the airbenders and Korra because they could barely beat 1 member of the Red Lotus, so less people they have stronger they are. I like how Mako and Kai made up, it was a sweet moment and I’m glad it got addressed.

I honestly thought that Zaheer wasn’t going to touch the ground the rest of the episode. I kind of wish he didn’t, until he’s defeated of course, thought it’d be pretty cool.
Korra – “You killed my father!”
Zaheer – “I understand your grief, I also lost someone I loved today.”
Lol wut? Zaheer is trying to gain sympathy with Korra when he’s the “murderer” of her father. Never change Zaheer.
If only her fire breath reached further…I don’t know why it doesn’t. What about air breath?
Korra – “When I get out, none of you will survive.”
They don’t believe her though, it’s not like they got out of their unbreakable prisons…

zahnoSo at first I thought Zaheer’s goal, and the Red Lotus as a whole, was to teach a younger Korra and somehow control her to become an evil avatar. This explains why Zaheer knew so much about air bending because he was planning to teach her air bending as a non-bender back then. After they escaped 13 years later the plan changed, but their goal was still to capture the avatar without killing her, but their grand plan is too kill her…Their plan of killing the avatar with poison while she was in the avatar state was underwhelming to say the least. The villainous quartet goes down a couple pegs after shrouding their motives in mystery most of the season. Their grand plan falls short, like most of Ming-Hua’s shirt sleeves. I was at least expecting something more thrilling or unique, it just feels so lame. I was under the impression that Korra’s connection to her past lives was lost to her last season? I was under the impression she lost that connection and that all future avatars wouldn’t be able to connect either. So isn’t their plan moot now? Korra couldn’t be the last avatar for the same reason Vatu isn’t truly dead either; Raava would just be reborn as well. The two spirits can’t die. Maybe Zaheer doesn’t know this, but maybe I interpreted something wrong.

The Red Lotus sure picked a conspicuous place to do this ritual, it’s not like having giant stone statues outside their hiding spot draws attention to them or anything. Also no one is guarding the entrance. Come on Red Lotus, you can’t be making rookie mistakes in the finale.
Tenzin – “Find the airbenders, and my family.”
What about Korra?!

Meanwhile she’s going through some pretty emotional and physical shock seeing her past villains taunt her. I feel like she’s constantly putting her duties as the avatar ahead of herself and she’s so willing to put her life on the line because she doesn’t value it as much. She doesn’t really see her identity outside her role as the avatar. Her greatest fear is starting to manifest itself to the viewer, she’s starting to feel the world doesn’t need an avatar anymore. The antagonists have gotten to her, she feels like the world is rejecting her. Think about it, the mayor of Republic City didn’t want her, her doubts and fears are growing. She also thinks her father is dead and I’m sure being poisoned is the best feeling ever either, her mind isn’t exactly in the best shape.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone the airbenders escape their “prison.” It seems like prisons haven’t worked this entire season…the Red Lotus, the Queen’s captured airbenders, Korra and Asami on the ship, dozens of earth citizens after the Earth Queen’s death, Kai was introduced escaping imprisonment, and heck even Korra breaks out in a few minutes; this book should have been called Prison Break instead of Change. Instead of attacking the airbenders who attacked him, the guard just drinks the water to spite them. Seems like a pretty cool guard, he also got some funny lines.
“How’d we get stuck babysitting, why couldn’t we be present when they killed the avatar? I can hold a bowl of poison.”
They send in everyone to free the airbenders instead of splitting up to save everyone. Bolin pushes Lin aside to hug Opal, he may be blowing his chances with her. The other couple on the other hand…
Kai – “You think I’d die just because I was blown out of the sky and fell 100 feet off a cliff?”
Cute, but yeah, it usually takes more than that to kill a cartoon character. I thought for sure those two would kiss then, but I’m sure a nudge to the chest is just as rewarding. This was your only opportunity Kai! Tenzin was too weak to take his wrath out on you.
Bumi is still able to make jokes despite not being able to stand up on his own. I was a little surprised to see them captured with the rest of the airbenders. I thought they’d still be passed out on the road somewhere.

Korra starts escaping, but the elite members of the Red Lotus cant kill her despite them being prepared to kill her, her being poisoned, and most of her limbs tied up…are these the same guys that haven’t lost to anyone yet? Zaheer flies out of cave with an angry Korra on his heels when things start to look bad.
The sky battle animation was stunning, great job. I would say it was breathtaking and I’m sure the earth queen would agree. I guess Korra can fly in angry fire bending mode, although she can’t sustain flight too long and has to jump off mountains to keep up. I thought the fire flying bending was a Sozin Comet only move, but I guess avatar state lets her reach the bending peak. I know Aang was able to fly in his avatar state with air bending, but fire flying fits Korra’s hot headed style and suites her. It’s weird that this fight is so similar to the Aang vs Ozai fight in Season 3, but the roles are reversed in aerial technique.

Okay as the last episode showed us, an amazing episode by the way, Tenzin can kick Zaheer’s butt at air bending because he’s a true master while Zaheer is still an amateur. Now I know he gained flying without a glider, a super cool ability, but it shouldn’t make him that much stronger. I mean Tenzin was holding his own against 3 members of the Red Lotus and now Korra in her avatar state can’t beat Zaheer…I guess the poison is really taking a toll on her and Zaheer isn’t so much fighting as he is running away. He only really starts fighting after she goes down because of the poison and he initially ran away so quickly so the poison’s effect could sink in. Okay so I just talked my way into understanding that, hope that made things clear for you readers. Korra falls down a ton during this fight, she needs to practice her air bending floating technique or at least somehow soften the earth she falls on. Those falls would kill a normal person, minus Kai of course, and may have contributed to her wheel chair at the end of the episode. The battle seemed to end quickly, but it’s one of the best fights amidst a great season of bending battles. Even the series as a whole, it’s up there. He was able to fly while holding Korra a few scenes ago, that baby air bison was able to hold 5 people on his back, but when his foot gets frozen later he wasn’t able to maintain flight…what was that ice made of? Kryptonite? Bowling balls?

Tonraq leaves Ghazan and Ming-Hua to the brothers to go help Korra. How was he supposed to help a flying Korra fight a flying Zaheer? He didn’t even have water. Help these 2 out dummy. Ghazan isn’t more surprised to find out Bolin has lava bending? I feel like this would be a pretty exclusive club…I sort of wanted Ghazan to turn into a good guy and teach Bolin lava bending, *sigh I guess that one will just have to remain in my head, like the stories Ming-Hua thought of in prison. I love how Bolin has lava bending and I wish this battle between two lava benders, the only pair in the world?!, could have been explored more.

Mako takes an early lead against Ming-Hua, who runs out of water, but jumps down into this secret cave lake. This cave has crystals, lakes, and a gapping hole in the main chamber. This is a pretty versatile chamber for being in the middle of a cave. Mako is able to dodge all of her attacks in the dark and in the lake before he safely jumps on some rocks and zaps her. It took a couple seconds of lightning to defeat Ming-Hua…I don’t want to say I’m incredibly disappointed, because it was still a cool fight and it does make sense that a girl that utilizes water arms is susceptible to electricity, thanks pokemon!, but I wish it were longer. It didn’t help that she was standing in a pool of water, but come on guys, no one thought of lightning before? This is the girl that took out the water bending twins in 5 seconds, who were really strong last season, so I wish she had a little more fight in her. I don’t think Mako killed her, animated characters are a little stronger than actual people, so I don’t think he held back before this because of some sort of moral code against killing. The only explanation I could think of was that he had a lightning bending block before.

I’m glad Bolin wasn’t able to beat a master lava bender after only learning how to do so moments ago and Mako comes up from the lake with Ming-Hua, not sure how, maybe fire jet packed back up. Maybe he took the stairs. Instead of getting captured Ghazan suicides by bringing down the whole place with lava. I kind of feel he wasn’t trying to “bring them down” with him because he sort of liked Bolin. Well that’s what I want to think, give me this! Ghazan caves into to losing his perfect record and retires from the show undefeated in battle.

she should be dead...Zaheer flies past Korra a couple times to hurt her…instead of doing anything practical like pushing her off a cliff or air bending her breath away, he just flies past her fast to hurt her…looks like someone likes to show off their flying ability. Eventually she falls off a cliff, after a couple of fast passes by Zaheer, and lands in the middle of nowhere on another cliff…Zaheer finally starts to finish her off by breath bending, but maybe just push her off a cliff, then again chances are she’ll just land on another cliff.

Kai – “I can fly up on my bison to help her.”
Lin – “You’ll never be able to keep up with Zaheer.”
At least he’s trying to help, screw you adult stupidity!
Jinora takes advantage of having a 20:1 ratio of airbenders to bad guy and creates a group tornado to save Korra. Airbenders have power together, thank you Jinora for using common sense. Maybe it’s because it’s a kid show, but I swear these kids are smarter than the adults. Although I would have thought they’d be a lot further away from the entrance after all that flying in the beginning…Korra brings down Zaheer in the tornado with her chain, smashing him down back to earth. His literal gets wrapped in a tether and brought back to earth. Korra can be saved by metal bending the metallic poison out of her…I’m no toxicologist but something seems wrong here.

Jinora gets her tattoos and looks just like Aang without her hair. It sure is a neat ceremony that teaches us more about airbenders, one of the few cute moments in the last minutes of the show. I guess Aang was the only one to chime the bells when Tenzin graduated. Hey it looks like 23 year old loser who lives in mom’s basement finally joined the airbenders, if he can turn his life around so can I!

Tenzin doesn’t understand, but I don’t know if he’s making Korra feel any better by telling her that the airbenders will take up her duties while she’s injured. I think she’s feeling depressed and it’s something that will be explored in the final season “Balance.” Korra was saved, but she looks so dead. I kind of love this bitter sweet ending. Season 1 was great, but the ending was unsatisfying because there were no consequences to what the whole season was leading to. The Season 2 finale felt rushed after the stakes were set so high and I never felt like any of the characters were in any danger. I’m distraught that Korra is injured, maybe even permanently, but I’m glad that the threat of the Red Lotus actually had some bite. She can’t just keep throwing herself head first into danger. Ending the season on her single tear left me wanting more and left my heart broken. As Korra tear bended, so did I because I don’t want this series to end. I think in the final season of LoK we’ll finally see the Fire Nation, so that’s something to look forward to.

korra sad

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