With season 2 such a surprise hit, Nickelodeon signed a deal for three more seasons of Legend of Korra. This was the beginning of the show’s struggle to be as successful as its predecessor, Avatar the Last Airbender. This was the first season to be subjected to the meddling hand of Nickelodeon, but in a minor form compared to seasons 3 and 4.
My main problem with Season 2 is its length. Nickelodeon gave Avatar the Last Airbender twenty episodes per season. Their update of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles also has twenty episodes per season. How many does Korra have per season? Fourteen. That is too short. Most shows get anywhere from 20-26 episodes a season. By only giving the writers only half of a standard season, the show doesn’t have enough time to build up a story and it feels rushed.
In this season, only half of the story is set in Republic City, as we move away from the elements of season 1. We meet new characters, such as Tenzin’s sister Kya and his brother Bumi, a non-bender named after Aang’s eccentric friend who once ruled the Earth Kingdom. My favorite of these new characters is Verrick, who appears to assist Korra by creating a new medium called “movers”, which are similar to the first moving pictures of old. These “movers” are designed to help rally political support for Korra’s father while she tries to persuade her people to follow him instead of her uncle, Unalaq. What she does not realize is that Unalaq is actually aligned with Vaatu, the spirit of chaos and the main villain of season 2.
Vaatu attacks Korra en route to her people, causing her to develop amnesia. Luckily, she comes upon some elders who help her to find a link to the Avatar Cycle, where she meets Wan, the first Avatar. He reminds me of Disney’s version of Aladdin.
What I thought was great about Wan was that he was an outcast among humanity. It was established in Avatar: the Last Airbender that the Avatar is not meant to save humanity per se, but is meant to restore balance to the world. When Wan was among the spirits, he met Raava, the spirit of Order when she was locked in combat with Vaatu. He stopped the fight to free Vaatu, not realizing that doing so doomed the world. Wan forges a wary alliance with Raava, which begins the Avatar Cycle. Raava even eventually allows him to bond with her, allowing him to enter the Avatar State, which he passes on to the rest of the cycle. It was great to see just how the Avatar cycle was started.
We also learn this season that Jinora, Tenzin’s eldest daughter, has revealed that she can also enter the spirit world. This becomes a help to Korra, as Korra is unable to navigate the spirit world. To make matters worse, she is powerless there. She is drawn there by Unalaq as a trap so that Vaatu can defeat her more easily. Korra defeats Vaatu, but at a great cost: she can no longer access the Avatar State. For the rest of the show, she can still bend, but is unable to unlock this ultimate display of power. I like this, as it eliminates her “easy out” that she inherited from the cycle.
This was a good season, but not as good as the first or those that came later. The first half was a slow build, but there was a great payoff later on. Join me in September, when I will discuss Season 3 and have some rants ready for Nickelodeon’s treatment of the show.