The Legend Of Korra Review: “Korra Alone”

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Spoilers abound! If you haven’t caught “Korra Alone,” the second episode of The Legend of Korra: Book Four, head on over to Nick where new episodes will be streaming every Friday. Of course, this week was a bit different. Lucky fans who attended Nickelodeon’s Legend of Korra: Book Four panel at New York Comic Con this week were treated to an advance screening of “Korra Alone,” so the episode stream was available a little bit earlier.

The story continues precisely where the premiere left off. Compared to the first episode, which had only about a minute of Korra in it, this one is filled to the brim with her. A relatively subdued episode, “Korra Alone” opted not to focus on any immediate antagonistic threat and instead emphasized Korra’s struggles. It’s a bold move and one I wholeheartedly agree with.

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Korra is first seen tending to her wounds in a public restroom, staring into a broken mirror that perhaps signifies the split she’s been experiencing with the Avatar State. It turns out Korra is being haunted by hallucinations that look exactly like her (from previous seasons before her expository hairstyle change), except violently aggressive. It turns out Korra was trying to fight that hallucination in the cage match in the premiere episode.

It isn’t difficult to see the parallels between “Korra Alone” and the similarly titled episode, “Zuko Alone,” from Book Two of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Both episodes intercut a wandering and lost character with flashbacks that kinda, sorta answer some lingering questions.

While the flashbacks in Zuko’s story involved the mystery behind the disappearance of his mother and truly established how complicated a character he is, Korra’s flashbacks deal with her rehabilitation after nearly being killed by the members of the Red Lotus. They pick up immediately after the end of Book Three, with Korra leaving Republic City for the Southern Water Tribe to heal for a few weeks.

Korra finds rehabilitation immensely difficult – her body still believes it’s in danger – as she’s constantly plagued by visions of her fight with Zaheer. Katara tells her recovery is as much mental and emotional as it is physical, and it seems the former is what’s keeping her from getting better. Weeks away from Republic City turn into months and months turn into years.

Korra feels helpless as all of her friends are out there helping the world. Furthering her despair is the fact that she can no longer tap into the Avatar State. Her mental anguish is so debilitating she couldn’t even capture a pair of run-of-the-mill thieves. She eventually sets off on her own, lying to her parents about returning to Republic City and instead traveling the world for answers.

Korra journeys across vast desert expanses, volcanic terrain and icy tundra. She then makes her way to the Spirit World through the gate she opened at the South Pole in Book Two and meditates in the Tree of Time that once imprisoned the chaotic spirit, Vaatu. Friendly spirits offer her counsel in trying to reconnect with Raava, so she can once again tap into the Avatar State, but she refuses.

I’m not entirely sure why Korra’s fighting with her Avatar State hallucination rather than trying to embrace it. Anyways, Korra crosses paths with an adorable puppy who happens to notice the Avatar State hallucination too, hinting that it may be much more than just a mere vision.

The puppy, which was actually one of the friendly spirits she met earlier, leads her to a swamp and what is easily the highlight of “Korra Alone.” After another fight with her Avatar State hallucination, Korra passes out. When she awakens, Korra finds herself in the care of an elderly lady who addresses her as “Twinkle Toes”! Toph finally makes an appearance! And not in a flashback either!

The previous season mentioned Toph went out walking the earth years ago, soul-searching, and she had not been seen since. While the episode ends right as Korra realizes who Toph is, my gut reaction is that there isn’t any other character better in the Avatar universe to give Korra the tough love she needs to move past her current existential crisis.

Things of Note

– I love how Tophs’ voice actress (Philece Sampler) is able to encapsulate the character’s recognizable playfulness and snark despite the earthbending master being, oh, 80-something years old.

– How fitting is it that Korra would encounter Toph in a swamp, since a swamp is where Aang first had visions of Toph when he needed help?

– Asami continues to be the best character this show has to offer. She’s only briefly shown here, but her appearance emphasizes her loyalty and deep friendship with Korra. Asami ended up being the only person Korra wrote a letter back to after two years of silence. It’s remarkable considering they used to be rivals in a love triangle with Mako (which, by the way, was the absolutely worst aspect of the show, so it was great the writers abandoned it last season).

– What a wonderfully unexpected appearance by Aang! It’s only a photograph, sure, but it’s great to see that, even as an adult, Aang was still a child at heart.

– It’s interesting seeing that Bolin is firmly entrenched in the comic relief role Sokka so expertly honed in the previous series. Note the illustrations Bolin attached to his letter to Korra. Much like his predecessor, Bolin is absolutely terrible at drawing.

– When Tenzin visits Korra during her rehabilitation he reassures her that she can be patient in her recovery because Kuvira has been stabilizing the Earth Kingdom since the fall of the Earth Queen. This just makes me want to see more of Kuvira. Regardless of whether or not Kuvira is truly evil, Tenzin’s brief dialogue highlighted both how intelligent and charismatic she is. She saw the confusion amongst the splintered Earth Kingdom citizens and quickly seized the opportunity to further her ambitions to rule.