"The Legend of Korra" is an epic animated series that took place approximately 60 years after "Avatar: The Last Airbender." Korra is the new Avatar, born after Aang died. Although Nickelodeon played around with its timeslot, before finally yanking it from TV and releasing episodes online, legions of fans stayed true to this amazing series.
Each season, or "book," of "The Legend of Korra" features a different villain, but the overall journey each of the characters takes is full of important twists and turns. Some characters fall in and out of love, others redeem themselves and some patch up broken relationships. Still others, meanwhile, discover abilities they never knew they had.
Most of the monumental scenes took place during "Book One: Air" and "Book Four: Balance," but "Book Two: Spirits" completely changed the show's world, and "Book Three: Change" set up the entire last season. Let's take a look at the 18 best moments in "The Legend of Korra."
In "A Leaf in the Wind," during the first season, Korra is fed up with training under Tenzin, son of the previous Avatar, Aang. After hearing an exciting Pro-bending match on the radio, Korra sneaks off to the arena in Republic City. She befriends Pro-bender Bolin, as well as a reticent Mako, who together are the Fire Ferrets. When the third partner is a no-show for the match against the Platypus Bears, Korra volunteers to join their team. She suits up, even though Mako isn't crazy about the idea. Korra nearly costs them the match because she's unfamiliar with the rules, and because she mistakenly reveals herself as the Avatar. But the judges allow her to continue as a Waterbender only. Finally, she finds her groove and wins the match for the Fire Ferrets.
This scene is significant because it's the first time Korra is able to successfully use some of the moves she learned from Tenzin, and he's there to see it. It's also the first argument she wins with Tenzin, because he lets her stay on the team.
In the Season 1 episode "And the Winner Is...," Amon and his Equalists are a threat to the upcoming Pro-bending tournament. Coucilman Tarrlok calls a meeting about whether or not to cancel the tournament. Just when Tenzin has convinced the council to call it off, Lin Beifong, the Chief of Police, arrives to say the tournament must continue, and that she will guarantee the safety of everyone there.
Outside the conference room, she and Tenzin have an argument about protecting the people of Republic City. Seeing them argue, and remembering that Tenzin was dating someone when he met his wife, Korra realizes there used to be something between Lin and Tenzin. In a vulnerable moment, Tenzin begins to tell Korra about how he and Lin were growing apart, but he comes to his senses and walks off.
This is one of the first times we see the softer side of Tenzin. It's also one of the few times Korra gets the upper hand on her mentor.
In "Turning the Tides," in Season 1, Amon's war is in full swing. A victory seems impossible because Amon is always one step ahead, and he has amassed forces on the water and in the air. Team Avatar seems horribly outnumbered against the Equalists. But just before the episode ends, we see an armada of battleships surging toward Republic City, ready to lend aid to President Raiko and the Avatar. The General's voice sounds, familiar to die-hard Airbender fans, is revealed to be none other than General Iroh.
Meeting General Iroh is a huge moment for more than one reason. First, within the story, this armada could turn the war around for Republic City. Second, General Iroh is the grandson of Fire Lord Zuko, one of the most important people in Republic City's history. But in real-life, fans were cheering because Zuko was one of the best characters in "Avatar: The Last Airbender," the series that preceded "The Legend of Korra." And the actor who played Zuko, Dante Basco, also plays General Iroh.
In the second season of "The Legend of Korra," the Northern Water Tribe is trying to take over the Southern Water Tribe. A group of rebels kidnaps Unalaq, the leader of the Northern Water Tribe, and Korra's Uncle. But Korra's father, Tonraq, is arrested mistakenly for the kidnapping. In "Civil Wars, Part 2," Korra chases down the judge who presided over her father's trial and sentenced him to prison. After some rough encouragement, the judge reveals that he was under orders from Unalaq. When she questions him further, he says that Unalaq wanted Korra on his side, but he also wanted her father out of the way. She also learns that, long ago, it was Unalaq who set up her father to be banished from the Northern Water Tribe.
This is a terrible blow to Korra. Her uncle, Unalaq, had won her trust and her affection. She even had sent Tenzin away, so that she could train with Unalaq in the ways of the Spirit World. To find out her uncle had betrayed her father, in order to gain power over the tribes, turned her against Unalaq for good.
In the first episode of Season 3, "A Breath of Fresh Air," we find out that opening the portals to the Spirit World was the catalyst for creating more Airbenders, who were wiped out by the Fire Nation 100 years ago. Tenzin and his family, including his non-bending brother Bumi, are vacationing at the Air Temple when Bumi chases his pet spirit, Bum-Ju (short for Bumi, Jr.) to a cliff. He climbs out on a tree branch to try to retrieve Bum-Ju, but the branch breaks and he plummets toward the beach. However, when he throws up his hands in fear, he discovers that he can Airbend and miraculously save himself.
Finding out he can Airbend is especially gratifying for Bumi because he had always felt like a disappointment to his father, Avatar Aang. It also kicks off a campaign to find and train all the new Airbenders, who are just discovering their abilities.
In the fourth season, after the Earth Kingdom queen is gone, Metalbender Kuvira steps forward to unite the cities of the kingdom. Soon enough, she reveals herself to be nothing more than a dictator. When Varrick, a billionaire genius, refuses to help her craft a dangerous weapon, she's ready to throw him and his friends in a prison camp. But his lowly assistant, Zhu Li, begs to work for Kuvira in "Enemy at the Gates," and describes how awful Varrick was to her.
Kuvira agrees and assigns her to Baatar, Kuvira's fiance, on creating a high-powered cannon. But every time they test the cannon, it fails. Finally, after yet another failed test, Kuvira eyes Zhu Li and finds a missing part hidden in her uniform. Zhu Li says, "You're a monster. I regret nothing." Kuvira sentences her to death, but Bolin and Lin rescue her just in time.
Zhu Li's betrayal is important for a couple of different reasons. For one thing, Zhu Li is a seemingly insignificant character, who is only around to serve as comedic relief. She had spent nearly four seasons being nothing more than Varrick's punchline. So for her to be the linchpin in the plot to save the Earth Kingdom is a phenomenal story twist. Her duplicity is also important because it delayed the creation of Kuvira's horrible weapon.
In "The Guide," in the second season, Korra desperately needs to get to the Spirit World. She asks Tenzin, her mentor and an expert on the Spirit World, to guide her. They try meditating in several different places to no avail. After several unsuccessful attempts with Tenzin, Korra is worried because the Harmonic Convergence -- the alignment of the planets -- is almost here. Then, Tenzin's sister, Kya, suggests that Jinora, Tenzin's daughter, might know something that could help them. At first, Jinora pretends that she knows nothing about the Spirit World, but with some coaxing, she finally reveals that she has an easy relationship with spirits. Finally, Jinora asks a spirit to reveal itself, and they follow it to the Airbender meditation circle, where they enter the Spirit World.
This scene is a nice bit of storytelling, because it conveys the message that anyone can have a talent for something, no matter how young or small they are, and that even an expert can be wrong. It's also the beginning of Jinora's journey as the resident guide to the spirits for Team Avatar.
Lin Beifong is a lot like her mother, Toph. She's prickly, impatient and brusque. But in Season 1, "Turning the Tides," we find out she is also loyal and brave. The Equalists attack Air Temple Island, where the last Airbending family lives. Chief Beifong realizes Tenzin's family needs to escape, and swears to protect them. They are all flying away on Oogi, Tenzin's air bison, but two airships begin gaining on them. Lin instructs them to keep going and not to turn around, no matter what happens to her.
Slowly, it dawns on everyone that she is sacrificing herself for them. She catapults herself and lands on the first airship, tears it apart and launches herself at the second airship. However, the Equalists stop her and knock her out before she can do any damage. As the Airbenders fly away, Tenzin's son, Meelo, says, "That lady is my hero." Tenzin replies, "Yes, she is." Lin Beifong makes the ultimate sacrifice, because in the next scene, Amon takes away her bending.
Lin's sacrifice is so eventful, so emotional, because it shows how far she is willing to go to protect her friends. It also shows that she can put aside her own feelings in order to get the job done.
A genius inventor, Varrick is a very rich man. He seems eccentric and laughable, until he shows his true nature. In Season 2, t's revealed that someone has been stealing all of Future Industries' inventory of machines. In "And the Winner Is...," Mako and Asami, a good friend of the Avatar who owns Future Industries, are on a stake-out to catch whoever is behind the robberies.
Mako overhears the Triple Threat Triad, a street gang, saying they were paid to keep Mako and Asami busy. Mako realizes they've been tricked, and they escape, only to discover her warehouse is empty. Later, while watching one of Bolin's "mover" scenes being filmed, Mako realizes the remote detonator the crew used for the movie is the same one he found at one of the crime scenes. He also finds out the remote is made by Varrick's company. He races to Asami's office to tell her, but he's too late. Like a nasty villain, Varrick turns around in his chair, grinning, because he's just bought a controlling interest in Future Industries, in order to save it. The guy who was easily dismissed as a jokester turns out to be a criminal mastermind.
Varrick's betrayal of Korra and her friends is especially hurtful, because he was a fan favorite. His casual humor allowed him to slip in under the radar and betray them. Luckily, he completely redeems himself in the last season, helping save Republic City and marrying Zhu Li.
Hiroshi Sato is Asami's father and the founder of Future Industries. In the first season, we find out that Asami's mother was killed by a Firebender during a robbery. What we don't suspect, however, is that her father is the one who equips the Equalists with all their tech and weapons. Her father's blind need for revenge against Benders comes to a head during "Endgame."
Asami and Bolin are at the air base to keep the planes from attacking Republic City. Asami and her father climb into mecha suits and go toe-to-toe. Hiroshi would have killed his daughter if Bolin hadn't intervened, saying "Mr. Sato, you are a horrible father." Hiroshi is sent to prison, where he realizes he was wrong and regrets his action. Much later, in the fourth season, during "The Last Stand," he redeems himself when he sacrifices himself to save Asami and take down Kuvira.
Both Sato's betrayal and his sacrifice are big emotional moments. His death comes not long after he and Asami had reunited, making it especially sad.
In Season 4, "Korra Alone," Korra is still trying to recover from the poison Zaheer gave her years ago. She wants to return to her life as the Avatar, but she's not ready to face her friends or her fears. After wandering the world for months, she ends up in the Earth Kingdom, disguised as an Earthbender.
At the same time, she is plagued with visions of an evil version of herself. One night, a friendly spirit leads her to the swamp, where she fights the evil Korra and gets knocked out. She wakes up in an unfamiliar cave, only to find she is being taken care of by Toph Beifong, who is now an old woman.
Toph Beifong is one of the main characters in "Avatar: The Last Airbender." She's the most powerful Earthbender, and the one who discovers Metalbending. In "The Legend of Korra," she's very old, and it's a pleasant surprise to see her again. Not only does she help Korra recover, it's also nice to see another character from the first series, and hear her talk about "Twinkle Toes."
In Season 2's "A New Spiritual Age," Korra is having trouble in the Spirit World. Her anger and her fear is turning everything dark and scary. Eventually, her spirit form turns into Korra as a little girl, who is lost and afraid in the Spirit World. Uncle Iroh finds her and leads her out of the dark woods to his colorful, light home. She recognizes him because he was friends with Aang. She sees her old teapot. Iroh explains the Avatar used to carry Raava around in it and it's his favorite thing he found there.
When he felt his work was done in the material world, he left his body behind and came to the Spirit World. He teaches her that her emotions become her reality there, and that she will find Jinora by helping someone else. Seeing Uncle Iroh is a lot like seeing Toph, because he was an important character in "Avatar: The Last Airbender." But his reappearance is even more touching, because he spent so much time communing with the spirits in the first series.
The first villain of "The Legend of Korra" is Amon, who has the ability to take away someone's Bending power. Eventually, we find out that Amon's real name is Noatak, and his brother is Councilman Tarrlok, who has been imprisoned for kidnapping Korra. Tarrlok tells Korra and Mako that Noatak is actually a Waterbender, who learned how to Bloodbend, which is how he's able to remove someone's Bending.
In "Endgame," Korra and Mako unmask Amon in front of his followers, and he escapes. He releases Tarrlok from prison, and the two brothers flee in a boat. While he's driving, Noatak reminisces about their childhood, revealing that Tarrlok is regretful. Noatak says that being together will "be just like the good ol' days." Tarrlok agrees, but meanwhile, he puts on one of the electrified gloves of the Equalists and holds it over the gas tank. The camera pulls back, and in the distance, the boat explodes.
This scene is so impactful because of the history between the brothers, Tarrlok's sad sacrifice and the relief that Amon's reign of terror is over.
In Season 3, Bolin is always surrounded by other Earthbenders, who can also Metalbend. He desperately wants to be able to Metalbend, but fails in every attempt. Then, in Season 3's "Enter the Void," Zaheer, an evil anarchist, and his group, the Red Lotus, have Korra and her friends trapped at the Air Temple.
Zaheer's follower, Ghazan, a Lavabender, traps Bolin, Asami, Tenzin and Mako inside the temple. Bolin Earthbends tunnels for them to escape, but the lava is coming too fast. When they are out of places to run, Bolin's life is on the line and he has to dig deep to save himself and his friends. In desperation, Bolin discovers he can Lavabend and saves them.
Discovering Bolin's Lavabending is an enormous moment. First, it's a very rare ability and Ghazan was the only Lavabender they had ever encountered. Second, it's a great validation for Bolin, who had begun doubting himself when he couldn't Metalbend.
In the final episodes of Season 3, Korra suffers horribly at the hands of Zaheer. The first several episodes of Season 4 see her trying to recover; not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually. In "The Calling," after being goaded by Toph, Korra is able to Metalbend the rest of the poison out of her system, which restores the Avatar state she had lost. But she is still struggling several episodes later, so that in "Beyond the Wilds," she visits Zaheer in prison for closure.
As a last resort, she allows him to lead her into the Spirit World, where she reconnects with Raava, the light spirit, and frees the people who had been trapped there. She tells Zaheer, "I feel whole again." It must be true, because in the season finale, "The Last Stand," she is restored to full strength when she battles Kuvira. Then, at the center of the spirit vines, Korra saves Kuvira's life by going into the Avatar state and protecting her. After Kuvira's cannon explodes and creates a new portal to the Spirit World, even Kuvira admits how powerful Korra is.
Watching Korra's painful and long recovery in the fourth season was almost torture. Seeing her restored to her full strength was very satisfying and a huge relief.
The end of the second season is an incredible showdown between Korra and her evil uncle, Unalaq, in "Light in the Dark." Unalaq merges with the dark spirit, Vaatu, which gives him amazing power and an enormous size. Unalaq destroys Raava, the light spirt, and heads to Republic City to bring about 10,000 years of darkness. Without Raava, and unable to defeat him in her human form, Korra goes to the Tree of Time, where Tenzin explains that she, herself, is what makes her unique, not the connection to Raava.
Korra meditates and connects with her inner self, then grows in size and power to match Unalaq's. She follows Unalaq to Republic City, where they battle "Pacific Rim" style. With Jinora's help, she kills Unalaq and Vaatu. So many monumental scenes occur in "Light in the Dark." Korra loses her connection to all of her past Avatar lives and Raava is killed, then resurrected. But seeing Korra become a gigantic blue spirit because she taps her inner strength is incredible, mostly because it had seemed impossible to beat Unalaq.
In a horrifc and terrifying scene, Amon takes away Korra's Bending. At the end of Season 1, in "Endgame," Korra is grieving the loss of her abilities. She and her friends and family retreat to the Southern Water Tribe, where Katara, Tenzin's mother, uses her healing abilities to try to restore Korra's Bending.
When it doesn't work, Korra takes off, looking to be alone. At the cliff, she begins to cry. Unexpectedly, Avatar Aang appears and tells her that when Avatars are at their lowest, they are the most open to change. Then, all the Avatars are there, and Aang restores her Bending. In a spectacular scene, we see Korra go into the Avatar state, creating a vortex of Bending. Then, to everyone's amazement, she restores Lin Beifong's Earthbending.
The entire first season of "The Legend of Korra" is wonderful, but the final scenes with Aang are powerful and emotional. Seeing Korra return Lin's Bending, especially after she had sacrificed it to save the Airbenders, is jaw-dropping.
Without a doubt, the most important, and most surprising, moment came at the very end of the entire series. At Varrick and Zhu Li's wedding, Korra and Asami are alone, talking about how badly they need a vacation after all they have been through. They decide to head to the Spirit World, just the two of them. We cut to Korra and Asami at the new portal to the Spirit World in Republic City. They hold hands and walk into the portal. Then, they turn and face each other.
Although they don't kiss, or even embrace, the message is that Korra and Asami are now a couple. Some fans were confused by the ambiguous scene, so creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko took to Tumblr after the series finale to confirm that Korra and Asami are together, romantically.
This turn of events is important, not so much because of the story -- although it's lovely to see how Korra and Asami have grown from being friends to being partners -- but because it's important to have an LGBTQ couple represented in such a high-profile animated series. As Bryan Konietzko says, "I’m only sorry it took us so long to have this kind of representation in one of our stories."
What are your favorite moments in "The Legend of Korra?" Let us know in the comments!
Also, keep your eyes fixed on CBR for more Korra news! And look for the first graphic novel in the "Legend of Korra: Turf War" series to be released in June 2017.