Why “The Legend of Korra” Series Finale Was So Powerful
It has been a long time since a show has left me in absolute shock during a series finale, and The Legend of Korra, a spin-off series of the popular show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, accomplished that. The finale had me in tears, and I rewatched the final scene again and again just to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. In this scene, Korra and Asami begin their relationship. It’s not often that fans actually get the ending they’ve been rooting for, but the writers were clearly listening to the fans because they have certainly delivered.
The Nickelodeon animated TV show The Legend of Korra follows the life of Korra, the young new Avatar, who is charged with bringing balance to the world through her unique ability to control all four elements—earth, water, wind, fire—and her connection with the spirit world.
While Avatar: The Last Airbender followed the former Avatar’s life during adolescence, The Legend of Korra takes place while Korra and her friends are in their late teens and early twenties. The two shows align with the ages of the fans from the original series. Fans in the target demographic who watched The Last Airbender when it first premiered were about eight or nine years old and were beginning college during the premiere of The Legend of Korra.
Korra deals with many mature themes and serious topics, including nuclear weapons, equality, dictators, and post traumatic stress disorder. The series follows twenty-something Korra, who is learning to control her powers to become a leader while trying to bring peace to various world nations. Korra herself does not fit the normative role of a female hero. She has muscles, is strong, and is happy to show it. She is also a woman of color, and though her ethnicity is never explicitly stated, she is not completely white, which is uncommon for a lead character.
The show also presents an assortment of other strong female characters. The police chief, Lin Beifong, is an older woman but constantly fights alongside the younger characters. Her sister is the head of an entire city and is crucial to the Avatar’s success. Additionally, Asami Sato, who doesn’t possess any bending powers, is an intelligent engineer and the head of a massive machine technology corporation.
The presence of these women does not in any way detract from that of the male counterparts. The male characters are just as valuable and get equal screen-time, but the fact that there is an equal representation of strong and powerful men and women in an animated TV show targeted towards a younger audience is rare and refreshing.
The season finale is in many ways a graduation episode. It shows the characters coming face to face with their biggest threat; they are all tested, and after everything they’ve been through, they come out stronger than ever. The most dramatic and talked about event from the finale is the final scene.
The final scene of the series shows Korra and Asami going on a trip together as they’re holding hands; the final shot is of them looking at each other before the episode ends. The scene mirrors the final scene of The Last Airbender where Aang and Katara kiss. Korra also has the characters in the same position as two other characters had been just a few minutes prior while exchanging wedding vows. Although there was no kiss between Korra and Asami, it was very clear that these two women had more going on than just a friendship.
This is huge for not only children’s programming and animated shows, but for television as a whole. Current shows do not always accurately represent the world we live in today. Nickelodeon took a huge step forward for diversity and LGBT visibility. The Legend of Korra chose not to confine itself to typical character molds.
Portraying same-sex couples on animated shows is very uncommon, so the fact that this happened is amazing. If any more proof of their status as a couple was needed, the writer confirmed in a statement that the two were indeed dating. The writers expressed the characters’ sexualities in a beautiful way. Granted, there are more advances in LGBT media representation to be made, but the confirmation and realization of Korra and Asami’s relationship is important and wonderful. A round of applause to Nickelodeon and to Korra’s writers for creating such a beautiful ending to an exhilarating show. Hopefully, the finale will be a stepping stone for more animations to portray a variety of strong female characters, as well as different relationship models.