We have waited off on reviewing this episode to give everyone time to watch it and so we can have some spoilers thrown in. This week’s episode, unlike the premiere, featured almost exclusively Korra and what she has been through these past three years after dealing with the Red Lotus. The timeline is a little wacky (we start in the present, then go to the past, and finally a past present collision) but it is necessary in order for us to understand how Korra has reached this point. She is still recovering from the ordeal she faced in Book 3 and we the viewers, sense the loss of hope she felt since then.
—SPOILERS TO FOLLOW FROM HERE:
It has been three years since Zaheer had poisoned Korra and from the first episode, we can see how the other parts of the Avatar gang has moved on with their lives and the different roles they now fulfill in the world. This episode gives us the much needed look into the emotional and physical toil Korra has faced since we last saw her in the wheelchair. We need answers, especially after seeing our hero laid out during an underground match and apparently missing from the rest of the world.
The episode opens with Korra, staring at her reflection through a cracked mirror, in a bathroom while trying to heal after one of her underground fight club matches. She is interrupted by someone who really needs to go number one and is almost run over by a truck while leaving. Korra finds herself in outside of an alley only to be confronted by..HERSELF?!!?!! She is then attacked by what looks like ‘chained’ Korra in her Avatar state from the previous season and defends herself with a fire punch. However, it appears as if this was only all in Korra’s head when the screen backs up and we only see confused and somewhat concerned residents staring back.
This is apparently not the first time that this has happened to Korra either and it seems as if our protagonist is losing her marbles or seriously suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Also, from what we find out as well is that Korra has been also having trouble connecting with Raava and reaching her Avatar form ever since the poisoning. Could the mysterious super scary, attacking Korra with glow-y Avatar eyes be Raava testing her/forcing her to seek out more spiritual means of healing?
Anyways, we flashback to the end of Book 3 where the gang is seeing Korra off in which we see how her ailments are already slowly causing her to block out her friends and family with small lies because despite all that they’ve been through. I think both Korra and the people around her realize just how little they can help her and instead, can only provide useless words of encouragement. Even her parents are little to no help aside from their impatient “its been three weeks, time to go see Katara” speech that seems super insensitive.
Her utter frustration during her healing sessions with Katara were both a reminder of just how much Korra has faced and how she has almost lost her place in the world between her lose of her connection to Raava as well as her ability to even fight. I think the best part of this entire montage was Katara channeling ‘The Bride’ from Kill Bill. When Korra wiggled that big toe, all you could think was OH SNAP, lets gets those other piggies wiggling!! However, there is less bloodshed and more hair-tearing frustration as Korra is still not fully well.
We also do see growth in Korra’s character because despite her transference of blame onto Katara, Korra recognizes this as what it is and apologizes for blaming Katara. Even when she is finally able to walk and train again, we continuously see how her battle with Zaheer left her scarred. When Tenzin visits, this is where we see just how much has changed between this book and the first book. Unlike the rather impressive show of firebending skill that allows for Korra to begin her airbending training, this Korra has to have her match ended by Tenzin as she is beat into the ground from PTSD flashbacks.
We fast forward back to the present where bruised Korra is walking at night when she encounters the cutest little puppy I’ve ever seen (seriously thought it was baby Naga for a second) and we are given proof that maybe scary Korra is not made up, but a physical manifestation of something spirit-y as the puppy not only sees, but also barks to chase the chained Korra away. It is at this point we are thrown back to when Korra decides to set out for Republic City.
On the journey to the city, she is confronted (for what appears to be the first time) by herself from the one battle that could have ended it all. It is easy to see why Korra turns away from seeking out her friends and instead makes her visit to the Tree of Time to meditate. She even makes a detour at a small fishing village where Korra not only is unable to defend herself against a two common pocket pickers, but she once again falls under the shadow of Aang’s legacy.
At this point, is where Korra starts to realize that she really has no idea where she stands in the world, thus beginning her self-forced exile from her family and friends, as unintentional as it might have been. Even the spirits do not recognize her because she is lacking Raava’s spirit energy as she desperately tries to seek answers in the Tree of Time.
The conclusion of the episode jumps back into the present and basically leaves you with a feeling of hope, THANK GOD. We are led to believe that something ominous is about to happen as we see Korra led into the forest by the puppy who we then find out is the adorable spirit that made sits on her leg at the Tree of Time who tells her that if Korra had known her true form, she would not have followed. Then scary Korra appears and drags Korra into a mess of mercury or seemly her DOOOOOM. However, you are treated to a very, VERY, special appearance of an old friend from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Shivers went down my spine hearing the words, “Nice to see you again, Twinkletoes,” and FINALLY, seeing Toph for the first time since the conclusion of Avatar.
Can I just say how much I love Toph? Although we have seen echoes of her legacy in first, how the metalbending police put on their armor (air ship scene, anyone?), and secondly, the statues of her littered throughout. Did anyone feel that Korra almost has Luke in Dagobah moment? The ending of this week’s episode definitely left you with a more uplifted feeling but still feeling the emotional frustration of not knowing what is going to become of Korra especially with Kuvira as the primary villain.
The one thing about the series that has always impressed me (aside from the killer storyline and animation) was how well-rounded every episode is as well as the connections that you can draw from Korra to previous episodes as well as from Avatar (NOTTTT MY CABBAGES!). The contrast between each season is something that is gripping because the characters never stagnant and there is a purpose to every scene.
Book 4 Korra is nothing like her younger, definitely more naive self who did not even understand the necessity of money to pay for goods. This Korra is not dealing with proving herself to the world, she can barely dress herself, let alone defend the balance of the world. The real-world issues that this show has been inserting within the storylines has been amazing and I truly understand why Janet Varney (and cast!) was so emotional saying her last goodbyes at the NYCC panel. I am so excited to see where this final book takes us, both emotionally and in the Avatar world.