Whenever someone brings up Avatar, they quickly think The Last Airbender, the best episodes, great character moments, and so forth.
When you bring up The Legend of Korra, you start seeing a divide among the fanbase. Most of them thought it wasn’t as good as The Last Airbender, while others champion it for its later seasons.
Personally? It’s better than TLA in some ways, but I wouldn’t say it supersedes the original series. Rather, it expands the universe in meaningful ways.
The show’s production and runtime back then came across some issues here and there, but it pulled through and gave us some memorable episodes and story moments that would do its daddy Airbender proud. To celebrate the release of the show on Netflix this August on the US -we have no idea when it’s out on Asian Netflix, sorry- here are our top episodes and why they matter in the grand Avatar scheme of things.
Oh yeah, this feature will feature spoilers. Lots of them. We’ll try to veer away from the obvious bits and not use spoilerific images highlighting key moments, but we have to touch on what transpired in the vaguest way possible.
#10. “Darkness Falls/Light In The Dark” – Book Two
Legend of Korra’s Book Two may not be the best season in Avatar canon, but it did house a couple of winning episodes.
For starters, this is the episode that made the fanbase divisive: it severed ties with the Avatar’s past lives in two fell swoops. On the other, it’s establishing its own identity and carving a new path that led to the show’s two best seasons as a whole.
Also, three words: spirit kaiju fight. That’s a worthy payoff to a capstone story arc as any.
#9. “When Extremes Meet” – Book One
This episode touches upon civil rights and topics related to power divides. In a world where both benders and non-benders need to co-exist, and with the former abusing their powers, it’s only natural that someone like Amon would champion non-benders and demand equality.
#8. “Old Wounds” – Book Three
Was Suyin always a responsible matriarch? Why is Lin such a hardass since the first season? How would Toph’s kids turn out, seeing as she’s been a fan favourite and a free spirit?
This side story delves into some flashbacks between two of TLA Toph’s kids (Lin and Suyin). Family is complex, and this episode highlights that in a relatable way.
#7.”Long Live The Queen”, “Ultimatum” – Book Three
Book Three’s Red Lotus villains proceed with their plan of creating chaos to liberate the biggest city of the world from its oppressive ruler. And they succeeded, which leads to the change half the world probably wanted. This, along with past episodes, did make viewers question whether the bad guys here really are just and righteous despite their extreme measures.
Apart from seeing the dominos fall into place story-wise, it’s the Tenzin vs. Red Lotus fight that punctuates these two episodes, as we see what the aged son of Aang is capable of. This showdown does not disappoint in the slightest.
#6. “Skeletons in the Closet”, “Endgame” – Book One
Family is complex, as we mentioned in a previous paragraph concerning Toph’s kids. But the flip side is the story of Amon/Naotok and his brother Tarlok. These two were kids to a bloodbending enemy Aang faced off a while back. Korra gets insight from Tarlok about how messed up his childhood was, and then a confrontation with Amon happens.
It’s a heckuva ride that’s soured by the “reset button” ending that followed due to behind-the-scenes production issues. Barring that, most of this two-parter dared to take the dark route, and we applaud the showrunners for it.
#5. “Out of the Past” – Book One
We get to see 3/4ths of the original Team Avatar in this flashback episode that links an old foe with Season 1 baddie Amon. That’s pretty much it; it’s also an exercise on how Korra has to learn to meditate while in a strenuous position. A tense but insightful episode that cements the first season’s importance in getting the ball rolling.
#4 “Enter The Void/Venom of the Red Lotus” – Book Three
If you want to see an avatar and a fully-powered airbender going at it, this episode’s for you.
The battle between Korra and Book Three main villain Zaheer is just a thing of beauty that rivals even the best Dragon Ball Z showdowns. Except without the extra staredown and power-explanation episodes in-between. Oh yeah, and that fight between Bolin/Mako and Ming-Hua/Ghazan was pretty badass too. And the fight before the “flying airbender” bit.
This episode also capped off on an incredibly bittersweet note. Not everyone here ended up as winners in this entire season, which is fair given the stakes in the season.
#3. “Korra Alone” – Book Four
Book Four is a solid chapter as a whole and escalates the series while raising the proper stakes with the question: does the modern world really need the Avatar?
In this early episode, Korra deals with the after-effects of Book Three. This episode is quite a good portrayal of PTSD as it leads to how Korra copes with it -badly- and ultimately gets help from the unlikeliest of sources.
This leads to a few entertaining episodes on how Korra gets her groove back, but props to the show for exploring a well-known problem in the best all-ages way possible.
#2. “Day of the Colossus/The Last Stand” – Book Four
This two-parter showcases how to end a follow-up to a revered show on a high note. Not only do you deliver benders vs giant mecha fight and raised stakes, but also a lot of emotional resolutions, particular with characters like Asami and even the villain herself, Kuvira.
Not only that, but it also gave way to an unorthodox relationship that’s been developing since Season 3, something that was unheard of in 2014. There’s way too many fanart going on in regards to that bit. But that’s the testament of the show. And it was also followed up with a decent Dark Horse follow-up series of comics.
#1. “Beginnings (2-Parter)” – Book Two
Probably the only reason why people remember Book Two: this two-parter that delves into the lore of the Avatar series. This episode takes us back to the past and finds out how the first Avatar started out, and how the world was like when it had spirits running around the realm.