Korra was going to kill herself.
That’s what the slow motion shot of the tear falling off the cliff meant.
If she’s the avatar and she can’t bend she might as well die so there can be a new avatar.
Or else the world would be without an Avatar and there’d be another hundred year war.
So by deciding that suicide was a good idea she had given up all worldly attachments (including Mako) which was what Aang had to do unlock the Avatar State as well in season 3.
This is exactly how I saw it. It wasn’t that Korra thought she was completely useless as a person without her bending, but that the entire world would suffer without a fully realized Avatar, meaning one that is a master and controller of all bending elements, not just one.
Korra’s entire life had been about being the Avatar and being there to protect the world and those she loved, and that had all been taken away from her. As the other Air Nomad Avatar had told Aang, and Avatar’s duty is to the world. Perhaps it is part of an Avatar to change their self worth and base it upon how fit they are to serve the world, which is probably how Korra was viewing the situation. Whatever it is, Korra showed immense strength, albeit in a very sad way, at even considering giving up everything to give others a chance for peace. She believed that the only way to keep peace and balance in the world - and therefore, the only way to protect those she cared about - was to pave the way for a new, fully realized Avatar. And she was willing to give up everything for the sake of the world.
And despite what many others have said, I believe Korra got her bending back on her own by giving up earthly attachments and doing what she thought she could never do - reaching the spirit world and calling upon the legacies of those that were inside of her to help. If Korra had been a weaker person, none of that would have happened. Korra stood proud and strong at the end of the finale through her own strength, which also consisted of accepting that sometimes she may need to accept the strength of others to get to where she needs to be.
Now, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the show doesn’t really portray Korra giving up her worldly attachments? Her despair comes from that the fact that she think she’s useless without her bending - IIRC, she says as much to Tenzin when Amon scared the shit out of her, something like, “What good am I if I don’t have my bending?”. I, personally, didn’t interpret this as her thinking of her Avatar duty, but of her own self-worth. Yes, Korra was raised to be the Avatar and I’m sure duty was drilled into her, but it didn’t come off as her worrying about her duty to the world, it came off as I, as a person, am useless without my bending, I cannot live without my bending. Korra still has her spiritual side to act as a bridge between the spirit world and physical world, and despite being blocked from three elements, she is still the Avatar and capable of mediation. But Korra has never really excelled in negotiation, as her default tended to be toward the physical, and she didn’t change much in that regard over the course of the show.
I don’t know if I thought the finale was cheap so much as rushed. Korra getting her bending back is fine, but it, IMO, happened way to quickly and without any self discovery on Korra’s part. She’s contemplating suicide, Aang shows up and goes, “you’re at your lowest point, you’re open to change!”, except how has she changed? I didn’t see her reach out to the spirit world in that scene at all. All of her self worth is still tied to her bending, or being the Avatar. Aang was the Avatar as well, but that’s not all he considered himself. Korra seems to think that being the Avatar is all she is, and the finale kind of supports that mentality. It’s been said before, but it would have been much more poignant if Korra had had to learn to accept herself through her lack of bending through a journey of discovery in season 2.
I think that is what disappointed me, ultimately. I didn’t feel like Korra had nearly the amount of growth that she should have considering the direness of the situation. It just felt like a lot of wasted potential.
Just my opinion though! I love the Legend of Korra: I just happen to critique the things I love. A lot. #englishmajorproblems
Well, I’m by no means certain of this so correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the entire first season already written and in production before the series was officially renewed for a season 2? So the first season had to be written in such a way that it could have functioned as a stand-alone miniseries if need be, meaning that everything needed to be wrapped up by the end. So they couldn’t leave Korra without her bending (well, I mean, they could have, but it would have been difficult as hell to get away with it in a Nickelodeon show).
As for Korra’s character development, to be honest, my initial interpretation was kind of in between yours and spacezombies’s. What I saw it as was that Korra was going to kill herself so that the Avatar cycle would kick in and a new Avatar would be born. But then she realizes she can’t go through with it. And as a result, she is finally forced to accept the fact that this is it, her bending is gone (newly discovered airbending aside), and with it the only real identity and purpose she’s ever known.
Keep in mind, Korra’s known she’s the Avatar for pretty much her whole life. On top of that, she was a prodigy from a very young age, and on top of that, she’s basically following right on the heels of the greatest Avatar of all time. All of this means she’s been under intense pressure her entire life—from others, but even moreso from herself—to be strong and perfect and to live up to this ideal of the Avatar, the wise and powerful spiritual leader of the world, the one who keeps balance. Throughout the entire first season we saw how much these expectations were burdening her when it came to the things she was ‘supposed’ to be able to do but couldn’t, i.e. airbending and connecting to the spirit world. She grew up with this fixed concept of what a perfect Avatar is supposed to be, and the idea of failing to live up to this ideal is literally her worst fear.
So when Amon takes her bending, he’s cutting her off from the only path she’s ever known to follow. It leaves her with only two options—either she kills herself, and kickstarts the Avatar cycle into gear again, or she accepts that in order to live from now on, she will have to find a new path. By choosing not to die, she opened herself up to that new possibility for the first time in her life. She was choosing to start over again not as the Avatar, but as Korra, even though she was terrified and even though she had absolutely no idea what that meant or where that journey would take her. She was choosing to take her first step toward the unknown, and it was very much a moment of letting go. And in that instant, she is finally able to open herself up to the spirit world for the first time.
For a person as strong and proud as Korra, to be able to let go of her whole identity and start from scratch, to make the decision not to give up, even at her weakest moment, to be willing to take a deep breath and go on even not knowing when or if she’d ever rediscover her purpose again—that was her letting go of her worldly attachments. She was relinquishing her own extraordinarily driven sense of purpose and was prepared to move on with her life and let the world guide her where it would. It wasn’t that she made a sudden magical character turnaround in that one instant—it was that she finally took that first step toward rediscovering herself. Basically exactly what Aang said—she became open to change for the very first time.
As for where she goes from here, well, that’s where the second season comes into play, I think. Because bending or no bending, that journey of self-discovery you mentioned is one that Korra is going to embark upon regardless, and I very much look forward to seeing it. I just don’t think this moment was meant to be about that. I saw it as Korra facing all the fears and doubts she’s had about herself throughout this first season, and taking the first step toward finally acknowledging and overcoming them.
IN DEFENSE OF MAKO
idk I’m just getting tired of watching Korra every week and getting super psyched because THIS SHOW IS AMAZING and I come on tumblr ready to get my fangirl on, only to find post after post EVERY DAMN WEEK about OMG MAKO IS A JERK!!
I hate that whenever there’s a fandom with a love triangle, someone inevitably has to be the bad guy. Like, I know people are rooting for their favorite ships and all, but geez. And more often than not it’s the character who’s stuck in the middle of the triangle that always gets dumped on by fandom because no matter who they end up with, a huge section of the fanbase will be disappointed. (Which is one of many reasons why it baffles me that love triangles in fiction are more popular than ever these days. TWILIGHT, IS THIS YOUR FAULT. IT IS, ISN’T IT.) Usually it’s a girl, but sometimes, like in this case, it’s a guy. Either way, it pisses me off.
And I realize the writers aren’t helping matters any and in fact seem to be encouraging the hate. You know how reality TV shows always cast someone as the villain and edit scenes accordingly so that said character is made to look as bad as possible? It’s almost eerie how much some of Mako’s scenes in recent episodes are like that. Like, the ‘camera’ will follow him around everywhere and perfectly innocent actions like BEING WORRIED ABOUT HIS FRIEND WHO HE THOUGHT WAS KIDNAPPED BY A CRAZY PERSON THAT WANTED TO TAKE AWAY HER BENDING WHICH IS THE ONE THING SHE’S MORE TERRIFIED OF THAN ANYTHING!! will somehow end up playing on screen as, ‘omfg. THIS DICK. Look at this fucking guy being worried about Korra when Asami is—*ZOOM IN ON HER SAD FACE*—RIGHT THERE!! HOLY SHIT WHAT AN ASSHOLE.’
Seriously, people really have it in for this dude.
MAKO: Well shit I think I kinda like Korra. But I’m too unsure to take any action. Plus it would be kind of awkward, dating a teammate. Oh well.
KORRA: I also kind of have a thing for Mako, as every single character in the series will eventually point out on multiple occasions, because my personal romantic feelings are apparently everyone’s business, I guess because I’m the Avatar maybe, but well whatever. Anyway, I’m also unsure so I’m also not going to act on it!
ASAMI: /appears /hits Mako with moped /is introduced in such a way so as to instantly establish her as the perfect woman
MAKO: Holy shit you’re kind of the perfect woman.
ASAMI: I’m genuinely kind and smart and sexy and rich and have a moped and I hit you with it whoops but I’m asking you out to dinner, SAY YES.
ASAMI: Is it any wonder really that we started dating?!
KORRA: Mako has a girlfriend. :/ SOMEHOW THIS IS HIS FAULT, EXCLUSIVELY AND ONLY HIS.
BOLIN: Now seems like a good time to make my own feelings for you very public, Korra! But first, let me talk to my bro.
MAKO: I’m against it, dating a teammate is awkward. And also yes I am human so yeah I probably wouldn’t be all smiles and rainbows seeing the girl I like but was too chickenshit to ask out dating my little brother.
BOLIN: ASKING HER OUT ANYWAY
MAKO: WELL FINE THEN
KORRA: I still have unresolved feelings for Mako but Bolin you are super sweet too so sure I’ll go out with you! It’s not dickish when I do it but when Mako does it, it’s THE WORST THING ANYONE’S EVER DONE.
MAKO: I’M GOING TO BE VERY JEALOUS AND IMMATURE ABOUT THIS.
KORRA: YES, YOU ARE. THOUGH SO AM I KINDA.
KORRA: ALSO AREN’T WE LIKE SIXTEEN, FUCK, SINCE WHEN WERE SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLDS EVER PILLARS OF MATURITY OMG.
KORRA: ALSO I’M GOING TO KISS YOU IN A FIT OF PLOT-MOTIVATED STUPIDITY, RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR BROTHER. THOUGH NOT ON PURPOSE, HE JUST HAS THE SHITTIEST TIMING.
BOLIN: OMG I REALLY DO. SOB.
MAKO: I’M GOING TO LET YOU KISS ME AND PERHAPS KISS YOU BACK FOR LIKE ONE SECOND, BEFORE I STOP BECAUSE I HAVE A GIRLFRIEND AND THIS IS WRONG. BUT IT’S TOO LATE BECAUSE WHEN I KISSED YOU BACK, YOU THE GIRL I PREVIOUSLY HAD FEELINGS FOR AND YOU TOOK ME BY SURPRISE AND I IN TURN ACTED WITHOUT THINKING, THAT WAS THE MOST DAMNING THING I COULD HAVE POSSIBLY EVER DONE AND I’M BASICALLY THE SCUM OF THE EARTH.
KORRA: It’s okay, let’s just make up for now and let our UST simmer in the background for a few more episodes.
KORRA: SHIT I’M KIDNAPPED. Whoever’s writing this frustrated mock-up script of our actions just skipped a whole bunch of scenes in order to get to the point already, but the end result is pretty shitty for me. :/
MAKO: OH MY GOD, KORRA GOT KIDNAPPED, AS PREVIOUSLY ESTABLISHED THIS IS SERIOUSLY BAD, IDK IF YOU GUYS KNOW BUT SHE’S FUCKING TERRIFIED OF AMON, THIS IS A REALLY BIG FUCKING DEAL YOU GUYS, AND ALSO I TEND TO OVERREACT WHENEVER ANYONE I CARE ABOUT IS THREATENED, BUT PEOPLE ONLY SEEM TO NOTICE IT WHEN IT PISSES THEM OFF, AND IT ONLY PISSES THEM OFF WHEN THE PERSON I’M OVERREACTING ABOUT IS KORRA, I GUESS. DANG.
ASAMI: God Mako I’m worried too but when you’re worried it’s different because you kissed Korra before! THESE TWO FACTS COMBINED MEAN THAT YOU ARE, WITH ONE HUNDRED PERCENT CERTAINTY, IN LOVE WITH HER. And rubbing it in my fucking face you ass.
KORRA: HI GUYS SUP I’M HALF DEAD.
MAKO: FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF /scoops up /brushes hair away from forehead /”you’re safe now” /sits by bedside fraught with concern
FANDOM: YOU JERK.
etc. etc. etc.
I mean, it’s not like people don’t have valid complaints about him, but. He’s a kid?? It’s not like he’s the first dumb fictional teenager that ever walked the face of the earth, and it’s not like he’s going out of his way to be an ass. It’s just the kind of situation where someone is going to get hurt no matter what. And because Asami and Korra are flawless (not being ironic or anything when I say that, btw, they are my two favorite characters and I love the shit out of them), Mako is naturally the character who’s going to take the majority of blame, and this is fandom so of course people are going to vent, and there’s nothing wrong with that, and I’m not really surprised or super offended by it lol. It’s just that people are so damn consistent about it. Every week, like clockwork, everybody wants to slap Mako. Eventually it gets to me, and I end up writing obnoxiously big and sarcastically whiny posts, I guess. XD