Mark Watches ‘The Legend of Korra’: S04E12 – Day of the Colossus

In the twelfth and penultimate episode of the fourth season of The Legend of Korra, Team Avatar desperately tries to take down Kuvira’s giant mecha weapon. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Legend of Korra.

My god, what a stressful goddamn episode. I can’t fathom how there’s just one episode remaining in this entire series because… well, first of all, I don’t know how this is going to be resolved. But I have already gotten used to there being more of this show for me to watch! Granted, I’ve watched these last three seasons of Korra in an uneven pattern due to traveling, but I still looked forward to every chance to see another episode. It just got better and better, y’all, and now that I feel that’s the case, I only get one more episode left?

Cruelty. Utter cruelty.

Now, I know I’ve spoken many times of how much I love a good thriller, and “Day of the Colossus” absolutely succeeded at keeping me on the edge of my seat. At making me terribly nervous. And at terrifying me. AND I YELLED A LOT, I CAN’T HELP IT. Just… how? How did all of this happen? How were we allowed to watch it?

Prince Wu / Pema

I was excited that the writers gave Pema a role in the evacuation of Republic City, one that was both hilarious and significant. She does her best to keep people entertained and – most importantly – distracted, all while Prince Wu comes up with an alternate plan to escape after Kuvira destroys the rail lines leaving the city. But I also think these scenes were important because we needed to see just how real Kuvira’s threat was. With her spirit vine laser ripping overhead constantly, we understand that Kuvira will kill anyone just to get Republic City. It doesn’t matter that the people in the train station aren’t fighting her; they’re collateral damage and nothing more.

These scenes also help build the character of Prince Wu, whose aimless humor and silliness finally has a place within the greater conflict. No one takes him seriously, which means that no one thought that his badgermole obsession was that real. THIS INCLUDES ME BECAUSE HOLY SHIT, I DID NOT EXPECT HIM TO HAVE ACTUALLY TRAINED BADGERMOLES TO LISTEN TO HIS SINGING VOICE. This episode is deliberately ridiculous, though most of it is horrifying. I appreciated that Prince Wu got to be his normal ridiculous self, all while saving the day.

Desperate Creativity

Truthfully, these people could not actually overpower Kuvira. Part of the sheer terror of this episode comes from Kuvira’s constant demonstration of the power she has. That mecha robot nightmare is just too much, y’all. It’s an exaggerated act of violence that has no apparent weakness. After Baatar, Jr. does reveal a possible way to stop the machine – at least temporarily – the action in this episode shifts from a defensive reaction to one of creative desperation. That urgency is all over “Day of the Colossus,” and I think it’s a necessary part of the story. The audience would not have such a strong reaction to the events on screen unless this felt truly impossible.

But as I said in an earlier review, the Avatar universe has always been about people without power finding ways to stop others from exploiting and harming them. Oppression frameworks have always been a part of canon, too. So there’s an aspect to the action here that feels like these characters finding creative ways of taking down an oppressive force. It’s a bit of the David and Goliath story, too, isn’t it? These are singular people, all with their own talents that are easily eclipsed by the scope of power that Kuvira has, banding together to try to take down a literal and metaphorical giant. Their techniques aren’t meant to destroy this machine; they just want to catch Kuvira off guard.

And gods all bless them, they do it. Again and again. It was so satisfying to see them trip her up – sometimes literally – by doing shit she didn’t expect. From the paint balloon bombing to the metal cables, from the use of stone buildings as a burial technique to Bolin’s use of his lavabending, this is an endless treat to watch. It’s entertaining on a visual level, but it’s also a brilliant storytelling technique because it forces all of us to acknowledge how talented these people have become. They didn’t start off this way when the series began; Meelo couldn’t fly, Bolin couldn’t lavabend, and Korra couldn’t easily enter the Avatar state. But they can do it now, and it’s utterly worth it to see it. There’s just so much character development in just over twenty minutes! We’ve got Varrick apologizing to Zhu Li and then PROPOSING to her; we’ve got Hiroshi seeking redemption through sacrifice; we’ve got Prince Wu’s transformation.

The Legend of Korra provides us proof that action, tragedy, character development, and risky storytelling can happen all at the same time. And gods, I’m going to be gutted when it ends.

The video for “Day of the Colossus” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S. this summer and fall Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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