Mark Watches ‘The Legend of Korra’: S04E13 – The Last Stand

In the thirteenth and final episode of the fourth season of The Legend of Korra, Kuvira and Korra face off. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish The Legend of Korra.

Trigger Warning: For talk of queerbaiting and homophobia.

I’m not used to writing this.

I don’t get to say stuff like this. I’ve just come off the heels of catching up to the rest of the Supernatural fandom with their show, and suffice to say that I was not pleased with what the show had done in the final hours of their tenth season. I’m at a point in my life where I’ve written countless iterations of that piece. I’ve spent years touring the world and speaking at my own events and conventions, hoping that people understand the importance of diversity and representation. Often times, I’m preaching to the choir. I can admit that. But sometimes, in certain spaces, I feel like I’m shouting into a void or screaming at a wall. Do you know what that’s like? To stand in a room and know that there are people in it who despise you? Who will derail any conversation to ensure that you feel uncomfortable and unnerved?

One of the things that’s so frustrating about this conversation is the pushback you’ll get from people who are creators. I once sat in front of a room full of writers where half the folks in there believed that it was inappropriate to tell writers that their representation of LGBT or queer characters was flawed? These are the same group of people who are used to receiving a manuscript full of edits and corrections and suggestions, and suddenly, there’s an area that’s off-limits to criticism. This is a group of people who can rattle off an in-depth exploration of how griffins would integrate into a post-industrial society, but ask them where any non-heterosexual people are? It’s suddenly unrealistic, distracting, and unnecessary. Or, even better, it’s not historically accurate. Because we queers didn’t exist back then! We just popped up once Tumblr became a thing!

But I digress. I don’t want to spent this final Korra review complaining or focusing on negativity. This is a unique opportunity for me because that’s so often the only option I have: bitterness. Irritation. Rage. And desperation. I worry that sometimes, that’s how I come across. How often have I yelled about queerbaiting on this site alone? How often am I wishing that fictional universes would give me a place to exist? So I return to the sentiment at the opening of this review: I’m not used to this. I’m not used to a show building up a friendship between two women, demonstrating how they grow closer to one another and depend on each other, only to have the final moment be a confirmation of a romantic relationship. An undeniable moment, I might add, one that makes this pairing canon. I’m not used to a fictional universe telling me that the way I interpreted a relationship is a valid thing. I’m not used to having a story where a heroic journey ends with the protagonist grasping hands with someone of the same gender, mimicking the very position that two straight characters were in just minutes earlier WHILE GETTING MARRIED.

It is a weird feeling. I felt a twinge of irritation as Asami sat down next to Korra because I enjoyed the growth of their friendship over seasons three and four, and I was worried I’d have to make a small note in this review about how unfortunate it was that a ship I had went unconfirmed. Not that ships need validation within canon, especially since half the fun for me is shipping something that isn’t remotely acknowledged in a fictional work. It’s become so commonplace for me, though, that it wasn’t like I was prepared to write some big thesis about queerbaiting. It’s just that The Legend of Korra has addressed so many intense and valuable issues over four seasons, all while giving us a fictional universe that is entirely non-white, that it seemed weird to hint towards a non-heterosexual relationship without delivering on it.

And look I haven’t even addressed any of the rest of this episode, which doesn’t pale in comparison to the ending. This is such a well-written story about compassion, love, justice, and growth. That’s something you can see across the board when you examine each of the characters in “The Last Stand.” Mako learns the value of sacrifice when he demonstrates a willingness to put his own life on the line to stop Kuvira. Prince Wu values the power of democracy and choice over his own ego and aspirations. Suyin and Lin learn to work beautifully alongside each other. And what about Korra’s choice to be compassionate to Kuvira even after she nearly destroyed the entire world out of her misguided sense of right and wrong? Korra CHOSE to show compassion to someone who, in many other people’s minds, didn’t deserve it. But that’s the beauty of compassion; Korra gave that woman kindness at the lowest point of her life, and it’s pretty much the reason Kuvira willingly hands herself over to be held accountable for what she’s done.

But I like the idea that the vast majority of this review is about one thing. This show gave me what I wanted. We now have canonical bisexuality within The Legend of Korra. God, how many times did I see these two flirt with each other and react just as I always do when I’m teased with a possibility I’ll never get? That’s my base reaction to this when it’s happened before, and this may be the first time THE SHOW WASN’T ACTUALLY BAITING ME. So bravo, The Legend of Korra. You were a spectacular show all along, one that I’m going to miss deeply. You gave me memorable characters and incredible stories, and in the end, you gave me hope. You told me that I matter and that my love matters, too.

I’m so happy.

I’m traveling to the Pacific Northwest and New York City through September 1, so Mark Watches Doctor Who, series 8 will begin by September 7, though possibly earlier if I can find time to start it then. Thank you so much for your patience and for following along!

The video for “The Last Stand” 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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