Mark Watches ‘The Legend of Korra’: S02E14 – Light in the Dark

In the fourteenth and final episode of the second season of The Legend of Korra, Korra turns inwards to save the world. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Legend of Korra

I definitely enjoyed this finale a whole lot more than the finale for season one.

There are some obvious reasons why, namely the fact that the closure provided to us for the characters is not done in a way that feels forced or unbelievable. On top of that, the ramifications of season two matter completely here in the finale. They’re not neatly ignored or tied up just to make things easier. I’d say that this episode introduces a brand new reality to the world of the Avatar, one that we will most likely see more of in the next season. But I don’t need to talk about that yet! I just think it’s important to acknowledge why this story works better for me.

There’s a grandeur to the action here that also makes this feel every bit as epic as it should be. I know I didn’t say anything about it in the last review, but HOLY SHIT, GARGANTUAN DARK SPIRIT MONSTER. Like????? How is anyone gonna kill an invincible spirit beast that’s literally ten times the size of any weapon or ship in existence??? H E L P??????? With this hanging over everything else, it’s hard not to feel like this is a hopelessly impossible situation. When Korra tells the group what Vaatu did to her, Raava, and the past Avatars, it’s so incredibly sad because it feels so final. (Which is one major reason why this finale is an improvement on last season’s. These important developments stick within the narrative.) How can Korra fight back against Vaatu when she’s at such a low emotional point in her life?

So I adored that Tenzin and Korra’s stories were so deeply intertwined in one another’s. Korra believed that she had no options left, that Vaatu had won. Tenzin knew that his recent experience in the spirit world could actually help his student. And shit, I think that aspect of the scene was important, too! Korra and Tenzin haven’t exactly had a flawless relationship over the years, especially this season. I mean, y’all know I love character growth more than most things, so getting to see Tenzin and Korra recognize the strength within them – one that’s both literal and metaphorical – is a powerful thing. I suppose I also like the idea that cosmic energy can be focused through powerful individuals just because they’re so unique all on their own. Korra’s transformation isn’t due to some metaphysical ambiguity, nor is it because Raava was the sole source that defined Korra’s identity as an avatar. She was her own person long before Raava was ever a meaningful part of her life, and that is where her power lies.

It’s fitting, then, that Raava lay in wait within Vaatu as well. (OH GOD, THAT LINE FROM EARLIER WAS FORESHADOWING.) Energy is not destroyed in this universe, and Korra exploits that. She does this while her friends desperately try to protect her body from the oncoming spirit hoard. It’s a lot to take in at once, and I could tell this was all designed that way. It has to be chaotic or it doesn’t work. And amidst all the chaos, there are a number of moments of clarity. For example, Desna and Eska finally turn on their father, which I had correctly guessed would happen at some point. We’ve got Jinora returning to the world after she directs Korra to the location of Raava within Vaatu, which… damn, I’m so happy Jinora’s story wasn’t ended in the last episode. “Light in the Dark” wraps up a number of ongoing storylines, and aside from the weirdness of Bolin/Eska, I was really satisfied with this.

That’s the case with the fight between Korra and Vaatu, too. It’s more or less a giant purification ceremony, one that vanquishes Vaatu by stripping him of the negative energy he thrived on. However, as I said before, it’s the ramifications of these actions that make this such an impressive end. I wondered if Korra would take Raava back into her body, but I didn’t question what she would do with the spirit portals. She had to close them, right? Right?

I DID NOT ONCE CONSIDER THAT SHE WOULD LEAVE THEM OPEN. In the final moments of “Light in the Dark,” we see the immediate effects of this decision, and it’s blowing my goddamn mind. This is not a tiny thing. Not only can people travel from one pole to the other instantly, but they can visit the spirit world??? SPIRITS CAN VISIT THE HUMAN WORLD WHENEVER THEY WANT??? How is any of this real? Even better, Korra made this decision based on her own instinct, one that Tenzin supported outright. This story is not sloppily resolved like it was for the non-bender plot in season one. Korra recognizes that there is some nuance to Unalaq’s concerns about the human-spirit relationship, and she’s able to make a huge change in the world while also hating everything Unalaq did, you know? This entire point wasn’t ignored conveniently at the end of the season just so the story could be wrapped up neater. And I dig that a lot. It makes for a much better experience as a fan of this show.

I guess I like that this season feels like it closed a massive chapter in Korra’s history. I think both of these seasons dealt with issues of self worth and destiny in fascinating ways, and now, Korra is actually stepping down from one destiny. She’s no longer a bridge between the spirit world and the human world. And since the power and memory of the past Avatars were extinguished by Vaatu, then it makes sense that Korra would begin this cycle with a new spiritual age in the world, one that won’t be easy to navigate, but one where there are simply more choices available to all, bender and non-bender alike.

Goddamn, this was such a thrill to watch, and I’m so glad that I finally picked this show back up again. I will do my absolute best to keep watching this show amidst my European tour and my move to New York City in a couple months. I’ll keep y’all posted! ONWARDS WE GO.

The video for “Light in the Dark” 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., Canada, Europe, the U.K., and Ireland. Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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