Mark Watches ‘The Legend of Korra’: S04E02 – Korra Alone

In the second episode of the fourth season of The Legend of Korra, Korra struggles with her rehabilitation taking much longer than she expected. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Legend of Korra.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of PTSD.

This was heartbreaking to watch. While I’ve only had limited experience with physical rehabilitation, I’ve been dealing with PTSD for nearly 15 years. It can be a haunting thing to cope with, and I often use that metaphor to explain what it feels like. It’s as if you’re haunted, sometimes by a very specific memory, or in my case, a sustained period of trauma. You can’t always necessarily control how that trauma later manifests or what triggers it, and I think Korra’s story in “Korra Alone” does a fine job of displaying that for the audience. It can happen suddenly and surprisingly, and there’s often something in the present that acts to make your brain relive that moment. It’s not just that something is upsetting; your mind is suddenly cast right back to the traumatic event, and you can feel it. Your mind relives it, and then your body relives it.

At least that’s the case for me. I can’t speak for others. But Korra has a number of journeys to go on, all simultaneous to one another, all of them due to what Zaheer did to hear in the finale last season. God, y’all, I am so satisfied that they’re not ignoring the ramifications of the poison, even if that means I have to watch twenty minutes of the SADDEST THING THIS SHOW HAS EVER DONE. Because holy shit, it’s just so heartbreaking to watch Korra try so hard and not make the progress she wants. Of course, I know that’s how this goes some times. Physical rehabilitation is a long, difficult process for many people, and like the opening set of scenes in “Korra Alone” show us, Korra’s progress is only made in tiny victories, often set weeks apart.

And throughout it all, Katara is at her side. Bless Katara, because the woman is so exceedingly patient with Korra, and that’s exactly what Korra needed during the two and a half years she spent healing under Katara’s guidance. Katara provided stability, even if that stability was frustrating at times, but it worked out in Korra’s favor in the end. That doesn’t mean that I interpreted Korra’s healing as being over, as it’s clear from the closing sequences that she’s got a whole lot more to deal with. A great deal of it is emotional healing, too! But I admire that Katara worked to provide Korra with confidence, even when Korra was in the midst of a quasi-existential crisis, you know? I think that’ll also be a wonderful thing for her to have as she continues on.

It’s not long before she does try to continue on, first sparring with White Lotus benders daily, and then requesting that she leave the compound. A lot happens in between those two moments – including that heart-wrenching letter that she writes to Asami – but the story is the same. Korra makes slow, incremental progress towards her ultimate goal, but she more or less feels stagnant. I know that Korra’s been an impatient person since the beginning of the series, but I think this is a little bit different. Two and a half years without any significant progress towards achieving the Avatar state? I think anyone would feel terribly disappointed in themselves if this happened to them.

That’s why I understood her desire to get to Republic City, though that doesn’t exactly prove to be a fruitful choice at first. She’s embarrassed by how easily a couple of thieves take her down in a small fishing village, and it’s an unfortunate reminder that she’s not ready to assimilate back into her whole life. That’s a discouraging thing for her because the rest of her friends and family are off changing the world! It’s not easy to have to witness the world passing you by. So she keeps moving. Keeps changing. Keeps telling herself that it’s possible for her to some day be who she used to be. Her hair short, her water tribe clothes gone, she never stops moving. She travels the earth, heading for the North Pole, hoping to reconnect with Raava. But even that doesn’t bear the fruit that Korra hopes for, despite that the spirits are thrilled to see her. All along the way, Korra is told the same message, sometimes directly, sometimes quietly: you have to do this alone.

She chooses not to identify herself as the avatar; she fights in the Earthbender ring to build strength and to wallow in humility. She is alone throughout all of this, though even that is complicated by the presence of… well, herself, I guess. I still don’t know what the Avatar-state spirit thing is, but it’s the only real companion she has this whole time. And it’s fucking horrifying. Why does it keep attacking her? Why can it actually attack her??? WHY DID IT PULL HER INTO A POOL OF ZAHEER’S POISON??? Why did it lead to a cave???


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The video for “Korra Alone” 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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