“Change” was not perfect. As much as I loved Asami and Korra’s friendship, I’m still not sure what it is that binds them together—largely due to the conspicuous, if well-coiffed void that is Asami’s personality. She’s nice, and friendly, and pretty, and rich, and that’s about it.
This speaks to my larger problem with Korra, and the thing I miss most about the original series: the lack of filler. Back in the days, fans spent a lot of time complaining about Avatar episodes like “Bitter Work” and “Nightmares and Daydreams,” wherein the show indulged in plot-adjacent stories like “Zuko tries lightningbending” and “Aang can’t sleep.” And yeah, some of them were ridiculous. But their presence—enabled by longer seasons and a series-spanning story arc Korra does not have—let the characters settle into themselves more and make connections that, while not strictly plot-important, gave the story an emotional fullness that Korra sometimes lacks.
In Avatar, Sokka had time to confide in Toph that he could no longer remember what his mother looked like. The show could devote 22 minutes to the villainous Fire Nation kids’ spring break antics. Sometimes we had to endure eye-rollers like “The Great Divide,” sure, but sometimes we got “The Tales of Ba Sing Se.”
Korra is able to maintain a certain tension and energy that Avatar could not—but sometimes, I think the cost was too high. Korra’s cast is multifaceted, but the show can never play around with character pairings or structure. It will never have an equivalent to “Little Soldier Boy,” or even the finale’s duel between Zuko and Azula, which, though largely wordless, brought two seasons’ worth of development to a resonant end. This season was sharp and twisty and I yelled at the screen a lot, but really? I want to know more about how Mako feels when he confronts homeless kids and sees himself in their faces. I want to see Asami visit her father in jail. I want to meet Zuko’s daughter. I want to love these characters, but the show makes it difficult.
I hope Korra is able to slow down next season for these reasons. I doubt it will, but I hope, because I think that taking some time to mess around with its already vibrant cast would take it from great to classic.