If you had not heard Nick decided to release the season finale of Korra a week early online. Both episodes are now available to watch at Nick.com so go check them out.
Well that was brutal in every sense of the word, Korra literally got the Avatar ripped right out of her. Even with only one element the Dark Avatar proved to be a force to be reckoned with, and yet this episode was decidedly slower paced than I was expecting. “Darkness Falls” managed to be one of the darkest episodes of Korra we have gotten to date as everything from Korra’s continuous duel with Vaatu carried the action while Team Tenzin was given the heavy emotion material for the episode. We even managed o get a few fun cameos for past Avatar characters and some very high paced action. This was a very unique episode in that it was still a ramp up to the finale while at the same time being the conclusion to the ramp up saga. We have a lot of found to cover and very little time to do it so lets dive into the third part of the epic night of Korra.
The bulk of he episode was split up into two parts, Korra’s fight with Vaatu/The Dark Avatar and Team Tenzin’s search for JInora in The Fog of Lost Souls. With the Korra material we were not given a ton of dialogue, large parts of the drama were played out through the interstitials of Korra continually being over powered by her opponent. This kind of confirmed the theory that Korra had not truly mastered the Avatar State as there is no believable way that Korra should have been over powered by someone with only one element and no real connection to their spirit medium. Unalaq’s artistic style of Waterbending managed to keep Korra on her toes as Korra’s brute force attempts to take down The Dark Avatar were all in vain as Unalaq’s strength was just too much. The choreography of the Avatar vs Dark Avatar was absolutely stunning as the dueling vortexes managed to capture the heightened strength of the combatants and allowed for the scope of the battle to be portrayed effectively. Of course the most painful part of the episode was watching Korra have Raava physically ripped out of her and then simultaneously killed by Unalaq. Watching Korra’s past lives be torn away from her was brutal and I can only imagine how much pain Raava was in, loosing your memory of 10,000 years of friends must have been the worst feeling imaginable.
Speaking of the worst feeling imaginable, Team Tenzin’s search for Jinora managed to play up all of the emotional drama we wanted from it. The Fog of Lost Souls was a suitably terrifying environment as the idea of of the fog slowly bringing your worst nightmares to life made for some great fodder. Unfortunately this was not really given time to breath due to the rapid fire pace of the episode, so Bumi and Kya’s breakdowns managed to feel a little forced. There was a nice one off of Zhao being in the fog still chasing Aang tying to prove his worth but that was all it was. I wish there was some greater meaning to Zhao’s appearance but it was nice to know he did not just die when he was brought down by Koizilla. The strongest part of this whole sequence was undoubtably Tenzin’s metal breakdown and subsequent chat with the hallucination of Aang. Tenzin for a large part of the series has been plagued by the idea that he has to live up to Aang’s legacy so in turn he lack definition of who he was as a person. With the realization that Tenzin does indeed have to be his own man and create his own path we should hopefully see a stronger Tenzin moving forward.
I have to say the character who has seemingly benefitted the most from these past few episodes has definitely been Bolin. I don’t low what finally clicked with the writers but Bolin’s development has jumped exponentially since “Night of a Thousand Stars,” to the point where he finally feels like he belongs in this universe. His evolution from comic relief to fully fleshed out individual as been exceedingly fun to watch and really highlighted how a character on Avatar should be portrayed. What really highlighted his evolution this episode was his confession of wanting to be with Eska. What could have been easily built for laugh turned into a really heartfelt moment between the two characters, and though I do not know if Eska will go full Mai she managed to make small strides this episode. Bolin also managed to show his skill during the guerrilla warfare fight between Unalaq and the brothers. When Eska popped up and scarred the crap out of Bolin, I admit it was both terrifying and hilarious at the same time. Well done writers, well done.
So Korra is largely powerless and Unalaq is on his way to destroy the entire world, but as they say, it is always darkest before the dawn.
Final Grade A-
+ Action was to notch once again
+Brutal emotional content
+Bolin continues to improve.
-Unalaq should not have been able to overpower Korra so easily
-Bumi and Kya’s mental breakdowns were not really fleshed out.
-I really dug Unalaq’s Dark Avatar design at the end of the episode, it was suitably terrifying and powerful.
-Iroh and the spirit fox are best buds. I want a buddy comedy episode of just that.
-I really want to know why Bumi was raving about cannibals, it seemed really out of left field in terms of a mental break down in comparison to his siblings.
-Magic Spirit Mushroom was a surprise standout this episode. I hope it makes a dramatic return in the future.