This archived article was written by: Katrina Wood
She has bested the blood bender, defeated Vaatu for another 10,000 years and saved the air nation. After all this time, Korra has found balance.
After “The Legend of Korra’s” powerful book three finale, fans were traumatized. The last view of Korra showed her wheelchair-bound and emotionally devastated—a far cry from the upbeat, cocky Avatar we met in book one. Though victorious, she suffered a fate that broke our hearts. As the wait for book four began, fans questioned how the Avatar would recover from a sorry state. Less than two months later, they receive their answer.
Three years have passed since Korra risked her life for the air nation. Scars from her battle with Zaheer linger and haunt her dreams, and although she does everything she can to heal, she finds herself incapable of moving on as the world changes.
As she fights to recover, Kuvira begins her conquest on reuniting the Earth Empire. Though her intentions are noble, her cold demeanor and harsh tactics quickly warp her into a tyrant with only one obstacle: the Avatar. But when the world cries for its Avatar, Korra realizes she is far from capable.
From its first moment, book four, “Balance,” boasts a different tone than its predecessors. Partly thanks to the time skip and budget cuts, “Balance” is humbler and holds a tighter focus. While book three handled a massive cast, book four spends less time with secondary characters and more time with Korra.
Korra and her struggles serve as the foundation of “Balance,” and are one of the book’s strongest points. Rather than gift her with a quick-fix that many cartoons rely on when the going gets tough, Korra has to fight to heal, and her progression is slow. At times she believes she has overcome something, only to realize an episode later that she is at that same standstill. It’s a constant uphill battle, and it’s masterfully handled. Both heart-breaking and heart-warming, Korra’s battle for peace is realistic and worthy of the praise it receives.
On the other side of the spectrum, book four is no slacker when it comes to action. With some of the slickest bending battles yet, “Balance” is chalk-full of awesome moments. While no battle akin to Aang’s final battle with the Fire Lord or Korra’s battle with Zaheer occur, “Balance” satisfies viewers with spectacular feats of bending all around.
Yet in spite of its strengths in story-telling and action, book four feels empty at times. Mostly thanks to the budget cut that forced one episode to become a clip episode, several characters and minor storylines are dropped in the book without warning. While it doesn’t distract from the book’s focus, it leaves Balance, ironically, feeling a little off balance.
Regardless, “Balance” is successful in its goal. Viewers watch Korra defeat great threats, recover and overcome mental illness and learn to love and forgive her enemies. She achieves much as the Avatar—but it’s her victories as a person that ring the strongest.
Throughout the series, fans joined Korra in her greatest struggles. They watched villains break her down, rip her apart and force the girl once so proud to be the Avatar question if she was needed at all in the first place.
While “The Legend of Korra’s” predecessor, “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” was a story about a boy coming to terms with the fact that he was the Avatar, “The Legend of Korra” is about the Avatar coming to terms with the fact that she is human. It’s about her joys and victories, her trials and hardships and everything that came in-between. In its final chapter, it showed that anyone can overcome something as human as depression and PTSD—even the Avatar—and though it may not be easy, it is more than possible to heal and find balance.