In the category of “best news I’ve heard in a while,” the award goes to…Nickelodeon, for ordering twenty-six more episodes of The Legend of Korra! That is on top of the fourteen “Book Two” episodes, so…let me get my calculator…that means there are forty more episodes of The Legend of Korra!
Since Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko stood firm on a three season story for Avatar: The Last Airbender, we know that they’re willing to stick to their guns when they finish a story arc, which means that they must have something in mind for the rest of The Legend of Korra…but what? I know…let’s wildly speculate and talk about what we want to see in the coming seasons!
A popular theory for a while was that “Book Two” would be the book of "Spirit.” Avatar: The Last Airbender had three “books”—“Water,” “Earth” and “Fire”— and The Legend of Korra completed that cycle with “Book One: Air.” I personally was of the opinion that the next fourteen episode arc would be “Book Two: Spirit” because of my totally wrong theory that Koh the Face-Stealer was behind Amon. Now that there is the possibility of two more books—if they split it like they did the first 26 episodes— they could complete an entire elemental cycle; air, water, earth, fire. That gives them plenty of room to play around.
But what would I actually like to see next season? I’m not talking about plot—I’d like to see The Lieutenant on the City Council, for instance, and for Asami to win at everything—but rather, broader themes for the show to explore.
The Spirit World
I didn’t get my heart that set on my Koh the Face-Stealer being the big bad villain; I knew I was shooting from the three-point line, at best. Or whatever the pro-bending equivalent of a three-point throw is. That being said, the episodes featuring the Spirit World in Avatar: The Last Airbender were always some of my favorites. Owl librarians, curmudgeonly monkeys, monstrous panda totems; all that stuff is really fantastic spice to the worldbuilding. Since Korra being closed off to her spiritual side was a major arc in the first season, I think it paves the way for an even bigger role for the spirits in The Legend of Korra than Avatar had. I’d like to see Yue and a whole mess of new spirits—in fact, think Hayao Miyazaki! Korra would make an awesome alternative protagonist to Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away; I would like to see something in that vein.
The appearances of Aang in the first season were largely relegated to a single disjointed flashback. That is all well and good—we don’t want to steal the new Avatar’s thunder—but now we have a chance to dig a little deeper. Not just into Aang’s life, as her spiritual guide, but into the thoughts and opinions of Korra’s other incarnations. After “The Endgame,” I was really entranced by the panel of previous Avatars that showed up. I want to know the story behind some of the other Avatars, and I fondly recall Aang going to Roku for guidance, as well as delving deeper into his past lives for answers, especially when faced with an unacceptable ethical choice. Maybe Korra could look to her earlier lives for insight into her romantic situation—that should provide fodder for the ‘shipping mill! What sort of love life do you think Kyoshi had? Probably an awesome one; Kyoshi is the best.
I know people talk about wanting to see more of the world, but what I want to see is more of the fringes of the world. What happened to the Foggy Swamp Tribe? Are they still living in their verdant jungle, still bending plants, or have they been displaced? More to the point, what has their culture evolved to become? Have the Sun Warriors been reintegrated into the Fire Nation? Do they serve as the Fire Lord’s personal guard, or have they become tutors, educating firebenders on how to burn without rage? Did the nomadic musicians of “Secret Tunnel” fame start a 60’s-esque social movement in the Earth Kingdom? What is going on in the Si Wong Desert? Have the Beetle-headed merchants become a Dune-like Guild? Are the sandbenders interested in teaching their skills to the new airbenders? What is the art world like? Are the 5-7-5 Society obsolete, or have they become a new hip-hop style of music, or a White Lotus-like secret society? Did the Ember Island Players become famous?
I have this great picture in my head of what it is like in the home of the Fire Lord. Zuko and Mai’s daughter (I think it is great that fandom has dubbed her “Honora”) sits on the throne, and when she comes to a political impasse, she retreats to the forbidden wing of the palace, where crazy Aunt Azula is under perpetual house arrest. There, she takes her evil, insane aunt’s cunning advice, and tries to turn it to the cause of honor and justice.
Meanwhile, a happily retired Zuko has become the font of avuncular wisdom that Uncle Iroh was in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Doesn’t that just seem…right? Similarly…well, we’ve already been promised Tenzin’s brother Bumi, and that is exactly what I mean. Bring on Bumi, bring on Tenzin’s sister Kya! Both as bittersweet callbacks to the first series, but also as foils for Tenzin and his family to play off of. In fact, I’d sort of like to see a bit of elapsed time between seasons, just so Jinora, Ikki and Meelo can grow up a little bit. I want to see the teens and tweens they become, respectively, and I want to see how Korra acts as their role model. For that matter, what about Bolin and Mako? What is their back history? Who is important to them? What about Asami; does she have any other relatives? Who is she going to ally herself to—besides her friends in the Krew—now that she doesn’t have a family?
A Change of Pace
I am a big defender of the pacing of “Book One: Air.” I think that it has a very cinematic approach to narrative arcs, and I find some of the complaints about it—not all, mind you, but some—to be a variation on “this is different, I don’t like it!” People tended to compare one short season of Korra to the three long seasons of Last Airbender and that just isn’t fair. The show’s staff branched out and explored different styles of storytelling, and I think they succeeded. The compressed style of storytelling—almost all show, very little tell—really had pop to it. That said, now that we have forty more episodes to play with, I’d like to see Bryke play the long game. Set up plots that won’t be fulfilled for a very long time. Give us anticipation! Give us convoluted mysteries that spool out little by little as the show goes on. They don’t have to abandon the fast paced style—I don’t think they should—but I would like to see them use it as just one of the tools in their kit, in the upcoming seasons.
Mordicai Knode would also like to see an airbender—like Jinora—develop an “advanced technique” in the coming seasons. What do you want to see? Tell Mordicai about it on Twitter or look at his Tumblr for…well, pictures of whatever strikes his fancy.