Oh, straight up: spoilers.
This is a “big moments” finale, but a lot of little elements pepper these two episodes as well. Grey DeLisle is all up and down it as the scorpion-spider-angler spirit and with her silliest voice as the memorable spirit mushroom. She’s not the only old school voice: we’ve got a little of both Irohs, and Jason Isaacs shows up as Zhao the Moon Slayer! The new guys are on point as well. And is it just me or is Bolin like the Chaotic Good version of the normally Chaotic Neutral Archer? I actually didn’t mind his romance wrap up; I thought it provided closure and made the “dynamic” between Bolin and Eska work, at the end. Similarly, I’m not mad at Mako or Korra for the triangle—amnesia, end of the world, emotional cowardice, I believe all their drama. Asami gets the short end of the stick though; dear Book Three: be all about Asami Sato, okay? Pema and the airbending kids are cute, cheering for giant monster battles and telling Saint Jinora to be careful. Then there are…bigger discussions.
I am one for three now on my big predictions. I thought Koh would be behind Amon, and I was wrong. I said Korra would open the Spirit Portals and make everything Ghibli Time, I was right! I am pretty happy to see that; with the increasing industrialization of the world, the addition of commonplace spirits adds a weird twist of the otherworldly, a new wrinkle into the complexity of the story. It seriously is a new spiritual age; this is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius and all that. The stars were right, the planets literally aligned, and the Avatar reunited the physical and the spiritual world after a great spiritual battle fought in the real world. My last prediction? It isn’t true—yet—but I think it will be. By the time Korra’s tale ends, I predict she will merge with Vaatu. I think Korra will put Raava and Vaatu back together in another season finale (or even the series finale).
I can’t help but wonder if the story of Korra and Amon was originally sketched out—even in the most vague terms, as a casual what if?—to be longer than one Book? What if the reason Unalaq is a waterbender—another waterbender after the last two bad guys being waterbenders—is because it was supposed to be Amon? It would have been Amon versus Tarrlok as brother against brother; it would have been Amon taking the Spirit Portals, and it would have been Amon merging with Vaatu. With the rather definitive ending of Book One, of course that was scrapped, and it became “Korra’s dad and his brother! Yeah!” Which is fine; tell a new story. I just can’t help but wonder if there is an older skeleton of an idea underneath it. You know, underneath the Resident Evil tentacle-head monster that Unalaq becomes.
Then I think of other good Anti-Avatars. Amon would be a great Dark Avatar; I’d actually be okay with a whole imaginary third season of Amon as the Anti-Avatar, spreading his message of revolution, of uprising and civil war, against Korra as the Avatar, with the four nations rallying and trying to restore balance to the world. Or in a wild dream, Azula as the Anti-Avatar, older, but like Grey DeLisle’s Ice Queen in Rule 63 Adventure Time—a cackling witch. Hey, there was that firebending old lady in the crystal caves we all had theories about; just sayin’. I’m dreaming too big, I know. I’d like to have see Amon wavering back and forth between moral greys, telling an ethically complex story. I am happy with what we get, though, because the change to come at the end of the episode is a big enough risk, a story that doesn’t need more distractions. There is enough going on that you don’t need to make things crazier; it is plenty crazy.
I’d like to see Korra get her past lives back. Or, if not her, then the next Avatar, at least. I understand the need for it. Getting out from under the shadow of the old show, finding your own paths, making the big plays… Ah! you cry. But I thought we didn’t need any more weird twists, they’d just be distractions from the real story! You just said that!—but the reincarnation cycle is a fascinating and integral part of the Avatar mythos. And a little fan service never hurt nobody. Send Jinora and Ikki on a spirit quest, have them search in the spirit world for Aang and Roku and Kyoshi! That would be a great arc—reincarnation matters to the story, I think. It is a good tool, and I understand putting it away, but put it in the drawer, don’t just throw it out. Or then—hey, maybe you do seem to close that door, maybe the next Avatar has to go on a spirit quest to get in touch with Korra… oh, I’m all a-flutter. So many notions!
What do we learn? Well, at least, what can we speculate. Unalaq uses “vines” and dark spirit energy and waterbending as the Dark Avatar, so it looks like the use of all four elements is in fact unique to the Avatar, thanks to Wan. I didn’t see Korra bend at all after Raava was pulled out of her, until she waterbends to “spiritbend” the merged Unalaq and Raava. After the big “Bohr atomic model” four element bending—the series short hand for “going all out”—the absence seems emphasized. But then, the climax was about Korra, not Avatar Korra. We see that the Avatar—at least—can go to a cosmic place and merge with their primal divine spirit self, because we see Korra do it just as Aang did. Aang became a Miyazaki Godzilla, Unalaq became a Devil Ultraman, and Korra became…well, without Raava or Vaatu to add otherworldly elements, Korra became a giant blue Korra. We’ve got Spider-Lin, WolverLin, Iroh Man and now Super Korra, flying through the Southern Lights. Sitting beneath the Tree of Time like Odin on Yggdrasil, or Buddha under the Bodhi Tree.
Speaking of blue people, I was really concerned for Jinora going Obi-Wan blue ghost or pulling a Princess Yue, especially when she zapped out of being…then I remembered that she wasn’t physically there, she was astral projecting. What did Jinora do? I hope we get to see later, like we caught up with “Appa’s Lost Days.” I am hoping that there will be consequences. Did she bargain with Koh? With Wan Shi Tong? Korra and Jinora aren’t the only ones on a spiritual quest, either; Tenzin gets over himself. That is the ultimate quest, along with Korra’s quest to grow up—which Tenzin can now help her do. Tenzin and Korra’s relationship is the core of Book One and really the backbone of Book Two, as well. Can’t wait to see what it is like in Book Three.