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The second half of LoK Book 2 did some really interesting things story-wise, including telling the story of the first Avatar and providing an ending with real consequences, one that set the stage for the next and arguably the best season of the show. There were some weaknesses in the buildup that I think undercut the conclusion, but overall I was okay with the season. I could see its flaws, but I had fun watching and certainly I wasn't enraged by the end, which is always a plus.

Some spoilers )

For all its imperfections, however, the ending of Book 2 made lasting changes to the world--something Book 1 miserably failed at--and set up the events of Book 3: Changes. For that reason I think of it as a bridge season, and the Book 1 that should have been.
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I've been hearing a lot about how good Books 3 and 4 of Legend of Korra were, but I didn't particularly feel like watching Season 2 after hearing lackluster reports about it. My sources disagreed on whether Book 2 was safely skippable, and I went back and forth until I finally decided to bite the bullet and watch one episode. If I hated it, I could always stop and move on to Book 3.

Spoilers, and why I find Iroh despicable )

In sum, the first half of Book 2 is a giant leap over Book 1 and far less infuriating. It has actual character development, real consequences, and moral complexity. It was a lot of the things Book 1 should have been, and while it's no replacement for a strong first season it's good to see the effort being made.
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Yeah yeah, it's another "LoK ruined everything" post. Run for the hills!

Reading this thread between [personal profile] chordatesrock and [personal profile] attackfish, I was reminded again of what made the Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom so awesome for me. In addition to the epic story, great characters, and cool martial arts, ATLA is also a fairly progressive cartoon particularly on feminism and disability. (Okay, so the feminism is a bit ham-handed, but better than nothing, right?) It correspondingly attracted a sizable number of fans who are interested in these issues, making for great  discussions and friendships with smart people who taught me new perspectives and ideas.

Legend of Korra Book 1, by contrast, is regressive on pretty much all social issues. On the feminism front there are a couple of strong female characters in Korra and Asami, though even their developments were stunted by unclear focus and rushed writing. Otherwise, the prevailing message in LoK seems to be that the status quo is awesome and those who complain are either deceivers or dupes. LoK Book 1 also has nothing to say about disability issues, and where the story could touch on disability it veers between being silent and ridiculously offensive.

I think that's why those of us who were drawn to the socially progressive and political aspects of ATLA were underwhelmed by LoK. The fans who primarily loved the fantasy martial arts and the characters from the original show seem to be fine with the new show, and I say more power to them. (It's not that I think the second group is any less intelligent or socially conscious than the first, of course. The two groups just seem drawn to different parts of the franchise, or at least the second group is more forgiving of LoK's faults in handling social issues. Or they're more optimistic about Book 2 and onward than I am.) In the end the differences between LoK and ATLA highlighted the different reasons fans loved the franchise, and brought home what makes the ATLA fandom special to me.
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I'm still procrastinating on working on the DS9 S1E06 review and the analysis of Éowyn's showdown with the Nazgûl, but because I am infinitely sidetrackable (SQUIRREL!) i have a vague idea of giving Book 1 of Legend of Korra the "Ember Island Players" treatment. It's all [personal profile] overlithe's fault for linking all a dream, which is similar except with Amon and the Lieutenant.

Movie night! )

Also, any ideas for a title? I thought about taking the first episode title like "The Boy in the Iceberg" did, but "Welcome to Republic City" sounds a bit too touristy and campy. It attributes a sense of irony to the writers that they didn't have. Another idea is to leave the movie untitled and title the fic "Ember Island Studios Proudly Present:" or some such to show the intent to parody EIP.
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Title: The Need to Be Seen
Author: [personal profile] ljlee
Rating: K
Words: 474
Genre: Gen, Drama
Characters: Tenzin, OC
Summary: Will Air Acolytes be content to remain so forever?
Notes: This arose out of [personal profile] amyraine's speculation about the place of non-benders in the preservation of Air Nomad culture. Edited and slightly expanded from a shorter version originally posted to [community profile] avatar_contest Prompt #67: Hunger.

The repairs are well underway... )
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Entry for Prompt #59: Escape at the [livejournal.com profile] avatar_500. This one comes after Defying Definition and before The Language of Grief. Maybe I should name the series or something. The Adventures of Xing the Ex-Bender?

"What is going on here?" Korra stepped back from the man who had been dropped at her feet, hands bound behind his back and mouth covered with a stone gag. The onlookers murmured among themselves.

"I can explain, Avatar Korra." The middle-aged earthbender, who had just dragged the bound man to this square on a moving swell of earth, raised his arms in a gesture of surrender.

"Explain now." She raised her own arms and water from the fountain flew out of its basin to freeze around the earthbender's feet, holding him in place. At a stomp of her foot the stone bindings fell from the wrists and mouth of the man writhing at her feet.

"My name is Zhen Tiao, Deputy Head Shaper at the Civil Engineering Department. This is my son Xing, an earthbender like myself. Or he would be, if it weren't for Amon."

"Oh." Korra gestured at the people around her. "That's kind of what I'm doing here, so why-"

"I told you I don't want it!" Xing got to his feet, rubbing his wrists.

"What?" Korra raised her eyebrows while a ripple went through the crowd. "Why not?"

"I don't need it." He crossed his arms. "I have plans of my own and none of them involves being an earthbender."

"Earthbending is a part of you. Why should you lose it forever just because that jerk Amon took it away?" Korra approached Xing. "Losing my bending was the worst feeling in my life."

"I'm not you." Xing shifted his weight as though to back away, but stopped himself with visible effort. "It wasn't much more than a nuisance to me. And who's going to study the effects of bending removal if everyone has their power returned?"

"Why would you want to study something that horrible?" Korra put a hand on Xing's shoulder. "I don't agree with  your father's methods, but I don't think you're being rational here. First I'll give you your bending back. Then we'll talk."

She was lifting her hand to his forehead when he spoke.

"If you do this you're no better than Amon."

Korra flinched away like he was heated metal. "Amon took something away from you. I'm giving it back!"

"And my will doesn't figure into it?"

"Don't listen to him, Avatar Korra," Zhen pleaded from where he stood pinned. "Clearly the boy's cracked!"

Korra watched the two of them, her eyes narrowing in resolve. Zhen quailed when she turned to him, but the sweep of her arm only melted the ice around his feet into a puddle.

"Touch your son again and you'll have me to deal with, not to mention the police." She turned to meet Xing's eyes. "And I still think you're making a big mistake."

"Fair enough." Xing inclined his head and walked away through the crowd.

Korra watched him go before she left, ignoring Zhen's sputtering protests. She looked over her shoulder once, but Xing was already gone.
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Right on the heels of my long speculation about Air Nomad genocide and their future, and my promise to [livejournal.com profile] amyraine to write a fic about Air Acolytes' place in the culture, I've written a drabble on that very premise for [livejournal.com profile] avatar_contest's Week #67: Hunger. At 300 words it's obviously not a full treatment, but it's a start.

Edit: It won Week #67! Thanks [livejournal.com profile] lye_tea for the banner.


(The Need to be Seen)
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I started posting this to the Amon/Tarrlok Thread, before realizing it really wasn't the place for it and would earn me a delete at best, a ban at worst. (Although I don't know why I keep going back to ASN. Morbid curiosity as to whether there really is a lethal dose of stupidity?)

Spoilers and F-bombs abound )
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Just because I have no mercy for this dead horse...

The Legend of Korra, Season 1
- A fan of the original ATLA series breaks down what was wrong with the pacing, characterization, and especially the Equalist plotline.

How You Can Have a Bunch of Great Ideas but Still Fuck Up Real Bad: A Korra Essay
- Discovered through our very own [livejournal.com profile] lavanyasix's comment-linking, a comprehensive takedown of Book 1 that shows exactly how it undid its promising early developments and not only wasted time in an already short season, but ended up with no character development and no point.

The essay also a really effective rebuttal of the "but there were only twelve episodes!" defense that fans rush to. Even if we ignore the fact that the writers knew about the episode limit from the start and had no excuse not to work within it, they still wasted the first half of the season by reversing everything in the second half. They have no one but themselves to blame for the choppy and rushed mess they ended up with.

Korra as the Avatar and Bending as a Defining Feature
- A less comprehensive review than the above two but well worth a read in the way it points out how the excessive focus on bending comes at the expense of Korra's character development.
ljlee: (Default)
The gist of it: The Equalists did not arise out of a vacuum, but the show also has no evidence of systematic oppression. Rather I argue that the Equalists were a non-bender gang that gained power because the United Republic failed as a government and as a community, leaving non-benders without protection and support. This flaw in the UR is a problem the show should deal with in Book 2 and beyond, and a good job for Korra to handle as the Avatar.

Here's the extended version )


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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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