skygiants: Lin Bei Fong, from Legend of Korra, pointing to her eyes (got my eyes on you)
[personal profile] skygiants
I've been waiting to make this post until I was sure there was not going to be a sharp downturn in the final stretch (CAUTION TAPE ALL OVER MAKO'S LIPS! STAY AWAY!), but I really liked season 3 of Korra! It was extremely good and I really appreciated Jinora as a parallel protagonist! Korra and Asami as actual friends who spent time together! The animals actually got personalities instead of being set design! The season started with solid episodic plots that developed character and relationships! There was a really good balance of agency during the climax! There was a focus on a world in transition and the way that affects various people in different ways! The villains were three-dimensional villains with understandable motivations! I liked the Bei Fong Family Drama! My random headcanon that Sparky Boom-Boom Lady was raised as an assassin and then left when she discovered ARDENT ANARCHISM turned out to be hilariously verified? The romances were cute?? Jinora/Kai is super cute??? Bolin and Mako were actually likeable???? I DIDN'T THINK I'D EVER LIKE THEM AGAIN.

...so of course then [personal profile] innerbrat and I started thinking about ways that we would have rewritten the first two seasons to get our ideal versions of the show while still getting maintaining the third season intact.



1. First, and maybe most importantly: make the first two seasons one 26-episode story arc instead of two distinct 13-episode arcs. Introduce Unalaq at the very beginning, when introducing the rest of Korra's family, and have some early hints at the 'spirits are menacing and the world is out of balance' throughout the first 'WELCOME TO REPUBLIC CITY' arc. Speaking of the 'WELCOME TO REPUBLIC CITY' arc: take longer to build up the friendships between the kids; have a couple of wacky filler episodes; SKIP THE ONGOING LOVE TRIANGLE, oh god, please, just don't. CAUTION TAPE OVER MAKO'S LIPS FOREVER.

1.a. One of those filler episodes should be entirely from the POV of the air kids going about their daily lives and having wacky low-key hijinks, while dramatic Korra-gang related stuff happens in the background. [personal profile] shati and I spent all of season 1 talking about how much we wanted this episode and it would have been SO GOOD.

2. Okay, the Equalist arc -- you could definitely argue with me on this, but man, whatever they were trying to do, it SO PATENTLY did not work that I would just dump it completely. Dump Amon, dump Tarrlok. IT DIDN'T WORK. By season three, they've jettisoned that anyway to make the main social conflict about class, so just go with that! You could still have a villain who takes away bending be Korra's first low-level boss to fight in the middle of S1/S2 before plunging into the Harmonic Convergence arc. [personal profile] innerbrat's idea on this, which I like: have your de-bending villain/Amon equivalent working for a Triad. Because of the ongoing class issues that will become a major plot point in S3, and the fact that the de-bending villain is only stealing the bending of criminals and the lower-class, the government of Republic City doesn't take the situation seriously; Mako and Bolin get drawn in because of their former Triad affiliations, so Korra ends up pursuing it without support. Asami's father's villainy: he turns out to have ties to the mob. You get to explore Asami's position as 'new' industrial money, do more with Mako and Bolin's past on the streets, and demonstrate that the world is politically out of balance and people are disenfranchised without losing yourself in endless 'DOES BENDING PRIVILEGE EXIST?' arguments.

2.a. Also, if the de-bending boss is just a decoy villain while Unalaq stuff is going on in the background, you can skip the whole 'genocide the Air Nation!' plot. Yes. Please. LET'S SKIP IT. The Air Nation getting menaced with genocide in Season 3 is fine! Especially since they go on to rescue themselves, ten points to the Air Nation. But it packs a way bigger punch if you didn't already do it two seasons earlier.

3. Relatedly: season 3 seems, to me, to pretty definitively set Jinora up as Korra's parallel protagonist. I love this! LET'S DO THIS ALL THROUGH. Like, Tenzin is great. I love Tenzin. But all the parts in Season Two about Tenzin stressing out over Jinora being in danger, why don't we make them ... actually about Jinora ...?

4. MAKE THE EARLY MOVIES PLOT GOOD. I love early cinema trivia and it is legitimately heartbreaking to me that everything about Bolin's early movies plot was terrible. I've been trying and trying to think of ways you could fix this. Maybe ... instead of a Howard Hughes analogue ... you could reset film a little earlier in its history and have a Thomas Edison analogue ...? Several of the earliest proto-films were actually about boxers, so maybe he recruits Bolin as a pro-bender for Kinograph-equivalent stuff, which leads to an acting career and then your b-plot while Korra is off dealing with Harmonic Convergence stuff is the reveal that Fake Edison has been using Bolin as an in to plagiarize various tech stuff from Asami's company, WHICH ASAMI FIGURES OUT AND DEALS WITH HERSELF instead of having to have Policeman Mako inexplicably be the only person with a clue, there you go, that's the b-plot.

5. Does there need to be a war between the water tribes? I don't think there needs to be a war between the water tribes. That was kind of pointless. Ditch that too! REPLACE IT WITH HIJINKS EPISODES. And episodes demonstrating the various ways the world is out of balance/in need of change (possibly several featuring Lin Beifong!), so that Korra's decisions during Harmonic Convergence come as the real culmination of that buildup.

6. We can keep the Wan episodes, they're really pretty.

SO THERE YOU GO. Mostly though I'm just glad I like and look forward to the show again.

Date: 2014-08-24 04:04 pm (UTC)
innerbrat: (karolina)
From: [personal profile] innerbrat
Making the two seasons one season also means you have the room to play out "Bolin is terrible at romance" without it being... well, terrible. When you introduce Unalaq early, introduce Eska and her brother at the same time: sent to Republic City by their father to befriend Korra and get her leaning to his side in the Harmonic Convergence plot. So then Bolin, who is still crushing on his new friend Korra, latches onto Eska as a Korra-replacement. they spend several episodes background-dating but she's getting more into him and he's getting less and it ends badly (and it's his fault.)

Then in the second half of the season he's dating Ginger, who like Eska is an ACTUAL CHARACTER WITH ACTUAL FEELINGS. Maybe it's like a gender-flipped Lockwood and Lamont and Ginger it like "dude, we're not dating DID YOU THINK WE WERE DATING?" and Bolin's like; "....yes?" And then Ginger cracks up because "in that case you are a terrible boyfriend" and Bolin thinks about the last few episodes and admits that yes, he probably was.

And then Bolin's all ready to be a real boyfriend for Opal, for whom he actually cares.


Can Season 3 (now season 2) be 26 episodes, too? Can we have THIRTEEN episodes of wacky hijinks finding Airbenders that visits all our favourite places from ATLA?

Date: 2014-08-24 04:24 pm (UTC)
innerbrat: (♥)
From: [personal profile] innerbrat
Yeah cause, as we saw it it was only the Earth Kingdom (and the UR), and there has to be Airbenders in the WT and the Fire Nation too, right? Maybe we could expand a little on who is suddenly an Airbender? Are they all previously non-benders as we assumed? Do any want to join the Air Nation but have to escape from oppressive villages? Does someone pretend to be an Airbender? How do they get away with it? Does anyone reject the dichotomy of 'join us or don't' and find some sort of middle ground?

Can we please see an Airbending Kyoshi warrior?

(Oh god I know we're doing away with the Equalist plot, but I REALLY WANT Dennis the Equalist to have turned up as an Airbender.)

Date: 2014-08-24 04:47 pm (UTC)
phoenixchilde: Bolin from "Legend of Korra" with a very poofy Pabu perched on his head (korra: POOF!)
From: [personal profile] phoenixchilde
I love all of these ideas and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Also, ugh, I am right there with y'all: I am SO GLAD to be on board with the show again after that disastrous second season. (I just finished watching the S3 finale literally five minutes ago, so I'm far less analytical and more YES THANK YOU OMG. But I also like the ideas on how to improve S1 and S2!)

Date: 2014-08-24 06:31 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
From: [personal profile] sovay
My random headcanon that Sparky Boom-Boom Lady was raised as an assassin and then left when she discovered ARDENT ANARCHISM turned out to be hilariously verified?

Awesome.

I have been very glad to heard that Season Three turned out as well as it did. I loved everything about Season One except for the finale, which felt like it was trying to shove an entire second season's worth of plot into twenty minutes and completely failed to while also undercutting the political legitimacy of its A-plot; I missed the start of Season Two and then felt awkwardly better once I heard that nobody but nobody liked it. I've been sort of holding off on Season Three until someone could tell me if it cratered in the final episodes, and since it sounds like it didn't, I shall now look it up.

Season Two still sounds terrible.

Date: 2014-08-24 08:04 pm (UTC)
shati: korra gapes in horror; lightning crashes ([korra] FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK)
From: [personal profile] shati
99 of my problems with season 1 were that I could not tell whether they thought they were writing benders as an actually privileged class or not. And granted I was distracted by the DELIGHTFUL IDEA of an airbender kids POV episode, but still!

Date: 2014-08-24 09:32 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
From: [personal profile] sovay
99 of my problems with season 1 were that I could not tell whether they thought they were writing benders as an actually privileged class or not.

I thought there was fairly good evidence for it in the first season, but then the show apparently stopped caring in favor of demonstrating how the Equalists were the Bad Guys, which rather borked the whole argument.

Date: 2014-08-24 10:00 pm (UTC)
shoroko: Close up of Anthy looking down, her hair falling over her shoulders. (found myself an old solution)
From: [personal profile] shoroko
There are non-bending police officers - one chased Korra out of the park when she was fishing in the first episode.

Date: 2014-08-25 09:48 am (UTC)
innerbrat: (opinion)
From: [personal profile] innerbrat
I've just remembered my initial head canon, which never got legitimized so I forgot about it, was that neither Lin nor Toph were actually chief of police, but headed up an elite bending force whose ONLY job was to go after problem benders. All the day-to-day policing - from beat work to MCU - were non-bending jobs (well, didn't require bending) but the metalbenders were called in when there was a major bending incident in the city streets, like a bending SWAT.

Then fandom were like "only metalbenders can be policemen!" and I forgot it.

Date: 2014-08-26 02:36 am (UTC)
shoroko: Fruit pies arranged on a rising set of circular shelves. (warm and safe and)
From: [personal profile] shoroko
I mean, there are also definitely non-bending police and/or government employees - when the Equalists attack the police station and Saikhan and Tenzin have to evacuate everyone, those are the only two shown bending once they confront the Equalists outside. Everyone besides Tenzin is captured, but if any of those people had bending, they didn't use it to defend themselves.

But this also wasn't something the show worked particularly hard to make a point of, which might have been helpful yes.

Date: 2014-08-24 10:34 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Tenzin (who is Air Nation rep by default and a terrible politician anyway)

(Agreed. And one of the things I enjoyed about Tenzin's characterization in Season One, along with the fact that temperamentally he is the worst possible choice for Korra's mentor.)

none of the social or political leaders that we see in Republic City are benders (and neither is the Earth Queen in S3).

I had thought there were more on the Council besides Tenzin and Tarrlok, but I haven't seen the season since it aired; I believe you. Also useful to know about the Earth Queen. I had been wondering what happened with the succession there anyway.

Lightning-bending was an elite skill in Aang's era and for Mako it's pretty much just enough to get him a factory job on an assembly line.

Which was one of the developments I thought was fascinating! Like metalbending now being a sufficiently teachable skill that it's one of the standard tools of Republic City law enforcement. Another piece of worldbuilding left relatively unexplored, unless later seasons remembered to pick it back up.

Date: 2014-08-24 11:15 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Later seasons do do some significant stuff with metalbending, which I liked!

Yay!

Am I still waiting for the show to figure out that bloodbending is the most brilliant innovation in medical technology since anesthesia?

Date: 2014-08-24 09:19 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
From: [personal profile] sovay
I was onboard with Season One initially, but at this point I have so many conflicting feelings about all of the political ideas in it at this point that I can't even figure out what I think they were trying to do at this point.

Major thoughts of mine on Season One here, here, and here, almost all slightly depressing in retrospect. I thought the exploration of rising tech levels in a world where some people have elemental superpowers and some people don't was a legitimate worldbuilding question and so were the political implications, especially once the question of spirit world/modern age entered the picture; I fully expected the Equalist plot to come back in later seasons in a way that was less clear-cut than people talking about "purification" is always scary also rallies with banners also I am not sure if this metaphor and I are on the same page. The ways in which it fell apart at the end of the season made me question what the creators thought they were doing with the plot in the first place, which was frustrating. I really did expect Amon's Lieutenant to be a recurring character.

she thinks they were going for anti-bending sentiment not as legitimate political complaint but as displaced anger about other issues in parallel to the early 20th century's rising anti-Semitism

Interesting. Although my first reaction to that is: that only works if Jews actually have superpowers . . .

And, as aforementioned, the way-way-flashback episodes.

Maybe I can just excerpt those from the internet somehow.

Though the actual A-plot was necessary to set up all the cool major-worldshift stuff they're doing in Season Three, which is in fact genuinely, wonderfully cool.

Is it the kind of A-plot that needs to be seen to produce the necessary emotional investment or can it be explained in convincing summary before starting Season Three?
Edited (HTML, my old enemy, we meet again) Date: 2014-08-24 09:20 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-08-24 09:40 pm (UTC)
sovay: (I Claudius)
From: [personal profile] sovay
(the exploration of bending and tech and spirituality in an increasingly mechanical world could have been SO INTERESTING)

I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE THE META-PLOT. DISAPPOINT.

The way-way-flashback episodes about the beginning of the Avatar cycle are absolutely worth watching, in my opinion. And sets up most of the ... actual important stuff that happens.

All right; I will make an actual effort to track them down.

But all that you really need to know is a summary of the fact that Korra Generates A Major Shift In The World, Here's How. Which I can provide if you'd like it here, so let me know!

Eh, sure! Thank you.

Date: 2014-08-24 10:19 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
From: [personal profile] sovay
she's temporarily severed from the Avatar cycle, and while she gets it back, she can't access her past lives anymore (so no more chats with Aang.)

Oh, interesting. Does that affect all Avatars going forward from Korra, too?

Jinora turned out to have a very strong connection to the spirit world and became Korra's teacher in spirit stuff.

Sweet.

Also, Bolin was temporarily a silent film star and Fake Howard Hughes turned out to be war profiteering in a pointless plot that was annoying in all particulars

Dammit! That could have been great. Bolin as a silent film star, anyway. I'm not sure about war-profiteering Howard Hughes.

Oh, and Asami and Korra both definitively broke up with Mako and NOBODY KISSES HIM AT ALL EVER IN SEASON THREE AND IT'S GREAT.

HUZZAH.

. . . The thing I liked about the love triangle in Season One was that it was not actually a love triangle; it was just Mako being terrible at communication and the show knew it. I'm glad to hear that the characters noticed also.

[edit] Does Shiro Shinobi appear in later seasons?
Edited (pressing concerns and correct spelling) Date: 2014-08-24 10:31 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-08-24 11:27 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Which I was initially ambivalent about, because I liked the past-life connection, but have since come to terms with as part of, again, a major forward-looking shift in the world.

Especially combined with the original series' hundred-year absence of Avatar—which was not normative and which is never fixed in the conventional sense; the world is a very different place for Aang's frozen time-out and no one even pretends they can put it back, inventions stay invented and the dead stay dead—I like the idea that the meta-plot of this whole secondary world is not about restoring things to the way they used to be, but taking what you have and going forward with it. A lot of fantasy tropes are restorative. It's nice to have some that are not.

TRAGICALLY, Shiro Shinobi does not again appear in later seasons.

There is no excuse for that. The newsreel recaps were brilliant.

And do cool stuff with radio!

AIRBENDING RADIO.

AIR. BENDING. RADIO.

. . . I don't know why I suddenly think that Air Temples would be ideal sites for radio astronomy, but I do.

God, I've been saying from the beginning that all I want out of Korra is a swing dance episode party.

AUGH YES MAYBE THEY'RE SAVING IT FOR THE FINALE?
Edited (look I'm sleeping about three hours a night these days) Date: 2014-08-24 11:27 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-08-24 11:38 pm (UTC)
shoroko: Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon transforming, her body surrounded by rings of fire. (scorched earth)
From: [personal profile] shoroko
Shiro Shinobi does continue to do the pre-episode recaps, ftr. I just don't thiiink he's actually appeared onscreen as a character in the show.

(... though I feel like he was in maybe something in season 2 that I have blocked out forever for unrelated reasons.)
Edited Date: 2014-08-24 11:59 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-08-25 11:07 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey)
From: [personal profile] sovay
(... though I feel like he was in maybe something in season 2 that I have blocked out forever for unrelated reasons.)

Understood. I hear a lot about Season Two that way.

Date: 2014-08-25 10:24 am (UTC)
innerbrat: (nerd)
From: [personal profile] innerbrat
Does that affect all Avatars going forward from Korra, too?

I think it like, starts afresh with Korra? So in a hundred years' time there'll be a young Earthbender being like "Ugh, Korra had NO USEFUL ADVICE AT ALL. Why can't I at least talk to Aang?"

Date: 2014-08-24 10:19 pm (UTC)
shoroko: Art of Princess Bubblegum and Marceline from Adventure Time looking at one another. (why do I want to)
From: [personal profile] shoroko
Yes this was basically my argument. And I don't disagree with you on them having handled it terribly. The reason my solution for it was 'just have Tarrlok and Amon working together' is because it would have made at least part of the story way more simple and that was something they desperately needed if that was indeed what they were going for.

Though I guess I'll edit to clarify - I didn't mean to say (and I don't think ever outright said) that it was directly comparable to 1920s Antisemitism specifically, so much as that it recalled various non-governmental social movements that distracted from existing social issues by targeting specific groups based on a religious/ethnic identity. Which... I guess sounds like that, but the example I tend to think of is the power of the KKK in 1920s Indiana, which had enormous public support and basically overran the government, and ultimately lost power when a major leader was very publicly convicted of brutally raping and causing the death of a woman.

And also that I don't think, in taking A:TLA and LoK as a whole, there's much evidence of systemic bender privilege, and that I think there's a tendency to assume that narrative and apply it despite this. But yes I still agree the show did a really bad job of it.
Edited Date: 2014-08-24 10:40 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-08-24 11:35 pm (UTC)
shoroko: Sailor Moon in a tattered uniform, her eyes blank. (power shot)
From: [personal profile] shoroko
I mean they totally didn't do it anyway, so it doesn't make much difference, but yeah.

And I want to say I'm clarifying the point re: anti-Semitism because it would be a legit argument that Jews have a very specific pre-1920s history of extreme persecution that is not at all comparable. My point in bringing up the KKK in Indiana was that it was anti-Semitic and racist, and also vocally anti-Catholic, and for all there can be about Catholicism in 1920s America, Catholics do not have that or any comparable history of persecution. It's not a perfect comparison either, because that really does not exist, I just wanted to be clear I'm not saying [fictional group] is exactly like [real group with very real history of oppression and persecution].

Though it is worth pointing out, because I feel like it's often ignored in LoK discussions, that in Avatarverse benders actually did have a history of persecution prior to that point. In very different terms and in a very different context, but that doesn't totally divorce it from what was happening in Republic City, as yes the climax with the airbenders showed, sorrrry. >__>

Date: 2014-08-24 07:36 pm (UTC)
aquamirage: Jinora demonstrates airbending (Default)
From: [personal profile] aquamirage
This is good and I agree with most of it. ESPECIALLY 1. Jinora as parallel protag and 2. WACKY LOW-KEY FILLER, which, like minor "bad guys" just being normal funny people, is a top necessary component of the Avatar Brand. Someone pointed out on tumblr that these three seasons happened over the course of a little less than a year and I was like ???? so your plan helps with that too...wow.....poor Korra.......

I can't believe I am at a point where I'm comfortable enough with the current state of this show that I'm writing fic for it again. SIGHS DEEPLY.

Date: 2014-08-24 08:09 pm (UTC)
aquamirage: Kamala Khan, being adorable at her laptop (one-thousand kudos)
From: [personal profile] aquamirage
I DEFINITELY TEARED UP AT THE END. GRANDPA AANG WOULD BE SO PROUD AND THINK SHE IS SO COOL. (Important question: WHERE WAS KATARA??? Like, ever. At any time.)

You know how in five minutes Korra is going to stop being exclusively sad and blank and start having weird misdirected anger at everyone re: everything that has happened to her, because she is Korra, and also 18 years old? That is what my fic is about. Hashtag Korrasami.

Date: 2014-08-25 12:19 am (UTC)
kd7sov: (avatar)
From: [personal profile] kd7sov
(Important question: WHERE WAS KATARA??? Like, ever. At any time.)

Maybe she was helping protect Zuko's daughter, and Druk isn't strong enough to carry two? (Though I dunno, given the ones we saw I'd think a fire lord could protect herself... maybe "protect my daughter" is Zukode for "have wacky reunion hijinks" or something?)

Date: 2014-08-25 02:09 am (UTC)
lacewood: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lacewood
I basically hung around waiting to see if Korra would get better as it went on, and I am glad to see that this ACTUALLY OCCURRED. Now I can skip s2* and head STRAIGHT TO s3! EXCELLENT.

(Also, I haven't seen s2 but I agree with all your rewrite ideas anyway. ALL OF THEM. Needs moar filler eps, would TOTALLY watch filler eps about adorable air kids)

*or skim read other people's ep recaps if I really have to, I guess!

Date: 2014-08-27 07:25 pm (UTC)
sandrylene: Scott Pilgrim generator based pic of me (Default)
From: [personal profile] sandrylene
I may have finished all of the last half of S3 in one go last night in between packing because of this post.

Curse you, because I should have slept more? But it was great, so thank you?

I am so signing up for your revisionist details, especially 1, 3 and 4.

Season 1 was like, please have this train, which has now run you over. Very pro changing the timing, very pro letting Asami solve her own damn problems (felt to me that half the time the show is like, "look how super competent she is - she doesn't have bending and it doesn't matter because she is so skilled and smart" and half the time the show is like, "oh, right, Asami. We stuck her in this closet to uselessly fret for a bit and forgot she was supposed to have a brain."

I had a lot of Jinora feels. I may have cried a lot at the end. Just maybe.

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