EDIT: Review is now below.
Now here comes my review for the finale! I’m breaking this up into parts.
Gammu: He’s back! Back in my episode 1 review, I wrote that I hoped he would come back and he did and I’m just really happy about this. He’s such a wonderful guy and I just want to hug him for the line about all living together peacefully.
Tarrlok and Amon’s back story: This was one of my favorite parts of the finale. It was a sad story about two kids who were horribly twisted by their vengeful father. They turned out the way they did because of him and it’s horrible and I hate Yakone so much for ruining their lives.
And ha! I knew Amon and Tarrlok were brothers! The final scene between the two of them gave me so many feelings. So sad and wonderful and beautiful and I still can’t believe there was suicide on a kid’s show! It’s such a shocking moment because Tarrlok is a cruel and selfish person but here we see a noble side of him. We can also assume Amon/Noatak knew it was coming from the tears. Yet he didn’t stop Tarrlok; perhaps he realized just how twisted they were and that they really couldn’t find happiness and that the world really was better off without them. That’s sad… It’s just the perfect way to end their story.
Even though I swore not to, I have started liking Tarrlok a bit. He was so kind as a child and now I’m curious how/why he became such a dirty, horrible politician who uses bloodbending. I know it’s because of his father and the lessons Yakone imparted. Anyway, I’m a sucker for abused children. I won’t forgive Tarrlok for oppressing non-benders, but I definitely see him in a new light now and it’s just so fascinating. Thank you, Bryke, for giving me these two characters with their story.
General Iroh: He’s a badass. Also, he’s Iron Man… No, wait, he’s Iroh Man! xD I hope we get to see more of his character and learn more about him next season.
Bolin: I realized while watching this episode that Bolin serves a very important purpose in this series. Amidst the darkness, the oppression, the suicide, the abuse, and all other such things, he’s the comedy relief. He makes jokes and it makes it lighter for the kids. It keeps it from sinking into overly serious television (well there are other funny characters/moments). I wish he’d gotten more development in this season, but I’m glad he’s here. He’s genuinely sweet, funny, and very fun to watch. Also, he gets a very badass moment in this episode when he saves Asami.
Asami: Speaking of her, that was a very painful moment when her dad is about to get rid of her. I felt so bad for her. *hugs* She’s become one of my favorite characters and I don’t like seeing her hurt. Other than that, her conversation with Mako was rather civil and nice. I’m glad the love triangle is done… Please let Asami move on and find someone awesome next season. Bolin, maybe? Or Iroh, depending on how old he is? Even better, let’s see her develop and become even more awesome than she is right now. She could take over Future Industries and design amazing tech for the good guys and continue being awesome.
Oh, what if she started working for non-bender rights? After all, there are serious issues to address about the status of non-benders in Republic City and I’d love seeing her in social justice, trying to help them without going to violent measures like Amon. I hope the issues with non-benders aren’t dropped because Amon is defeated.
Worst Dad Award: Hiroshi and Yakone are just competing with one another for worst dad award – who do you think wins first? I’m of the opinion that Yakone takes first place. He forces his children to bloodbend each other and shows no respect for them as individuals. For him, his kids are simply tools for revenge. At least Hiroshi likes Asami. He just gets caught up in his wife’s death, to the point where he can’t see anything except benders = evil and thus Asami is wrong for supporting them. He’s still screwed up, but I think he’s slightly better than Yakone.
Korra vs. Amon: That was a great fight. I don’t mind that Korra started airbending despite not being able to do so all season. She was desperate and it makes sense that Amon couldn’t block the airbending because the channel wasn’t open for him to block previously (at least that’s my theory). I love that her style is much more aggressive than Aang’s. It’s always fascinating to see benders bend the same element in different ways.
The Lieutenant: I feel so bad for him. He truly believed in Amon’s fight, in the Equalists, and he found out it was all a lie. Though maybe it wasn’t entirely a lie – Amon did believe in equality and he did hate all benders. He was just a hypocrite because he used bending and a liar for weaving that story about his family being killed by a firebender.
Mako: Okay, I liked Mako in this episode. He did a lot of good things and the scene where he shoots lightning at Amon was badass. I’m unhappy that the majority of his development this season was as Korra’s love interest and not as his own character, but maybe that can change next season.
Makorra: I like Makorra somewhat, but I think it was badly developed. I’m not sure how I feel about them getting together in this episode. On one hand, I’m happy, mostly because it spells the end of the love triangle - hopefully. On the other hand, not enough development! Argh!
The Ending: This was my only problem with the finale. Everything was so interesting – Korra was in tears (how painful that she’s stuck as an airbender when she’s from the Water Tribe and being the Avatar is such an integral part of her identity), Mako’s feelings are left hanging without any reciprocation from Korra, Lin is left without hope for the return of her bending after Katara’s failure to return Korra’s. Things are bleak and sad and it’s life. It sucks and I’m already imagining how incredible the next season’s exploration on fixing these things will be. How Korra will have to deal with reaffirming her identity, perhaps even taking a spiritual journey that would eventually restore her bending. How Mako would have to help Korra even after she pushed him away. How Bolin could help there and Tenzin and maybe her parents, but ultimately it would be on Korra’s shoulders. How Lin will explore what to do with her life now that she can’t metalbend.
Then Aang appears and all those dreams shatter. He restores Korra’s bending and thus teaches her how to restore the bending of others. There’s no exploration; it’s a deus ex machina that fixes everything in a tidy fashion. I understand that it was because of timing. Mike and Bryan didn’t know they’d get a second season and since this is ultimately a kid’s show, it needed to have a happy ending. *sigh* I’m disappointed by this turn of events, but I get why it happened this way.
The only interesting part about this is how Korra will use this power to restore bending. Will she restore the bending of the gang members? They used their bending to do horrible things to other people, but is it okay to not restore their bending?
Overall Impression: I liked the finale episodes. They were a good conclusion to the first season and they wrapped things up nicely. There were pacing problems and I definitely feel like some of the scenes would’ve been better had they lasted longer, but overall, I really enjoyed them.
My overall impression of the first season is the exact same: there are many pacing problems but it’s still an amazing season. It played with the idea of power – who has it, who doesn’t, and what that does to the people on both sides – and inequality and the effects of that. I love those themes and it’s exciting to see them on a kid’s show. I love that things got bleak on this show. The character development fell flat in many cases and the season was rushed, but it was a wild, good ride with a fantastic plot.