The second episode of “The Legend of Korra: Book Four” might have raised an “Avatar” fan’s eyebrow upon hearing its title. “Korra Alone,” a callback to the episode “Zuko Alone” from the original “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” tells a very emotional tale of Korra’s physical and mental struggle over the three years since her battle with Zaheer at the end of “Book Three.”
Here’s a quick recap:
The poison the Red Lotus used on Korra and the battle that followed had left Korra in a wheelchair, unable to use her legs. Rather than just have Korra appear three years later good as new, or show her recover in a short montage, the episode devotes nearly half of its time in flashbacks telling how Korra recovered. Korra’s two years of recovery involved mystical healing through waterbending as well as exercises and emotional guidance.
During the years she spends in recovery, her only contact with the outside world are the letters she receives from Mako, Bolin and Asami, who all tell her of the big changes going on in their lives and in the world around them.
Though the episode is primarily focused on Korra as the title implies, the letters provide a small glimpse into these characters’ personalities: Asami’s letter is heartfelt and she says she misses Korra, Mako awkwardly prefaces his letter by talking about the weather and other happenstances before finally asking how she is doing and Bolin’s letter is incredibly formal, though touching, as he explains how he is helping to rebuild the Earth Kingdom.
By diverging from Korra, the show creatively splices in other characters’ happenings, making it more well-rounded than it would have been otherwise.
Seeing conflicts from Korra’s perspective, we learn that she sees not her opponent, but her shadow self on the other side of the ring, moving with an inhuman gait and attacking Korra with her chains. It’s a small thing, but symbolically it means a lot: Korra didn’t lose the fight to an earthbender; she lost the fight to herself.
It seems that though her body is healed, her mind is not. The producers of the show portray her inner battle just as well as one with a real foe.
Later, Korra runs into Toph Beifong, who smiles and says, “Nice to see you again, Twinkle Toes,” leaving watchers curious as to Toph’s background.
Everything about this episode makes it one of the best in the series. The writing is solid, with excellent symbolism showing Korra’s damaged psyche as well as her body. The emotional journey of Korra’s recovery is portrayed beautifully.
Every moment, from her struggling recovery to her soul-searching walk around the world, lands perfectly, thanks to a brilliant script, emotional music, beautiful visuals and steady pacing. If there is any reason you haven’t started “Book Four,” this episode is a good reason to pick it up.