'The Legend of Korra' Review/Recap: "Remembrances"

Joey Sack ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
With only five episodes of The Legend of Korra left, one thing that fans weren’t expecting from the most recent episode, “Remembrances,” was a clips episode. But that’s exactly what we got. We all know what these episodes are, right? These are the episodes when the characters or an off-screen narrator tell the story of the major events of the show up to that point without moving the plot along all the much. Avatar sort of had a clips episode in “The Ember Island Players,” but that, at least, brought in big segments of new animation, whereas this episode only has about five minutes of new animation, including little chibi versions of the characters that pop up onscreen to interrupt the story or add some sort of commentary. With that said, though, this is still an enjoyable look back on Korra’s journey thus far, and, according to both The Legend of Korra Facebook page and co-creator Bryan Konietzko’s Tumblr, “a last lighthearted, nostalgic romp before POOP. GETS. REAL.” We now have four episodes of Korra left, so let’s take this one last trip down memory lane before getting into the heaviness that will be the end of The Legend of Korra.
A quick side note before getting into the proper review. According to series co-creator Bryan Konietzko, during the production of Book Four, Nickelodeon cut Korra’s budget by almost the cost of an entire episode and gave him and fellow co-creator Michael DiMartino a choice: fire a substantial number of people from their team several weeks before they planned on it or do a clips episode. Their choice was obvious: they went with the clips episode. That is both smart and very honorable of the creators to do; they knew that they wouldn’t be able to finish the season without their staff, so they decided to cut their losses and do the clips episode to keep as many people working on the final season of Korra as possible. They don’t want to shortchange their team and they don’t want to shortchange their fans; this clips episode is a good balance between those two disappointments (which fits with the title of the season, doesn’t it?).
The episode opens with Mako (David Faustino) and Prince (King?) Wu (Sunil Malhotra) at the Sato Estate, where Wu has decided that he needs to toughen up after being kidnapped last episode. The only problem is that every time Mako gets close to hitting him, Wu crumples to the ground screaming “Wu down!” Wu realizes that, despite trusting Mako with his life, he knows nothing about his firebending, police officer bodyguard, and asks Mako to recount the highlights of his life, focusing particularly on his relationship with Korra (Janet Varney), as he was unaware that Mako had once dated the Avatar (“You and I need to have a little gab session right now”).
And so we get our first set of flashbacks, which tell the story of how Mako first met Korra, how they eventually fell in love, and how they later broke up but decided to still work together as friends. All throughout, Wu, along with Mako’s grandmother Yin (Susan Silo) and cousin Tu (Greg Sipes), interrupt the story in the form of little chibi versions of themselves, adding a level of comedy to what would usually be a very boring rundown of the series from Mako’s point of view. The back and forth between Mako, Wu, and Mako’s relatives really adds to the hilarity, and shows that Mako has become less of a selfish jerk who toys with the feelings of his friends as the series has progressed.
After hearing Mako’s side of things, we cut to Korra on Air Temple Island, where she gives Asami (Seychelle Gabriel) a recap of what she has gone through since the series began, mostly focusing on the fact that every time Korra has defeated an enemy, another seems to take their place; Kuvira (Zelda Williams) replaced Zaheer (Henry Rollins), who in turn replaced Unalaq (Adrian LaTourelle) and Vaatu (Jonathan Adams), who in turn replaced Amon (Steve Blum). And every one of these enemies has had one thought in their minds: they are the ones to guide the world, not the Avatar. Identity is a common theme in the entire Avatar franchise, with some focus on becoming your own person and some focus on fulfilling your role in the world.
Throughout Korra’s journey, every single one of her enemies has wanted to take the Avatar’s place, and that has made Korra question whether or not she should continue to fight for balance. But Tenzin (J.K. Simmons) is there to remind Korra how much she’s grown over the years, from the hotheaded teenager that she was when she first arrived in Republic City to the more even-headed, selfless Avatar that she is today. He reiterates what Toph told Korra in a previous episode about past enemies and future ones: there will always be new enemies on the horizon, but as the Avatar, the most important thing for Korra to do is to learn from them. That’s one of the reasons that, back in Aang’s days and even a little in Korra’s time, the Avatar’s past lives and the memories that come with them have been so important: the Avatar learns how to deal with his/her enemies in one lifetime, so he/she will be able to face similar or identical enemies in a future life. So whoever is born the Avatar after Korra will have a lot of information about what to do and what not to do (and he/she will probably have an irrational fear of pairs of waterbending siblings).
Finally, we see Varrick (John Michael Higgins) entertain the fugitives that he and Bolin (P.J. Byrne) escaped with last episode by strangely recounting Books Two and Three in the style of one of his movers (“movers” being the Avatar World’s equivalent to movies). Starring Bolin as his mover character Nuktuk starring as Bolin, it tells the story of a rather bizarre crossover of villains that even DC Comics would find convoluted. It sees Zaheer, Vaatu, Amon, and Unalaq teaming up to take out Bolin while the Avatar is stuck in the Spirit World. We then see clips of the past few seasons with some of the characters having Bolin’s face and/or hair superimposed onto them (such as giant blue spirit Korra from the Book Two finale and that dragon bird spirit from earlier in Book Two). This segment is definitely the episode’s highlight and saving grace, especially the scene that shows Zaheer, Vaatu, Amon, and Unalaq discussing how to take out Bolin. This part of the episode makes it worth watching all the way through.
This episode, being a clip show that mostly recycles scenes from the past three seasons, was bound to be worse when compared to the past episodes this Book. The Korra staff did their best to make this recap of an episode a little more tolerable, and they mostly succeed. It catches fans up on the highlights of the past three seasons, with some of the fans’ criticisms fit into the script as a little meta-humor. It’s not as good a recap episode as Avatar’s “The Ember Island Players,” but it still has that kind of self-referential humor, mostly during Mako and Varrick’s segments, that make it worth watching.
“Remembrances” exists as a result of Nickelodeon’s continued mistreatment of The Legend of Korra and the people who work so hard to make it a reality, but even with that against it, it’s still an enjoyable recap episode that reminds people of the important moments of Korra’s journey while also giving them a chance to reminisce in a comedic way before, as Bryan Konietzko said, “POOP. GETS. REAL.” New episodes of The Legend of Korra premiere every Friday on Nick.com and the Nick app. Playtime’s over, Team Avatar; time for things to get real.
Overall Episode Grade: B-

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