The Legend of Korra is not content to rest in the emotional shallows. We do not see Korra fighting the enemy, defeating them and then moving on as if nothing happened. Quite the reverse, her triumphs come at a cost.
At the end of the third series the price of victory over the Red Lotus was Korra’s physical and mental health.
In Korra Alone, the second episode of Series IV, a series of flashbacks tell us how her physical injuries were healed.
Back in the present, Korra is gripped by despair, and she is stalked by a ‘Dark Korra’ figure who periodically appears to battle her.
This Dark Korra seems to me to be the sum of those two things that are causing her despair: Korra’s anger and desire; her desire to reconnect with her avatar state again and anger at herself for being unable to do so.
The Dark Korra, therefore, is not just a manifestation but also a sign of Korra’s self-loathing and distress. Unless children’s cartoons have moved on from when I was young this is not their usual fare!
I mentioned before that I am particularly interested in how Series IV represents Korra’s and Asami’s relationship. Despite the two being apart on the screen, it was clear to me in Korra Alone that there is something special between them, something that we may regard as more than just a friendship.
This came across in the way they spoke to each other in the flashbacks. For example, Asami’s offer to accompany Korra’s home and help with her healing; and in the fact that despite receiving letters from her friends Bolin and her former boyfriend Mako, Korra only replies to Asami.
But wait, perhaps she does that because when push comes to shove, the two sexes turn to their own rather than the other.
If I did not know how the story turns out I might have thought that but in hindsight we may point to the fact that there is no narrative justification for this view (which is surely of dubious accuracy, anyway). In the previous series, Korra treats all her friends equally. Well, occasional spats allowing!
The last scene of the series, and the authority of the writers’ statement that Korra and Asami entered the Spirit World as lovers gives us the confidence to say that their relationship is definitely evolving, or, one might say, blossoming like a rose…