Top 10 Legend of Korra Episodes

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After everything Nickelodeon threw at this series, it’s finally over. The Legend of Korra aired its series finale on Friday and we’re still feeling the sting. The show’s absence from our lives will be a significant one. Through four seasons and 52 episodes, there have been a number of standouts. More than ten, but we like things to be easy for us don’t we? Here are our ten favorite episodes of Korra.



Photo Credit: “The Ultimatum” (Book 3, Chapter 11)

Even before the Red Lotus attack the Northern Air Temple, this episode is great. We’ve got Mako and Bolin’s family rescue out of Ba Sing Se and Korra’s visit to the Spirit World where she’s again counseled by the great General Iroh (more on this further down the list). But then, Zaheer’s attack is just so brilliantly constructed. Having Aang’s three children fight Zaheer, Ming-Hua, and Ghazan was absolutely stirring. Kya and Bumi can’t quite keep up, but Tenzin’s airbending duel with Zaheer ranks among the show’s most inventive and exciting action sequences. The dark note the episode ends on sets up the nature of the finale perfectly.


Photo Credit: “The Battle of Zaofu” (Book 4, Chapter 6)

Hardly a battle at all, this episode boils down to a terrifying fight between Korra and Kuvira. The Avatar thinks she’s right as rain after bending the metal out of herself, but the damage Zaheer inflicted on our hero goes deeper than that. Korra doesn’t realize this until it’s too late. The fight is quiet, Jeremy Zuckerman’s score taking a back seat to the sound of Kuvira’s carefully calculated rocks and metal. It invokes the horror of Bane’s first battle with Batman in The Dark Knight Rises. Korra is beaten, badly. At least Jinora and Opal are there to save her before Kuvira’s army storms Zaofu. This is Korra at its darkest.


Photo Credit: “Skeletons in the Closet” (Book 1, Chapter 11)

While Book 1’s finale rewarded Korra a bit too willingly, the first half represents some of the best short-form storytelling this series is capable of. The naval battle outside Republic City is great, but I’m talking about Tarrlok’s tragic story about he and his brother, the man who would eventually become Amon. Two children forced to bloodbend by their father, Tarrlok and Noatak are driven apart by their father’s hopeless ambitions. Out come two very different villains. Tarrlok became a corrupt political leader, while Noatak became the leader of a violent terrorist group. But their story imbeds us with sympathy for them. They deserve to make it out of their situation alive, making their eventual end even more tragic.


Photo Credit: “Original Airbenders” (Book 3, Chapter 7)

Three episodes into Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang learns the fate of his people. The Fire Nation slaughtered the airbenders at the onset of the Hundred Year War, leaving Aang to be the last living soul that can airbend. His son Tenzin turned out to be an airbender, along with three of his children. But Korra accelerated the repopulation of the world with airbenders during Harmonic Convergence, leading Tenzin to start to rebuild the Air Nation. This episode serves as both a tribute to their culture and an evolution of what the Air Nation is about to become. It’s powerful, but also the best “light” episode Korra has ever done. There’s a lot of comedy in this new Air Nation, a lot of which comes from Tenzin’s all-too strict training schedules and his brother Bumi’s rebellions. But by the end of the episode, the new Air Nation feels tangible, which is a great reward for longtime viewers of this franchise.


Photo Credit: “A New Spiritual Age” (Book 2, Chapter 10)

By now you’ve noticed that Book 2: Spirits is largely absent from this list. When the second season’s title was announced, many were excited for a season in the Spirit World. Well, it took nine long episodes to get there, but what an episode when it finally did. Playing like a 22-minute Miyazaki film, this episode turns Korra into the little girl she often acts like. But some sage advice from Airbender‘s Iroh puts the Avatar on the right path. Combining great character work and unforgettable visuals, Book 2’s main storyline got a much needed jumpstart with this episode.


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5. “Korra Alone” (Book 4, Chapter 2)

Korra took a much more grounded approach to its world than Airbender did. While Aang was certainly scarred during his journey, it was never explored quite as well as Korra’s PTSD at the onset of Book 4. Up to this point, Korra has taken down three dangerous villains, the last of which, Zaheer, poisoned her, causing her major physical damage. This episode beautifully explores Korra’s three-year journey to a failed recovery. It’s as triumphant as it is heart-breaking, as well as the best character work the show has ever done. From Korra’s first steps to fighting and losing in an earthbending cage match, this study show’s the strength and perseverance of our hero, while also illustrating the harsh truths of her past. This is the type of episode that ascends The Legend of Korra higher than many TV watchers are willing to admit.


Photo Credit: “And the Winner Is…” (Book 1, Chapter 6)

The first five episodes do a solid job updating the world since we last saw it in Avatar: The Last Airbender. But it’s not until the series sixth entry that Korra would come into its own and define the type of series it wants to be. The episode starts well enough, with Korra, Mako, and Bolin competing in the probending tournament. But Amon’s threats at the beginning of the episode ring true, with his fellow Equalists arming themselves with shock gloves to take down benders in the stadium. Then Amon drops in, taking away the champion’s bending in front of a huge audience. This is a terrorist attack in the world of Korra, a dark look at where violence has been taken since the Hundred Year War. Korra and Lin’s battle with the Equalists on the roof is an awesome way to show that there is certainly more to come.


Photo Credit: “Beginnings” (Book 2, Chapters 7 and 8)

Book 2 took a little break from its main story right in the middle of the season. What a welcome break it was. This two-part story tells the origin of the Avatar. Wan was an Aladdin-esque street rat who lived 10,000 years before Korra became his latest resurrection. Wan believed that the spirits and humans could live together in peace, at least until he broke up a fight between Raava and Vaatu, the respective spirits of light and dark. The old-school anime animation is a beautiful way to tell this ancient story. But Wan’s journey feels like a celebration of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, rather than a retread of it. This is the creators’ world-building skills at their best. Just try not to get chills when Raava fuses with Wan and says “We are bonded forever,” to the classic Airbender score.


Photo Credit: “Enter the Void/Venom of the Red Lotus” (Book 3, Chapters 12 and 13)

The two-part finale of Book 3: Change is the best conclusion to a chapter an Avatar story has ever had. Perfectly tying up all the loose ends up the season, from Lin and Suyin’s reunion to the rebirth of the Air Nation, these two episodes finally delivered a wholly-satisfying end to a story in this universe. Let’s list some moments, shall we? Lin and Suyin fighting P’Li, ending in Suyin’s unforgettable kill move. Korra in chains fighting Zaheer alongside her father. Bolin lavabending. Zaheer flying. Korra seeing all her former enemies as the poison sets in. Korra’s epic air-born fight with Zaheer. Mako and Bolin’s final fights with Ming-Hua and Ghazan. And, last but not least, Jinora getting her tattoos, revealing a shaved head that resembles our former hero, her grandfather Aang. It just doesn’t get better than this. This is what it’s like to get swept away.


Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 2.20.18 AM1. “Day of the Colossus/The Last Stand” (Book 4, Chapter 12 and 13)

This may be a bit preemptive, but I think we can all agree that the series finale of Korra really hit home. With inventive action surrounding Kuvira’s massive death machine, Team Avatar has never been so well used across the board. Every character gets their moments to shine, from the Avatar herself to Meelo. But it’s only after the battle that this finale goes from great to groundbreaking. Korra’s relatively peaceful resolution with Kuvira is a perfect cap on Korra’s arc throughout the entire series. She notes the qualities they share, finding reason in this tyrant to show her where she went wrong. It’s really rewarding and a strong message. Oh, and then Korra and Asami ride off into the spirit portal of a sunset as a couple, tearing down boundaries between “kids shows” and the LGBT community. Yeah, there’s that too. It’s a beautiful finale for so many reasons, but mostly because it trascends what the show was and becomes something else entirely. Important television.


What were you favorite Legend of Korra episodes? Let us know in the comments below!


By Matt Dougherty

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