Matt Patches Biography
‘The Legend of Korra’ began as a “What if?”: What would the ancient-skewing world previously depicted in ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ look like 70 years in the future, with a female protagonist, with the traditional Hero’s Journey thrown out the window? The original plan was for a mini-series — a graphic noir tale that dipped its toe into recognizable class wars. But what Korra could do, become, say, wound up overflowing into three more seasons. The potential creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko saw in their new incarnation crescendos into the show’s very last beats.
When Kuvira’s towering war machine lumbers into silhouetted view for the first time, ‘Legend of Korra’ strikes tangible fear. There’s tremendous payoff to the apocalyptic moment; With Varrick’s technology and the Korra Kaiju previously established Korra Kaiju, there was room for the show to go full Gundam from the beginning of Book 4. Instead, moral questioning transformed the show’s final season into a thinly veiled World War II allegory, complete with an unstoppable force.
“Operation Beifong” made for a thrilling end note to last season's “Old Wounds,” which saw Lin and Su put aside their differences (after a big metalbending smackdown) and become allies, sisters, once again. Book 4's follow-up brings the entire clan together.
“Beyond the Wild” opens with a scene that would make John Carpenter giggle. Reacting to Kuvira's harvesting of the Banyan-grove tree, the vines in Republic City's Spirit Wilds are out of control. Leading a tour through the entanglement, Jon Heder's Ryu is the first to stumble upon the aggressive growth. Vines attack with velocity, wrapping around the tour group and leaving only Ryu's broken camera as evidence of the attack. It's 'Legend of Korra's' horror movie moment.
There's a silver lining to to this week's 'Korra,' the least fulfilling episode in show's four-season run: The production team must be allocating all its resources for one hell of finale! Let's hope. With “Remembrances,” 'Korra' succumbs the “clip show,” a rehash exercise that's grueling no matter how much you love the characters involved.
After a heated encounter that sent Team Avatar racing along the streets of Republic City and warding off Earthbender gestapo atop a speeding train, Asami says what's on all of our minds: “It was kind of like old times.” Man, it really was.
On July 20, 1944, a plot by the German Resistance to assassinate Adolf Hitler by briefcase bomb failed. On November 7, 2014, a plot by Suyin Beifong and her two songs to assassinate the Great Uniter, Kuvira, failed. Fascist dictators: They're so hard to kill, real or not.
'The Legend of Korra' imparts an important lesson as it barrels towards its ending, leaving younger audience members to grow into the news-digesting, opinion-spouting, inevitably partisan Internet beings they'll grow up to be: World politics are hard. Impossible, maybe. Every situation is a lose-lose. There are no rights and wrongs because one side of the conflict is always right and always wrong. A major leader's decision will inevitably piss people off. The response can never be “the right way.”
“The Avatar is back in business!” At the end of this rambling travelogue episode, 'Legend of Korra' puts everything on the table. What is balance? It's compassion, it's bravery, it's endurance, it's understanding, it's fearlessness, it's compromise. It's a state of being that separates revolutionaries from Big Bads. Korra's foes from seasons past weren't actually that bad, Toph tells her new student. Amon wanted equality, Unalaq freed the spirits, and Zaheer fought for freedom. But they crossed a line, tipped out of balance. “They took their ideologies too far,” she says. It's the kind of blunt truth Golda Meir might have whispered. Coming from the blind Earthbender, it's the line of the show.
'The Legend of Korra' Book 4 has me hooked with story, but it's wowing me with the return of the original Metalbender, now 86 years old, and actress Philece Sampler's faithful rendition of her layered persona. It's Toph again, and not just on paper. The way she speaks, the way she jabs, the way concern slips out of her hard shell, the way she forcefully reels in that trace of compassion after noticing it snuck out — Toph is the most successful “classic” character to transition to the new show. She needed to be. Only someone as no-nonsense as Toph could whip the Avatar pack into hero mode, the human Zoloft to Korra's spell of depression.