Ranking The Legend of Korra Seasons: No. 4, 'Balance'

The Legend of Korra ended last month. It was a series that expanded the lore of Avatar: The Last Airbender and gave us a new cast of characters to follow.

All of the seasons are great, but which is the best? I will be exploring this in the coming weeks--discussing the series' strengths and weaknesses.

The ending of Book 4 took the entertainment world by storm. Television has come a long way since the nineties--when it was deemed necessary to turn two female lovers into cousins in the Americanized version of Sailor Moon.

The ending, however, isn't what I'm going to discuss. I watched Book 4 for a second time and noticed an issue with it: Kuvira. As a character, she is great; she has all the traits you want in a villain whose once-benign intentions have been corrupted by ambition. The issue I have with her is how her story unfolded.

We heard a lot about Kuvira and her misdeeds, but we seldom saw anything. In the beginning of the season, when she aided the starving Earth Kingdom village, the elder of the settlement stated that he knew what she was up to.

That's great that the elder knew, because we never got a sampling of the damage she caused until the finale.

Kuvira threatened Bolin with reeducation camp when he betrayed her. But we never saw the camp, nor did we see her Earth Empire subjects suffering beneath the heel of her tyrannical rule.

This is one of the biggest issues with Balance; the writers tried to increase the scale of the show by having Korra venture outside Republic City. The problem with this idea is that each Korra season can be seen as its own mini-series.

There are different villains each time--unlike in The Last Airbender, where the overarching antagonist was Fire Lord Ozai.

With this increased scale and reduced span, it became difficult for the writers to properly show how much damage Kuvira was doing. Prior to the finale, the biggest example we see of her conquest was Zaofu; she stormed the city and wrenched it from her former mentor, Suyin Beifong. She incarcerated the metal-bender and ordered the citizens of the city to submit to her.

The scene is ominous, but we never saw how the average citizen was impacted. It's just assumed that they were oppressed, but we were never made certain of that fact.

Compare this to Season 2 of The Last Airbender: Had the characters of the show just mentioned the fact that Long Feng and the Dai Li were brainwashing citizens and turning Ba Sing Se into a dystopia, it wouldn't have had the same impact.

Instead, we got to see underneath Lake Laogai--the base of the Dai Li's sinister operation.

In Book 4 of Korra, Kuvira mentioned all the horrible things she was doing, but we seldom saw it. This changes in the finale, when she steered a giant robot into Republic City.

But why wait that long to show us the misdeeds of a megalomaniac dictator? It felt like too little too late.

Kuvira had potential as a villain, but most of it was unrealized. This is why Balance ranks at the bottom of the Legend of Korra hierarchy. It's not a bad season; it's just not as good as its counterparts.