A few weeks back I had the pleasure of putting together a Top 10 list for the saddest moments in Avatar: The Last Airbender. The list was made up of the moments so heartachingly good, that they made me ugly cry. So I thought, why not follow up that list with Avatar’s sequel series, The Legend of Korra? It’s often been contested which show is the better of the two but, you know what, it’s more time in the world of Avatar. Since I enjoy bouncing between the two series, I think it’s time we look at ten times when The Legend of Korra made me ugly cry.
- Lin Loses Her Bending
Lin Beifong is totally her mother’s (Toph Beifong) daughter as she is equally stubborn and untouchable, or so we thought. In the majority of Book One, the masked villain Amon took Republic City by storm when he made assertions that the Spirits “granted” him the power to take one’s bending away. It turned out he could, but he conned his followers into believing the Spirits gave him power. It was actually his prodigious ability in bloodbending. Lin sacrificed herself to help Tenzin and his family escape from Amon. Tenzin and his family were, after all, still the last of the Airbenders. Amon probably feigned the truth when he said Lin could keep her bending, so long as she revealed the whereabouts of the Airbenders, but Lin refused to give in, and Amon took her ability to earthbend and metalbend. The combination of visuals (including the pouring rain), the music, and dialogue were so spot on. It wasn’t a season finale, but it had all the emotional weight that goes into one. With closing her eyes, Lin fully accepted the cost of losing what made her so talented, and the Chief of Police of Republic City, just to preserve the chance of the Air Nation’s return to the world.
- Mako and Bolin Reunite With Their Family
After Harmonic Convergence, people gifted with the ability to airbend began to appear all over the world, no doubt a sign of the spirits coming to dwell with humans once again. Korra, along with Tenzin and Team Avatar, take up the Air Nation’s nomadic roots and begin tracking down the new airbenders. When they come to the Earth Kingdom capital of Ba Sing Se, and almost by fate, Mako and Bolin come across their father’s side of the family. Along with numerous cousins, aunts, and uncles, the brothers also finally meet their grandmother. When she asks Mako and Bolin what became of their father, they tell her that their parents sadly passed away. In Book One we learn that Mako wears his father’s red scarf, as that’s all he has left of him. When Mako gives his scarf to his grandmother, it resonates in my heart. I’m very much a family man. Seeing Mako give away his scarf is almost like seeing him give up some semblance of security and peace, especially considering that he and Bolin looked after each other while they were homeless on the streets.
- Aang Appears To Korra
Defeating Amon at the end of Book One came at a great cost. Amon was able to remove much of Korra’s ability to bend the elements. Yet after struggling with airbending for much of the first season, Korra airbends in a desperate attempt to save Mako from a similar fate. Korra is as shocked as Amon to find her airbending is intact. After their fateful battle, even Katara’s healing abilities aren’t enough to restore Korra’s connection to the other elements. Korra immediately escapes to privacy on a peak overlooking the ocean, where she immediately breaks down and cries over her ordeal. Suddenly a figure in Air Nation attire approaches Korra to console her. Believing she is in the company of Tenzin, Korra turns to look to see Avatar Aang standing before her. Aang appeared in The Legend of Korra in flashbacks, but here he was uninhibited by the limitations of one’s memory. Aang explained to Korra that by hitting her lowest point, she became open to the greatest change, allowing Aang to appear before her. Aang then restored Korra’s bending fully and, for the first time in the series, Korra enters the Avatar State and shows an immense display of power with the elements all while the Avatar theme plays. It’s so good!
- Release the Fear
Korra’s final confrontation with Zaheer at the end of Book Three proved to be the most costly battle she ever had, almost claiming her life. By using a liquid metal poison, Zaheer unsuccessfully attempted to end the Avatar cycle for good. Much of the poison was bended out of Korra, but there still remained a small reserve that went unnoticed to Korra. Because of that, she was never at her peak when she disappeared for three years, hoping to reclaim her bending prowess. One day she comes across none other than Toph Beifong, now old and living in the swamp we saw in The Last Airbender. Toph goes on to tell Korra that the traces of metal in her body aren’t helping her improve. Toph attempts to remove the metal but Korra contorts in pain. Toph, clearly frustrated, equates it to Korra not wanting to part with the pain on a subconscious level. Korra remained haunted by all the encounters she had in her past. She knew she had to make peace with herself first if she hoped to stop the latest threat in Kuvira. Toph always made for a stubborn teacher, but I love this moment because she’s training the Avatar once again. Setting aside her tough exterior, Toph employs a more empathic approach by telling Korra that her previous fights are over and it’s time to “release the fear.” Korra bends the remaining metal out of her body and achieves the Avatar State for the first time in three years.
- Asami Loses Her Father
Hiroshi Sato was a non-bending industrialist who had one of the most successful companies in the world. Asami Sato introduces Mako to her father early on in Book One. Unbeknownst to Team Avatar for some time, Hiroshi was secretly providing Amon’s Equalist movement with high-tech weaponry. His reason for doing so was because his wife, and Asami’s mother, was killed by a bender when a robber broke into the Sato estate many years ago. Hiroshi became prejudiced to all benders, much to Asami’s shock and grief. Asami had already become great friends with benders and the Avatar, and Hiroshi was quick to see guilt in her by association. Asami subdued Hiroshi, who would then go on to be imprisoned for the remainder of the series. Kuvira’s threat to Republic City was so large that Team Avatar had no choice but to get Hiroshi out of prison to even the odds in terms of weapons tech. Hiroshi, by this time, was desperate to make amends with Asami, although the pain of the past lingered in the air. One day Hiroshi remarked that Asami was his greatest achievement, a comment that began to work its way into Asami’s guarded heart. When building mecha suits that could defeat Kuvira’s colossal mech, father and daughter began to bond once again. When the time came to head out for battle, the two finally came to say they loved each other. Because Kuvira’s mech was made impossible to metalbend, the Sato’s mecha suits were the only thing that could cut into the platinum. When Kuvira saw what they were up to, and despite numerous distractions from Team Avatar, the colossal mech made to swat them. So close to infiltrating the armor, Asami escaped in the knick of time. She began to scream for her father to follow. Hiroshi’s last act was to give Team Avatar a chance. He successfully cut a way into the mech just before he said a final “I love you” to Asami and was crushed.