I’d like to address the issue of Korra never returning Shady Shin’s bending and why it makes me very uncomfortable.
Great analysis and one of the reasons why I love ATLA and why I don’t understand LoK. I presume that Bryke is trying to make the two series as opposite as possible, but making one a little funny kid who has to go through trials and tribulations to become a mature, full-fledge hero is one thing, and making a naive, excited, yet hot-headed teenager become a destructible, violent, lusting, tyrannical symbol of peace and harmony are TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT matters.
At least Aang knew of moral wrong and good and knew what was best for the world, even though he DIDN’T want to do it because he was scared. Korra doesn’t seem to know what she’s doing at all. She was raised to be an Avatar but it doesn’t seem like she knows what that means. (It’s okay Wan will explain for you! Just don’t do anything to decide the fate of the world that would make you regret it later on!)
THEN DECIDES TO OPEN SPIRIT PORTAL.
Yet again she doesn’t listen to someone and now we have Book 3 drama.
All Korra does his listen to people around her telling her what to do or NOT listen them so she can do the opposite.
Aang had moments where he made a decision from his own experience. Everyone always asked him what they think he should do instead of thrusting it upon him because he was the Avatar. Sure he had to defeat the Fire Lord and almost EVERYONE told him to do it. But that was the Avatar’s duty rather than one person’s agenda. And even then he choose to take his bending away because he did value his life and didn’t want to do what everyone said. It wasn’t the same as killing Ozai, but he still defeated him. He didn’t just say, I’m not going to kill the Firelord because it makes me uncomfortable, or say hey I’m going to cry until a magic turtle comes along to solve all my problems and then I can snap my fingers and end the season with a happy ending! (okay half of that happened but not the same as Korra because no one’s life was on the line, it was just her crying because of her own selfishness)
Aang had to make a decision. He had to go back to face Ozai. Had to fight and almost lose his life. Had to control his Avatar self and bring Ozai down. Had to decide in three seconds whether he wanted to kill this man who was threatening an ENTIRE race of benders. And it was when he was three seconds from easily downing him that he did decide to have mercy.
That was what made that struggle so great.
But with Korra, I don’t know where her moral compass lies.
Does she want to help the world? If so, why did she open the spirit gates?
Does she want to help the water tribes? Well then killing the Northern Tribe Leader and trying to start a war wouldn’t really help to much. (I mean at least Aang spared him so people could sort of listen to him and Zuko)
Does she want to protect her friends? Ignored Bolin, Snubbed Asami AGAIN, and then there is Mako.
Does she want to protect Mako? Sure, probably. that seems to be her only other motivation and person she actually cares about. But if that’s all to Korra than please change the title to Legend of the TWO Lovers in which one was a half-baked spiritual leader and the other was a bad cop/good cop mix… please.
Does she wants balance? Again then why didn’t she help/talk with the Equalists, or at once be against the Northern Water Tribe’s assimilation? Or even KEEP THE SPIRIT GATE CLOSED? OR NOT KILL THE SPIRIT OF CHAOS which is in balance with ORDER?
I don’t know what Korra is trying to do or protect. It always seems jumbled! If they had established what her motivations were in season one then I could have looked for them in season 2 but they got rid of all that development anyways so it doesn’t really matter, I guess.
End point: Aang had a reason he did everything he did. He valued life. He had people he wanted to protect. He believed in non-violence, but also in his duties as an Avatar. Despite being scared, he knew he had to do what was done because he was the only one who could. He became Avatar Aang only after going through all his trials, all his toils, and all his tribulations.
Korra has no reason for some of the things she did. She doesn’t value life. She doesn’t care about others except a chosen few (and still treats them like crap from time to time). She believes in violence, for everything. She is frequently challenging her duties as Avatar. Instead of following her duties, she finds ways to constantly get out of them or to change the role to fit her needs. All with all of this, she became Avatar Korra by having everything given to her, instead of forging her own path to being the Avatar.
While she may have had a few moments when she had to learn because things didn’t go her way, it was not enough for her to change completely.
She will probably be back in Book 3, as either be a better person, or as a worse avatar.
But until she has a motivation for which she does anything that doesn’t include someone else using her or just to be the best darn Avatar anyone has seen, then Korra will never be as a great a character as Aang. Or Roku. Kyoshi. Or even Kuruk, with whom she has a similar personality too.
(Kuruk at least admitted he gave up his duties to pursue his love.)
Korra could’ve been a great character, and still could be. But she needs a moral compass, or a motivation for what she does so the audience can agree with her or come along the ride.
Until then, unless you’ve latched to the love triangle of death, you’ll be dangling on a roller coaster that’s went way of course and shows not too many signs of getting back on track with the Avatar Universe.
(PS: I don’t believe the Korraverse is canon. I’m in the ulimate denial. And it feels so good)