Now that The Legend of Korra is on Netflix, a lot of people who had never seen Avatar: The Last Airbender before and just watched it and Korra recently, have been telling me that they actually prefer Korra to Avatar, WHICH IS WHAT I’VE BEEN SAYING THIS ENTIRE TIME! Sorry, I’ll calm down now. But I’m just really happy that The Legend of Korra is finally finding its audience, since a lot of the ATLA fans have been dragging Korra through the mud for a long time now. Too long.
Now, again, don’t think that just because I love Korra means that I hate Avatar. I LOVE Avatar! You can love both, you know! And the reason why I prefer TLOK just a little bit more over ATLA is because I love how Korra’s journey is so much different from Aang’s. Her journey is “messy” as Korra voice actress, Janet Varney, calls it. It’s also much darker. And if you’ve recently watched Korra and Avatar back-to-back, then you already know this. But what are the best episodes from The Legend of Korra? That’s what this list is all about! Oh, and before we get started, minor spoilers up ahead.
10. Beginnings, Part 1 (Season 2, Episode 7)
In this episode, we learn the history of the very first Avatar, Wan, voiced by Steven Yeun. Wan tells Korra that there were two warring spirits, one of light, named Raava, and one of dark, named Vaatu. He also tells her of how he accidentally unleashed darkness into the world. Overall, it’s a beautiful episode, and a two-parter to boot. We also learn where firebending originated from, so that’s pretty cool.
And while I really don’t like Book 2 of The Legend of Korra, this history lesson on the world of Avatar really hits hard on a lot of levels. It’s definitely the highlight of season 2, no question.
9. Beginnings, Part 2 (Season 2, Episode 8)
Part 2 of “Beginnings” is the better episode for a number of reasons. One, this is less of an origin story, and more about a character who is on a new adventure, kind of like a sequel. Two, we learn how Wan masters the other three elements, so it expands on the lore even more. And three, we see how it all connects back to Korra, so overall, it’s just a complete episode all around.
As mentioned earlier, Season 2 is kind of a wash for me, but one of the things I love so much about the world of Avatar is the lore. And even though you could make an argument that “Beginnings” Parts 1 and 2 kind of detract from Korra’s story by giving so much backstory, I think the two episodes add to the story tenfold since all of the Avatars are connected (until they’re not), so this makes for a phenomenal history lesson in the world of the series that also feels vital.
8. The Last Stand (Season 4, Episode 13)
The series finale of Korra shares some parallels with the Sozen’s Comet arc in ATLA as all of the major characters have their major moments. Mako and Bolin shut down the giant mecha, Korra shows humility by helping the season’s antagonist, Kuvira, rather than punishing her, Varrick and Zhu Li have a tender moment, and we also get one of the most groundbreaking events in “Kid’s TV” where we learn that Korra and Asami are an item. It’s a complete episode, through and through.
A lot of series finales drop the ball, but everything wrapped up beautifully in The Legend of Korra, just like it did in Avatar: The Last Airbender. And while I actually prefer “Sozin’s Comet: Part 4” to “The Last Stand”, I think they’re both phenomenal episodes that do their respective series justice.
7. Turning The Tides (Season 1, Episode 10)
Now this is what I’m talking about! Korra is a badass in "Turning the Tides," and she has to be since the Equalist forces are trying to take over Republic City! Tenzin’s family welcomes a new baby amiss the chaos, but they also have to flee. Bolin and Mako need to go into hiding, and Lin Beifong loses her bending abilities for a time. The action is this episode is legit!
Season 1 takes a while to get started (I’m sorry, but Pro-bending is SO boring), but once it does, it’s a rocket. Amon shows yet again what a terrifying villain he can be, and the pacing just never lets up. A super exciting and crazy episode, and one that I’ll always remember for its action.
6. Long Live the Queen (Season 3, Episode 10)
This is the one everybody remembers, and because of one key scene involving a perversion of airbending. But Korra and Asami make a daring escape, and this season’s antagonist, Zaheer, shows that he’s not messing around.
One scene in particular puts this episode so high on this list (You’ll know it when you see it), but the separation of Bolin and Mako from Korra and Asami makes this an anxiety-ridden episode that is punctuated by that aforementioned scene at the end. If you want proof that The Legend of Korra is darker than Avatar: The Last Airbender, then look no further than this episode.
5. Endgame (Season 1, Episode 12)
The last episode of the first season is a banger. Korra finally faces off against Amon, but without her bending ability because it’s taken away from her. Amon is exposed for being the charlatan that he truly is, and the stakes are sky high for our heroes. It doesn’t seem like the end of the world, but it does seem like it may be the end of the line for Korra, which really ratchets up the tension since we’ve (hopefully) grown to like her by this point.
“Endgame” is one of the reasons why I love Korra and why I also think some people dislike Korra at the same time. Throughout the season (throughout the series, really), we see a very flawed Avatar who seems to lose. A lot. But I always thought that this made the series feel a lot more personal and relatable, and Korra’s ultimate journey up to this point really shows somebody who’s struggling, but also really trying, which is why I love this episode so much. Plus, Amon gets his comeuppance, which is satisfying to say the very least.
4. Enter the Void (Season 3, Episode 12)
"Enter the Void" is not messing around! If you thought what happened to the Earth Queen was hardcore in “Long Live the Queen,” then just wait until you see what happens to the Combustionbender, P’Li. Man, that got dark fast! In this episode, we also see Bolin exhibit a brand new earthbending technique, as well as an epic battle with Korra and Zaheer. And then, Zaheer actually “enters the void” and does something that Korra can’t even do. And she’s the Avatar!
Most Korra fans will agree—Book 3: Change is the best season of the entire series. In fact, it may even be better than season Book 3 of ATLA, and this episode (as well as the following episode) are two of the reasons why. And yes, I know P’Li is a baddie, but still. That was brutal.
3. Day of the Colossus (Season 4, Episode 12)
I know “Day of the Colossus” and “The Last Stand” were back to back for a full hour when Season 4 initially ran on Nick.com, but if we’re judging the better half of the hour-long episode, then I’d say that the first half is superior. In it, there’s sheer panic as Kuvira’s mecha is wreaking havoc in the Republic City. You really can’t have one episode without the other, but as a huge Godzilla fan, I prefer seeing all the destruction throughout the city. It’s genuinely scary stuff.
Plus, as the penultimate episode, it raises the stakes to an almost unbearable level. I remember being grateful the first time I saw this episode knowing that I wouldn’t have to wait another week for the conclusion. You Netflix people watching the show for the first time don’t know how good you have it. Yeesh.
2. Venom of the Red Lotus (Season 3, Episode 13)
Much like “The Last Stand” was a two-parter with “Day of the Colossus,” “Venom of the Red Lotus” was a two-parter with “Enter the Void,” except flip-flopped since Venom was the season finale. And what a finale it is! Korra gets poisoned to push her to the Avatar state, but she’s severely weakened, meaning that the new airbenders from earlier in the season have to help her out. Something terrible happens to her that seeps into Season 4, but I’ll let you see for yourself what that is.
“Venom of the Red Lotus” is the most intense episode of the entire series, and it has the biggest ramifications of any episode. I would put it at Number 1, but there’s one episode that’s even better.
1. Korra Alone (Season 4, Episode 2)
By far the best episode in the entire series, this episode’s title pays homage to the Avatar episode, “Zuko Alone,” which is also one of the best episodes of that series. “Korra Alone” is all about trauma and how some people deal with it. And sometimes, people can’t deal with it, especially when they close themselves off to other people. We learn that Korra has been physically and mentally suffering ever since her encounter with Zaheer, to the extent that she’s broken as not only the Avatar, but as a person, too. This is the deepest this show ever gets, and also probably the darkest.
“Korra Alone” is often the episode that reminds me of why I prefer Korra to Avatar. ATLA has a lot of adult themes, like death and loss, but none feel as deeply introspective as “Korra Alone,” which elevates the show to a higher level. Plus, we get my favorite Avatar character at the end of the episode, so that’s just icing on the cake.
And those are my picks. But what are your favorite episodes of The Legend of Korra? Let me know in the comments section below.
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Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.
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