Ranking Every Episode of The Legend of Korra Season One
It is finally time to dive into the followup adventures of the waterbending Southern Water Tribe Avatar that came next in the cycle’s line. It is now time to rank every single episode of The Legend of Korra…
The Legend of Korra Ranking All of Book 1: Air
Recently, Goomba Stomp ranked every single episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender from the least great to the absolute best of the best after spotlighting the individual seasons- or rather books I should say. It may seem as if the column was over, however, the legend of the Avatar is nowhere near finished yet. It is finally time to dive into the follow-up adventures of the water-bending Southern Water Tribe Avatar that came next in the cycle’s line. It is now time to rank every single episode of The Legend of Korra. After Airbender’s explosive popularity took off on the streaming front, Netflix quickly scooped up the rights to The Legend of Korra which is now on its way to the platform on August 14th. What better way to look back on Aang’s successor than to rank every single episode again with his reincarnation. Without further ado, it’s time to restart the cycle of the Avatar as we look back on the first entry of Korra’s journey in Book 1: Air…
12. Chapter Five: The Spirit of Competition
Even though it ranks dead last, The Spirit of Competition is by no means a bad chapter of The Legend of Korra. In fact, it is a rather entertaining and fun way of exploring the dynamics between our three main cast members. The problem with this episode is its lack of priority when it comes to pushing the overarching narrative forward in any real way. Sure the kiss between Korra and Mako is a key moment in how our heroes’ relationships would spiral afterward, but it is hard to not think about how Amon’s plan, Korra’s Airbending teachings, or Tarrlok’s task force is never featured throughout this episode. The Probending arena does play a critical role in Amon’s plan during the next episode, yet that only makes this chapter feel more like a time sink used to set up exciting set-pieces than an actual string of critical events.
11. Chapter Two: A Leaf in the Wind
Like the last entry, A leaf in the Wind takes its time to help get the plot moving to where it needs to be- only this time it feels more natural. After getting frustrated with her airbending training, Korra storms off to the Probending Arena housing a bending sport she is interested in. Tenzin, however, believes she should not be wasting her time listening to Probending. This inevitably causes Korra to do what every other teenager commits when told not to do something. Chapter two introduces audiences to the bending brothers Mako and Bolin who would become Korra’s closest allies for the rest of the season, while also attempting to show viewers how Korra learns best. It is successful by the end, yet A Leaf in the Wind can come off as a slow race to the finish oppositely fueled by high-speed sports. This episode certainly makes viewers be the leaf- they just gotta go with the flow and allow our cast to take their time introducing themselves.
10. Chapter One: Welcome to Republic City
Welcome to Republic City is a great introduction to the series, albeit one with a lot of information and changes for longtime fans to take in during a sitting. Avatar Aang’s time has passed? A city heading towards the capabilities of the modern-day? The United Republic of Nations? It is not always able to capture the magic that Avatar: The Last Airbender’s premiere episode had, yet this first outing remains captivating with its impressive visuals and fascinating setup that constantly makes viewers ask questions about a world they thought they once knew completely. The first episode of The Legend of Korra was bound to face consequences for being a mere followup to Airbender, yet it still manages to get itself started on an optimistic note that kept fans intrigued. Seeing Korra take Naga out to the open white horizon of the South Pole while hearing Jeremy Zuckerman’s incredible score “Fresh Air” will always remain as one of my personal favorite moments from the entire series.
9. Chapter Four: A Voice in the Night
A Voice in the Night is constantly throwing ideas at the audience while it strives to push our protagonist and antagonist forward. Asami and Hiroshi Sato are well-established during their debut and receive plenty of time to shine, however, the spotlight of this chapter falls completely on our main hero and villain. Korra’s forced involvement with Tarrlok’s task force was a smart play on getting the character to straight up face Republic City’s greatest threat. Korra’s acceptance that she must eventually face her fears and fight Amon contains an unsurprising outcome though a one thrilling to watch. The ultimate confrontation between Korra and Amon is the highlight of the episode that did not displease viewers. Amon’s choice to not revoke the Avatar of her bending was a controversial move the Equalist leader needed to make so his worst enemy would not be viewed as a martyr.
8. Chapter Three: The Revelation
The big take away viewers had from The Revelation was the same question; how the heck could Amon take a man’s bending away. He definitely was not Avatar Aang even though a large group of viewers were convinced he was- and still seem to believe so based on current reactions being uploaded online for season one. This episode once again presents the idea of unique ability users roaming the world of the four nations, but in comparison to its predecessor that made you simply accept the reality the characters lived in, The Legend of Korra opts to present itself in a more mysterious manner- mostly due to the fact that the characters themselves question Amon’s abilities. It is a high stakes chapter that smartly grabs both characters and viewers to become more invested in the antagonist by constantly presenting itself as an action-packed investigation into the unbelievable. Also, Pabu’s tricks do deserve a special mention.
7. Chapter Seven: The Aftermath
The Aftermath is an episode that sacrifices slowly building up the Sato family so it may create an overall stronger and exciting climax for both the individual chapter and the season as a whole. This episode presents a fascinating twist as it opens the door to the true intentions of Future Industries and Hiroshi Sato’s past. Rather than having Asami’s father act like a Deus ex machina for some of the season’s problems, it aims to unravel them in a more intriguing way by having the inventor be a dedicated part of the Equalists movement. Not only does this help build upon a new minor villain viewers were slowly getting attached too, but it also allows the show to explore a different side of Asami Sato and even Korra’s relationship with the rest of Team Avatar for that matter. The Aftermath is a great followup to the events of chapter six as it dives more into the Equalists, yet it can still feel as if the show may be rushing to conclusions at times.
6. Chapter Ten: Turning The Tides
Turning the Tides is an action-heavy episode with a well-earned payoff for one of the series most important characters. It continually aims to ramp up the stakes being presented while also attempting to push some of its main cast into uncharted waters. Some of the mecha-tanks can look a little odd at times when being paired with the traditional two-dimensional animation, yet it never falls in line with being distracting or unbearable- just not as pleasant as one would hope. The action scenes never fall short of great as they give almost every character a moment to shine. Lin Beifong’s sacrifice for Tenzin and the last remaining airbenders is the chapter’s highlight. It is emotional up until the very end, but she arguably could have used more screen time during the episode. The final scene of young United Forces General Iroh was a welcoming surprise for all viewers as the grandson of Firelord Zuko finally made his debut voiced by none other than the prince’s original voice actor Dante Basco.
5. Chapter Six: And The Winner Is…
After chapter five took its sweet time setting the stage for the Probending Arena’s final match, six comes in and well utilizes every concrete plot point and setpiece developed up until that point. The Fire Ferrets seamlessly pointless subplot that helped build upon character relationships is finally tied excellently into the overarching narrative. Amon’s plans to commit a terrorist attack against Republic City’s arena if their popular bending game continues is a phenomenal premise that gives our major and minor characters all the reason to stand up against their oppressors. The episode is filled with tremendous action scenes, marvelous visuals, and character setups as it pushes both the Avatar’s and Equalists Leader’s agendas forward. The episode’s opening quarter does come off as a bit sluggish as it aims high and takes time discussing politics, but after that, it continually succeeds in completing its promises.
4. Chapter Twelve: Endgame
Endgame is a finale that properly ties off almost all loose ends while continuing to build upon the relationships of the main cast. Korra’s first use of airbending and finally connecting with her spiritual self are obviously the major steps she takes during the finale. That’s not to say that the events leading up to Amon’s downfall did not contain other key moments for the rest of the cast though. Tarrlok’s suicide to permanently end Amon was a daring move to make by the writers, yet the way in which the animators pulled it off was even more impressive. Following that scene up with Korra looking over the cliffside contemplating restarting the Avatar cycle just goes to show how this series was always likely considered with an adult audience in mind. Endgame is not the perfect finale- or even the best by Korra standards- but it was a damn fine conclusion to what once was the new Avatar’s first outing. Its major issue is the fact that it feels as if the series is over when it clearly was nowhere near the finish line.
3. Chapter Eight: When Extremes Meet
It may not be the best episode of The Legend of Korra, but it would be an understatement if we did not acknowledge the fact that When Extremes Meet has aged far better than just about most other television show episodes that aim to tackle such controversial subjects. Of all the episodes part of the series, this particular one has managed to exponentially remain relevant to the times, not just because of its fantastic premise and surprising twists, but due to its political themes and subcontext that should not be disregarded. Tarrlok’s attempts to jail non-benders and taking advantage of law enforcement is something that is more prominent in the world now more than ever before. The bloodbending reveal is obviously the highlight of the episode that shocked every Avatar fan, but it is hard to ignore the fact that the political struggle of this episode has never fallen anywhere close to irrelevant since the episode aired. It’s bold maturity really makes you see as to perhaps why Nickelodeon may never have been so supportive of the show.
2. Chapter Nine: Out of the Past
Out of the Past is an episode packed to the brim with warnings, regrets, and punishments. After Korra is sealed away in a platinum encased box, Tarrlok unsuccessfully attempts to recreate an Equalist attack so Tenzin and the police would never suspect his true intentions. After Tarrlok’s secretary publicly oust his secret bloodbending abilities to the rest of Republic City’s board members, the councilman makes a daring escape that gives Korra just enough time to concentrate and reflect on Aang’s memories that her Avatar spirit has repeatedly shown her. On top of an incredibly well-articulated setup, Out of the Past quite possibly features some of season one’s most engaging action sequences that are more so focused on emotion rather than being an actual battle. Not only did we get to see Tarrlok face off against Amon, but we also got to see Aang airbending in his former glory against Republic City mobster Yakone. The addition of Jeremy Zuckerman’s incredible rendition of the Avatar State and Aang’s theme during Korra’s visions of the past is the cherry on top of this amazing chapter.
1. Chapter Eleven: Skeletons In The Closet
Skeletons in the Closet is without a doubt the best episode of The Legend of Korra Book 1: Air. Chapter eleven is simply brilliant from its opening air raid to its closing moments of Tarrlok behind bars. It has an incredible pacing, a heartwrenching tale of the past, and a phenomenal build-up for both Amon and Tarrlok. It all culminates into an episode that should arguably be the climax of the season rather than something placed toward the end. Only one well-crafted origin story was needed to seal Amon and Tarrlok’s high pedestal placement in the Avatar universe forever and the writers downright nailed it here. Not only is it an engaging episode to watch, but it adds a higher level of depth to our heroes and villains that were well needed up until that point. The childhood of both Amon and Tarrlok nicely tied into Korra’s visions of the past, while presenting reasonable explanations as to how the two visionary leaders came to their ideologies. Perhaps there is still so much more to Amon that we will never understand, yet what we were given was enough to leave audiences completely satisfied and ready for more.