The Legend of Korra Ranking All of Book 2: Spirits
It was only a matter of time before we were bound to reach this point. After ranking the first season of The Legend of Korra, it is now time to delve into the most controversial territory of the Avatar fandom, Book 2: Spirits. The follow-up season to Korra’s first journey to Republic City is packed with heavily debated topics, disputable arguments, memorable action sequences, shocking character appearances, and questionable spotlights. While it is heavily known for being the worst season of both series, there is still plenty to enjoy within season two of The Legend of Korra that should not go unnoticed. Without further ado, it is time to start from fourteen downwards as we look reasonably back on a somewhat old spiritual age that has disturbed a large handful of fans’ inner chakras since its debut…
14. Chapter Five: Peacekeepers
Peacekeepers is a chapter that is completely stuck in a void as it divides our cast and creates multiple separating plot lines for questionable reasons. While it is all definitely coherent and never falls into incomprehensible territories, it makes debatable decisions that seem to make sense on the surface but perhaps not when considering the longterm purpose. After arriving back in Republic City, our cast sets off to fill their agendas ultimately leading to everyone parting ways for a long period of time. By the end of the season, Korra and Bolin’s stories seem to be the only ones that fall in line with the main plot, while Mako and Asami are practically sidelined. Korra is a “headfirst into action” kind of person, but getting the military involved in her Avatar duties for the sake of her homeland? Bolin getting involved with propaganda filmmaking is the only concrete story here that no one seems to argue over.
13. Chapter Two: The Southern Lights
The Southern lights is one of the very few episodes of the series that builds towards a critical event that is never truly referred to until the end of the season when its real importance finally begins to sprout. The chapter is one giant adventure to the icy tundra that seems to have weight on the surface from perhaps a character standpoint for both Unalaq and Tonraq, but Korra’s actions in opening the Southern spirit portal by the end never show any real consequences. Why is stopping this spirit made storm important? What are the effects of opening this seemingly dangerous location? On its own Southern Lights is an episode that predates a successful payoff, which is a shame because it builds upon a strong batch of fascinating ideas. After Rebel Spirits, you just have to expect there to be a larger explanation to everything going on- we get that, but just not here.
12. Chapter Six: The Sting
Mako and Asami finally get some key moments in an episode that feels as if Avatar masqueraded itself with a shady mafia-style approach. Does it work? Not entirely, yet it still can be quite entertaining. The Sting is focused on exploring our heroes’ dilemmas as they investigate a massive conspiracy surrounding the bombings of a Southern Water Tribe building all while Future Industries continues to fall apart. The Sting oddly leaves audiences with a stronger buildup for Varrick then the rest of the cast. The chapter’s core mystery is intriguing, but outside of the mangled love triangle between Korra, Asami, and Mako the episode does not exactly add much to the narrative. Of course, Varrick is behind the bombings, but we never get to see his side of the story. Its final scene of Korra being washed up on a beach is by far the highlight of the episode as it opens the door to the Beginnings story arc.
11. Chapter Three: Civil Wars Part 1
Civil Wars is what arguably should have been the premise for the majority of Book 2: Spirits. Avatar fans were always aware of the divide between the Northern and Southern Water Tribes, but this particular story arc really allows the differentiating concepts of the two ocean waters to breathe- although not as well as Rebel Spirits perhaps did. It is a great buildup for a potential massive rebellion that never exactly gets to occur. While the episode’s main problem is not necessirly its fault, it is a shame how it could have been better utilized in futute chapters. If there is one thing to love about the first half of this story arc though it has to be Tenzin’s family vacation. Between Bumi Kya, and the airbending kids there is a lot to love about the sub-plot more so than the main story at times.
10. Chapter Four: Civil Wars Part 2
Civil Wars Part 2 is all about the divide and connection of family relationships. While Korra faces the possibility of drastically making the relationship both she and her parents have with her uncle Unalaq worse, Tenzin attempts to reunite his children after their previous petty argument made Ikki run away- all while accepting the harsh realities his siblings faced during their not so perfect childhoods. Tenzin certainly has a well-written step that pushes his relationship with both his children and siblings forward by telling us how Aang treated his children. Korra on the other hand makes some debatable decisions you can not help but ponder about. The buildup to the end of the episode has a strong execution as she and her father Tonraq are forced to seperate, yet leaving the South to seek help at Republic City through military tactics never seemed like an Avatar solution.
9. Chapter One: Rebel Spirits
Back to where it all began. Rebel Spirits makes a triumphant return to the home of the Southern Water Tribe after previously only being featured in the first and last episodes of The Legend of Korra. The Southern Water Tribe has always been a rather curious location, especially after The Last Airbender comic books and Korra season one showed us that Sokka and Katara’s homeland had been evolving. Rebel Spirits is an interesting opening that heavily indulges in both mystery and politics- more so the latter though and with all the right reason. By setting up the dramatic differences between The Northern and Southern Water Tribes, the opening chapter of the season is able to set the groundwork for the premise of a Civil War that is strangely not used to its maximum potential.
8. Chapter Nine: The Guide
The Guide finally brings Tenzin and the airbenders back to the spotlight as Korra desperately needs to find a way into the spirit world. While on Korra’s search, the audience gets to see how Jinora has developed a connection to the spirits, unlike her father. Despite considering himself as a spiritual leader, Tenzin easily steals the spotlight during The Guide as we get to see more of his flaws rather than him sticking around as a source of wisdom. What this chapter misses out on is creating a better relationship between both Unalaq and Vaatu. Also, while it may be considered the sub-plot of the chapter, Mako and Asami do get some needed relationship moments during and Bolin always strikes nicely in with a comedic jab that helps divide the pacing for Korra’s journey.
7. Chapter Fourteen: Light In The Dark
Light in the dark is not a bad finale for the season by any means, but when it comes to Avatar standards it certainly falls a bit short. From a spiritual and ideological perspective, this chapter contains plenty of great scenes and callbacks that brings the Avatar’s journey full circle as Korra finds herself in a familiar spiritual area Aang once encountered when opening his final chakra. The inevitable final battle between Korra’s spirit projection and UnaVaatu plays out like a giant monster fight. Compared to something like the battle between Aang and Ozai or Korra and Zaheer- heck even Amon for that matter- its not all that exciting. It would be a crime to not mention the soundtrack piece “Jinora’s Light” which is by far one of the most notable aspects of the entire chapter. Seriously, what a phenomenal score from Zuckerman.
6. Chapter Eleven: Night of a Thousand Stars
Of all the minor characters, who would have thought Bolin would have had one of arguably the most important roles of the season? As Mako is stuck in prison, Bolin makes his way to the grand premiere of Varrick’s revolutionary The Adventures of Nuktuk propaganda mover film. Of course, this results in Bolin’s revelation of the entrepreneur’s plot to pull President Raiko into the Civil War against Unalaq’s unlawful regime leaving the Earthbending Fire Ferret to save the day. Night of a Thousand Stars is a nice tribute to the birth of a Hollywood-like atmosphere within the Avatar universe that stays focused on wrapping up some important story beats before diving headfirst into the final section of the season’s narrative. Perhaps it is not the most exciting episode due to the obvious twist Mako previously discovered, nonetheless, Bolin’s entire arc still manages to be one of the best aspects of Book 2: Spirits. Hero of the South!
5. Chapter Twelve: Harmonic Convergence
Harmonic Convergence may be a bit too packed with action scenes, yet its build-up for the following two concluding episodes payoff in the long run. In a race to save Jinora’s spirit and the world from impending chaos, Team Avatar and crew plan and initiate a sudden raid on the very Spirit Portal Korra opened in hopes of gaining the upper hand on the Northern Water Tribes defense forces before Unalaq can unleash Vaatu’s power. The chapter sets the stage for the ultimate confrontation between Korra and the brand new Dark Avatar: a combination of both the spirits and physical forms of Unalaq and Vaatu. One of its key moments that deserves a spotlight was Bumi’s rescue attempt. His improvised accidental battle plan was the needed moment that gave a ridiculous loudmouth actual credibility- seeing that Naga and Pabu were finally tossed out of the sidelines for some action was a nice bonus for the chapter too.
4. Chapter Thirteen: Darkness Falls
Darkness Falls is a fantastic penultimate finale that is arguably far superior to its conclusion. From the constant high stakes story to its incredibly well-directed action scenes, this chapter is by far one of the strongest pre-finale episodes of the entire series. The last physical fight between both Korra and Unalaq was completely worth the wait. He may have certainly been one the least engaging villains in the Avatar universe, but he had one heck of a final battle with dire consequences. The destruction of Korra’s connection to her past lives is nothing short of chilling. Seeing everyone’s favorite Avatars vanish in a few seconds is heartbreaking and provides a greater overarching challenge for our hero in the future. The unexpected appearance of Admiral Zhao was also finally able to give us an answer as to what his fate had in store after vanishing in season one of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
3. Chapter Seven: Beginnings, Part 1
There is no other Avatar: The Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra episode that is comparable to the Beginnings story arc. From its unique art style inspired by 16th-century Japanese and Chinese artwork that is noticeably different from the rest of the series to its exclusive cast of characters who would never return, Beginnings is a one-time deal. The opening half of this origin story introduces us to the thieving Robin Hood teenager Wan (voiced by Steven Yeun) who would later meet with the light spirit Ravaa and become the first-ever Avatar. While many fans have debated whether or not Korra rewrote the origins of bending and the Avatar cycle, it is undeniable that Beginnings is an extremely well-written and coherent story that encompasses the best of Book 2: Spirits as it introduces both Ravaa and the spirit of darkness Vaatu.
2. Chapter Ten: A New Spiritual Age
A New Spiritual Age is one massive callback to the past that helps push the narrative forward in several ways by utilizing fan-favorite characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender. It oddly manages to see an actual continuation of stories from the predecessor series while remaining focused on the current cast of characters. Wan Shi Tong and Uncle Iroh- a spirit and a human of undefinable wisdom- both make welcoming appearances here that are not wasted by any means. Each character receives closure for their stories as we discover what happened to the three of them after the events of The Last Airbender. While Wan Shi Tong does receive great moments with Jinora, Iroh undoubtedly steals the spotlight by granting the same life-changing wisdom he bestowed upon Aang onto Korra. A New Spiritual Age is a heartwarming episode that makes you emotionally feel right at home.
1. Chapter Eight: Beginnings, Part 2
Returning to the adventures of the first Avatar, the Aladdin like good-hearted thief Wan, the second half of Beginnings is an action-packed journey that excellently sets up the world of the four nations. It may not be Korra’s finest episode by any means as it slightly rewrites Avatar lore for debatable reasons, but on its own, it still concludes a fantastic story arc that added another memorable Avatar to the cycle’s line. Wan’s journey to separate the living and spirit realms was a captivating tale reminiscent of an ancient legend being told within the story’s universe. For the icing on the cake, audiences receive an epic battle between Wan and Vaatu that is gorgeously animated in its unique episode art style. To put the cherry on top of that though, Jeremy Zuckerman’s incredible orchestration of the Avatar State theme helps conclude an absolutely breathtaking point in Korra’s narrative.