The Legend of Korra Ranking All of Book 3: Change
After diving into the most controversial season of The Legend of Korra, it is time to take on what is widely considered the most acclaimed year the sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender had to offer. Book 3: Change was when The Legend of Korra had hit its peak as it managed to find the perfect balance between creating an engaging cast of heroes and villains all while multitasking world-building with the Earth Kingdom’s post-hundred-year war empire and the brand new era of the air nation. Without keeping you waiting for as long as the world did for Aang, it is time to rank The Legend of Korra Book 3: Change…
13. Chapter Three: The Earth Queen
For so long, everyone knew The Legend of Korra was going to have to eventually cross into the largest nation in the Avatar universe. The Earth Queen delivers on that front, however, its predecessor kills the mystery of the throne that ultimately could have been quite exciting had we not already seen it before. Seeing the outcome of Ba Sing Se after all these years and learning about the royal perspective of Republic City shed new light on this universe’s already complicated politics. Additionally, getting to finally witness the Fire Ferret brothers’ family helps greatly develop their backstories, yet The Earth Queen never truly draws a direct focus on these two aspects. Getting to see Ba Sing Se again brings an eerie yet comforting feeling for any Avatar fan, but knowing the ins and outs of the Earth Kingdom’s greatest empire ruins a lot of the surprise this chapter could potentially hold. The Earth Queen is a great episode simply held back by its predecessor- for better or worse.
10. Chapter Two: Rebirth
In the same vein as the previous chapter, Rebirth is a lot of build-up for the coming events in the story-arcs first half, however, it does come with some notable first appearances for the series. It importantly takes its time to slowly introduce Tenzin’s struggle with rebuilding the legacy of the air nation as those with their newfound abilities gained after Harmonic Convergence continuously deny his promising future. The introduction of Kai is a substantial reflection of the harsh reality that rebuilding this fallen society was going to require patience, discipline, and evolution. This chapter also contained the unforgettable reveal of an old Fire Lord Zuko on the hunt for Zaheer and his gang of escaped criminals. While the banished prince and his newfound dragon may be the most memorable aspect of the chapter, like the rest of its runtime, there are definitely more notable appearances ahead to discuss.
11. Chapter Seven: Original Airbenders
On its own, the Original Airbenders is quite a good episode of The Legend of Korra, but looking back on its placement in Book 3: Change leaves it in a bit of an odd place. Showing the progress Aang and Tenzin had made to reestablish the fallen air nomad culture was certainly interesting and inevitable, but similar to season one’s The Spirit of Competition, this chapter is slapped right in the middle of the main story as its beginning to hit its climax, the key moment when things are really picking up speed. Tenzin, Bumi, Jinora, Kai, and every new Airbender all have heartfelt moments during the Original Airbenders that play a critical role in developing their characters- or rather culture, but how could you not want to see what was going to happen next between Team Avatar and the Red Lotus? We can all agree at the very least again that the baby air bison are absolutely adorable.
10. Chapter One: A Breath of Fresh Air
Getting the story of The Legend of Korra back on track, A Breath of Fresh Air was a rather welcoming opening chapter to the season after fans became arguably divided from Book 2’s divisive finale. It promised audiences with an adventure to the corners of the Avatar universe fans wanted to see again and it undoubtedly delivered. This episode immediately puts everyone in a reasonable overarching spot as it attempts to give each member of the cast a definitive longterm role. It wisely chooses to reunite the cast for the first half of the season rather than allowing everyone to part ways so they can chase their own agendas like the prior season. The real highlight of this premiere though was of course Zaheer’s first appearance in the series. Revealing that one of the newest airbenders would be a villain was a fascinating idea as those with the ability had always been depicted as users of power who oppose the usage of violence.
9. Chapter Six: Old Wounds
Old Wounds finally dives into arguably one of the most critical moments in the Beifong family’s history, the point in which Suyin, Lin, and Toph all became divided for years to come. While it does take a rather slow pacing, the episode is jam-packed with needed character moments for the members of the family at the spotlight. Previously, we received hints about Lin’s past as she shrugged off her mother’s grand adventures with the Avatar, but here we get answers as to why. Old Wounds dives a bit into Korra’s endeavors as a teacher as she becomes the first Avatar to learn metal bending while Bolin sits back and fears the consequences of failing his biggest dream. It may not be the deepest chapter of the season by any means, but character-wise it brings in a lot to love about our rising cast- including Zaheer and his ultimate plan as the organization leader makes some rather risky yet mysterious moves.
8. Chapter Four: In Harm’s Way
As if this episode did not contain enough earthshattering action to talk about, it would be a disservice to not mention the thrilling short fight sequence In Harm’s Way opens with. Lord Zuko, Chief Tonraq, Prince Desna, and Princess Eska versus the rekindled Red Lotus terrorist cell brilliantly creates a threatening background for our villains as they are able to go as far as taking out the Fire Lord’s dragon in one shot. While on the topic of threatening, this chapter brings back everyone’s favorite suspicious Earth Kingdom agents, the Dai Li, and features plenty of references to Book 2: Earth of Avatar: The Last Airbender– including a nice throwback to Lako Laogai. From Kai’s redemption to the airbender prison break, this episode balances a solid amount of emotion and action to keep the stakes high and the story entertaining.
7. Chapter Five: The Metal Clan
Toph Beifong. Is there really anything else to say about her? The concept of bending metal was already fascinating, but utilizing the art to create a city where the majority of her future family resides is genius. The Metal Clan stays focused on adding more history to everyone’s favorite Beifong family by introducing a rivalry between both Lin and her sweeter sister Suyin who destroyed their childhood in the past by sabotaging the relationship they had with their mother through breaking the law- or more so for Lin that is as Suyin reconnected with Toph before she could explore the world. The Metal Clan is undoubtedly one of the best chapters of the season that really stays true to the book’s name. This could not be reinforced any further by the return of the psychotic visionary Varrick (and Zhu Lee!) who is the icing on the cake for a sharp chapter that was already killing it with great new and old character introductions.
6. Chapter Eight: The Terror Within
The Terror Within is oddly one of the more action-focused episodes of Book 3: Change that tremendously pushes the overarching narrative forward for not just Team Avatar but the Red Lotus criminals viewers were starting to expect to see more so than the other previous villains. Even though every character in Zaofu claimed it was the “safest” location in the world, the audience waited for Zaheer to strike in another cunningly spectacular way- and of course, he did with by far one of the series best fight sequences that combined every element without the need of Korra. The main centerpiece city helps this particular chapter utilize its world and surroundings better than many others in the series have as audiences get to witness modern metalbending. Aiwei’s scheme to help the gang of terrorists brought many questions to the table, but it is a shame we did not get to see more of him before his role was pulled into the spotlight.
5. Chapter Nine: The Stakeout
As the episode’s title implies, The Stakeout is a giant waiting game that brilliantly utilizes the spiritual portion of the Avatar universe while also allowing viewers to reconnect with an iconic location, The Misty Palms Oasis Aang and the gang previously traveled to before entering Wan Shi Tong’s spirit library. It oddly adds more depth to the famous game of Pai Show in a humorous way, but more importantly, it aims to add more to Zaheer’s untold ideology. It smartly takes its time to allow our protagonist and antagonist to properly communicate with one another without having to use the logic of violence in a physical situation. Using the spirit world as an excuse to pull viewers away from the physical realm not only allows us to focus on an important subject without distraction, but it allows the show to reinstate itself in a new point afterward when Korra returns to the physical realm.
4. Chapter Eleven: The Ultimatum
An airbender versus an airbender at an air temple? There is a lot to love about The Ultimatum when looking at its position in Book 3’s narrative, but the action sequences absolutely steal the show. Ba Sing Se’s descent into madness is definitely worth a mention, but the continuous battle for an ideology gone too far is what is worth talking about here. Due to the circumstances previously surrounding airbenders, the audience never got to see what it would be like if two went up against each other. The children of Aang rivaling the Red Lotus for the future of the air nation never fails to disappoint viewers. In regular Avatar fashion, not only is this episode able to provide content we have never seen before, but the conclusion to its story is also able to surprise audiences with a cliffhanger. It was impossible not to be worried for Tenzin after witnessing the killing spree The Legend of Korra was already on.
3. Chapter Ten: Long Live The Queen
As democracy flourishes, the empire comes crashing down. Long Live The Queen featured one of those moments you totally did not expect to see in Avatar, let alone any show that aired on Nickelodeon. As if Book 3: Change had not already proved itself to be Korra’s finest, this particular chapter was triumphant to witness on Nickelodeon. While Korra certainly has interesting moments as she and Asami have to escape the desert with the help of an Earth Kingdom military unit, it is undeniable that the Red Lotus completely one up Korra for the spotlight in every possible way this time around. The obvious moment to talk about from this episode is when Zaheer takes every breath of air out of the Queen herself ultimately killing her by lack of oxygen. Everything this character and his mercenaries do is just fascinating. The Red Lotus continue to justify themselves as they present the viewer with debatable solutions to the presence of the world’s most powerful figures.
2. Chapter Twelve: Enter The Void
Enter The Void draws conclusions and plants seeds for the future all while entertainingly blasting its way to the third book’s finale with an action-packed high stakes chapter. Not only does it do an outstanding job when it comes to transitioning into a season finale, but it takes its time to give some of our underdogs more notable standalone and cooperative moments. After eleven episodes of constant back and forth cat and mouse chases between Team Avatar and the Red Lotus, the audience finally gets to understand Zaheer’s ancient airbending belief of flight as he makes intricate moves to capture Korra. It is an episode with downright shocking moments and extremely meaningful character moments that would ultimately establish the setup for Book 4: Balance. One could say P’Li’s death was absolutely mind-blowing like the rest of the episode and a perfect connection to unlocking Zaheer’s final steps toward his goal that brought his entire character arc full circle.
1. Chapter Thirteen: Venom of the Red Lotus
Venom of the Red Lotus is not only the best episode of Book 3: Change, but it might just be the most pristine chapter of The Legend of Korra. Every moment the show has escalated upon paid off during this chapter. Whether you are looking over the engaging action sequences, its complicated ideologies powering its cast of suicidal villains, or even Zuckerman’s majestic musical score, every aspect of Book 3’s final chapter is emotionally thrilling from beginning to end. The final minute of the episode is undoubtedly one of the most emotional moments in the entire Avatar franchise as Jinora rightfully receives her airbender tattoos and Korra witnesses the next major step taken for the very culture she saved from potential extinction. Is our hero successful? Perhaps, but it came with a dangerous physical and mental cost that would excellently set up the opening chapters of Book 4: Balance’s narrative. Venom of the Red Lotus prepared Korra for her final steps in learning how to be a human rather than the all-powerful Avatar.