Korra must prevent Unalaq from merging with Vaatu to become the Dark Avatar.
Wow, how much more intense can this show get? Amon may be the better villain, but he didn’t turn into a giant dark rage monster. “Darkness Falls” is epic. Korra vs. Unalaq is a fast-paced, heart-pounding battle. Even with all her tricks Korra has a difficult time with Unalaq, especially when Vaatu merges with him. I think the most chilling segment is when Unalaq causes Korra to fall between the cracks of the Earth with intent to bury her alive. Trailing in second place is most definitely Unalaq’s transformation. It recalls similar vibes from End of Evangelion where the character Rei merged into a God-like being too. I’m assuming Unalaq was able to achieve this state due to the Harmonic Convergence boosting spiritual power, as well as the annihilation of Raava. The last couple of Korra episodes had some extremely close calls where heroes slowly made their way forward and bypassed countless obstacles, yet they still couldn’t stop Unalaq in time. This is really compelling stuff and I’m at the edge of my seat. It’s probably a good thing the Harmonic Convergence, is so well done because the character development is a mixed bag.
I feel much more attuned to Aang’s children than Team Avatar. The problem with the Korra gang is that a lot of their interaction and growth were largely obligatory reactions from the greater narrative. They never really bounced off each other just from being themselves and the few times they do, it’s during the abysmal romance subplot. Meanwhile, Tenzin, Kya and Bumi are each reacting to the behavior of their siblings in ways that subtly emphasize their personalities and their familiarity with each other. Kya and Tenzin endure Bumi’s stories, Bumi routinely teases his uptight younger brother, Tenzin tries to mediate things, Kya criticizes Bumi while simultaneously healing him, and so on. Despite their limited screen time, their personal stories have been far more engaging simply because they have layers. Meanwhile, I still can’t really tell you much about Mako or Asami. A recent example is in “Night of a Thousand Stars” where Bolin tells Mako why Asami isn’t visiting him in jail: he reminds her too much of her father. Why can’t we have a scene where Asami silently muses over this or somberly confesses this to Bolin? Why did Bolin have to tell us something that was better off expressed through her emotions? Heck, the whole point of Book Two was the separation of Korra’s team and their detachment from each other. By the time they reunite, we would expect to feel something. Except I find it very hard to root for them because I never felt that sense of closeness. In fact, I mentioned that Bolin’s the most visibly excited when they’re together, but wouldn’t it have far more meaningful if there had been past episodes where he emphasized the power of friendship? All the elements are there, but it’s frequently downplayed and that’s a big problem.
Tenzin’s subplot is better, but it could have been more sophisticated. Tenzin’s entire moment of self-realization is a whole lot of “I feel this” and “I do that.” I guess it makes sense since he’s reflecting on himself, but he already had a couple other episodes where he’s anguished about his woes so it comes off a tad redundant here. I suppose if there’s an appropriate place for him to pour out his insecurities though, it would be in a sea of lost souls. I like Bumi and Kya’s reactions better; their madness express a lot about their characters without feeling heavy-handed. I especially like Kya’s line about not wanting to be tied down since it fits her free-spirited lifestyle. I appreciate the character growth regardless and it carries a good message. Tenzin doesn’t have to live up to his father’s shoes because he isn’t Aang. Yes, he benefits a lot from his father’s traits, philosophy, and bending, but for him they can be burdens too. In the end, Tenzin is his own man capable of making his own destiny.
I’m not too keen on Iroh’s return here. I feel he’s better as a one-shot. It just oversteps boundaries in an attempt to squeeze him in for a scene that’s remarkably small in the first place. But I do love Zhao’s cameo. His entire scene is a gold mine of hilarity and horror. Has he really spent the past seventy years madly ranting about capturing the Avatar? Spooky.
I’m still not keen on the Bolin/Eska romance and “Darkness Falls” isn’t doing much to change my mind. Bolin admits his feelings for Eska and the power of love is enough for her and Desna to rebel against their father. I thought Bolin was acting at first—Mako certainly thought so—and I wished they had stuck with that. Bolin reveals he really does love Eska and that bothers me horribly. Why would Bolin take Eska back after her awful treatment of him? Heck, he epically ran away from Eska at the beginning of Book Two. I don’t care if this is the result of a dumb teenager who doesn’t know any better, it makes Bolin look pathetic.
I don’t know how to feel about “Darkness Falls.” Questionable character issues aside, I still kind of like it. It lacks nuances, but Tenzin’s story is still good. The heart of the episode involves Korra and Unalaq and every moment of their time onscreen is excellent. When they aren’t subjugating Bolin as a goofball, he and his brother prove their capabilities as warriors. Even little Jinora hints she’s not out of the game yet and is going to pull off something legitimately awesome. But I can’t ignore the subpar character interaction and lack of chemistry amongst the central cast. I feel especially bad for Asami because out of the main four, she usually ends up getting the shaft. I know she can’t do much with spirits, but if they can squeeze in something with Bumi I don’t see why she had to be set aside. This has been a frequent problem for Legend of Korra and Book Two is only making it messier.