Avatar: The Last Airbender infamously crafted an exuberant take on the clip show format with season three’s “The Ember Island Players.” Instead of talking heads gabbing about events that occurred previously while the episode shuffled through randomly selected clips, “The Ember Island Players” had Aang’s team watching a theater play that recapped their adventure up to that point. It was inventive and grossly tongue-in-cheek, making good use of their environment with hilarious results. It concluded with a relevant, weighty issue that Aang’s been battling throughout the series: can he kill Fire Lord Ozai for the greater good?
“Remembrance” sadly doesn’t quite cut the cheese in comparison, taking a traditional approach to the clip show formula. The episode is split into three acts. The first deals with Mako as he tries to teach Prince Wu how to defend himself. It eventually boils down to Mako embarrassingly dwelling on his past love with Korra. Out of the three segments, this is the weakest. All I really got out of it is how much I don’t miss the romance subplot and that Mako still occasionally suffers foot-in-mouth syndrome. If it’s any consolation, Mako understands he’s messed up and has since learned from the experience. My favorite lampshade occurs when Mako and the others realize his breakup with Asami back in Book One was too ambiguous, a specific detail the creators admitted in a Blu-ray audio commentary. I only fear this particular scene will act as foreshadowing to romance between Mako and Korra coming up again, which I’m not enthusiastic about. Between Mako’s relative blandness and Korra being far from the idea of dating anyone at the moment, it’s an unnecessary backdrop to potentially revisit.
The second segment centers on Korra and Asami. Korra thinks her past failures will prevent her from doing her job. She still doubts her usefulness, but Asami and later Tenzin pull her out of the dark. There isn’t much to say on this one; out of the three, this segment is utterly generic. I do appreciate the continued friendship between Korra and Asami, though.
The final scene has Varrick entertaining the former prisoners with an idea for a bold, new “mover” starring Bolin. By far this is the most creative and funniest act of the episode. The animators had a ball superimposing silly images based on Varrick’s weird, plothole-ridden story. Highlights of this include a villainous session with past Legend of Korra antagonists and Bolin’s face slapped over giant Korra. This part is the closest to retaining the cheeky, innovative mastery of Avatar’s “The Ember Island Players.”
But outside of Varrick’s tomfoolery, “Remembrances” is dull filler. The episode is safely stored in its own bubble, perhaps making it the one Korra episode that you can legitimately skip. I felt the last few episodes have moved at a snail’s place, so it’s disappointing to endure a clip show at this point. One of the creators of Korra, Bryan Konietzko elaborated why they had to make this. Under the circumstances of their resource limitations they did the best they could, but only compliment I can say about “Remembrance” is that it’s not the worst clip show I’ve seen.