The Legend of Korra: Trauma and Recovery

The Legend of Korra

The Legend of Korra, sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender has just started its fourth and final season. The series, set 70 years after the events of The Last Airbender, revisits the vibrant world after decades of change and development. The ability that some people possess to manipulate the elements, bending, has been refined in many new and interesting ways, and as we see in the first season, has fuelled and in turn been fuelled by technological development. The Avatar, a powerful guardian charged with the task of maintaining balance in the world, was reborn into a new incarnation – Korra – a girl from one of the water tribes.

Though the writing of a few parts of the first season was questionable, it was still an excellent successor to The Last Airbender and a great show in its own right, provided a new and interesting take on an already colourful and captivating world. Over the seasons, Korra has dealt with many issues, from things like rivalry and betrayal to terrorism, civil war, spiritualism and with the arc that is currently on, it looks like it is set to tackle self-discovery and the long-term effects of injury and trauma.

The quality of writing has reproved remarkably from the first season, with season 3 being exceptional. Hopefully this will continue through to a strong end.

If you haven’t seen The Legend of Korra yet then I’d advise starting with The Last Airbender and working your way through. I’m not a fan of anime and so I initially thought I wouldn’t like this either, but I was pleasantly surprised. Trust me, it is well worth your time.

WARNING: SEASON 3 AND 4 SPOILERS AHEAD! 

Korra - aftermath

At the end of the third season Korra was kidnapped, poisoned and almost killed. Instead of skipping forward a few weeks and having her all healed up, the show took an interesting turn and decided deal with recovery the effects of her injures. In the last few minutes of the finale, Korra was seen in a wheelchair – an interesting picture of a superhero – but what was even more telling was the fatigue and weariness on face. When season 4 picks up three years later, it is still there.

korra Season 4She has survived an extraordinary amount of punishment and pain, both physically and mentally, and it is refreshing to see how honest the show is about it – yes, she cheated death, but there was a price on both body and mind. The second episode of the season resonated with me in particular – it dealt with Korra’s attempts at recovery and her frustration with every setback. I have been dealing with injury for months, and I know the feeling of helplessness and inadequacy all too well. Though she regains some amount of function, her limits and the walls around her are ever-present. She finds herself in a rut of despair, and hope seems a distant comfort.

Her family and friends are understanding, but there is only so much that their sympathy and concern can do. After years of recovery that have left her only partially healed, she decides to leave and walk her own path without being held back by her ties, hiding her identity as the avatar and travelling the world in search of answers. The episode also portrays her dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, with constant flashbacks to her captivity and attackers – she sees them in faces of strangers and is haunted by a vision of herself, chained and lashing out desperately.

There is still the majority of the season ahead, and I can’t wait to see how they go about exploring these issues and tie them in with the rest of the simultaneously evolving plot.

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